Activities For Dogs After Chemotherapy

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Introduction

Dogs are more like humans than we think. Just like humans, they can also get cancer. And, just like humans, they can also receive chemotherapy to treat it. Believe it or not, chemotherapy can be an effective cancer treatment in dogs, with a less aggressive dose than what humans would receive. While the aim is quality of life, it’s often a positive method of treatment for dogs with cancer that may metastasize. Not all dogs suffer from side effects as a result of the regular chemotherapy sessions, but it can happen. And, often, a few days after treatment some vets will recommend giving your dog time to rest and recover. If you’re used to high-energy activities and don’t have any ideas up your sleeve for quiet ones, we’ve included a few below. 

Food Puzzles

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Food puzzle
Treats
Activity description

A common side effect in dogs after chemotherapy treatment is a loss of appetite. While it’s often short-lived in the days after chemo, it can be a worry for pet owners who are used to their dogs hoovering up every crumb in sight. If you want to offer your dog every available opportunity to eat while enjoying the mental stimulation, then food puzzles may be the answer. You can either build or buy them, fill them with healthy or delicious treats, and use them in any weather. In fact, during the winter months, food puzzles are perfect as a rainy day activity. For an hour of fun indoors, consider this moderately-priced activity for your ill pup. 

Step
1
Buy or build
The first step to treating your ailing dog is by either purchasing or creating a food puzzle. If you don’t want to leave your dog alone for too long, you may find there are plenty of things around the house from which to build food puzzles. For example, an enclosed PVC pipe with holes drilled out will easily house biscuits. Alternatively, you can add sweet potato or other treats onto a rope and watch as your pup has to get them off it. If you pride yourself on being a home baker, you can also flip that muffin tin upside down and put biscuits on it, so they have to work their tongue through the raised points to get the biscuits.
Step
2
Choose treats
If your dog isn’t feeling at their best, the quantity and type of food can make a difference. Some dogs suffer from diarrhea and vomiting after chemotherapy, and while it’s normal, it’s not nice. Scrambled eggs, brown rice, and boiled chicken are all healthy and helpful food choices for a dog with a sore stomach. You will also find many of these ingredients fit nicely inside food stuffer balls or home-made food puzzles.
Step
3
Supervise
When you have bought or built your food puzzle and filled it with treats, then it’s time to let your dog play. While your offerings might not overly enthuse them, you’re giving them the opportunity to benefit from mental stimulation and a treat as well. Supervise their play time to make sure they are playing with the toy in the way you intended.
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Short Walk

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
30 min
Items needed
Leash
Doggy waste bag
Activity description

If the sun is shining and you’re looking for a free and easy activity for half an hour your pup will love, a short walk is a good idea. Even a dog that’s not feeling at their best will relish the opportunity to spend time outside the house. What’s more, they will enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. During chemotherapy, there can often be few side effects in dogs. Therefore, vets still encourage you to participate in activities and exercise with your dog, as long as they are low-key and not too high intensity in the 1 to 3 days after treatment. A short walk may tick those boxes. 

Step
1
Choose a route
If you want to be quite strict about keeping to that 30-minute limit, then a quick bit of research might help. If you utilize Google Maps, you will be able to plan one or more routes that provide a 30-minute round journey home again. The best part is, you can change it up and select various courses, all with the knowledge that they remain within that 30-minute window.
Step
2
Go walking
With a route in mind, it’s time to grab the leash and head out the door. While your dog may be excited to run or walk fast, it’s a good idea to keep them slow and at a regular pace. And, if they show signs of getting tired, turn around and walk home again sooner rather than later. Your dog may not have the energy levels they usually have directly after a chemotherapy treatment.
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Hide and Seek

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Any Day
Free
Easy
10 min
Items needed
Toys
Activity description

If your dog is beginning to get antsy with being cooped up inside doing nothing, then providing a distraction is paramount. Your pup still needs stimulation, and you can offer it with a game of ‘hide and seek.’ All you need is approximately 10 minutes of spare time and a toy, and you can provide your dog with a fun and entertaining activity they will love. What’s more, hide and seek is free, and you can play it in your backyard or inside your home. Therefore, it’s a versatile all-weather activity that will break up your dog’s day while still keeping them quiet at home. 

Step
1
Choose a toy
To play hide and seek, you need at least one or two of their favorite toys. You may find the more toys you include, the more confused they become. Therefore, taking note of the ones they play with the most is crucial beforehand. The toy may be one they carry around a lot or seem to place at your feet the most when they want to play.
Step
2
Hide the toy
Now that you have your favorite toy, and you managed to get it discretely, the next step is hiding it. Visibly hiding it should be your aim. You don’t want the game to be almost impossible, especially if your dog is tired from their chemotherapy treatment. Under a couch cushion, peeking out from behind a door, or in a pair of shoes are all places where your pup is bound to find it.
Step
3
Play
With the toy or toys hidden, it’s time to get your puppy excited about their new game. Walk them around the house then pull the toy out from its hiding place. Your dog will be excited at you having found their favorite toy! Then, when they’re not looking, hide it again and repeat the process. It won’t take too long for your pup to catch on.
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More Fun Ideas...

Dog Massage

For the dog that feels uncomfortable and unwell, a dog massage won’t go astray. Begin at their neck,  moving your hands in circular motions around their fur, before trailing your hands down to their shoulder blades. The constant circulation motion is sure to comfort and relax them so they can drift off to sleep. 

Chew Toy

If your dog is bored, but they aren’t quite up to going for a trip to the beach or a long walk, then purchase a chew toy for them. There are all kinds of chew toys available for all types of chewers. If your dog is normally destructive, opt for one that’s suitable for tough chewers. You are sure to find it offers at least 30 minutes of distraction for your pup. 

Conclusion

In humans, chemotherapy is a treatment method for maintaining life at all costs. In dogs, however, it’s about quality of life. If your pup is undergoing several weeks of treatment, it’s a good idea to have plenty of fun but low-key activities up your sleeve. Your dog may be feeling a little ruff, but at least they’ll be feeling loved