Tails of survival

Water rabbit: Heidi heals with hydrotherapy

March 6, 2013 at 6:47 PM ET

hydrotherapy session
Rex USA
Heidi receives hydrotherapy, a treatment typically reserved for dogs and horses, for her arthritis on March 5.

Hydrotherapy has been around since the ancient Romans, but there is little historical precedent for one of its most recent patients: A 4-year-old continental giant rabbit named Heidi.

On a veterinarian’s recommendation, Heidi’s owner, Amanda Williams, brought her pet to Paddy’s Pool — a hydrotherapy center in Hampshire, England — about a month ago. She hoped the therapy would help to relieve the arthritis in Heidi’s hips and knees.

Heidi paddles around the pool for seven minutes at a time, twice a week.
Rex USA
Heidi paddles around the pool for seven minutes at a time, twice a week.

The center’s owner, Linda Prove, who worked exclusively with dogs before meeting Heidi, has been pleased to find the therapy has “worked out really well.”

“She’s much more comfortable because she’s not in quite so much pain,” Prove told TODAY.com. “The owner is pleased with her progress.”

Prove started working with Heidi about a month ago. During their sessions, Heidi swims around a heated pool in a small life jacket — giving her an opportunity to stretch her legs in a weightless environment.

Heidi
Rex USA
Heidi has grown more confident and agile outside of the water since the beginning of her treatment, according to pool owner Linda Prove.


“It’s a beneficial form of exercise for everyone,” Prove said. “The water supports you and gives your joints a chance to move without stress. She’s moving much better.”

Heidi, who also suffers from spondylosis in her neck, has been taking to the water quite well. In fact, the trip to the facility (in the basket she usually associates with the vet’s office) has proven more stressful for her than an actual dip in the water.

“Once she was in, she was absolutely fine,” Prove said. “She loves the attention.”

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by M&Y Media/Rex / Rex USA (1261183t)
Continental Giant Rabbit 'Heidi' is washed after her hydrotherapy se...
Rex USA
Heidi enjoys her favorite part of the treatment: A post-pool shower.

Heidi’s favorite part of her treatment? According to Prove, Heidi perks up especially during her post-pool shower and toweling off. And who wouldn't?

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