Holistic health and wellness is a diverse field of alternative medicine in which the “whole dog” is focused on, not just the malady itself. The holistic approach aims to make our dogs as healthy as they can be by gradually building up their minds, bodies and spirit to the best that they can be. The holistic approach treats the whole animal, ignites the body’s internal healing force and stimulates the body’s natural abilities to heal itself. Below is a list of holistic health and wellness services we provide to our senior dogs with generous practitioners who donate or discount their skills and time.
Massage affects all systems of the body. Beyond the obvious benefits of relieving muscle tension, it is a powerful tool to realign the spine and body. Massage aids in circulating fluids throughout the body to flush toxins from the tissues through the joints and muscles.
- more flexibility
- greater range of motion
- increased blood flow
- lower blood pressure
- decreased anxiety
- stress hormones reduction
- increase in the dog’s self confidence
- feelings of trust and belonging
Dogs are pack animals by nature and thrive on close contact with each other and with humans. These benefits are important to any dog, but priceless for those who have suffered abuse, neglect or other emotional traumas. The end result is positive to every system of a dog’s body. The recuperative and rehabilitative effects of massage therapy make it ideal for our senior dogs as a whole and for those recovering from injury or surgery.
Canine Water Therapy
Canine Water Therapy is a part of medicine that includes occupational therapy and physiotherapy, involving the use of water for pain relief and treatment. There is a broad range of approaches and therapeutic methods that use the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure to stimulate blood circulation and exercise.
Whether it is a warm pool, underwater treadmill or the natural ocean (which we prefer in its calm state), the treatment minimizes joint stress and leads to functional improvement.
Some benefits of canine water therapy include:
- improved muscle strength
- minimized swollen joints
- overall weight reduction and toning
- improved cardio respiratory endurance
- improved range of motion and agility
- lowered pain and discomfort from hip dysplasia
- helps with common conditions prevalent in medium to large dogs
- sped-up recovery from surgery or injury
- reduced pain from arthritis
Aromatherapy can be as enjoyable and beneficial for pets as it can for humans. Not only will essential oils help to eliminate bad odors and help dogs smell pleasant, essential oils also can help the dog by improving their immune systems. This means:
- improved ability to fight off bacteria and viruses
- resistance to yeast infections
- helping with mold and hot spots
Aromatherapy is now being recognized by pet groomers and salons as an effective way to treat ailments like skin inflammations, ear infections, rashes, flatulence, halitosis, and motion sickness. The same essential oils that help humans relax and feel calm also have similar effects on animals. For instance lavender and chamomile can help dogs relax if they are anxious or experiencing pain.
There are reasons why having a dog groomed is beneficial to their health, in addition to the aesthetic benefits.
Breeds that require routine coat trimming such as Shih Tzus, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, or Maltese, need a regular grooming schedule so hair won’t become matted and clumped. If the hair gets like this, shaving a dog completely is required — very similar to dread-locks in human hair. Not only does the dog suffer from the pain and pulling from messing with the mats, but they can also develop skin conditions and sores from bacteria that develop under the mats. Longer and/or softer coats require a complete brush out before bathing to prevent water catching in the mats. If water remains in the clumps it can mold and cause rot. This type of matting is the most difficult to brush out and will result in having to clip underneath the matting.
Short to medium coated breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds or Beagles that shed frequently also benefit from keeping a routine grooming schedule. This routine keeps the coat thin, healthy and tremendously reduces the amount of loose hair in the home.
Dogs cool off their bodies by panting and via air circulation as it passes through the pads on their paws. By keeping the hair between their pads clipped, it significantly benefits the dog’s built-in air conditioning unit. It also increases the traction they need to maneuver without slipping on smooth surfaces.
There are other benefits to routine grooming: older dogs with weaker skeletal systems benefit tremendously from keeping their pads trimmed. Often dogs with longer facial hair develop crust in the corner of their eyes due to irritation from facial fur. Sores can develop under the crust, which can lead to discomfort, infection, and greater medical issues. Routine grooming will alleviate the development of bacteria around the eyes resulting in a healthier dog.
Keeping the nails trimmed will result in an agile and more mobile dog. Overgrown nails result in the “splaying” of the pads, which means that the dog has to adjust his toes and stance to compensate for the nail length. This unnatural posture eventually leads to arthritis in their legs and hips, and also increases the risk of the dog snagging and tearing nails on floors, carpeting and furniture. Well-manicured nails will also prevent injury to people from their “pawing” affection.
Dogs benefit from having their ears cleaned on a regular basis. It reduces the buildup of wax that bacteria adheres to, preventing further health issues. Longer-haired breeds actually grow hair in their ears that requires plucking. Keeping the ear canal free of this hair prevents ear infections and further complications.
Regular grooming of dogs can help identify skin issues as health issues such as those that include lumps, bumps and infections. If these symptoms are identified in the early stages it will save expensive trips to the vet and is guaranteed to keep the dog healthy and happy. But what is the number one advantage to grooming fur, trimming nails, and keeping the dog’s ears clean? Clean, well-groomed dogs are a pleasure to cuddle and curl up next to and thus are much more easily adoptable!
Interaction and play with other dogs and humans is crucial to their well-being. Dogs are naturally social animals, and many of their behaviors that may seem threatening are simply their pack nature. Dogs are either submissive or dominant, and in any group of canines there will emerge a natural alpha dog. By setting up Activity Days and allowing our seniors to indulge in the sniffing and romping that is normal for them, they get to be dogs!!
Dogs thrive and are much happier and relaxed if they interact and play with other dogs. While interaction with people is important, dogs need time to be pack animals, to find their place within their circle of friends, and to learn more about being a dog as well as a pet.
Our planned Activity Days are a fun playtime activity for both our rescue dogs and our volunteers. We’ll plan hikes, beach days, dog-friendly restaurant outings and other activity events and experience the best of Palm Beach and Martin Counties with our four-legged, furry seniors. Contact Senior Paws Dog Rescue if you want to provide a senior in need of some exercise, outside stimulation and socialization through our Activity Days.
You will be added to our contact list and we will list all events on our calendar page. Volunteering for Activity Days, provides exercise, special time and socialization with our senior dogs and is an essential part of our volunteer program. You will enhance their quality of life and help them become more easily adoptable, too.
The original idea of Snuffle Parks was created by Jenny Oliver in Busselton, Western Australia to offer dogs a safe and fun place to do what they do best – sniff. After further research online, we found and contacted Karen Bailey with Dog Solutions Dog Training in Victoria, Australia, to learn more about mobile Snuffle Parks. With her help, we have adopted Karen’s ideas and created our own mobile “Snuffle Parks”. Our “Snuffle Parks” take place all around Palm Beach County.
By placing an assortment of interesting items with lots of smells in enclosed dog-friendly areas, our seniors can explore and peruse at their own pace, while improving their confidence with and acceptance of other dogs.
Our volunteers go through their own unwanted, non-recyclable, non-reusable, dog-safe items to use in our snuffle park adventures. What are we bringing? Here are just a few ideas:
- children’s toys
- rags rubbed on our pets (cat scent is very popular!)
- empty shampoo bottles
- cleaned sauce bottles
- plant clippings
- old dog toys
- car tires
- old towels
- old shoes and worn clothing, and many other fun items
Our mobile snuffle parks change locations every time and we add new and exciting things so our seniors have more smells to examine. We place items on the ground, in plants, hanging from trees, poking out of containers or boxes. Some items are in clear view and others are hidden to offer more of a challenge.
Of course, at the end of playtime we clean the area up as though we were never there. So far these mobile snuffle parks have proven to be very relaxing to our seniors.