Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy

Ofqual Code 603/4410/6
Qualification Level 3
Guided Learning Hours 326
Credits 44
Location UK: Oxfordshire, Chepstow, Aberdeen, Newcastle USA: Houston Other: Singapore
Study mode Online
Award type Diploma
DEFRA Logo Open College Network Green Logo CHA Logo NARCH Logo NARCH Logo ELCAS Approved Logo

Course fees £3,995

Payment Options
  • Total Fees: £4200: Pay £350 now followed by 11 monthly instalment
    • Total Fees: £4200: Pay £350 now followed by 11 monthly instalment £350.00

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The OCNWM Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy meets the training requirements for

NARCH Registration


“We are really impressed with the additions and style of qualification and are pleased to
let you know that we will accept this new qualification as a part of the membership
criteria for joining the CHA”
Students who have completed their qualification in Small Animal Hydrotherapy can apply for a membership at the International Association of Animal Therapists (IAAT)

International Association of Animal Therapists Membership Benefits

Membership of IAAT is open to all animal therapists, veterinary surgeons and nurses and students.Applicants should be the holder of, or a student on, a qualification in the relevant animal therapies.

Click Below To Download our Guide to Small Animal Hydrotherapy

Unit # 1

An Introduction to Hydrotherapy (40 GLH)

This unit provides background information about small animal hydrotherapy. Gain an understanding of the properties of water, types of equipment used in hydrotherapy and the intended outcomes of hydrotherapy.

Unit # 2

Anatomy and Physiology of Small Animals (20 GLH)

The unit provides an introduction to the subjects of anatomy and physiology – this is essential for successful hydrotherapy sessions and achieving the desired outcome.

Unit # 3

Gait Analysis and Biomechanics (24 GLH)

This unit studies gait patterns and relevant terminology, as well as posture and muscle contractions relevant to hydrotherapy treatment.

Unit # 4

Hydrotherapy and Related Conditions (30 GLH)

This unit explores the conditions that are commonly presented for hydrotherapy. This includes medical, orthopaedic and neurological conditions.

Unit # 5

Introduction to Small Animal Massage (24 GLH)

Explore the benefits of small animal massage and the techniques used in small animal massage. Learn about the various forms of massage and the benefits of massage on common injuries.

Unit # 6

Maintenance of Hydrotherapy Equipment and Water Balance (14 GLH)

Learn about water testing and how to interpret results from water tests.

Unit # 7

Practical Administration of Hydrotherapy (35 GLH)

This unit explores the practical application of hydrotherapy from the initial assessment to preparation of the patient, to hydrotherapy treatment and aftercare.

Unit # 8

Practical Advanced Aquatic Treadmill Techniques (20 GLH)

Learn about the practical application of advanced aquatic treadmill techniques and how to adjust hydrotherapy treatment and review patient performance.

Unit # 9

Practical Aquatic Treadmill Therapy (24 GLH)

This practical unit is all about the aquatic treadmill and how to create treadmill sessions for patients.

Unit # 10

Professional Practice Management (25 GLH)

Learn about the importance of CPD, professional conduct within the workplace, roles and responsibilities within a hydrotherapy centre and administration carried out in an animal hydrotherapy centre.

Unit # 11

Small Animal Assessment for Hydrotherapy (20 GLH)

This unit studies the veterinary referral process. It also explores the subject of health checking small animals. Learn about the various professional team members that are involved in assessing patients suitability for hydrotherapy and the patients subsequent treatment.

Unit # 12

Small Animal Behaviour (15 GLH)

Gain an understanding of small animal behaviour in relation to hydrotherapy. Learn about safe handling and how to understand body language in small animals.

Unit # 13

Small Animal First Aid (10 GLH)

This unit examines the aims of first aid, the different types of emergency that the student may come across in a hydrotherapy centre, and the practical application of first aid techniques.

Unit # 14

Tissue Healing Process (25 GLH)

This unit explores the tissue healing process, including factors that may affect this process, types of pain, and timing of hydrotherapy treatment.

Small Animal Hydrotherapy Practical Placement

Students are required to have good physical mobility as the practical placement involves the following activities:

  • Handling a variety of dogs with varying mobility.
  • The ability to handle the dog at their level (knelt).
  • Moving around the dog to accommodate their body language and behaviour.
  • Strength, stability and balance when working with a patient in the confinement of an aquatic treadmill.
  • Suitable mobility to get in an above ground pool and walk through a 1 metre water level under the resistance and hydrostatic pressure of a heated hydrotherapy pool.
  • If attending an advanced treadmill course, students must be able to stand, bend over and kneel in the treadmill and deliver the techniques for a variety of breeds.
  • Suitable fitness to perform 40 hours or practical training.

Students can select from the following locations:


Oxfordshire, Aberdeen, Chepstow, Newcastle

(please note for Newcastle placements, students must complete their course within 1 year of enrolment and students are required to spend 1 additional day in Witney, Oxfordshire as part of their practical placement – this can be arranged on an individual basis)


Houston, Texas



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Practical Placement Dates and Venues

These may change depending on the current situation but will not affect the students online learning



  • 13th – 18th September
  • 15th – 20th November


  • 13th – 18th September
  • 15th – 20th November


  • 18th – 23rd October
  • 22nd – 27th November

Houston (USA)

  • 23rd – 28th August
  • 1st – 6th November

minimum student age: 16 years

Small Animal Hydrotherapy Study Options and More Information

Students will gain an understanding of the techniques involved in the provision of hydrotherapy and the assessment required before small animal hydrotherapy commences. Learn about the various medical conditions and their impact on hydrotherapy treatment. This regulated qualification also develops student’s knowledge around tissue healing, small animal behaviour and professional practice management.

There is a focus on Practical Aquatic Treadmill Therapy and Advanced Treadmill Techniques – something that is not offered in any other qualification. Additionally, students will learn terminology to be able to conduct gait analysis and review patient performance practically.

This qualification consists of a blend of theory and practical training that includes:

  •  The theoretical principles of animal hydrotherapy and treadmill therapy, as well as theoretical guidance on how these therapies can be used.
  • Details on the conditions that hydrotherapy can benefit. These are primarily orthopaedic, medical and neurological in nature, and therapists are required to be well-versed in these conditions in order to accurately administer therapy.
  • First aid and dealing with small animal emergencies – this is essential for therapists who intend to work in animal healthcare and a mandatory requirement from the CHA/ NARCH to practice as a hydrotherapist.
  • Practical administration of hydrotherapy for dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals.
  • Small animal behaviour relevant to dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals in a therapeutic setting.
  • Thorough guidance on learning to assess an animal’s likely outcome from hydrotherapy and how to ascertain whether the treatment is suitable for a specific case.
  • Learn about small animal anatomy and biology; essential for ensuring robust baseline medical knowledge.
  • The basic fundamentals of administering hydrotherapy, such as assessment, handling of the patient, managing the equipment and other elements that are essential for effective treatment.
  • Learn how to manage aftercare for an animal that has experienced a session of hydrotherapy, and how to interact with pet owners to explain performance during the session.
  • All paperwork requirements and training on report writing about hydrotherapy treatments.

As well as the theoretical study, the Level 3 Diploma in Hydrotherapy for Small Animals also involves a large amount of practical training and assessment spread over 6 days. This includes:

Intensive hands on training and assessments with our team of experienced Vets, Physiotherapists and Hydrotherapists at Woozelbears, a well established canine hydrotherapy company. This centre has top of the range equipment including underwater treadmills, large bespoke pools, hydrotherapy spa, the 2nd gait analysis treadmill in the UK and a team of highly qualified personnel. Gain hands on training with a variety of dogs attending for rehabilitation and sports conditioning. Train with highly qualified, experienced hydrotherapists and veterinary physiotherapists to learn how the treatment is used in a working rehabilitation clinic. This includes pool hydrotherapy and hydrotherapy treadmill treatments, including innovative advanced aquatic treadmill techniques. The practical training enables students to learn from experienced professionals in the industry while working with a range cases at different stages of treatment.

This small animal hydrotherapy course will ensure you are employable as an animal hydrotherapist; there are many companies around the country that are recruiting for qualified Small Animal Hydrotherapists. Woozelbears Hydrotherapy offers franchise opportunities in various parts of the UK if you have the ambition to own your own business.

Please note, course fees must be paid in full prior to attending the practical placement.

Average study duration:

4 month option: 20-30 hours study per week over 4 months

1 year option: 8-10 hrs per week spread over 1 year

2 year option: 4-6 hours per week over 2 years

The 6 practical training days are additional to the above time guides

Entry requirements:

  • Students must demonstrate previous experience with animals.
  • The minimum age for access to this qualification is 16 years.
  • Students are required to have a good understanding of English language, have good physical mobility and physical fitness and be a confident swimmer.

Progression Routes: This qualification can be used by students to gain employment in the animal care sector, to set up their own animal hydrotherapy business or to progress to further study in the animal hydrotherapy / physiotherapy sector.

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More About Hydrotherapy and this qualification

What will you learn if you sign up for this qualification? You’ll discover valuable information regarding the use of hydrotherapy to treat small animals. This includes answering some critical questions:

* How can this unique form of therapy benefit small animals in varying states of physical health?

* Which medical conditions respond best to hydrotherapy?

* What are the safest and most effective procedures for applying hydrotherapy techniques?

It is fair to say that animal medicine and understanding has come a long way over the past few decades. As a result of this continual dedication to development, our pets are now able to enjoy longer, healthier and happier lives. One such innovation that has helped to contribute to the overall well-being of the nation’s pets is animal hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy has long been a popular treatment technique for humans; it is non-weight bearing, so is comfortable for the vast majority of users. Expanding the inherent benefits of hydrotherapy to the animal world was inevitable, and the practice has now been perfected.

Furthermore, there is a huge demand for qualified animal hydrotherapists, therefore working as a qualified animal hydrotherapist or setting up an animal hydrotherapy business can be an excellent career option.

For those wishing to be involved in the medical care of animals, learning more about the benefits of hydrotherapy and hydrotherapy treadmill therapy is important. To address this need, there is now a specially tailored qualification that has been designed to teach students all they need to know about using hydrotherapy with animal patients. This Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy equips students with the knowledge and expertise they require to deliver safe, competent and beneficial hydrotherapy to animals under their care.

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Small Animal Hydrotherapy Course

This Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy is an extensive Ofqual approved qualification that enables students to develop the required knowledge for working as an animal hydrotherapist. Learn about small animal hydrotherapy for a variety of small animals including dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals that the hydrotherapist may come across in day to day practice.

The Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy is an Ofqual regulated qualification. When achieved, students will gain 44 Credits at Level 3. The theory aspect is studied online through Moodle at the student’s own pace with full Tutor support. The practical training and assessment take place over 6 days, we offer a choice of locations and dates for the practical training. The assessment takes place through a series of online and practical assessments.

On completion, students can progress into employment or continue into further education and training related to this specialist subject area. Students can progress onto the Level 4 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy and then to Levels 5 and 6 Veterinary Physiotherapy (coming soon).

Practical training also available in Singapore, please contact us for Singapore dates and availability.

Animal Courses Direct accepts no liability or responsibility for practical placements advertised on our website; placements are carried out entirely at the user’s own risk and students are required to sign our waiver form and obtain their own travel insurance. Where a deposit is requested, this is non refundable. Students are required to pay course fees in full prior to attending the practical placement. Practical placement dates may change and are subject to availability, please see our T&Cs.