Dogs are man's best friend. They are, for the most part, fiercely loyal and engagingly affectionate. Their essential nature holds true even if they become physically disabled. However, just like humans, they can suffer from emotional problems if they do not get the care they need. This can lead to a change in behavior and an untimely death.
Caring for a disabled dog can be difficult, but pet owners may take comfort from a few home truths:
- Disabled dogs don’t wallow in self-pity – dogs that become disabled do not indulge in self-pity. They have no problem dealing with their disability if you give them a little help. For them, disability is just a change in their dynamics, not the end of the world. The human owner has difficulty in coping with the pity fest. Get over it, and do something constructive for your stricken dog. A doggie wheelchair is just the beginning; you can help more by getting with the program.
- Dogs don’t understand that they are disabled – There are dogs that walk and those that do not. Disabled dogs accept their lot with an admirable aplomb, and don’t waste energy on contemplating what they had lost. You should do the same thing.
- Dogs are sensitive – Dogs take their cues from their humans. If you feel sorry for them, then they will feel sorry for themselves as well. They worry when you worry. Keep your happy face on and your dog will feel much better as well.
- Dogs don’t let pride get in the way – So your dog needs help with the potty or getting on or off the wheelchair. Do you think they’ll refuse because of pride? Not at all. If you treat them with dignity, they will not feel that they are disabled at all.
- Dogs make the most of their situation – You will be surprised at how resilient the dog spirit is. They can bounce back from situations that can flatten a human. They can even derive joy from simply being out in the sun or getting a good scratching despite their health or physical problems. Your disabled dog can serve as your inspiration when you are feeling down in the dumps.
Having said all that, you still have your work cut out for you in caring for your disabled dog. Here are some practical tips to lighten the load.
Establish a system
Your disabled dog has special needs, so you need to have a daily schedule to make sure that everything that needs to be done is done. If you have healthy dogs in the house, you should send them out first so you can concentrate on getting your disabled dog ready for the day. A routine will also help your disabled dog adjust more quickly to their new situation, especially if it includes getting them strapped to their wheelchair.
Be ready with the supplies
If your dog is incontinent, you will be facing some unique challenges for maintaining their cleanliness. Have the following at hand:
- Machine washable orthopedic bed
- underpads for sleeping
- baby wipes for spot cleaning
- dry shampoo
- mild shampoo for regular baths
- moisturizing rinse if the dog develops dry skin from frequent washing (ask your vet)
- bandages to cushion pressure points and prevent bed sores
Be on the lookout for signs of bladder infection
A disabled dog typically has problems voiding their bladder completely. Just because you find urine does not mean the bladder is empty; it may simply be overflowing. Urine trapped in the bladder can lead to infection. You can usually tell if there is an infection by the way it smells and looks, but to be on the safe side have your dog’s urine checked regularly. Prevention is, of course, the better option. Your dog may need help, especially if your dog suffers from spinal problems. You can do this by regularly expressing it by squeezing. Ask your vet to teach you how to do it.
Find the right mobility gear
Some dogs can greatly benefit from a harness to help you carry and move your dog, Make sure that you know how to use it properly so that you do not injure yourself or your dog.
A disabled dog will also benefit greatly from the right wheelchair. Ensure that it is the right size and height for your dog to prevent exacerbating their condition. Educate yourself on how to put it on your dog, adjust it, and acclimatize your pet for its regular use. You can also ask your vet to help you.