Like ourselves, we don’t want to see our dogs age. They are our trusty companion, best friend and of course part of the family.
As with us humans, the aging process brings along more complications – but with a little effort, understanding your dog, adapting their routine and using some physiotherapy-based techniques the golden years for your pooch can be enjoyable and very rewarding.
Know your Dog
Firstly, it’s important to know your dog’s normal habits, appetite, thirst, alertness and activity levels. If you regularly monitor these, you will naturally pick up any small changes quicker. These changes can alert you to a potential medical or orthopaedic problem associated with old age. The sooner a problem is detected and assessed the easier it is to manage.
Keep an eye on your pooch’s waistline
Unfortunately, and again like us – when our dogs get older, they too can suffer from a little “middle aged spread”. This is due to their body slowing down and burning less energy, they will also naturally be a little less active so it’s easier for them to put on a bit of extra weight. It’s beneficial to monitor and weigh your hound regularly and adapt their food and exercise accordingly. It is important that your dog doesn’t become overweight as it makes mobility more difficult, as well as putting strain on their joints, heart and lungs.
Little and often when it comes to walkies
Regular exercise, little and often is much better for your dog than one big walk. The thought of a nice long walk with your best companion is very appealing, but it could make your dog sore and reduce his eagerness for future walks. You need to adapt as they get older and tailor your dogs exercise to their needs and not yours. Perhaps, avoid doing those extra long weekend walks even though you may have more spare time. Build up your dog’s fitness to do the longer weekend walks, but remember as your dog gets older they physically might not be able to cope.
A level playing field
As your dog gets older, they will become stiffer, so again it is important to make a few adjustments. It is no longer that the only way is up, and you should now be looking more towards keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Stairs and steps can become a challenge for older dogs, as they can become unsafe walking down stairs as they transfer their weight onto their hindlimbs, it is always best to either prevent climbing up and down stairs or supervising them. Another obstacle for an older dog can be getting in and out of the car or jumping up and snuggling next to you on the sofa (if they are allowed). As your pooch ages you may find yourself lifting them more often, this can be a bit of a new activity or something you’ve done since they were a puppy. Always take care when lifting, making sure they are well supported, and you have a good technique, so your dog feels assured and confident in your arms. Don’t forget you – remember to lift correctly using your knees and keeping your back straight to avoid injury.
“All of our physiotherapists are qualified to treat both animals and humans – so you would be in safe hands, although we would much rather avoid having to assess and treat both “man and his dog” due to poor lifting techniques”
How can Physiotherapy help my older dog?
At Equine and Canine Solutions, we believe prevention is better than cure – so embracing the advice we’ve provided so far is a great start. Incorporating physiotherapy can really support your older dog’s health, wellbeing and quality of life. It can also benefit and stabilise some age related medical or orthopaedic conditions.
We will complete an Assessment
Often older dogs suffer from arthritis which causes pain, stiffness and lameness. Some dogs will show signs of muscle weakness. Physiotherapy can really help relieve and manage he symptoms of arthritis. Our physio will fully assess your dog to find joints with reduced or painful movement and any weak muscles.
Next step, an Individual treatment plan
After the assessment we will create an individual treatment plan to help your canine friend to gain the maximum benefit from physiotherapy. This may include manual treatment such as soft tissue release, joint mobilisations and laser therapy to help reduce the inflammation and pain.
Owner Advice & Exercise Programme
The other important aspect of being treated by Equine and Canine Solutions Physiotherapists is the owner advice and exercise programme you will receive, so you can be supporting your dog alongside their physiotherapy sessions. The exercise programme and owner advice are devised so you can do it at home to help improve your dog’s strength, stability and mobility.
We also offer hydrotherapy with a water treadmill. Hydrotherapy can be extremely beneficial for older dog, as it allows your pooch to use its joints and muscles without the effect of gravity. It increases strength and mobility, and can also be used to support weight loss and improve your dog’s fitness levels.
Physiotherapy will always be tailored to you and your dog’s needs. It could be just one session, a monthly review and treatment or an ongoing course of treatment.
If you are interested in finding out more about how we can support your aging dog, please get in touch via our contact us page on our website, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0845 300 9032 or 01829 272301