Activities For Dogs After A Stroke

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Introduction

Has your dog recently sustained a stroke? Unfortunately, after such a life-altering health crisis many canines become depressed and simply do not feel like participating in any activities. Most veterinarians will recommend a period of recuperation. During such a time, you might have to care for your pet until they show signs of recovering. After a period of rest, a phase of rehabilitation is usually undertaken. Most owners start out with small, easy to follow activities that do not tire out their pooch. However, before starting any physical activities with your canine, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine if your dog is ready.

Hydrotherapy

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Canine lifevest
Activity description
Hydrotherapy is an excellent way to build up your dog's strength without overdoing the exercise threshold of your canine. You will need to do hydrotherapy either in the pool at home or in a public pool. You can also opt to purchase an above ground pool to work with yearly so you don't have to worry so much about the finding a pool to borrow. If you do not own a pool then you can call a public pool to see if they cater to special need pooches. Many public facilities will welcome a dog in their pool if your dog genuinely needs activity rehabilitation.
Step
1
Lifevest on the canine
Your first step in hydrotherapy for your pet is placing a life vest on them. The life vest should fit snug but also not be too confining. Ideally, you should be able to grab the handle on the back of the life vest to easily pick up your dog on bare ground. If you can pick up your dog then you will be able to pick up your pooch during an emergency in the water.
Step
2
Pool time
Once your pooch has their life vest firmly on their body you can place them in the pool's water. Climb into the water beside them and walk along side their body as they get used to the feel of floating in the water. Some dogs panic when they cannot feel firm ground beneath their paws so if your dog acts like they are afraid then it is time to offer them words of encouragement as you pull their life vest form around the pool.
Step
3
Leg movements
If your dog's legs are free and floating in the water then you might want to start bending them or flexing their limbs gently. The water soothes and makes their range of motion far greater than on land. If your dog is not completely paralyzed then floating them in water usually makes their natural instincts take control and they will start to kick their legs in an attempt to swim. If your dog wants to swim in the pool with their life vest on then let them, and provide your pooch with a great deal of encouragement. Most dogs end up loving hydrotherapy.
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Strength Training

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Yoga mat
Exercise ball
Activity description
Strength training is all about helping build strength in your canine's extremities while teaching balance. Many people have trouble with this exercise if their dog is large or overweight. However, for small or medium size pooches it is an ideal activity that will ultimately help your dog recover from the stroke. It will build psychical strength by providing the dog with balance. Many people consider this to be a difficult activity especially after a stroke but with persistence and dedication, you can help encourage them to complete each task in a fulfilling fashion.
Step
1
Rolling From side to side
Let your dog lay down on their side. Now it is time to firmly grasp your dog's legs and roll the dog onto their back. Then roll the pooch onto their side. The entire time, you should be offering encouragement and words of praise. Remember that using their legs to roll them from side to side can be very stressful for a dog who is not feeling very well.
Step
2
Exercise ball
Lift your pooch up in your arms and drape them across a typical child's exercise ball. Be careful to not knock your dog off of the ball. Once they are safely on the ball, hold them in place so they do not truly roll onto the floor. This exercise takes a bit of trust but you have the power to successfully encourage your dog so they do not become discouraged. If your dog is large then you will need to use an adult sized exercise ball.
Step
3
Massage
After you have worked on joint movement and strength training then it is time to make sure that your doggy is not too sore. You can give them a nice, all over, massage Most dogs love the step that includes massage. Also, when rubbing them down, do not forget to massage their toes.
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Passive Range-of-Motion

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Yoga Mat
Activity description
After a stroke, your dog's range of motion may be seriously compromised. They may be unable to move their legs or even their torso. During recovery, their muscles may start to experience degeneration and even atrophy. Movement from various activities will loosen their muscles, increase blood flow to the limbs, and also improve their joints. Typically, after a stroke, even if paralysis occurs, your dog will not feel physical pain so the passive-range-of-motion exercises will cause them no discomfort and actually benefit their overall health. It is an excellent activity to enjoy together as a team that does not pressure your dog to perform physical exercises that they may not be ready for. In fact, passive-range-of-motion is a great starting point before you embark on other activities following your pooch's stroke.
Step
1
Lay down
Have your dog lay on their side on the yoga mat. The mat will help relieve pressure on their joints or physical form as you go through the range-of-motion movements with their limbs. Gently stroke your dog and tell them that it's going to be okay. You might even want to sit next to your dog or even lay on the yoga mat beside them so that they feel comfortable before you embark on the next step.
Step
2
Flexing front legs
Once your canine buddy is relaxed on the mat it's time to gently take their front foot and leg in your hand. Flex the leg in a motion that is similar to how the dog would naturally use their front leg as they walk. Talk to your dog as you do this exercise. A bit of verbal encouragement will bolster your dog's confidence. Once you have finished with one front paw and leg then it is time to move on to the next front paw and leg. You can even massage them a bit as you flex.
Step
3
Flexing back legs
After you have flexed their front legs, then it is time to flex their hind legs. Again, only do the motions that they would normally do with their joint. Don't push it too much. Give them time to adjust to the feel of having their feet and legs moved while laying down. The range-of-motion will keep their hips and joints limber so they do not develop a stiff physique as a result of the stroke or possible paralysis.
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More Fun Ideas...

Talk to Your Dog

Talking to your dog can be a mental activity. A canine who has suffered a significant stroke and been rendered paralyzed may never recover full use of their body but their mind most likely will be still be intact. The sound of your voice stimulates their mental capacity. Talk to your dog, pet them, and love them. Hold a chew toy in your hand and encourage them to take a few chews like a puppy. You can even hand feed them treats while you carry on a dialogue. A dog usually bonds so closely with their owner that just having their beloved human talk to them is often enough to make their day a little bit happier and keep them mentally sharp.

Go for a Walk

Even if your dog has suffered from a stroke they will still want to go for walk. Once your veterinarian gives the okay, it is time to grab the leash and enjoy the great outdoors. If your dog cannot readily walk without a wheelchair then take the wheelchair. Some dogs must also be pushed in strollers after a stroke. No matter how your pooch gets around, it is a wonderful and invigorating experience simply to get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air. Your dog will feel better and probably suffer less significant bouts of depression if they can enjoy the great outdoors.

Conclusion

Stroke recovery is never easy and, sometimes, it is a slow process. Your dog will become discouraged with their slow recovery and could start to experience bouts of deep depression. You will need to give ample praise to your canine buddy even for the smallest effort. Your dog must know that you are on their side and that you can be depended on to take care of them even when a health care crisis strikes. With love, exercise, and numerous stroke-focused recovery activities your dog can regain must of their pre-stroke abilities. Even after a stroke your dog can still live a happy and fulfilling life with your help.