Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy … How It All Began

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With our first year ‘under our belts’, Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy is fast becoming known as the place to take your dog for some help from the Penbugle spring waters!

From the initial spark of an idea to the business launch, Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy is the brainchild of its fully qualified manager, Steph Ridout.

Underwater treadmill at duchy canine hydrotherapy, near liskeard, cornwall
Underwater treadmill

Meet Manager Steph Ridout
As with any specialist, niche business, Steph had to undergo years of training, studying and practical work. Steph is now the proud owner of a number of qualifications including an FdSc in Animal Behaviour and Psychology, a BSc (Hons) in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, and a Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy and is currently completing Level 4 Treadmill. That’s quite a clutch of credentials and all Steph needed to do was open her business to its first customers, which she did in September 2019.

Of course, there’s so much more to this shaggy dog story! Steph was supported lock, stock and barrel by her parents, John and Lizzie Ridout and from the rest of her friends and family.

hydrotherapy for your dog at duchy canine hydrotherapy
Pooch in the pool

Where is Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy based?
The hydrotherapy treatment rooms are set in a stunning location at Penbugle Organic Farm, just a short distance from Liskeard in South East Cornwall.

hydrotherapy for your dog at duchy canine hydrotherapy near liskeard, cornwall
Happier dog

Steph spent her formative years at the farm which covers 260 acres of land and is fully organic. The farm includes livestock and is home to the Cornshire Herd of pedigree Red Ruby Devon cattle along with Lleyn and Polled Dorset Sheep. The farm also includes a lot of feathered friends including free-range hens that cluck happily all day and lay the most delicious, golden yoked organic eggs.

Cow and calf

So, Steph had an understanding of animals, the natural world and how humans can work harmoniously with both. Of course, most farms have dogs and cats, and Penbugle was no exception.

With her leaning towards the sciences and our four-legged friends, Steph studied hard and spotted a gap in the market with regards to hydrotherapy for dogs.

What does Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy include?
You might well be asking yourself, what is hydrotherapy? Basically, it is exercise using the therapeutic properties of warm water.

At Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy, and unlike many other hydrotherapy centres, you will find we have a spacious hydrotherapy pool, an underwater treadmill and a Jacuzzi Spa. These specialist pieces of equipment offer a full range of treatments that aid recovery from operations, accidents and a number of medical conditions.

The hydrotherapy pool measures five metres by three metres and includes both a ramp and a hoist so there’s space and access for dogs of all shapes and sizes. With the water kept at a warm 30-degrees Celsius, the pool has the added technological advantage of underwater jets and cameras for therapeutic and examination purposes. Steph also tests the pool waters three times a day, so it is always very, very safe to use.

dog in pool at duchy canine hydrotherapy
Doggy paddle!

The underwater Tudor Treadmill is an amazing piece of kit with a sturdy, stainless steel frame, toughened glass and has the huge benefit of an incline at the ingress and egress of the treadmill. This particular treadmill also has doors at either end so there’s never the complication of the dog having to turn around to exit!

Tudor Treadmills are one of the most advanced brands on the market, designed by hydro therapists and with a computer touch-screen control panel, so Steph can keep an eye on the dog and how the treatment is progressing in ‘real time’. Steph can also control the speed of the treadmill in metres per second or miles per hour and there is space for Steph to accompany the patient into the unit itself if needed.

The size of the dog doesn’t matter as the treadmill has a motor that can handle the hugest of hounds. In the unlikely event of an emergency, the water within the treadmill can be emptied in seconds, straight into the drainage system and the inside and outside of the unit are very easy to clean.

dog using underwater treadmill at duchy canine hydrotherapy, pen bugle organic farm, near liskeard, cornwall
Walking the walk!

For anxious dog owners or guardians, their pet’s progress can be shared directly with them from Steph so the improvement can be closely monitored.

Last but by no means least, the Jacuzzi Spa helps promote muscle relaxation. The spa at Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy includes eight directional jets and helps the skin and muscles to relax. The spa can also relieve pressure on the joints and aids the removal of lactic acid from body tissue. Anyone who takes moderate to intense exercise will know how uncomfortable this naturally occurring substance can be!

Of course, all these gizmos are worth nothing without the expertise and this is where Steph steps in. With her experience, knowledge and training, orthopaedic and neurological canine conditions can be relieved and with Steph’s help, a dog’s quality of life can be improved beyond measure.

How Can Dogs Benefit From Hydrotherapy?
Daily exercise for dogs (and humans!) tends to be on hard or semi-hard surfaces such as footpaths, grass or on sandy beaches. Hydrotherapy techniques enable a dog to exercise bearing very little or none of its body weight. Older dogs that have arthritis can really benefit from the soothing effects of warm water. Other benefits include improving cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone and overall well-being.

Perhaps the best news is that following surgery, injury or both, Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy techniques can be used alongside veterinary treatments. And of course, dogs can do the doggy paddle just for fun too!

Above all, Steph treats each canine patient holistically, taking in the whole of the dog’s background, medical history and behaviours. No two dogs are the same and therefore their treatments shouldn’t be either.

There are so many conditions that can benefit from Steph’s business, including dysplasia, spinal injuries, paralysis, obesity, osteoarthritis and many others.

hydrotherapy for your dog at duchy canine hydrotherapy, near liskeard, cornwall
Getting ready …

Testimonials and Case Studies
We have a number of testimonials and we are also building up a collection of case studies as Duchy Canine Hydrotherapy starts its second year of helping dogs (and their owners) from across Devon, Cornwall and beyond.

We will update this blog on a regular basis, and we hope you’ve found this article interesting. If you were in any doubt as to how excellent hydrotherapy can be for a dog, then we hope these doubts have been dispelled.

Until next time …

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