Doggy paddle

Katy Smith with her dog Lucy in the hydrotherapy pool.

Katy Smith with her dog Lucy in the hydrotherapy pool.

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IF your pooch fancies a paddle then look no further – a new state-of-the-art centre for dogs has swung open its doors.

Now, for the first time in Hartlepool, man’s best friend can enjoy time in the water with a difference, in a hydrotherapy pool.

K9 Hydrotherapy and Grooming Centre has been open little more than a week, but everything from a German Shepherd to a Chihuahua has already strutted through the doors and into the pool.

And it won’t be long until the dogs feel the benefit.

Expert hydrotherapist Katy Smith says a 10-minute swim in the pool is the equivalent of a 10-mile walk, but with no stress on joints or ligaments.

For animal-lover Katy, 22, dog hydrotherapy is a dream job. So she was understandably delighted when her mum and dad, Chris, 47, and Karyn, 46, revealed their plans to open a specialist centre in Hartlepool.

Work on the unit, in Whitby Street South, got under way at the start of this year and after hours of non-stop graft the first dog gave the facilities a go last week.

Pooches can enjoy a spell in the grooming and beauty salon before stepping into the hydrotherapy pool, which also includes jet streams to add extra resistance.

Katy stays with the dogs at all times in the pool, regardless of any past experience in similar facilities.

She says it may only be a short period of time before the dogs tire out, but the list of long term benefits is endless.

Dogs will improve their mobility, stamina and strengthen their muscle tone in the pool and it also helps to speed up recovery after surgery.

“There are so many benefits for the dogs but the main thing is it is a really fun exercise,” said Katy, who is the proud owner of two Newfoundlands, Lucy and Bailey.

“It’s something completely different for them and I’m in the pool at all times, so it’s a safe environment.”

Chris, a dad-of-three, who also runs his own haulage company and lives in the Fens area of Hartlepool, said: “Katy loves animals and has always loved working with animals.

“We went to a similar centre out of town and with my business head on I saw an opportunity.

“We did some research, looked at what other people are offering and went from there.”

Karyn, who also works in the centre, is inviting people to go and look at the facilities.

She said: “It is something which sometimes is hard to explain to people on the phone so I say to them come down and have a look round.

“It normally ends up with them booking an appointment for their dog.”