Water way to recover as hydrotherapy cures dog unable to walk

An adored family dog suddenly left unable to walk is back on all paws thanks to innovative hydrotherapy treatment from our expert team

Archie, a nine-year-old crossbreed, had been referred as an emergency case to our neurology and neurosurgery service following a rapid downward spiral in his mobility.

Archie Parkin
Archie, a nine-year-old crossbreed, is able to walk again thanks to expert treatment from our multidisciplinary hospital.

In the space of just four days, Archie had gone from running happily on the beach to not being able to move as his legs were unable to bear his weight.

An initial physical examination by our team did not reveal any significant findings. However, as Archie continued to deteriorate a series of X-rays and a CT scan diagnosed a neurological condition called polyradiculoneuritis (ACP).

The condition means dogs are often unable to lift their head, are unable to vocalise and some react to pressure on the distal limbs – those below the knee. In severe cases, the respiratory muscles may also be affected.


Archie, who belongs to John and Marie Parkin who live on the outskirts of Durham City, required the innovative use of hydrotherapy using an underwater treadmill, which was led by hydrotherapist Lynne Burdis.

Lynne said: “Initially, Archie was laid on his chest and the water filled so it was just touching his body, with the treatment targeting his proprioceptive receptors, which provide the ability to sense movement, action and location.

“During the first session, Archie began to show movement and sensory perception through his forelimbs, initially through muscle twitch and the movement.

“The hydrotherapy rehabilitation continued for a further couple of months, with Archie making sustained progress and eventually reducing from twice a week to once a week.

“By mid-August, Archie arrived for his session and was walking unaided and then by mid-September he was supporting himself continuously and able to show a regular walk and trot pattern.

“From a dog who was completely unable to walk or support himself, Archie is now almost back to 100 per cent mobility which is a fantastic result.”


John said the couple were delighted to see their beloved pet, who has been part of the family for around nine-and-a-half years, back on his feet after a total period of almost three months from the beginning of his illness to walking again.

He said: “When Archie lost the use of his legs we were in complete shock and, ultimately, devastated because we thought we were going to lose him. Our local vet did not seem to think there was much hope for him.

“The little boy who was admitted to Wear Referrals is a completely different little boy now. When he went in, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t raise his head and he couldn’t even feed himself.

“With 24/7 dedicated care and subsequent aftercare from Wear Referrals, he is now walking, running, in fact, doing everything a normal healthy little dog should be able to do.

“We cannot thank Wear Referrals enough. They were quick in diagnosing the problem and implementing an appropriate treatment programme that successfully brought him through the initial critical period.

“Throughout the course of Archie’s treatment, we received assurances that with a lot of work and dedication he would almost certainly get well again.

“For that, we will be eternally grateful to Wear Referrals, and that applies to everyone who had a hand in Archie’s recovery.”