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How To Care For A Paralyzed Dog

Useful Tips For Supporting Your Special Canine Friend

By Meredith Alling. July 07, 2014 | See Comments

A Dog With A Walking Assistance Device

Just because a dog is paralyzed doesn’t mean their life is over. Many paralyzed dogs live full and happy lives thanks to dedicated owners. Read on to learn how to care for your paralyzed dog to help them live to their full potential.

Have you ever seen a dog rolling around on a wheelchair or dragging their legs behind them on the ground? These animals are most likely suffering from paralysis, a condition which, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon in pets. Paralysis usually results from a spinal injury that damages the nerve roots. The dog will be paralyzed from the point of the injury down while the rest of their body functions normally. While paralysis in dogs is most often seen in the hind legs, it can also occur in the front legs if the nerve roots in the neck, shoulder, or front legs are injured.
 
Caring for a paralyzed dog is a lifelong commitment and one that requires a lot of work. Therefore, it is not for everyone. Your dog deserves the have the best life possible, and if you can’t provide it, you should be honest with yourself and look into other options.
 
For the right owner, however, caring for a paralyzed dog can be a truly rewarding experience and one that brings you and your dog closer together.

Paralyzed Dog Cleanliness

Many paralyzed dogs suffer from incontinence and are unable to adequately groom themselves. Therefore, you’ll need to keep up with your pal’s hygiene and grooming for the sake of your household and your animal’s health and comfort.

  • You should expect to bathe your dog every few days. If your dog begins suffering from dry skin due to frequent baths, your veterinarian may recommend a moisturizing shampoo as well as topical conditioning treatments or sprays.
  • Dry pet shampoo may be useful for spot cleaning or tidying your dog up between washes.
  • Baby wipes can come in handy for cleaning up fur and keeping skin moist. You should always wipe away any urine immediately, as urine can cause burns when left on the skin.

  • To avoid household messes, consider using a dog diaper.

  • Keep your dog’s bedding clean. Wash it regularly and look for a material like nylon that is less likely to absorb moisture. You should also be able to wash the bed itself, not just the cover.

  • Maintain good flea and tick control.

Paralyzed Dog Bladder Care

Many paralyzed dogs are unable to urinate on their own. Even if you see urine in your pet’s bedding, it may simply be overflow from a too-full bladder. A bladder that is not regularly emptied can lead to bladder infections, which are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but can also spread to the kidneys and cause serious complications.
 
Ask your veterinarian if you should be expressing your dog’s bladder and if so, how to do it. Many paralyzed dogs need to have their bladder expressed three to four time a day.

Paralyzed Dog Skin Damage

While they might not have full mobility, many paralyzed dogs are able to change positions or drag themselves around. Because they often cannot feel the pain associated with rubbing or chafing, moving around can result in skin damage and sores in vulnerable areas such as the elbows, hips, and ankles.
 
If your dog develops a sore, contact your veterinarian for treatment. In some cases a dog may need to wear permanent bandaging or padding.
 
To protect your dog from bed sores, invest in an orthopedic bed that is specifically designed to cushion your pet’s pressure points. Again, be sure that both the bed and the liner are washable, and consider buying two beds so your pet can use one while the other is getting a wash.

Paralyzed Dog Wheelchairs and Harnesses

Dog wheelchairs or carts can be a great option for a dog who has strong front legs and a strong upper body. A dog wheelchair gives your pal more freedom to move around, which is good for both their physical and psychological health.
 
You can also help your dog move around with a harness. A harness wraps under your dog and has handles on top that allow you to lift your dog’s front or hind quarters while they walk with their “good” legs. Before using a harness, be sure that you receive detailed instructions from your veterinarian or a physical therapist, as improper usage could be harmful to your dog.

Paralyzed Dog Physical Therapy

Flexibility and muscle tone are important for your paralyzed dog’s comfort, however, exercise can be hard to come by when your dog finds it difficult to move around. Physical therapy that includes range of motion exercises can be beneficial to some dogs.
 
In addition, dog massage may help to improve blood circulation and soothe sore muscles and joints.
 
Caring for a paralyzed dog can be a big job, but one that comes with many rewards. Take care of yourself and your dog and you may find that your bond grows stronger than you ever thought possible.

More on Injured Dogs

Why Is My Dog Limping?
Can You Use Aspirin For Dogs?
Pet First Aid: How To Treat Dog Wounds

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