As much as we love our pets, seeing dogs with disabilities can be difficult. Caring for them, of course, is a bigger challenge. But it can also provide the greatest rewards.
For whatever reason, whether a degenerative genetic disease or an injury from an accident, your dog may have a disability. Whether or not you were aware of your dog's condition before taking them into your home, there are many steps you can take to give them a normal and comfortable life.
Signs of Disability
Remember that dogs can't tell us exactly what is wrong with them if they hurt. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to recognize the warning signs in case something does happen. If your dog is unable to stand, walk, go up or down stairs, if they urinate uncontrollably, or are uncomfortable around slippery surfaces such as tile or wood, you should take your dog to the vet. In addition, changes in their sleeping habits, eating habits, or behavior can mean a trip to the vet is in order.
Important Considerations when Your Dog is Disabled
When you are aware that your dog is disabled, the first thing to consider is whether or not you have the financial means to care for a special needs pet. As the saying goes, "discretion is the better part of valor." This is just as relevant here as anything else. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position where you must decide between your family and your best friend, be sure you can find your pet a good home.
Assuming you are financially able to give your dog specialized care, here a few things about your dog that you might not have considered. For one, they probably do not see their disability like a human might. While humans tend to see anything abnormal as a fault, dogs will remain as happy and continue to approach every day as before. Their only concern might be their role in the pack. Since most dogs see themselves as the lower ranking "omegas" in your family, there might not be much of a change. Even so, be aware of signs of depression, such as not eating or excessive laziness.
Depending on the nature of the disability, regular visits to the vet may be necessary, so be sure to work that into your schedule. Make sure that you keep track of any special medicines or dietary needs your dog has.
Moving forward from Disability
In the case of disabled hind legs, you can find help for your dog in canine wheelchairs. These devices allow your dog to continue playful runs around the yard, keeping their health and spirits up. Exercise is, after all, very important for a well-adjusted dog.
Don't treat your dog any differently than you would a perfectly healthy one. If you have other pets, they will notice the difference. In this case, your dog might take advantage of the situation and misbehave, or expect special treatment from other members of your family. You should make sure to continue to discipline your dog just as you would any other. Teach them to sit, shake, and obey other commands.
Always remember that you are the ultimate provider for your dog. Sometimes bad things happen, and we must learn to cope with the consequences. The same is true for our beloved animal companions, but there are ways we can ensure that they live a happy and healthy life. Keep your own spirits up, and your dog will too!
More on Caring for Your Dog
The Importance of Socializing a Dog
Benefits for Glucosamine for Dogs and Cats
Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.