It may seem like bitter irony to be thinking of “normal” when your pet can’t walk or is otherwise disabled. Yet your pet may not even realize that they are disabled, and will usually adapt to their new restrictions quite easily. They take each day as it comes without much thought, and may be perfectly capable of leading a healthy and happy life despite their disabilities.
It’s true that they will need special care, with you as the service person. However, they are incapable of feeling sorry for themselves, unlike most humans. The best thing you can do for your pet is to give them a normal life and enjoy their company.
Dogs rely more on their sense of smell rather than their sight, so blindness may not affect them as much as you might think. In fact, it may be some time before you even realize they’re blind. The case is otherwise for cats, but you can help them adjust by making a few changes in the surroundings.
- Encourage their sense of smell by hiding distinctively scented treats in toys, motivating them to “follow their nose”
- Clear hallways and floors of clutter to give them passage with a minimum of bumps
- Acclimatize your pet to the layout of the home by leading them around them several times
- Continue to take your pet for walks, but make sure they stay close and on a leash to control encounters with aggressive animals
- Talk to your pet to give them a sense of security
Both dogs and cats have acute hearing, and unless they were born deaf, you will both need some retraining to cope with its loss.
- You have to learn to use hand signals to take the place of spoken commands, so practice with your pet
- Get their attention by touching them or making eye contact; try not to sneak up on them by taking firm steps they can feel
- Keep one light on at all times where your pet stays to give them a sense of security
Mobility impairment is actually a much bigger challenge for your pet than the loss of sight and hearing because it essentially makes your pet helpless. Whether the impairment is temporary or permanent, in order to give your mobility-impaired pet a normal life, you need to make some significant changes in their routines.
- Consult a vet for a long-term prognosis of your pet’s condition to better understand how to give them a normal life
- Establish a regular routine to give them a sense of structure and security, and keeping your pet from feeling anxious
- Bathe them regularly, especially if they are unable to do their business on their own or incontinent
- Learn to express their bowels and bladder to make your pet more comfortable
- Check your pet’s hair and skin regularly for any signs of sores or wounds resulting from always lying down or dragging their paralyzed limbs around
- Consider alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage, especially if the impairment is a result of surgery and temporary to keep the muscles supple
- Give them plenty of opportunities to go outdoors and socialize with other pets; you don’t have to worry about teasing
- Regularly check forums for disabled pets for support, tips and suggestions from other pet owners
You should also consider mobility aids such as dog wheelchairs appropriate for your pet’s size. It may be a bit of an investment, but it will give them much more freedom and dignity than carrying them all the time. It will also make your pet healthier physically and psychologically, and save you back problems later on. You only have to check out the videos of dogs in wheelchairs and you will realize how much difference it can make to your pet’s life.
The most important thing you can do for your disabled pet is to be patient with them as they adjust to their impairments. It can require considerable commitment in money and time on your part, but it will all be worth it.