Though they may not be as visible as their able-bodied counterparts, many dogs live with either congenital or acquired disabilities. Common genetic disabilities include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and degenerative myelopathy, while disabilities that come with old age or as a result of another health condition include blindness, deafness, or loss of mobility.
In recent decades, it’s also become clear that dogs can suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, just like humans do. As a result, they may have special needs and require interventions like medication.
Being a dog parent is not easy in and of itself. But there are special challenges to raising a disabled dog, and you have to be ready for them if that’s the case with your own pup. To make things easier for the difficult yet fulfilling journey that lies ahead, this article will teach you five things that you should remember about your disabled dog care.
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It’s Important to Be Knowledgeable and Up to Date About Their Needs
Whether you learned about your dog’s disability immediately after their birth, upon their adoption, or after they experienced sickness or old age, your first priority as their owner is to be up to date on their needs. You’ll want to do some research about how their needs may differ from younger and more able-bodied dogs in terms of their diet, their training regimen, what equipment they’ll need, or how often they’ll require medical care.
It helps to make a checklist of your dog’s most important needs based on their condition. Some examples of needs that you may have to address in your dog’s daily life include:
- The need to relieve your dog’s chronic pain through medication or supportive equipment
- The need to adjust your surroundings in order to improve your dog’s mobility
- The need to make your dog’s disability apparent to other people, so that the latter can watch out for them when you’re out in public
You Should Be Prepared to Invest in Dog Equipment of Better Quality
Another consideration that you’ll have to make for your dog’s care is to acquire specially designed items to accommodate their disability. Dogs with mobility problems may need custom dog lift harnesses, for example, while dogs with osteoarthritis or spine conditions may benefit from elevated dog bowls.
You should also be prepared to spend a little more on dog essentials like custom martingale collars and dog leashes, knowing that your disabled pup is in great need of sturdy and well-designed products so that they can live a safer and more comfortable life. These items may be expensive, but if they can lengthen your dog’s life and relieve them of the pain and stress caused by their condition, they are well worth it.
You Must Adapt Your Dog’s Training, Diet, and Exercise Regimen to Their Disability
Two key words that you should keep at the top of your mind when caring for a disabled dog are routine and adaptation. As their owner, you must take the lead in adapting your dog’s daily life to accommodate their disability. That may mean planning an exercise routine that’s less stressful on their spine or joints, or feeding them healthy foods that don’t cause them additional pain or inflammation. You must also determine a training routine that will impart them with sufficient survival and adaptation skills as well as keep them in sync with you.
Routine is a good thing for both disabled dogs and their owners. It will help for both of you to have structure and a regular rhythm to fall back on when daily life with a disability becomes extra challenging. Knowing this, try to foster healthy habits with your dog especially when it comes to matters like diet, sleep, and exercise.
It Helps to Build a Support Network for Your Dog
You may be the primary caregiver for your disabled dog, but you are definitely not the only one who can help them through their daily life. Remember that you can tap your local veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, and animal care workers to assist you with special issues regarding your dog’s care. You may even be able to rely on family members or friends to help you care for your dog. For example, they can take over for you if a work-related emergency requires you to be away from your pup for an extended period.
It may also do you well to connect with friends whose dogs have similar issues or to join a dedicated support group for owners of disabled dogs. These avenues will allow you to share your perspective about parenting a disabled dog, learn best practices from fellow owners, and simply find comfort in the fact that you and your dog aren’t alone on this journey.
You Should Always Be Patient and Loving Towards Your Pup
As much as you may want to be strong for your pup, at times you might find yourself feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally overwhelmed about their care. In these instances, remember to not be so hard on yourself and to accept these complicated feelings as par for the course.
At the end of the day, however, you should resolve to stay on top of your emotions and avoid behaving in a way that you’ll regret later on. Always choose to be patient and compassionate towards your pup, even and especially in the most difficult moments. More importantly, always make the most of your days with your fur baby.
With proper care, a disabled dog will be able to live a long and happy life in the company of their owner. Make the adjustments that will guarantee this for your dog, and be as big a gift to them as they are to you.
For more tips and facts about dogs particularly pugs, browse our other blogs.