5 Tips on Caring for Service Dogs for the Elderly

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Are you thinking about getting a service dog for yourself or an elderly parent? It’s a wonderful idea, and they can be invaluable companions to people who need them. 

America is aging quite rapidly, 16.9% of the population was above 65 in 2020, and by 2030, the share is expected to go up to 20.6%. Given such numbers, it is the right time to plan so that the seniors in your life can live with dignity and be happy. 

Getting a service dog would help. They’re trained to perform tasks for their owners, like opening doors or picking things up off the floor. 

A service dog is also a big responsibility. You’ll have to train it and groom it properly. 

Some easy hacks help you manage pet care for a service dog for an elderly person. For starters, use online services like PetCareRx for all pet care needs like dog food, medicines, training supplies, and dog treats. You will be able to implement the pet care regimen suggested below better if you are well-equipped with all the required products.

Here are five tips on caring for a service dog.

1. Training 

Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for the elderly. These services can include retrieving objects, helping with mobility issues like standing up and getting into bed, or walking a fallen dog owner.

Training a service dog can take 1.5 years. And despite the effort involved, in the USA today, roughly 500,000 service dogs are helping their humans battle some kind of disability, including mobility impairments from old age.

These tasks are specific to the needs of each elderly person, so your service dog must be trained by someone who understands your unique situation and can make recommendations about what kinds of behaviors will benefit you most and what behaviors aren’t helpful.

2. Regular Grooming

The first thing you’ll need to do is brush the dog’s coat. This will help remove any loose hair and prevent matting. You should also check the dog’s ears for signs of infection, such as redness or fluid build-up, as well as clean them out with a cotton swab dipped in mineral oil or a solution made specifically for cleaning dog ears.

Next up is checking your elderly service animal’s teeth or taking him/her to your vet if they are unable to handle this task on their own.

Finally, it’s important not only for human health but also for our pets’ health that we check for fleas and ticks daily during warm weather months because these parasites can cause major discomfort if left untreated. 

3. Daily Exercise

The dog needs to be exercised at least twice a day.

For dogs, exercise is mentally as well as physically important. It’s good for their health and keeps them happy, healthy, and ready to serve you during the day. They should receive at least an hour of exercise every day.

The best way for your service dog to get adequate exercise is for you and him/her to walk together around your neighborhood so he/she can sniff trees and other things along the way. But remember that a walk isn’t enough. 

Some people may find their dogs more active after a hike than before because they want even more activity than what was provided by just going on walks together daily (this could mean playing fetch with tennis balls).

4. Socialise with Other Humans and Animals

When you train your service dog, teaching them how to be gentle with other people, animals, and things is important.

  • Teach the dog that children are not toys. Your service dog should be able to be near children without being too rough or wild with them. It is good for your senior’s health if they can spend time with their grandchildren or other young relatives who come over often.
  • Teach the dog that other animals are not toys, either. This will help prevent any injuries during playtime between pets at home.
  • Teach the dog how not to jump on humans when greeting them. This will ensure everyone feels safe while interacting, whether at home or in settings where multiple individuals congregate together.
  • There are many public spaces where dogs are not allowed, like certain restaurants and pubs. An exception is made for a service dog accompanied by its handler if they are providing support to the handler who has a certain disability they need support with. 

A recent case, resolved by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado,  put this to the test, and the complainant received compensation. Still, it is advisable to train your service dog to behave in a docile manner when exposed to lots of humans in pubs and restaurants.

5. Provide a safe place for sleep and rest

A service animal plays the role of a nurse or companion in an elderly person’s life. They must have a comfortable living space, so they are well-rested and well-slept. 

A tired and sleep-deprived service dog will not be very alert, and thus care of the elderly person will get compromised. This is especially true for service dogs because they are working 24/7. 

 The best thing is to provide a large space if you have an extra room or two, but even if that isn’t an option, some things can be done to create something special for the service dog to relax.

For those disabled veterans who need service dogs to function normally, many organizations are providing these animals to the ones who need them the most. These dogs can often predict seizures by “sniffing out” feelings of stress or detecting abrupt changes in blood pressure. If you know someone who needs a service dog but doesn’t have the resources to acquire one, you can guide them to such organizations in your area.

Caring for a service dog is a big responsibility that requires time, patience, and love. But if you have this type of pet in your home, it will be very rewarding.