Veterinary Rehabilitation and Hydrotherapy

Bobby Philips – obesity and arthritis


Bobby, a six-year-old male British Bulldog, presented with obesity and arthritis. He was referred to Kennel & Paddock because his owners couldn’t exercise him because of the arthritis – so he became increasingly overweight. He was on long-term anti-inflammatory medication and had had many diet and exercise reviews at his local vet’s – but these had had little effect. He was reluctant to go out on walks and when he did, the owners found it difficult to motivate him.


On assessment at Kennel & Paddock, we weighed Bobby. He was grossly overweight and panted excessively. He struggled to walk into the treatment room and preferred to lie down than sit up. Limb movements were significantly reduced due to several factors: his arthritis and his extra bulk.


We treated Bobby initially with electrotherapy to provide pain relief, and followed this with specific strengthening exercises. The owners continued these with him at home. As Bobby became stronger, he became more interested in exercise, so we increased the challenges (both in duration and intensity). We set weight-loss goals for Bobby’s owners, who were encouraged to reduce the number of treats and change to a lower-protein food. We gave Bobby challenging land-based exercises and progressed to hydrotherapy sessions. These improved his general body conditioning, cardiovascular fitness, joint range of movement and demeanour. Because swimming provided a weightless environment, Bobby was unimpeded by his joint pain. This meant he could move his joints through a greater range, giving more muscle activity and placing greater demands on the heart and lungs. His owners were able to take him for longer and more regular walks.


We treated Bobby for about four months. At discharge, he was on three regular walks per day, consisting of on- and off-lead exercise and varying terrains. He was very happy to play with other dogs and has remained full of enthusiasm for life. The medication is no longer routinely given (although his owners administer it as and when needed). His weight has remained stable – 11kg less than when he first attended Kennel & Paddock.

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