Caring for pets with disabilities

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Caring for pets with disabilities

Their bodies may be broken but their spirits aren’t.

As a caregiver and pet owner it is immensely difficult accepting a disability in our animal companions, but fortunately there are many ways that we can provide adequate care for these pets to lead a happy and healthy life.

We need to acknowledge and appreciate the difference in each type of disability and realize our pets are individuals and what will work for one pet may not work for another.

It can become emotionally draining for you as the pet owner, but there are great tools to help you cope and to treasure this special bond that will develop with your pet.

It has been shown that, by caring for a pet that is truly dependent on you, the animal/owner bond increases.

The following tips will help you to provide the best care for your pet and aid them in leading a higher quality of life:

  • Form a good owner relationship with your veterinarian

It is crucial to form a relationship with your veterinarian. They will be able to provide you with advice and support.

  • Establish a daily routine

By enforcing a daily routine that your family can stick to, you can provide your pet with better boundaries. Once you have established this routine it becomes easier to take care of your pet.

  • Check your pet daily for any physical changes

Everyday check your pet for signs of injuries, pain, or discomfort. A blind pet can bump into things, a paralyzed pet may soil themselves etc.

  • Make your pet physically comfortable
    • Keep your pet pain free. There are multiple methods on the market to keep your pet comfortable and pain free. From medication to alternative therapies eg acupuncture, hydrotherapy, or physiotherapy.
    • Manage your pet’s elimination, especially if your pet is paralyzed. You will need training by your vet on how to express your pet’s bladder.
    • Help your pet to be more mobile. 
      • Mobility compromise occurs on a spectrum, from weakness to a chronic joint injury, paralysis to limb amputation. 
      • Slings, wheels, ramps, change of surface are all ways to assist your pet. 
      • A veterinarian or veterinary physiotherapist will be able to advise you on the best solution that caters to your pet’s individual needs.
  • Adjust to situational preparedness.

There’s no doubt the needs of your pet will require additional resources and you may need to adjust your lifestyle to care for your pet. 

You may have to think of things like placing carpets over your whole floor so that your pet doesn’t slip, install a camera for a pet that suffers from seizures, never move furniture for a blind companion or employ a house sitter for a pet that requires constant care.

  • Find a support group

This may be a tiring time for you as the owner, but by joining a support group or having friends and colleagues that understand, you will be able to do the best for your pet.

Quality of life is key in taking care of your companion

A pet that is still eager to participate in daily activities is leading a good quality of life. If your pet is still eating, playing, and showing normal behavior you know that they are happy. The moment they become lethargic, inappetant and distant you need to start to investigate the cause.

Caring for a disabled pet is challenging but hopefully our hints and tips above will go someway to making your experience better and further enhancing the bond between you. Please drop Dr Karien a line if you have any further questions.