Case study: Olly's arthritis rehab

Olly's arthritis rehab journey

Meet Olly, a very special apricot German Shepherd, named after the singer and presenter Olly Murs.

Olly (the dog) is 12 this year and has been coming to our Pet Fitness & Rehabilitation Centre for nearly four years now. He loves seeing all the ladies at our Centre, and has built a very close bond and trust with Hydrotherapist, Debbie Rice. 

When Olly first came to us, he had a history of severe arthritis changes in his left elbow and was admitted to Fitzpatrick Referrals in July 2018 for a left elbow arthrodesis surgery (the elbow is now fused).


He came to us with the aim to: strengthen his left forelimb, promote normal gait pattern, inflammation management and pain relief, and to minimise secondary or compensatory muscular discomfort.


To begin with, Olly started off having physiotherapy sessions, in which home exercises were prescribed, as well as regular hydrotherapy (pool sessions) and acupuncture.


Laser therapy was originally recommended but was ruled out as an option due to Olly having had a cancerous lump removed.  

Olly is a lovely boy who adores sprats and massages in the pool. He has made great progress over the last four years and these days he mainly does hydrotherapy and acupuncture for maintenance purposes. 

Debbie Rice shares her recent experiences with Olly; “I have created quite a bond with Olly and he is doing well. We are maintaining his range of movement and he still loves to run up the ramp. He’s obviously gotten older but some days he’s like a spring chicken! He really loves his blow waves (blow dry) after his pool session and lies there enjoying all the fuss.”  

Benefits of canine hydrotherapy


Hydrotherapy is an extremely useful tool in canine rehabilitation. It uses water at a therapeutic temperature of approximately 30-32 degrees C. The warmth of the water alongside the weightlessness properties that it offers, allows exercise to be performed comfortably and safely to achieve muscle building, strengthening and overall improvement in comfort levels. 


Overall benefits of hydrotherapy include: 


  • Relief from pain, swelling and stiffness 
  • Increased sensory perception 
  • Relaxes muscle tension and spasms 
  • Less concussion on the joints 
  • Increases range of motion 
  • Increase and maintains muscle strength 
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness 
  • Improves mobility 
  • Mental wellbeing (releases endorphins) 

We asked Olly's owner, Stacey, to share a few words;

“I can’t thank the staff at Clent Hills Pet Fitness and Rehab Centre enough, Olly has had this issue since he was 2 years old. So, to cut a long story shorter, I had to take matters into my own hands and get Olly the best he deserved – Mr Super Vet here we come! From plasma injections to stem cells, me and Olly tried it all. But it didn’t last long, so the next course was elbow fusion instead of amputation. 

After Olly’s fusion we were told to get Olly into a hydrotherapy centre near to us. I researched everywhere, and the best one was Clent Hills in Bromsgrove. On our first meeting and setting up Olly’s recovery plan I felt so at ease. I knew I could leave Olly in their hands if I wanted to and I didn’t have to worry, which as all doggy mums know, is the main worry. 

Olly started on the treadmill and mastered it well, building movement and his pressure levels to use his new leg. We progressed onto the pool. This is where Olly thrived… every week now for the past 4 years we have been booked in. He looks forward to it and I call it his pamper day. He gets full fuss, love, affection, and his Auntie Debbie, as I class her as family. She is a part of Olly’s life and mine. Debbie gives Olly cuddles, an all over massage, and even carries him to float in the pool.  

He also has acupuncture with the lovely Laura for all-over body aches and muscle recovery. But basically, he falls asleep the moment the needles go in. It’s the best 2 hours of my week. To see him happy and a smile on his face. Clent Hill’s hydrotherapy staff go above and beyond for my boy, they help me personally too with advice for Olly. When I found the lump on Olly’s elbow during the COVID lockdown, I rushed him back to Fitzpatrick’s for a car park consult. Debbie was the first person I rang for advice, as it was either surgery to remove the cancer or remove the whole front leg. So, to have Debbie there in my ear at that time really helped me make the decision. She went above and beyond for Olly and what’s best for him. Olly will be coming every week till the day he no longer needs it. But for now, I never thought I’d celebrate his 12th birthday. Each day is a blessing for me and with his weekly sessions, it gives Olly something to look forward to.” 

If you would like to discuss how hydrotherapy could make your dog feel more comfortable and happier, give our Fitness & Rehab team a call on 01905 910516