Hydrotherapy Case Study: Bailey's story

Hydrotherapy Case Study: Bailey's story

Bailey - a three-year old Labrador - was referred to Langford Veterinary Services for hydrotherapy in February 2014, having shown ongoing signs of hip pain and left hind lameness for several months.

Radiographs of Bailey’s hips showed that he had bilateral hip dysplasia and early degenerative joint disease. 

Introduction to Hydrotherapy

At his Hydrotherapy induction, Bailey was very happy, playful and excited, however it was noted that he would favour his right leg, shifting weight onto that side, and occasionally holding his left leg up.  At his first session, the femoris muscle on his left hind leg measured 3cm smaller than the right.

After ten sessions of hydrotherapy, Bailey’s muscle and flexibility had increased so that his left was almost as large as his right, however his stance had not improved and he still favoured his right and held his left up when trotting, so further investigations were needed.

Combined treatment

Bailey was referred to Physiotherapy to see if combined treatment could help strengthen and support his hip. Laser therapy was used to help relax his muscles and simple exercises were used to try and improve weight distribution. Our Physiotherapist found that Bailey still had a reduced range of movement and pain related to his lumbosacral area, as well as possible sciatic nerve pain.

He was referred to our Neurology department, where exam results indicated nothing abnormal, however, we found that he was experiencing pain after palpating the lower lumbar spine, and as a result, was referred to see one of our Orthopaedic surgeons.

Bailey was x-rayed and found to have severe left hip subluxation, as well as severe degenerative joint disease and remodelling of the joint. After discussion with the owner about options available, Bailey was booked in for a total hip replacement.


Bailey’s surgery went well and he was sent to our surgery ward for recovery. Just a few days post-surgery Bailey was bright, alert, happy and eating/drinking well. Short assisted walks were introduced, with a sling to support the weight through his hips and two members of staff present to minimise risk of him luxating his new hip joint.

Bailey began to use his left hind leg well and three days post-op his pain relief was reduced from opioids to oral medication. He was discharged the following day, with a strict recovery plan, to include three five-minute walks a day.


Six weeks later, Bailey came in for a re-check. He presented bright, alert and responsive. No pain was found upon manipulation of his left hind, he was weight bearing on all four limbs and his wound had healed nicely. Post-op x-rays showed satisfactory implant positioning and Bailey was discharged on the same day. He is now recovering very well, and with the help of his hydrotherapy sessions, building up his strength, muscle and flexibility on both legs.