Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy

Ofqual Code
Qualification Level
Award type
Study mode
Online and practical
Guided Learning Hours
Practical Locations

Approved by the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA)

women-trian-a-dog“We are really impressed with the additions and style of qualification and are pleased to let you know that we will accept this new qualification as a part of the membership criteria for joining the CHA”.  

The Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA) requires all members to complete 25 hours of CPD per year.

  Animal Courses Direct includes the first year of CPD training FREE for all new student enrolments!


Course Summary

This Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy is an extensive Ofqual approved qualification that enables students to develop the required knowledge for working as an animal hydrotherapist – providing small animal hydrotherapy for a variety of small animals including dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals that the hydrotherapist may come across in day to day practice.

To achieve the Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy, students are required to achieve 44 credits. The theory aspect is studied online through Moodle at the student’s own pace with full Tutor support. The practical training and assessment take place over 6 days. Assessment takes place through a series of written and practical assessments.

On completion, students can progress into employment or continue into further education and training related to this specialist subject area. Students can progress onto the Level 6 Diploma in Veterinary Physiotherapy with Hydrotherapy.

Students will gain knowledge of the techniques involved in the provision of hydrotherapy and the assessment required before small animal hydrotherapy commences. They will gain knowledge of medical conditions and their impact on hydrotherapy treatment. This qualification also develops students’ knowledge around tissue healing, small animal behaviour and professional practice management.

There is a focus on Practical Aquatic Treadmill Therapy and Advanced Treadmill Techniques – something that is not offered in any other qualification.

Additionally, students will learn terminology to be able to practically conduct gait analysis and review patient performance.

*You will have access to the course for 24 months only.

This qualification consists of a blend of theory and practical training that includes:


  • The theoretical principles of animal hydrotherapy and treadmill therapy, as well as theoretical guidance on how these therapies can be used.
  • Details on the conditions that hydrotherapy can benefit. These are primarily orthopaedic, medical and neurological in nature, and therapists will need to be well-versed in these issues so as to accurately administer therapy.
  • First aid and dealing with emergencies for small animals- this is essential for therapists who intend to work in animal healthcare and a requirement from the CHA/ NARCH to practice as a hydrotherapist.
  • The practical administration of hydrotherapy for dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals.
  • Small Animal Behaviour relevant to dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals in a therapeutic setting.
  • Thorough guidance on learning to assess an animal’s likely outcome from hydrotherapy and how to ascertain whether the treatment is suitable for a specific case.
  • Background information is provided on small animal anatomy and biology, so as to ensure excellent and robust baseline medical knowledge among those administering hydrotherapy.

As well as the theoretical study, the Level 3 Diploma in Hydrotherapy for Small Animals also involves a large amount of practical training and assessment spread over 6 days. This includes:


  • Working with highly qualified, experienced hydrotherapists and veterinary physiotherapists learning how the treatment is used in a working rehabilitation clinic. This includes pool hydrotherapy and hydrotherapy treadmill treatments, including innovative advanced aquatic treadmill techniques.
  • Gain hands-on training with a variety of dogs attending for rehabilitation and sports conditioning.
  • The basic fundamentals of administering hydrotherapy, such as assessment, handling of the patient, managing the equipment and other elements that are essential for effective treatment.
  • Learning to manage aftercare for an animal that has experienced a session of hydrotherapy, and how to interact with pet owners to discuss performance during the session.
  • All paperwork requirements are discussed and information provided regarding the completion of this element for report writing in hydrotherapy.
  • Practical first aid training to learn how to deal with potential emergency situations within a hydrotherapy centre.
  • 6 days of intensive hands-on training and assessments with our team of experienced Vets, Physiotherapists and Hydrotherapists at Woozelbears, a well established canine hydrotherapy company. This centre has top of the range equipment including underwater treadmills, large bespoke pools, a hydrotherapy spa, the 2nd gait analysis treadmill in the UK and a team of highly qualified personnel.

This practical placement enables students to learn from experienced professionals in the industry whilst working with a range of cases at different stages of treatment.

This small animal hydrotherapy course will ensure you are employable as an animal hydrotherapist; there are many companies around the country that are recruiting for Qualified Canine Hydrotherapists. Woozelbears Hydrotherapy offers franchise opportunities in various parts of the UK if you have the ambition to own your own business.

The Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy is an Ofqual regulated qualification.  When achieved, students will gain 44 Credits at Level 3.

Progression Routes:

This qualification can be used by students to gain employment in the animal care sector, to set up their own animal hydrotherapy business or to progress to further study in the animal hydrotherapy/physiotherapy sector.

Entry requirements:

Students must demonstrate previous experience with animals. The minimum age for access to this qualification is 16 years.  Students are required to have a good understanding of English language,  have good physical mobility and physical fitness and be a confident swimmer.


We accept payment by instalments for this course.  This qualification is approved for funding by the Ministry of Defence Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELC)

Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy

Unit Summary (326 GLH)

Unit 1

An Introduction to Hydrotherapy (40 GLH)

This unit is intended to provide students with background information on hydrotherapy, an understanding of the properties of water, types of equipment used in hydrotherapy and the intended outcomes of hydrotherapy.

Unit 2

Anatomy and Physiology of Small Animals (20 GLH)

The unit provides an introduction to the subjects of anatomy and physiology. This understanding is essential for providing hydrotherapy to the patient.

Unit 3

Gait Analysis and Biomechanics (24 GLH)

Gain knowledge of gait patterns and relevant terminology, as well as posture and muscle contractions relevant to hydrotherapy treatment.

Unit 4

Hydrotherapy and Related Conditions (30 GLH)

Gain knowledge of the conditions that are commonly presented for hydrotherapy. This includes medical, orthopaedic and neurological conditions.

Unit 5

Introduction to Small Animal Massage (24 GLH)

Students will learn about the benefits of small animal massage and the techniques used in small animal massage. Learn about the various forms of massage and the benefits of massage on common injuries.

Unit 6

Maintenance of Hydrotherapy Equipment and Water Balance (14 GLH)

Learn about water testing and how to interpret results from water tests.

Unit 7

Practical Administration of Hydrotherapy (35 GLH)

This unit explores the practical application of hydrotherapy from the initial assessment to the preparation of the patient, to hydrotherapy treatment and aftercare.

Unit 8

Practical Advanced Aquatic Treadmill Techniques (20 GLH)

Learn about the practical application of advanced aquatic treadmill techniques and how to adjust hydrotherapy treatment and review patient performance.

Unit 9

Practical Aquatic Treadmill Therapy (24 GLH)

This practical unit is about the aquatic treadmill and how to create treadmill sessions for patients.

Unit 10

Professional Practice Management (25 GLH)

Learn about the importance of CPD, professional conduct within the workplace, roles and responsibilities within a hydrotherapy centre and administration to be carried out.

Unit 11

Small Animal Assessment for Hydrotherapy (20 GLH)

This unit provides explores the veterinary referral process, health checking small animals. It also looks at the various professional team members involved in treating patients, and their suitability for hydrotherapy.

Unit 12

Small Animal Behaviour (15 GLH)

Gain an understanding of small animal behaviour in relation to hydrotherapy. Learn about safe handling and how to understand body language in small animals.

Unit 13

Small Animal First Aid (10 GLH)

This unit looks at the aims of first aid, the different types of emergency that the student may come across in a hydrotherapy centre, and the practical application of first aid techniques.

Unit 14

Tissue Healing Process (25 GLH)

This unit explores the tissue healing process, including factors that may affect this process, types of pain, and timing of hydrotherapy treatment.


Small Animal Hydrotherapy Course


If you’ve already invested some time into learning how to work efficiently and safely with small animals, you’re potentially the ideal participant for this vigorous qualification course. From veterinarian nurses interested in moving their careers forward to animal welfare workers eager to learn more about the care of animals in their charge, many students over the age of 16 find this program a suitable way to advance their knowledge and perfect their skills. Most students have some experience handling animals before starting the coursework.

What will you learn if you sign up for this qualification? You’ll discover valuable information regarding the use of hydrotherapy to treat small animals. This includes answering some critical questions:

  • How can this unique form of therapy benefit small animals in varying states of physical health?
  • Which medical conditions respond best to hydrotherapy?
  • What are the safest and most effective procedures for applying hydrotherapy techniques?

puppi-training-hydrotherpy-courseWhile a variety of hydrotherapy techniques are introduced through this course, it’s important that every student act in accordance with their personal qualifications. Participants are never required to perform skills that they can’t competently and confidently implement.

It is fair to say that animal medicine and understanding has come a long way over the past few decades. As a result of this continual dedication to development, our pets are now able to enjoy longer, healthier and happier lives.

One such innovation that has helped to contribute to the overall well-being of the nation’s pets is animal hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy has long been a popular treatment technique for humans; it is non-weight bearing, so is comfortable for the vast majority of users. Expanding the inherent benefits of hydrotherapy to the animal world was inevitable, and the practice has now been perfected.

Furthermore, there is a huge demand for qualified animal hydrotherapists, therefore working as a qualified animal hydrotherapist or setting up an animal hydrotherapy business can be a excellent career option.

women-trian-a-puppiFor those wishing to be involved in the medical care of animals, learning more about the benefits of hydrotherapy and hydrotherapy treadmill therapy is incredibly important. To address this need, there is now a specially tailored qualification that has been designed to teach students all they need to know about using hydrotherapy with animal patients. This Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy course equips students with the knowledge and expertise they require to deliver safe, competent and beneficial hydrotherapy to animals under their care.


This small animal hydrotherapy course is extremely comprehensive and highly sought after. Rather than focusing specifically on hydrotherapy itself, the external theory is also included in the qualification syllabus.

Study from home, at your own pace and with full tutor support. This course includes 6 days intensive practical training


german-dog-train-Hydrotherapy-courseStudents are required to have good physical mobility as the Practical Placement involves the following activities:

  • Handling a variety of dogs with varying mobility
  • The ability to handle the dog at their level (knelt)
  • Moving around the dog to accommodate their body language and behaviour
  • Strength, stability and balance when working with a patient in the confinement of an aquatic treadmill
  • Suitable mobility to get in an above ground pool and walk through a 1-metre water level under the resistance and hydrostatic pressure of a heated hydrotherapy pool
  • If attending an advanced treadmill course must be able to stand, bend over and kneel in the treadmill and deliver the techniques for a variety of breeds with control
  • Suitable fitness to perform 40 hours of practical training.

Students can select from Chepstow, Witney, Aberdeen, Houston (USA), and Melksham.

Practical Placement Dates and Venues

These dates may change depending on the current situation but will not affect the students online learning

Placement locations: Chepstow, Witney, Aberdeen, Houston (USA), and Melksham.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I have to have a practical placement to enrol on this course?

We provide this as part of the course once you have completed the theory aspects of the course. We include an intensive 6-day practical training programme where you will gain valuable hands-on experience.

How is the course designed, delivered and assessed?

The course is designed primarily to be a self-study, distance learning course with tutor support to guide and support you through the learning and materials. The materials contain internet resources that have been examined for quality, content and access that are relevant to the topics and subject matter in the different units. The practical training is carried out towards the end of your course.

Are there any examinations?

There are no examinations but you also need to build a portfolio of evidence of your learning and understanding according to assessments set out in the course materials. Internal moderation of your portfolio is carried out by Animal Jobs Direct and then moderated externally.

How long can I expect to be studying?

Each unit of this Small Animal Hydrotherapy course contains a certain number of Guided Learning Hours (GLH) to give an indication of how long you can expect to be studying and preparing for any one unit’s assessment. Although the GLH of any unit may seem small (please see the specification above), you need to take into account the research and reading before attempting the assessments.

Who is this qualification designed for?

This qualification is aimed at students who have already gained experience of working with small animals in a voluntary or employed capacity and wish to develop their existing knowledge and skills to be able to safely administer hydrotherapy to small animals.  The qualification is designed for students aged 16+.

We accept Elcas Funding:

Animal Jobs Direct is has been granted Approved Learning Provider status in the Enhanced Learning Credit scheme.


Course Fees are fully inclusive


Course fees for this small animal hydrotherapy course are inclusive of 6 x Intensive Practical Training Days. Course fees must be paid in full prior to attending the practical placement.

Fees are also inclusive of tutoring fees, assessments, course materials, course registration and practical placement.  There is nothing extra to pay.

Approved by the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA)

“We are really impressed with the additions and style of qualification and are pleased to let you know that we will accept this new qualification as a part of the membership criteria for joining the CHA”.  

We offer a selection of accredited and employer recognised courses specifically designed for careers working with animals.

Animal Job Opportunities

If you have any questions about our courses, please contact us.

Contact us

We’ve assisted many people to achieve their goal to work with animals. Read more about our 5-star reviews and student success stories.

Student Success Stories

Gain relevant training to achieve your goal to work with animals.

View Courses