With the use of therapy animals in schools and hospitals increasing, keeping them fit and healthy as they age is both needed for their wellbeing as well as the happiness of the many people they help on a daily basis.
When it comes to dogs, seeing them age gracefully is very rewarding. As a dog ages, they slow down, are generally more tired and they may suffer from a range of health issues.
However, deep down they are still a puppy and providing them with what’s necessary for a comfortable aging process is essential for their health and wellbeing.
Short Regular Walks
Making sure a dog has plenty of exercise is important for their happiness and health. Keeping the weight off a senior dog helps to reduce the risk and/or can ease the pain of many health issues such as obesity, arthritis and heart disease.
Long walks should be avoided as they can cause a lot of strain on the joints and can exhaust an older dog. As a therapy dog, a lot of the time they may be sitting around listening to children read and getting love.
This is brilliant and relaxing for the dog, but can cause stiffness in a senior. So, to keep the joints loose and the weight off, keep the walks short and regular.
Due to therapy dogs spending a lot of time sitting with their students or patients, or travelling around, having somewhere comfortable to rest during this time is important. Orthopedic dog beds are the best way to go. They are warm, thick and provide a lot of support to joints and comfort any aches.
There are a range of supplements you can feed a senior dog to help with the aging process. The best ones are those that contain glucosamine and fish oils. An example of a new product that can aid with senior mobility is elk antler velvet supplements.
These supplements don’t only support joint mobility and flexibility, but they also support the kidneys, liver and immune system of the dog while providing him/her with more energy.
As a dog ages, they can suffer from weight related issues. They either gain weight due to moving less or they lose weight from losing their appetite.
So, making sure your dog is getting all the nutrients they need and adjusting their diet when necessary is very important. Speak to your vet or a qualified pet nutritionist for professional advice.
Therapy dogs will spend a lot of time in places that aren’t home. If the dog has limited mobility due to age, you need to make sure you cater for his/her needs.
Ways you can do this include having a ramp for him/her to get in or out of the transport vehicle. Also, making sure you use the elevator or ramps instead of stairs will really help make the dogs work more comfortable.
Making sure he/she has support when walking on slippery surfaces is also important. It isn’t hard to make a senior therapy dog more comfortable. With all the love and support they provide to so many people, it is important that we do everything we can to give back to them.
After all, it is the least they deserve