A shaggy old arthritic dog named Ted is being used as a therapist for patients with dementia in a care home in East Ham.

The 12-year-old Shi Tzu is taken to Manor Farm care home each week to encourage residents to be active and help them feel calm and relaxed.

Ted lets them walk, cuddle, feed and groom him in exchange for a good play.

“He’s always excited to work with me,” care home manager Marta Gize-Uwake said. “Ted encourages those with limited mobility to walk, in his role as our four-legged therapist with his calming presence.”

Using pets for therapy is becoming common practice in care homes with research showing they aid communication and involvement. Dog-walking also helps patients reduce swelling and aids blood circulation.

Animals make older people “feel loved and accepted” no matter what their age or ability, the Abbey Healthcare home points out.

Ted is getting older himself and has arthritis in his paws — so he “understands what it’s like to get old”.