What is it?

Patella luxation occurs when the patella (kneecap) dislocates from the groove along the front of the stifle joint, preventing normal extension of the joint. This is often caused by bone and muscle abnormalities.


Who is affected?

This is a disease is common in small dogs, such as chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers and Pomeranians. They can start showing signs as puppies or young dogs with 7% of puppies being diagnosed; however, it is common in mature dogs as well.


What are the signs?

The common signs of luxating patella are a ‘skipping’ lameness, curved leg stance, a continuous lameness, stiffness, reduce hindlimb muscle mass, lowered head carriage and occasional pain signs.


What can I do?

Your veterinary surgeon can diagnose patella luxation in a routine health check followed up by X-rays, and CT scanning or MRI if needed. After diagnosis, conservative or surgical management can then be discussed with your vet. After they have recovered from surgery or if you have chosen to treat them with conservative methods, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy is very important to increase joint range of motion, reduce stiffness and muscle tension, prevent contracture, and increase muscle mass and endurance.

What is it?

IVDD is a common spinal condition affecting thousands of dogs each year. IVDD occurs when the intervertebral discs; which allow spinal movement, provide support, and help absorb concussive forces; between the vertebrae degenerate. This causes the spine to have a reduced shock-absorbing ability and can eventually lead to intervertebral disc herniation and compression of the spinal cord.


Who is affected?

IVDD is often an age-related degenerative condition, however certain dog breeds are more predisposed and can develop the disease when they are younger. These are breeds often those with a long back and shorter, curved limbs, such as dachshunds and basset hounds.


What are the signs?

The common signs of IVDD include back pain, hindlimb weakness, difficulty jumping, abnormal posture, and an unwillingness to move.


What can I do?

Your veterinary surgeon can diagnose IVDD using X-rays, CT scanning or MRI. After diagnosis, conservative or surgical management can then be discussed with your vet. After they have recovered from surgery or if you have chosen to treat them with conservative methods, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy is very important to increase joint range of motion, reduce stiffness and muscle tension, prevent contracture, and increase muscle mass and endurance.

If you have any questions and would like to know more, please get in touch:

📞 01453 705262

📧 thrive@lifeworksltd.co.uk

We are proud stockists of Ruff and Tumble Drying Coats and Wildwash Natural Pet Care Products!

Wild wash Products are products developed to be totally natural, created from plants, botanicals, and essential oils to leave your pet smelling amazing and that really work! We sell a whole range of Wildwash products here at Lifeworks by Rio, including shampoos for sensitive skin, puppy and for dogs that love to roll in nasty things! We also sell wonderful spritzes that leave your pet smelling wonderful. As well as lint rollers and special paw balm.


We also stock Ruff and Tumble Drying Coats. These are highly recommended for your dogs after they’ve had their hydrotherapy session. They help dry your pet while keeping them warm and preventing them from getting stiff and sore when they are travelling home damp! Alongside the health benefits of these coats, they come in a lovely range of colours and sizes for every dog and we can even get them personalised with their name!


Cruciate ligament disease occurs in the dog’s stifle, a joint similar to the human knee.  The stifle is a joint where the tibia and femur articulate and the patella, the equivalent of the human kneecap, sits in a groove on the femur. The cruciate ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that form an X over the patella. They prevent the stifle from twisting or extending too far.

When a dog is diagnosed with cruciate ligament disease, these ligaments have been injured or completely severed. This occurs through degeneration or trauma. The signs you dog might show include:

  • Hindlimb lameness
  • Stifle Swelling
  • Pain
  • Instability of the joint
  • Loss of muscle
  • Sitting ‘wonkily’
  • ‘Pottery’ gait


If your dog is showing any of these signs, the veterinary surgeon will perform an orthopaedic examination. If they believe cruciate ligament disease is a possibility, they may then perform X-rays or an MRI and further assessments.

When it is confirmed that they have injured their cruciate ligament, there are four main treatments: tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA), lateral suture, tibial plateau levelling osteotomy (TPLO), and conservative management. TPLO and TTA surgeries are most commonly used and 90% of dogs have returned to normal activity!

Hydrotherapy is ideal for dogs who have cruciate ligament problems as it provides a non-weight bearing form of exercise which can help them build muscle with reduced pressure on the joints. The hydrostatic pressure of the water also helps reduce pain and swelling, while the warmth increases circulation and reduces muscle tension. The water’s resistance also helps increase muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness. The use of hydrotherapy in the rehabilitative treatment of cruciate ligament disease has found to help the dog return to normal activity faster and with fewer secondary complications that arise from reduced use of the limb.

Did you know that 0steoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of lameness in dogs? Did you know that approximately 80% of dogs over the age of 8 suffer from OA? The signs of OA are often very subtle and can easily be overlooked, but unfortunately this condition is the leading cause of premature euthanasia in older dogs. However, with early detection and careful management, you can easily manage your dog’s OA to relieve their pain and greatly improve their quality of life.

So, what actually IS osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is a slow developing, incurable disease. It is the inflammation or degradation of cartilage in the joints, often caused by wear and tear. The most commonly affected joints are high moving, these include the elbow, knee, shoulder and hip joints. However, any joint in the body can be affected.

Signs your dog may be suffering from OA:
  • Difficulty getting up after sitting or lying down
  • Struggling to jump up on furniture or into the car
  • Being more reluctant to go for their walks or to play
  • Looking ‘stiff’ or lame
  • Excessively licking joints
  • Mood changing, such as your dog seeming irritable, worried, or growling
What can you do?

The first step is to see your vet. They will be able to examine your dog and make a correct diagnosis. After this, dogs are commonly put onto non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to provide your dog with pain relief. Other medicines may also be suggested, including joint supplements, such as Yumove or Antinol capsules, which help protect the cartilage in your dog’s joints.

Complementary therapies

Your vet may also advise you on useful alternative therapies. This is where Lifeworks by Rio comes in! Lifeworks by Rio provides hydrotherapy and physiotherapy, both of which are very beneficial for dogs with OA. Hydrotherapy uses the buoyancy of the water to support the dog’s weight, thus reducing the weight they put through their inflamed and sore joints. It uses the hydrostatic forces of the water to apply pressure to the dog’s limbs, which reduces swelling and oedema. The increased resistance of the water also helps to build muscle mass to help support the joints and keep your dog moving as much as possible. This exercise will also help if your dog is carrying a bit too much extra weight, as this can often make the effects of OA worse.

Physiotherapy can also help keep your dog fit and strong. We can use a variety of techniques including manual therapies, such as massage, electrotherapies, range of motion techniques and home exercise programmes to maintain your dog’s mobility. It is hugely beneficial and aims to improve mobility, restore normal function, and relieve pain by improving muscle strength, muscle stamina and joint range of motion. Simple, quick exercises will be prescribed that can be fitted into your daily routine can improve your dog’s muscle strength and mass, as well as energy levels.

Therefore, with a combination of different treatments, you can help manage your dog’s condition and they can continue to live a happy and comfortable life with their osteoarthritis. For more information on OA, feel free to get in touch and discuss it with us or have a look at the canine arthritis management website www.caninearthritis.co.uk.


When you register for your dog to come to our hydrotherapy centre, we ask for lots of details about you and your pet. After we have your details, you then wait for your account to be activated, which can take a couple of weeks. You may be wondering why this is?

The Veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 and the Veterinary Surgeons (Exemptions) Order 2015 state that hydrotherapy can only be undertaken under the guidance of a qualified veterinary surgeon who has examined the animal. This means that before we see your dog, treatment must be approved by your veterinary surgeon. This is simply for animal welfare reasons as it ensures that only dogs who are healthy and suitable for hydrotherapy undertake sessions and dogs who have conditions which may possibly be worsened by treatment do not participate in inappropriate complementary therapies.

Therefore, when I receive all of your pet’s information, I will email your veterinary surgeon. They will look at your dog’s medical history and consider whether they would be suitable for hydrotherapy. If they are happy for them to undergo treatment, then they will sign the referral form emailed to them and send this back to me. This can often take a couple of weeks as we may need to discuss your dog and their treatment, as well as any special considerations that may be needed. Once I have received confirmation from your veterinary surgeon that your dog is ok to come and swim, we can then book them in and meet you and your lovely dog!

Hydrotherapy uses a pool or underwater treadmill to treat acute and chronic injury or for recreational use for exercise and fitness. The use of swimming is to encourage the dog’s limbs to move correctly in the water, while undergoing safe and comfortable exercise. Hydrotherapy pools utilise the natural properties of sanitised, warm water. These include buoyancy to support the body and reduce the dog’s weightbearing; increased resistance to help build muscle and increase ROM; hydrostatic pressure to increase circulation and help improve posture; and warmth to reduce muscle spasm and tension.

The effect of hydrotherapy varies with the intended use, whether it is being used for rehabilitation, fitness, confidence, or weight loss. However, the most common intended clinical effects include:

  • Pain relief
  • Building muscle mass
  • Relieving muscle tension
  • Improving range of motion (ROM) and flexibility
  • Improving proprioception (your animal’s awareness of its body in space)
  • Improving cardiovascular stamina and fitness
  • Increased recovery speed

We often do rehabilitation sessions (alongside physiotherapy for certain cases) to help your dog recover faster from injury. We can help treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Cruciate disease
  • Hip or elbow dysplasia
  • Paralysis
  • Before and after surgery
  • Recovery from soft or hard tissue injuries

‘Rio Pools Construction Ltd’ is the well-established and reputable family business behind ‘Lifeworks by Rio’. Rio Pools has been trading for 50 years in the wet-leisure business and ‘Lifeworks by Rio’ is the culmination of the hundreds of years of experience that we share. We felt it would be the perfect opportunity for us to share this knowledge by running our own canine hydrotherapy and well-being centre. Our ‘Lifework’ up to this point has been involved in caring, maintaining and managing swimming pools all over the country for both private clients and the public sector. When considering the delivery of a ‘gold standard’ hydrotherapy facility of our own, we are 100% qualified and 100% determined.

Currently, we are delighted to offer ‘Hydro 1’, our purpose-built indoor swimming pool specifically designed with canine hydrotherapy in mind. We hope that demand for this facility will enable us to replicate and expands at our Charfield HQ, with possible expansion into more canine hydrotherapy with more pools or underwater treadmills, human hydrotherapy, and even possibly equine hydrotherapy! The sky is our limit!

Due to all of our years working in the pool industry, here at Lifeworks by Rio we have the benefit of a highly superior pool, with state-of-the-art water treatment.  Not only is our water filtered up to 80% more efficiently than any other canine pool we know of, it is also maintained at very low chlorine levels.  This is great news for your pet, who can enjoy a safe, almost chlorine-free swim, helping with skin, coat, and breathing. Our pool is regularly and rigorously tested by our in-house team of qualified service engineers, along with micro-bacterial checks by an approved UKAS lab.

Despite expanding our business, we are keen to keep it as family run as possible. With this in mind, we have appointed a new canine hydrotherapist and physiotherapist, Victoria Lee, who we have known since she was just 1 year old! In 1997, Rio Pools designed and built a pool for Mr & Mrs Lee senior (Victoria’s grandparents), and in 2000 we continued our relationship with her family as we then built one for her parents! It’s easy to see why we were delighted to offer Victoria a full-time position and get her back in the water! Between us we are committed to delivering the best canine hydrotherapy facility in the county. Victoria has achieved a BSc(hons) in Veterinary Physiotherapy and is also a member of the NAVP and AHPR. She has recently undertaken and passed her practical exams for her level 3 diploma in canine hydrotherapy and will be registered with NARCH once she has also finished and passed her theory. She has had lots of experience working with small animals, while working at companion animal rehabilitation and hydrotherapy centres, a veterinary practice and working at a local cattery and kennels.

We are thrilled to offer teachers and instructors the chance to book our wonderful Cotswold Yurt.

The unique construction of the yurt, as well as its peaceful rural surroundings at our base in Charfield, Gloucestershire, make it the perfect place for holding relaxing and reinvigorating classes. The indoor-outdoor nature of the yurt also means that it is easy to make Covid-safe.

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Coming soon! Canine pool for exercise, fun or therapy.

We are in the process of installing a full-size hydrotherapy pool in Charfield, Wotton-under-Edge. Here is a sneak picture of the prototype and our newest member of the team, Max.

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