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Natural Ways to Keep Senior Dogs Fit and Active Amidst COVID-19

Jul 31, 2020 10:00AM ● By Dr. Albert Ahn, DVM

Photo courtesy of MYOS Pet

It can be difficult to determine what to prioritize during these unprecedented times of uncertainty. This can make it more difficult to navigate how to properly care for our dogs, especially senior dogs, which require extra TLC. 

Physical Health

Just like humans are putting an emphasis on exercise to stay healthy right now, we need to make sure we’re keeping our dogs active, too. To maintain physical health, they should be walking, running and playing. These activities will help keep our dogs’ muscles strong, which is key.

Similar to humans, muscle health has been shown to affect a dog’s immunity to disease. Muscle represents a large percentage of body weight in both humans and canines, and it is thought to be a reservoir of proteins. The immune system may use these proteins to protect against, fight off and recover from illness. This could mean that healthy muscle is directly associated with preventing disease and boosting vitality.

In addition to physical conditioning, it also is important to keep things clean and sanitized for our dogs, as well. It is recommended that we wash our dogs’ paws upon returning from a walk and wash toys after play at this stage of their lives.

Emotional Health

Pets are able to experience mental stress just like we do, and they can also internalize our stress. Stress in dogs can be identified by behaviors such as compulsiveness, hyperactivity, barking and aggression. Unsurprisingly, stress is nobody’s friend as far as wellness is concerned, potentially exacerbating any preexisting health issues—high stress levels weaken immunity. To help them relax, maintain as normal a home life as possible; committing to a daily routine can create a sense of comfort through consistency. We should also be sure to interact with our dogs in a calm and patient manner. Exercise is another stress-reduction strategy, including mental exercises—try teaching some new tricks.

Dogs are very social and often do not like to be alone, so quarantine may actually be a very well-received time. Because of this, when we return to work post-quarantine, separation anxiety may start to show up. We should take steps now to help make our furry friends more independent.

Financial Health

The economic strain involved in lost wages might make it difficult to determine what to do for a dog that needs surgery. However, there are many affordable ways to treat ailments naturally. For example, TPLO (ACL) surgery is the most common for senior dogs. The daily strain put on the cruciate ligament, combined with age-related atrophy, can cause the ligament to easily rupture. Natural solutions could help forgo the surgery, or at least alleviate the symptoms until the time for surgery is right. Here are some options to incorporate.

Fish Oil: This acts as an anti-inflammatory and enhances mobility.

Fortetropin: Helps rebuild the muscle around the ligaments, increasing stability. It also stops any additional atrophy from occurring, making it great for prevention. Positively impacting muscle build, it could also deliver other physical health benefits.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin: Glucosamine helps build cartilage and reduce inflammation, and chondroitin prevents cartilage breakdown and supports joint mobility. The two are often paired together.

CBD: Cannabidiol provides substantial pain relief due to its ability to reduce inflammation. It can also calm anxiety and nausea, which may be experienced in conjunction with the pain.

When choosing a natural supplement, we must always make sure that it is of high quality to guarantee safety and effectiveness. If we aren’t sure what’s right for our dog, consult a veterinarian. For further financial support, check in with a pet insurance provider to see if supplements are covered.

COVID-19 has forced us all to shift and adapt, even in regard to how we care for our senior dogs. Many veterinarians and professionals in the pet space are offering their best advice to make things easier.

Dr. Albert Ahn, DVM, is a veterinary advisor for MYOS Pet.