TIPS ON HOW TO CARE FOR A HANDICAPPED DOG
Your dog’s life doesn’t end with partly losing the ability to move! There’s no reason to worry too much about living with a handicapped dog. If you follow some simple rules and tips, you will get the hang of it very soon.
TRUST THE EXPERTS – AND ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS
The main authority to which to turn in case of any problems or questions should always be a veterinarian (preferably a neurologist) and a qualified physiotherapist. They, too, should have good quality education and keep improving their knowledge and skills by taking part in new courses regularly. This will ensure that they are able to assess the situation from different angles and can use several different methods. Dogs are as unique as people and what works for one patient and their family may not be good for another.
The time when any sick animals were “put to sleep” without much thought is long gone and professional workplaces have many valuable experiences and tips to share with you. They will advise you what is possible (and what isn’t), how to take care of your handicapped furry friend and how to improve his quality of life. If anything is not clear to you, ask all the questions you have! Proper understanding of the situation will help you overcome many obstacles and barriers from the beginning.
FOOD – RESIST THOSE PUPPY EYES!
One adjustment that will be surely necessary is your dog’s eating habits. The reason is simple. In his situation, your dog cannot be as active as before and any extra pounds will make him even less mobile. So, it is all the more important to provide him with the right diet and not overfeed him. Of course, you yourself know best how much your dog is moving, whether in the wheelchair or without it. But keep in mind that if you succumb to those sad puppy I-want-another-cookie-please eyes too often, and fatten him too much, it will be more difficult with an already difficult movement.
LET’S TALK ABOUT BLADDERS
After their accident, some dogs have difficulty emptying their bladder by themselves and they rely on you to give them a helping hand. Your dog’s doctor will show you how to do it easily. Another possible problem is incontinence. In this case, just use traditional diapers for babies.
If your dog is in the first category, it is really your responsibility to make sure that he empties regularly, because otherwise he will develop serious health complications, of which the inflammation of the bladder is the smallest. Check your dog’s bladder regularly and if he needs help defecating, remember to do this at least 3 times a day! (So don’t worry, you can keep your work schedule almost intact.)
BRUISES AND OTHER SMALL INJURIES
Because paralyzed dogs do not control their hind limbs well and if not in the wheelchair, they pull them under or behind them, they very often have minor injuries and abrasions. For a healthy dog it’s nothing to worry about, but if your dog is handicapped, these wounds heal very poorly. Firstly, because the paralyzed limbs themselves are not in such a good condition as the healthy ones in terms of regeneration and blood flow, and secondly, because this dragging and bruising of areas that were not designed for this load is constantly repeated. Various bandages, socks, harnesses and, of course, the wheelchair help. If an injury occurs, be prepared to consult your veterinarian.
CLEANLINESS IS THE KEY
Don’t forget that now, the dog is not able to make himself clean as well as before. It is very important that you help the dog stay clean, to prevent many other complications, most often various skin diseases and irritations.
Give your dog plenty of possibilities to be physically active. It is important not only for their physical health (so that they keep their muscles strong and healthy) but also for their state of mind. Dogs have emotions too and those can very much affect their health! No one enjoys being restricted in movement and we all know how dogs love to be outside. The wheelchair is a very good tool, especially for outdoor walks. At home, pay attention to a safe environment that will not endanger him in any way – after all, this is true for all dogs, healthy or not. Simple massages also help relax the stressed muscles, and it can become a pleasant ritual for you both.