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Watsu for Natural Canine Healing

Updated on January 17, 2018
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Alison has been practicing Animal Communication for over twelve years. She has a certificate from The Gurney Institute.

Watsu For Canine Healing

In 1980 Harold Dull started developing Watsu, a form of body therapy performed in the water. Its uses among the human population have proved to be a successful source of healing. Now, practitioners have started using it in the canine world as well.

Watsu encompasses muscle stretching, massage, yoga and tia-chi all to relax and rejuvenate the body. Canine Water Therapists now combine Watsu and swimming to help naturally alleviate pain in arthritic dogs or help a dog heal from surgery or injury. Trainers use Watsu to reduce aggressive tendencies in shelter dogs. Cesar Milan has even used it when rehabilitating canine clients.

After surgery a veterinarian may want to have a dog start water therapy, yet not start a full swim regimen. In this case a therapist will gently cradle the dog in their arms and move them around in a warm water pool. The movements are slow and smooth, one motion blending into another. The motion of the water against the dog's limbs helps loosen and stretch the muscles and joints. This swishing helps acclimate the dog to the water to the pool in a stress free environment. It also gives the therapist a chance to work the dog's limbs without them actually swimming. Since a lot of patients aren’t able to swim for the first few weeks after surgery moving them around in the warm water circulates the blood to promote healing.

With Watsu different parts of the body can be isolated and worked. The stretching is done naturally using only the motion of the water to do the work. No undo stress is placed on any part of the body.

Any dog can be stressed beyond their limit after going through a traumatic experience such as major surgery. Many pets come away with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Water practitioners employ Watsu as a way to help dogs overcome PTSD symptoms. PTSD is counter-productive to the pet's healing. Watsu's warm, gentle techniques help alleviate PTSD so the pet heals faster.

Watsu is wonderful healer for older, arthritic pets. The weightlessness of the water combined with the slow methodical movements of Watsu helps loosen up arthritic joints promoting pain relief. The warm water moving over their body helps enhance circulation which helps improve the immune system. Watsu also promotes a more restful sleep and better sense of well being in older dogs.

Because Watsu encompasses stretching many aquatic therapists Watsu their client for the first ten minutes before moving onto swimming. Watsu is a great warm up technique.

We all know shelter dogs can come with a lot of baggage, but Watsu has proven to calm fears and curb aggression in may shelter dogs. Shelters now use water therapy as a way to help shelter pets over come their pasts. Watsu helps reverse aggression and fear issues in dogs. Introducing a dog to water is a great confidence builder. Watsu helps break the ice then making these introductions. The dog feels safe in the practitioners arms and learns to relax before they learn to swim.

New forms of canine therapy are being developed all the time. Many of the same techniques used for people are now effective in helping canines. There is no question that Watsu is very effective is helping dogs heal faster. Geriatric dogs benefit from the natural stretching the water provides when Watsuing. Many behaviorists and trainers also find water therapy accelerates behavioral changes in shelter dogs. As time goes on more Aquatic Therapy Pools will open and all dogs will be able to reap the benefits of Watsu and Canine Water Therapy.


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    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      This sounds like a wonderful gentle healing technique. Thank you for sharing!