We recently caught up with the lovely Tracy Lopez, who is a Canine Technical Hydrotherapist based in the midlands. We asked Tracy some questions to find out more about her super unusual and interesting job.
What does a typical day entail for you?
‘My day usually starts at 8:30am at which point I get to the Centre and start carrying out water tests on the hydro pool and both of our water treadmills. I have to make sure that our water quality is up to standard for people and dogs.
My first hydrotherapy customers of the day start to arrive at 9:30am and continue every half hour until the end of the day at 4:30pm.
We see a variety of dog breeds at the Centre with various issues; conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, dogs who have undergone surgery to repair ruptured cruciate ligaments, dogs who have had total hip replacements etc.
Many of our customers are long standing and have been coming to us for years. We very often first see dogs when they are relatively young and if they have an ongoing condition such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, then we will often see them for the rest of their lives. As a result, we really get to know our customers and their dogs, and we build up great relationships over the years.’
What’s the best bit about the job?
‘It’s such a rewarding job because in most cases, it’s always a positive experience. We see dogs when they first come to the centre and they’re usually in discomfort and a bit fed up, we then start them on a course of hydrotherapy and put together a treatment plan which we supervise over the coming weeks.
More often than not, you will see an improvement after a few weeks. Dogs will start to move better, feel less stiff, weight bear better on their affected leg, be able to walk for longer and generally get a new lease for life. Owners come in and tell us little improvements that they’ve noticed in their dog’s behaviour and movement and it’s always such a lovely thing! I’ve been a Canine Hydrotherapist for 10 years now and over the years I’ve treated hundreds of dogs and despite being quite experienced, I am always learning new things, discovering new techniques and educating myself to further improve my knowledge. It’s a great rewarding job and I can’t think of a better way to spend my days.
What’s the purpose of your role?
‘The role of a Hydrotherapist is to apply hydrotherapy techniques to help dogs recover from injury. Treatments are usually carried out on diagnosed conditions or injuries on dogs referred by a veterinary surgeon. Hydrotherapy is also used as an enjoyable form of exercise for dogs to help keep them fit.’
Any tips for getting into the job?
‘As a Canine Hydrotherapist, you need to be compassionate, have a strong interest in animals and relevant experience handling them. You must be able to swim, and it’s important to have good observational skills, along with a mind for enquiry and an aptitude for science. Good communication skills are essential and the ability to work in a team with other professionals. It is an extremely rewarding and varied profession. In order to qualify as a Canine Hydrotherapist it is advisable to have background experience and/or study with animals and to train in the following areas: canine first aid, pool water management, hydrotherapy theory, canine anatomy and physiology.’
Find out more about Tracy and the services offered here.