It’s a passion and lifestyle carried 24/7 by owner Sharon Osmond who has created a purpose-built facility especially for dogs.

Think indoor heated pool, jet spa, underwater treadmill and rehabilitation programs.

Add in a strong wellness focus and options for puppies, seniors and those that need to address weight loss.

Along with her therapists they have created a community of clients who clearly adore their visits there – for not only the clear physical benefits their dogs show – but also the mental boost everyone gets from such a loving experience.

We wanted to know how it all started.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your story and how did you get involved in canine hydrotherapy?

When I was a young girl, my father had racehorses and we used to swim them in the local river for exercise, then when the stables moved to Rosehill in Sydney the first ever water treadmill for horses was put in place, so it has been instilled in me on how effective water therapy is for animals.

I am a qualified Vet Nurse, Myofunctional Therapist and Hold a Diploma in Animal Naturopathy and my passion has always been in animal rehabilitation and natural therapies. In 2013 when my beloved Weimaraner Curzon was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia at the age of 11, I knew I had to help her, so I rented a disused greyhound training pool and did hydrotherapy with Curzon 2-3 times a week and gave her great mobility until she passed away at 14 of old age. I knew then that this would help all dogs with conditions like this.

What lead you to establishing a business like K9 Swim?

From that moment K9 swim was born. I could see the results of other dogs that were coming to us for hydrotherapy and knew that I could help dogs of all ages, size and various conditions achieve better mobility with non-weight bearing exercise in a warm indoor pool.

I rented that pool for 6 years until a property that I was working at in their Vet Clinic came up for sale and it seemed to be the perfect place, so I built a state-of-the-art facility housing an indoor heated pool, an underwater treadmill and a jet spa.

What qualifications do you need to provide hydrotherapy to your clients?

It’s exceptionally important to have a Veterinary industry background to do something like this as you need a very good understanding of anatomy, physiology and all the conditions and surgeries that dogs coming to us have had.

In 2014 I was privileged to have won a scholarship through the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia’s education program and flew to England to study and gained my Certification in Hydrotherapy for Small Animals. This gave me a better understanding of why and how Hydrotherapy is so beneficial to our pets.

What services do you provide at K9 Swim?

Mainly we are a Veterinary Referral Centre for dogs that have had an injury or have had surgery and need to have rehab to gain strength, mobility and muscle but we also run programs for Weight loss and Senior dogs and offer one on one swim lessons for puppies and adult dogs. We also have a very popular program called Puppy Splash which is a group class for pups 3-12 months of age that come once a week for 6 weeks to learn to swim and gain confidence in the water.

Dogs can also come and swim for fun or for training and conditioning.

Our Wellness Centre is a separate building on the property, and this is where our Natural therapies are conducted like Photonic, massage, herbal medicine, consultations and we also have new and second-hand mobility aids like wheelchairs, support harnesses, boots etc for dogs that are in need.

How did these come about? Was it from general interest or something you’d always wanted to do?

I always had the interest in Hydrotherapy for animals but also, I had become a myofunctional therapist and herbalist initially for my own animals as I used to breed Sports Horses and Weimaraner dogs and being on 300 acres at that time it was hard to get Vets if needed to come out so by training to do the natural therapies I could do these on my own animals to assist in their well-being and minor injuries. It went from there and I took it all with me when I started K9 Swim.

How does hydrotherapy support dogs through weight loss and injury?

Hydrotherapy is a non-weight bearing exercise where dogs can be buoyant in the water and move freely without any shock or trauma to their joints. It is also a great cardiovascular workout so dogs that are overweight or out of physical condition can strengthen their heart and lungs as well as develop muscle, strength and stability. The same goes for our dogs that have had an injury or are here post-surgery. They would have lost muscle mass, so hydrotherapy builds muscle safely and strengthens them significantly.

Tell us about your Puppy Swim classes, what does it involve?

This is such a popular class and is a 6-week group program for pups 3-12 moths of age. Owners get in the pool with their puppies, and we teach the pups to swim and be safe in the water. By week 4 the pups are having races against each other and swimming on their own without any assistance. Not only is it wonderful for their confidence but it is great socialisation too for the puppies to be with friends their own age.

How big is your team at K9 Swim?

We have a team of 5 Hydro therapists and some of the girls are Vet Nurses too. I have a fabulous team and most of them have been with me from the very early days. Each one of them have something to offer K9 Swim’s clients and I must say I am very proud of them.

Do you have your own personal dogs?

Yes, I have Annie which is Curzon’s daughter – she is now 13 years 8 months at the time of writing this. She has a pool session and a water treadmill session weekly to keep her strong. It is very important for the Senior Dogs to stay fit.

18 months ago, I said goodbye to my dear little Jack Russell – Chardy who was 17.5yrs. She did hydro weekly as well and was a very fit and healthy dog.

Curzon set a precedent for her housemate and daughter!

How has Antinol contributed to your client’s success?

I have seen amazing results with Antinol. We have put many of our clients on it and have seen a great difference in their mobility and general well-being. My own dog Annie is on it too.

I love it because it is natural and it’s an essential part of any dog’s diet whether they have issues or not.

The capsule is so easy to administer, and a lot of our clients think they are treats and take them willingly. I haven’t come across a dog yet that has refused to take them. I pop Annie’s in her food so it’s such an easy supplement to give.

I feel Antinol has played an integral part in especially our rehab dogs as with that and their hydrotherapy program the patients appear to recover and repair quickly.

Written by Tamara Johansen

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