Petphysio is Edinburgh’s leading centre for pet hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is common in the USA where pet owners have come to expect a balanced approach to recovery, involving medicines and physical therapy. From my studies in America, I wanted local pets to benefit from this established and successful rehabilitation method and decided to create Edinburgh’s first purpose-built hydrotherapy centre, providing this ultimate form of physiotherapy.

Committed to being at the forefront of veterinary practice, is a natural fit for Oak Tree Vet Centre.

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If you would like to see our current petphysio client leaflet click here:
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If you are coming from another veterinary practice, please click this referral form and bring it with you:

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If you would like to try out our service for the first time, why not take advantage of a £15 discount by filling in the voucher on the right.

We look forward to seeing you. Please phone 0131 539 7539 to book your pet’s session.

To learn more on this page, click the headings below to expand them

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New to Oak Tree? Download your free voucher to receive £15.00 off your first full consultation or petphysio session and receive some helpful tips on how to give your pet the best care possible simply fill out the form below.

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  • What is it for?

    Hydrotherapy is the use of a volume of water to allow the controlled movement or exercise of a patient for their physical and mental well-being.

    Has your pet had orthopaedic surgery, got arthritis, a spinal problem or a limp caused by a tendon and ligament injury? Or, does your pet need to lose some weight and improve their fitness? For any of the above, please read on.

    The benefits of swimming and performing aquatic exercise have long been appreciated for humans in terms of both health and fitness, as almost every muscle of the anatomy is exercised whilst avoiding impact to joints and bones. Extending this to our canine patients with a suitable course of hydrotherapy treatment encourages joint movement in reduced weight conditions, improving muscle tone, promoting tendon repair without imposing undue stress on damaged tissues and improving cardiovascular stamina. Just as in people, exercising dogs produce their own endorphins producing that feel good factor post work out.

    Hydrotherapy can be used for the treatment and rehabilitation of arthritis, post surgery and with many types of muscle, tendon & ligament injury. It can also help with general convalescence from debilitating medical disorders, obesity and overall fitness training. Many show dogs are swam to improve their body muscle mass and tone.

    Muscle wastage occurs with any lameness, beginning within days of any factor reducing the use of the limb. Therefore to prevent further weakness or injury it is important to rebuild, through safe exercise, any muscles that have deteriorated. Swimming and water walking is ideal for rebuilding the muscle both prior to an operation and after the stitches have been removed and the skin healed.

    Walking is often painful and too strenuous for the dog, on land, each footfall creates a shock wave, which travels up the limb and is absorbed by bones, tendons and joints. While these stresses are normally necessary to maintain healthy, strong bone, premature land exercise can actually damage or weaken the limb, particularly an arthritic joint or one recovering from an injury or surgery. Swimming and water walking allows exercise and strengthening of the muscles while avoiding this potentially damaging concussion. The increased resistance to movement caused by the water means the muscles have to work harder than they would do on land.

    Even standing a dog in warm water has a beneficial effect – the pressure of the water on the chest makes breathing more difficult, the ribcage muscles and lungs have to work harder, and therefore there is improvement to the respiratory system. The heart has to work harder in order to meet the increased demand for oxygen and fuel for all the muscles, which are being worked. Exercise and movement together with the hydrostatic pressure caused by immersion in the water can assist in reducing swelling by moving tissue fluids away from the affected area.

    If all this sounds like hard work – it is – that’s the idea! For a dog, a 5 minute swim is a serious burst of energy expenditure, but the natural buoyancy of the water and the fact that sudden twists and falls are impossible makes hydrotherapy a safe and effective form of exercise for a dog. It’s also very enjoyable for most animals!

  • Facilities and staff

    With state of the art facilities, we can provide your pet with the highest standards of physiotherapy.

    Your therapists are the veterinary nursing team, whom you already know.

    Swimming Pool

    Within a purpose built, modern, air-conditioned and hygienic room with a non-slip floor, we have a heated 12-foot therapy swimming pool.

    Inside the pool there are loads of air and water jets and an internal ramp to help your pet safely exit the pool.

    Before your pet enters the pool via an external ramp they will be showered to ensure they are sparkling clean.

    If we think your pet will struggle entering the pool, an overhead hoist is available to lift them in and out.

    After they have finished their therapy session they will be kept warm and will be dried, using a top quality heated drier.

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    View of the pool section of the facility from the front door

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    View of the pool section of the facility from the treadmill area

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    View of the washing station

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    Biba, Alistair’s Hungarian Vizsla having a trial session.


    In addition to the pool, we have an underwater treadmill to provide your pet with a focussed workout.

    Primarily designed for rehabilitation after surgery, the water treadmill provides your pet with a precise and controlled exercise, as both the depth of the water and speed the treadmill goes can be adjusted, according to your pet’s requirements and stage of recovery.

    Another advantage is for the few pets that are truly scared of being in water, the water treadmill provides the best of both worlds – the therapy water can provide and your dog still has contact with terra firma!

    We offer a low cost taster session in the pool or treadmill for £10. Simply fill in the special voucher opposite, phone us on (0131) 539 7539 or send us an email and we’ll be pleased to welcome you.

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    View of the treadmill section.

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    Peta, Alistair’s Cheasapeake Bay Retriever, perhaps more interested in the photographer’s biscuit than concentrating on her workout!

  • Terms and Conditions

    1) Whilst every care is taken of the dogs undergoing treatment and in water & equipment maintenance, all dogs receive hydrotherapy treatment entirely at their owner’s risk.

    2) All patients using’s facilities must be currently vaccinated and in the case of animals not vaccinated by Oak Tree Vet Centre, we require to see the vaccination certificate prior to the first session.

    3) All treatment courses, including those to be part of an insurance claim, shall be paid for in advance. Individual sessions must be paid for prior to the start of the session. Blocks of five sessions may be booked and paid for at a time in advance and this entitles the owner to a free sixth session. Payment may be made by cash, debit or credit card. We are unable to accept American Express.

    4) Session fees will be charged in full if an appointment is broken or cancelled without 24 hours notice unless we can schedule another patient to take your place in which a half fee will be charged.

    5) It is expected that owners will participate in sessions encouraging their dog to cooperate with the exercising and to act in support of the therapist. If you are unable or unwilling to become involved, it may be possible, with advanced notice for a second therapist or other member of staff to take your place. This may add 50% to the fee.

    6) There are no dedicated facilities for children and young children and those not capable of complying with simple instructions should not be brought along. In the event of disruptive or unsafe behaviour of any member of your party reserves the right to terminate the session and no refund will be given. Those causing the problem may be barred, permanently, from future sessions.

    7) will do everything in it’s power to ensure that both staff and facilities are available for your session. There may be unforeseen circumstances including but not limited to power failure, contaminated water, unexpected staff absence or equipment failure necessitating the cancellation of your session. We shall give you as much notice as possible and reschedule to suit your diary. Any liability on our part will not exceed the sum paid for the individual session(s) cancelled which at our discretion will be refunded in lieu of a rescheduling.

    8) As the floor in the pool room can become very wet during a swimming session, it is advisable for all clients to wear sensible shoes to avoid slipping. Quick drying or waterproof trousers are desirable and you may choose to bring a shower-proof jacket to protect your clothing

    9) Dogs with infectious or contagious conditions, such as ear, eye or skin infections, vomiting or diarrhoea etc. will not be treated. Owners are advised to cancel all appointments with at least 24 hours notice, until the condition is clear. Normal cancellation conditions will apply.

    10) Bitches in season will not be able to attend pool sessions until their season has finished.

    11) Owners are required to notify if, during a course of treatments, the dog’s injury or condition worsens, or if the responsible veterinary surgeon advises that the treatment should be stopped or suspended.

    12) reserves the right to refuse treatment to any dog.

    13) Owners are requested not to feed their dog for at least 4 hours before attending an appointment, and to ensure that the dog has had good opportunity to urinate and pass faeces before arriving. A surcharge of £30 may be made for dogs that defecate in the pool, as we may have to close the pool to clean it. Animals who have undeclared diarrhoea and who contaminate the pool will necessitate the pool being closed for sufficient time to clean or replace the water and bring the water chemistry up to standard. All the sessions for other patients cancelled as a result of this occurrence will be chargeable at the full rate in addition to the £30 surcharge for water sanitisation.

    14) When not undergoing treatment, all dogs shall be kept under control and must be on a lead with exception of dogs unable to walk without assistance.

    15). It is the owner’s responsibility to poop scoop after their dogs, whilst on or near’s premises. Poop bags are available on request.

    16) cannot be held responsible for any loss, injury or damage to persons, animals, vehicles or personal property, howsoever occasioned, whilst on company premises.

    17) reserves the right to use video footage and photographic stills taken, with your verbal consent at the time, during sessions.

  • Coming for a session

    Coming for a hydrotherapy session

    Petphysio is Edinburgh’s leading centre for pet hydrotherapy. Owner, Alistair Marks MRCVS, who also owns the Oak Tree Vet Centre, has many years of experience providing excellent standards of veterinary care, making petphysio the facility to trust with your pet’s rehabilitation needs.

    Oak Tree Vet Centre Clients

    If you are already an Oak Tree client then simply ring us on (0131) 539 7539. The veterinary surgeon who normally attends to your pet will consult the notes and we’ll arrange either the first session or to see you to discuss the therapy further depending upon how long ago you last attended.

    If your pet in insured, you may well find the cost of hydrotherapy is claimable subject to veterinary referral. Please consult your policy documents to check.

    If you have no current veterinary practice

    If you have not attended a veterinary surgeon in the past 12 months, or have recently moved into the area, we can accept you directly by ringing us on (0131) 539 7539. One of our veterinary surgeons will evaluate your dog and proceed as above. If your pet has not been seen in the past year, it is likely that your dog will require being brought up to date with routine vaccinations before he or she can use our facilities.

    Arriving for a session

    When you have a booking with, we set aside half an hour of our day for the exclusive benefit of your dog and in order to enjoy the full benefit we need you to arrive and be ready to start in time. There will be clients following your appointment and to allow them to arrive and leave on time we shall have to finish your session on time even if you arrive late.

    We have a private car park and please aim to arrive a few minutes early.

    Please ensure that your pet is clean before you arrive as it is important to keep our facilities hygienic and clean – if your pet is dirty and requires shampooing then they will be unable to enter the pool, as shampoo residues are harmful to the water chemistry of our specialised swimming pool. It may be possible to use the treadmill, if available, after shampooing although whatever time is taken shampooing will come off your therapy time.

    Once your dog is confident in the water, it can be helpful to bring floating toys if you have them to make the session more fun. We have a selection here, so don’t worry if you don’t have any.

    After the session, we will give your dog a quick blow over, if they are happy to be dried, with our heated computer controlled drier so they are not dripping wet for the journey home.

    It would also be a good idea to bring a large towel and/or a towelling dog coat.

    Patients do best when their owners are actively involved and hydrotherapy can be a wet activity so please dress appropriately in quick drying clothes or, if you prefer, bring waterproofs.

    Clients of other veterinary practices

    If you would like your pet to use our hydrotherapy facilities please ask your vet for a referral. He or she is most welcome to telephone us for further information or for the opportunity (if they have not already done so) to view, personally, our facility and discuss your case face to face. Referral to us means your own vet remains in charge of the case and we simply provide the hydrotherapy at his or her request.

    In order that we have the relevant information to commence hydrotherapy we ask for a signed veterinary consent.

    The referral form may be viewed and downloaded for printing here.

    Please use a black pen if faxing. Thank you.

    (You will have to wait until this page is loaded, fully, before the link will open a new window with the form)

    Once you have your form please phone (0131) 539 7539 and make an appointment with one of the veterinary nurses for your pet’s first session. Please bring the signed form on the first visit together with your pet’s vaccination card. Your ongoing veterinary care remains, of course, with your existing practice and we encourage you to visit them periodically so that they too can evaluate the progress being made and make adjustments in medicines and supplements

    If your pet in insured, you may well find the cost of hydrotherapy is claimable subject to veterinary referral. Please consult your policy documents to check.

  • Why not DIY in the sea or river?

    Don’t put your pet at risk – our facilities are safe, hygienic and effective

    Why not the local pond, river or down at the beach?

    The Scottish weather means the local pond or river and especially the sea are always cold, even in the summer months.

    Cold water causes our dog’s body to constrict blood vessels in the superficial tissues and muscles. Not only can this be unpleasant for your dog but it can cause cramp.

    Whilst a fit and healthy dog may well both enjoy and benefit from safe outdoor swimming, an unfit or convalescent dog may be further compromised or worse still, run into difficulties and, in extreme circumstances, drown.

    You should be aware of blue-green algal blooms in ponds and slow moving rivers in the summer. Exposure to the algae can cause severe vomiting and can lead to kidney failure within a few days.

    Also be cautious of muddy slippery banks – if your dog has to scramble up and down a difficult bank he or she could sustain further injury, or make a pre-existing injury worse.

    There’s no doubt that a controlled swim in a warm and hygienic specialised swimming pool and getting dried off afterwards will be a much more rewarding and safe experience for your dog. I’m sure the back of your car will thank you too!