Anyone who has a dog knows what an important part of the family they can be. Pets provide companionship, ease stress and even keep us fit, encouraging us to go for walks in the great outdoors and to make the most of nature. Across the globe, dogs benefit human beings in more ways than we immediately realise; pet therapy is currently being used to help people with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, as well as those with autism, ADHD, anxiety and depression. Those undergoing rehabilitation for an addiction to drugs and alcohol, meanwhile, also benefit from the calm companionship of dogs during pet therapy sessions.

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The secrets behind the benefit of pets are plentiful and include their unique ability to give us unconditional love, their absolute loyalty, and their ability to keep us ‘in the here and now’, encouraging a state of worry-free mindfulness. If your own dog gives you all this and more, it may be time to return the favour by indulging them in a bit of good old fashioned pampering. In Cape Town, we suggest these five ways to raise your pooch’s happiness levels:

  • Five-Star Doggie Daycare: If you are leaving town for the weekend or you have a particularly long shift, why not give your dog the experience of a lifetime at @Frits Dog Hotel & Daycare Centre? The rooms are absolutely stunning and feature mini beds and gorgeous design features and furniture. Your dog will enjoy the company of other posh pooches, as they take part in group play sessions, and go for regular potty breaks. A webcam will ensure you can keep your eye on your baby at all times, so you can rest assured she is in the best hands at @Frits. The centre also has an impressive spa menu which includes wash and brush sessions with a special shampoo. Your little one will come home to you smelling better than ever!
  • Hydrotherapy: Pet Wellness Worx is a wonderful pet wellness service offering a range of services, including hydro under-water treadmill exercise for dogs, as well as canine massage, animal physiotherapy, acupuncture and body stress release. While some of these therapies are particularly indicated for dogs suffering from specific conditions or those recovering from surgery, many can benefit dogs of any age and condition. Massage, for instance, is a much loved therapy by most dogs, who can fall asleep from the pleasure of it all. If your dog is older, ask about their therapies for aged pets. Trained and highly experienced specialists will help strengthen and increase muscle flexibility, increase blood circulation and improve fitness levels.
  • Taking a walk: Most dogs do well with at least an hour’s walk a day, but some owners can be busy to comply. Ensure your pet obtains the exercise he needs to lead a long, healthy life, by hiring a dog walker that will satisfy his need to roam, as well as his innate curiosity about sights, sounds and smells!
  • Go shopping: Take a look at your doggy’s bed, winter blankets and (if they are sartorial hounds) winter clothing. Is your dog just getting by in tatty gear and is an update therefore required? There are a host of luxury dog boutiques, which sell everything from cute outfits to comfy collars, leashes and dog beds. Make sure your pooch is decked out in the style she deserves!
  • Go on a pet-friendly holiday: If you are in Cape Town for a holiday, there is no reason to forego a stay at a luxury hotel. The Twelve Apostles is one hotel that is famed for its pampering approach to pooches. The hotel has made a specific number of rooms available to families with pets. Your dog will enjoy the best holiday ever, with his very own bed, bowls and pet menu available. This is great news for families, who don’t have to lug heavy dog food around wherever they go. Dogs are also welcome in two of the dining areas, though not in the swish Azure restaurant (guide dogs, of course, are allowed). There is only one proviso at this establishment: dogs have to be under knee height so if your dog is extra-large, you might have to opt for the luxury pet hotel option, mentioned above.

Article contributed by Gemma Hunt.