Whether your dog is approaching his senior years and facing health complications, was in an accident or was born with a disability, caring for a handicapped dog requires special considerations, additional patience and lots of love. With a few adaptations and quality care, a handicapped dog can lead a healthy and happy life.
Caring For a Special Needs Dog
Step #1 - Attend regular vet checkups with your dog to evaluate his disability and check on general health. Follow vet recommendations and administer medications daily as directed. If your dog requires specific adaptive equipment, your vet will be able to assist in finding the necessary items.
Step #2 - Go through your home to make sure it's safe for your dog. For example, blind dogs are unable to see possible dangers in their path. If you have a stairway in your home, use dog or baby gates to block the stairs and avoid possible accidents. If your dog has paralysis or leg weakness, getting up or walking on tile or hardwood floors may be difficult. Place random throw rugs or fit your dog with non-slip socks to provide traction. If your dog requires adaptive equipment, such as a wheelchair, look through your house to ensure your dog can move with his chair.
Step #3 - Check your dog's body for injuries on a daily basis. This is especially true in dogs with paralysis. Loss of feeling means they might not know when they're injured. Immobility or incontinence can lead to sores. Seek veterinary care if you see sores or injuries. To help prevent injuries, keep your dog's living area free of objects that can cause accidents. For dogs who drag their hind legs, consider covering the area with bandages or dog clothes to reduce skin damage.
Step #4 - Provide assistance when needed. Blind dogs may need help finding their food at mealtime. Dogs with leg weakness may need assistance getting up and walking. Use a sling or other adaptive device to assist them.
Step #5 - Keep your dog's surroundings as familiar as possible. Try to avoid moving furniture or food and water bowls to avoid confusion or complications for your pup.
Step #6 - Use dog diapers for dogs that have bladder and bowel control issues. Change diapers frequently. Clean any urine or feces off your dog immediately to reduce risk of infection. If accidents occur, clean and disinfect surfaces.
Step #7 - Help your dog live as normal a life as possible. Regardless of the disability, regular exercise is necessary for optimal health and weight management. Talk to your veterinarian about the best possible forms of exercise for your dog. Adapt playtime to his disability.
Warning: Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog suffers additional injuries, sores or other complications.
By Deborah Lundin
About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.