words Al Woods
Having a support dog is particularly useful for the elderly and the differently abled. Not only do they help with mobility, but support dogs can reduce the onset of stress, depression and anxiety. They are more than pets, they are partners for life.
But just like any canine companion, support dogs need to be taken care of. A great deal of work is put into caring for them, whether you are at home or traveling to another location.
It is always best to give back the love and care they give using these important tips to caring for your support dog.
No matter the age of your support dog, toys can be a great way to kill boredom if you plan to stay at home. Puppies and full-grown adults alike love to chew, so it’s important that you give them chew toys made from cotton or rubber. You can also use improvised chew toys using old shirts. Simply cut the shirts up and weave them together to form a rope your dog will surely enjoy biting on.
Give space for playing
During downtimes when you don’t feel like going out, you can have your dog scurry around an open space. If you have a large backyard, you can have your dog run around an obstacle course. Open-air spaces can help your support dog stay healthy. If you have a rooftop area in place of a yard, you can have your dog frolick there instead. Just make sure there are protective barriers around so your dog can play safely.
Go on a jog
For sure, playing in the yard or any open-air space can get boring over time. Your dog has to explore the bigger world outside. Bringing your support dog out for a jog at least twice a week can help quench his or her thirst for adventure. While it can also benefit you in the long run, an early morning or late afternoon jog can also help your dog stay fit.
Meet new people
For sure, your dog probably likes to make new friends. As much as he or she is loyal to you, you need to meet your dog’s need to socialize with others, be it other dogs or humans. Trips to the park are great for giving your dog the opportunity to mingle with others. You can also take your support dog to friends and family members who also happen to love dogs.
Ensure adequate nutrition
Support dogs themselves need all the support they can get, especially when it comes to meeting their daily dietary needs. Nutrition is an important part of keeping support dogs in the best possible condition, so you should put a lot of thought into choosing the right food for your pooch.
When it comes to nutrition, you just can’t take a random box from a grocery shelf. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re shopping around for the right food. It’s good to do some research – for instance how many people know that pumpkin is good for dogs?
To be on the safe side, make sure to look for dog food that’s approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. You’ll know if a certain brand meets quality standards if it has the AAFCO label on it.
You should also check the label for fat and sodium levels. Too much of these would be dangerous, especially if you have a medium-sized dog as a support animal. A safer option would be to shop for dog food that contains a healthy balance of nutrients based on your dog’s daily recommended needs. Brands such as Earthborn Holistic contain a mix of ancient grains and superfoods that can provide all the energy your support dog needs to get through each day.
Lastly, make sure the brand you have picked does not contain any allergens or toxins that could cause renal failure. Watch out for chemicals like propylene glycol which could be dangerous to your support dog in the long run.
Observe proper grooming
Your support dog needs as much pampering as you do, so an at-home spa day would be useful.
Wherever your support dog goes, the environment can be very harsh on the coat. Make it clean and healthy by brushing off any debris such as dust and dirt straight from the follicles. This also stimulates the production of oils that give the coat its shine.
Your support dog should also be given a bath at least once a week (or as instructed by the vet) to maintain the fur and eliminate any odors that linger on your dog. For this, use a mild shampoo or soap and make sure to really get into the roots. As always, make sure that the products you’re using do not contain harmful chemicals that could cause needless hair fall.
When giving your dog a bath, it’s important to be thorough about it by scrubbing the ears clean and getting rid of excess mucus around the eyes.
You should also trim the nails on the paws every two weeks. Not only does this make the paws look cleaner, but it also prevents injuries whenever your dog feels itchy.
Follow inoculation schedules
As the owner of a support animal, you have the obligation to protect your dog from a number of diseases.
There are viruses and parasites out there that can make your dog really sick, so you have to make sure he or she is adequately protected. Rabies, canine hepatitis, and ringworm are just some of the reasons you need to get your dog vaccinated for, so visit your vet and check what vaccinations have been missed out.
Usually, shots are given in batches, so you must follow the vet’s advice and have your dog vaccinated on schedule.
A support dog is definitely the most important companion to have. But there are certain needs to meet in taking care of one. The tips above should give you a basic understanding of proper care for a support dog, and trips to the vet should remain crucial to keeping your canine friend healthy and happy.