If you recently read our blog post in 'A day in the life of an animal holistic therapist' then you'll know all about Sam and her business 'Hoof To Tail Healing'. We've caught up with Sam again recently who shares some insight on how she can help more senior dogs with some of their issues, which occur more as we head into Autumn and Winter. Over to you Sam...!
Autumn is officially here, and it makes me think of senior dogs, as the colder damp weather can affect mobility and pain with problems such as arthritis. So, I thought it was the time I wrote about how you can help your dog holistically with a couple of problems that affect senior dogs; arthritis and cataracts.
The most common issue I help dogs with is arthritis. Dogs can struggle to move around when they first get up in the morning. Stairs become more difficult, and taking over the sofa can be a thing of the past.
I love working with essential oils, as it means I can give owners something that they can use in between therapy sessions. The following are great for arthritis and are common oils that are most people already have at home (others are available) along with their properties;
- Peppermint – anti-inflammatory and pain relieving
- Lavender – anti-inflammatory and improves circulation which can speed up the bodies self-healing
- Rosemary – anti-inflammatory and pain relieving, can stop the progression of arthritis
I always offer the bottle of essential oil for the dog to sniff, then once they have had enough of the healing properties, they can move away. When we need the properties of an oil, it smells pleasant to us, but can then change when the oil has done its job.
Crystals are another way you can help your dog at home. I made a necklace to help with my mum’s arthritis in her shoulder, and she had such good results from it, it gave me the idea for making collar charms with healing properties of crystals.
The crystals that helped my mum were Amethyst, Blue Lace Agate, and Rainbow Flourite.
- Amethyst – gentle properties to reduce joint pain
- Blue Lace Agate – this is a lovely cooling crystal, and have lovely anti-inflammatory properties
- Rainbow Flourite – this also has properties which reduce pain and help joints to be mobile again.
You don’t have to use one of my collar charms to help your dog’s arthritis. Tumble stones as pictured below are available quite cheaply and can be lay next to the area where your dog has arthritis. Just make sure they aren’t left unattended with the crystal as they may decide it looks tasty enough to eat!
There are a number of acupressure points that can help, not only with arthritis specifically but with pain relief and reducing inflammation, and building up muscles again to support the joints.
Reiki can also help to clear any blockages in the energy flow around the body and encourage the body to heal itself. It can also release any muscular tension caused by a change in gait brought on by compensating for any pain.
I love working with dogs who have arthritis, as it is lovely to give some gentle healing to older dogs that are starting to struggle. Also, the feedback is so rewarding, hearing that dogs are able to go upstairs again, or jump back up on their favourite sofa, and keep up on walks again!
Although not related to the colder weather, cataracts are another challenge that older dogs can sometimes have to deal with. If you think your dog has started having sight problems, the best place to start is your vet.
Dogs can cope very well with failing eyesight, but there can be some related issues as well, that are worth thinking about.
How can you help your dog if they have eyesight problems?
Keep your dog on the lead when on a walk. They can easily hurt themselves, or be scared by something and run off and not be able to find their way back when previously it wouldn’t have been an issue. A long line or horse lunge rein can be a good alternative to their normal lead, allowing your dog to run ahead a little, but still be under control if you need to call them back.
Usually, it is recommended to change the regular walks for your dog to give them variety and smell new things. However, it can be quite scary for a dog with poor eyesight to hear new sounds, smell new things and be unsure of where they are going. Therefore, when changing to a new walk, just adjust a regular route a little, or go on a new route for a number of days, so your dog can build up their confidence on the route.
Put a night light near their bed at night. Once it is completely dark, the contrast between different objects in a room can be blurred if eyesight is poor, and this can cause anxiety. A night light will leave at least a small area in the room where they will be able to see something, and feel more confident when alone.
Use toys that encourage scent work, such as a treat ball with strong smelling treats in. Allowing your dog to utilise the strengths they have, means they can still have fun with toys!
Clary Sage essential oil is beneficial for eyesight, cataracts and general sight problems brought on by age. I would never recommend using essential oils in the eyes, however, inhaling the oil will do just as much good. I let the dog sniff the bottle of the oil, and if they are interested, and keep coming back for another sniff, I then place the opened bottle near the dog’s bed, but out of reach so they can’t ingest any of it.
A crystal that can help eyesight is green aventurine. When the dog is resting place the crystals next to them, near their eyes. But as mentioned above, keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t decide the crystal is a tasty treat.
How can I help with cataracts?
There are a number of acupressure points specifically for cataracts. Acupressure balances any blockages or excesses in the meridians and works using a light touch on the point along the meridian. It is a very gentle, but also very effective therapy.
An unexpected effect of cataracts can be increased anxiety when out walking. Approaching people can become just a large shape getting closer. Some reiki can really help to reduce anxiety again, so the dog starts to feel more confident on walks
For more information and tips on how to help your dog holistically, don't forget to follow me on Instagram @hooftotailhealing