Accredited Level 5 Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy

The ABC Awards QLS Level 5 Diploma is currently the top UK professional award in canine hydrotherapy and offers you the opportunity to progress your career as an advanced hydrotherapist. The Diploma is also accredited by the Institute or Registered Veterinary and Animal Physiotherapists ( This part time annual course runs from January to October and is bench-marked at foundation degree level.


The Level 5 Diploma is an inclusive award open to hydrotherapist holders of the ABC Awards level 3 Certificate / Diploma in hydrotherapy for small animals, animal therapists, chartered physiotherapists, veterinary physiotherapists, veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and those individuals with relevant qualifications in the animal science field.

The award covers all aspects of canine hydrotherapy for rehabilitation, out-patient care and athletic and working dog performance enhancement. The course has a very strong practical training component and we include advanced centre management to empower your business to successfully grow and be the best it can be.

As an approved ABC Awards centre, this course offers you:

  • Instructors who are leading veterinary physiotherapists with post graduate awards, specialising in small animal hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and rehabilitation and delivering training of the highest calibre
  • 22 “hands on” practical days of amazing opportunities to review and develop your assessment and treatment techniques in real clinics seeing a diverse range of breeds and problems at two different successful rehabilitation centres
  • One to one hands on training, mentorship and support with Barbara Houlding, the first UK Accredited Clinical Educator in veterinary physiotherapy (awarded by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy). She designed, delivered and examined the canine component of the ACPAT Core Knowledge and Skills Course. Barbara trained physiotherapists for ten years at the Royal Veterinary College on all aspects of small animal therapy as part of the Masters Course in Veterinary Physiotherapy. She was then Co-Course Director for the Nottingham Veterinary School’s post graduate Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation for 4 years
  • Free inclusion of all three ABC Awards underwater treadmill units (from the L3 Diploma) alongside our advanced training at no extra cost to you. You achieve both the level 5 Diploma at foundation degree level as well as the UWT ABC Awards L3 units worth £800
  • Free First Aid certification as we cover advanced current canine first aid
  • A registration process to answer all your queries and support your application process
  • The level 5 Diploma meets the specific requirements which cannot be satisfied through the current basic ABC Awards level 3 Certificate / Diploma regulated qualifications
Course design

This blended course of six units is delivered through a series of six intensive practical training placements and an amazing K9HS L5 online course forum. Your hands on training builds over 10 months at two different centres and the long distance learning means you choose when and where you wish to study ( You also have free access to our NEW K9HS Pro Forum offering you interactive support and live teaching.

We offer you a flexible and exciting programme covering current clinical skills linked to sound underpinning scientific knowledge, providing you with the ultimate training programme for small animal hydrotherapy. Course group size is small so you receive individual training opportunities and you are supported in a friendly and stimulating learning environment within two successful centres.
The two centres are

  1. K9HS, Earl Soham, Suffolk
  2. Active Balance Rehabilitation Centre, Hinckley, Leicestershire

Barbara Houlding, Course Principal, is an ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist and Veterinary Physiotherapist specialising in small animal hydrotherapy, veterinary physiotherapy, rehabilitation, education and training.

Units and assessments

The six course units are

Unit 1: Overview of canine hydrotherapy & aquatic therapy

Unit 2: Assessment, functional anatomy and bio-mechanics in the musculo-skeletal, orthopaedic & neurological canine patient

Unit 3: Advanced treatment techniques for the complex patient

Unit 4: Athletic dog treatment techniques & conditioning

Unit 5: Pain management and underwater treadmill treatment techniques

Unit 6: Professional, business and water management for the successful K9 service

Assessment and examinations A combination of assessment methods are used which include course work in a portfolio format (60% of the total mark, 10% for each unit), OSPE practical assessment contributing to 20% of the total mark and a final written examination (20% of the total mark).

This course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards’ Quality Licence Scheme and accredited by IRVAP to ensure the course meets specific quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to an Ofqual regulated qualification but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills towards regulated qualifications in the future. The unit summary can be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this sector. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 5 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the candidate.

ABC Awards’ endorsement involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of the course is carried out as part of the endorsement process. ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, and the Welsh Government. It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries. As a registered charity, ABC Awards combines 180 years of expertise but also implements a responsive, flexible and innovative approach to the needs of their customers.

Renowned for excellent customer service, and quality standards, ABC Awards also offers Ofqual regulated qualifications for all ages and abilities post-14; all are developed with the support of relevant stakeholders (like K9HS) to ensure that they meet the needs and standards of employers across the UK.

Diploma pricing and application

Diploma pricing:

2018 total course price is £3,300. Following successful completion of the registration process a 20% deposit is required to secure your offered place. The balance of the total fee is required in full before commencement of the course.

Entry requirements: ABC Awards level 3 Certificate / Diploma in hydrotherapy for small animals or an industry related qualification e.g veterinary surgeon, chartered physiotherapist, veterinary physiotherapist, animal therapist, vet nurse etc.

Candidates may also be considered if they hold other qualifications and each application will be looked at on an individual basis.

 Other requirements:  International students whose first language is not English are required to have the following English language qualifications before they can register on the course.

IELTS: 7.5 (with at least 7.0 in each element)

TOEFL IBT:109 with no less than 21 in listening, 22 in reading, 23 in speaking and 21 in writing

Application and Registration process:

For further information or to request an application form please contact the course registrar by E-mail at:

In addition to submitting a completed online application form you are requested to send the following documents in support of your application:

  • Copies/transcripts of your degree results/ qualification certificates
  • Copy of your membership of your professional body / bodies (e.g. IRVAP, MRCVS, CHA, NARCH, ACPAT NAVP, IAAT, etc)
  • Copies of any English language qualifications you hold (if relevant)

We hope you will join us during this challenging and fulfilling stage of your career and we look forward to working with you in partnership to achieve your highest goals.

Barbara Houlding
K9HS Principal