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Pet therapist helps dogs walk their way to good health with new underwater treadmill

PUBLISHED: 16:41 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:54 13 February 2019

Pet therapist Antony Flint with eight-year-old labrador Archie, whose leg problems have been helped by a course of treatment on a new underwater treadmill. 
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Pet therapist Antony Flint with eight-year-old labrador Archie, whose leg problems have been helped by a course of treatment on a new underwater treadmill. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

You can't teach an old dog new tricks, as the saying goes, but according to pet therapist Antony Flint, training your canine companion to walk on an underwater treadmill can give them a whole new lease of life.

Pet therapist Antony Flint with eight-year-old labrador Archie, whose leg problems have been helped by a course of treatment on a new underwater treadmill. 
Photo: KAREN BETHELLPet therapist Antony Flint with eight-year-old labrador Archie, whose leg problems have been helped by a course of treatment on a new underwater treadmill. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The former forklift truck driver, who set up his own pet hydrotherapy business at Letheringsett, near Holt, after being forced to give up work through illness three years ago, now has more than 40 dogs on his books.

His clinic, which is kitted out with an 11,000 litre heated pool with ramps, platforms and resistance jets, offers individually tailored exercise programmes for animalss recovering from injury and operations, or suffering from conditions including arthritis, spinal problems, obesity and hip dysplasia.

Pet therapist Antony Flint with eight-year-old labrador Archie, whose leg problems have been helped by a course of treatment on a new underwater treadmill. 
Photo: KAREN BETHELLPet therapist Antony Flint with eight-year-old labrador Archie, whose leg problems have been helped by a course of treatment on a new underwater treadmill. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Dogs, which have ranged from a 4kg Yorkshire terrier, to a Newfoundland weighing in at 75kg, are usually referred to the clinic by local vets once they are well enough to start rehabilitation.

However, a newly-installed, £30,000 water treadmill could mean Mr Flint’s patients are able to start treatment earlier and get on the road to recovery more quickly.

The machine, which is fed by a giant tank, fills with water at the touch of a button, allowing Mr Flint to set the pace and help dogs who may be in pain from injury or illness.

“It is particularly good for dogs with spinal conditions as, if they are nervous, they might panic in a pool and injure themselves,” he explained. “With the treadmill, I can control the speed of the dog’s walking and, because I get in with them, I can reassure and guide them.”

Years ago, hydrotherapy for dogs was viewed as a luxury, Mr Flint added, but with its effectiveness now recognised by vets, most pet insurers will cover the cost of a course of treatment and more dog owners are able to benefit.

“It does have a huge impact and I find that even after one session, you can see an improvement in some dogs,” Mr Flint, 44, said.

“It is really rewarding for me, but I just love seeing the owners’ reactions; it’s amazing how much people love their dogs and the extremes they will go to in order to help them is just brilliant.”

For more information, visit www.fourpawshydro.co.uk or phone 01263 588896.

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