Meeting the Needs of a Disabled Pet
Adopting a pet is big commitment, one that typically lasts over a decade and involves numerous supportive elements for long-term wellness. Adopted or rescued pets love unconditionally (as all pets do), and a critical component of pet ownership is accepting pets as they are. But, what happens when a pet is – or becomes – disabled?
Certainly, the various needs of a disabled pet might be challenging at first, but the benefits are far-reaching, all-consuming, and deeply felt.
Whether your pet came to you with disabilities, or you are learning how to adjust to a disability, there is hope. Modern technological advances make it easier to care for a disabled pet than ever before. While many disabilities affect quality and length of life, many others allow us to provide the care they need for health and wellness, and promote a normal life expectancy.
To properly care for a disabled pet, there are three essential components that must be addressed daily:
Pain relief – A disabled pet’s pain can be mitigated through medication, nutrition, complementary and alternative medicine, and physical therapy (among other methods). Sometimes a pet’s pain isn’t necessarily directly related to the disability, making a proactive approach to pain management vital to catch problems early.
Elimination – A disabled pet may have problems urinating or defecating independently. Working as a team, your pet can relieve him or herself on a regular or predictable schedule.
Mobility – Various disabilities result in compromised movement. Whether it’s limb amputation, paralysis, or hip dysplasia, there are ways to help your pet gain some mobility. Your pet’s size will determine if you carry him or her around in a pouch or sling, or pull in a wagon or cart. Pet wheelchairs, like Walkin Wheels, can provide increased mobility and freedom. And many amputees are able to get around on their own surprisingly well!
Safety Concerns for a Disabled Pet
A pet with certain physical limitations may require more supervision, and the day-to-day environment must be free of danger. For example, stairs can be extremely hazardous to blind pets or those in wheelchairs. Fencing around the backyard should always be secure, as deaf pets who escape won’t be able to hear approaching vehicles, other animals, or being called home.
A disabled pet can adjust amazingly well to physical limitations, but it does take time. If you have other animals in the home, you might notice that your disabled pet relies on them to help find food, the door, and preferred spots to hang out. Likewise, a blind pet can be trained to respond to various whistles, clicks, and other aural cues.
Your veterinarian is the most accurate source of information, and can provide you with support to best care for a disabled pet, considering both their physical and keeping them mentally stimulated despite their disability. Working together, your pet will receive the lifelong care that he or she deserves.
If we can assist you with questions regarding the care of a disabled pet, we welcome your call.