Adopting a paralyzed dog or cat isn’t the right choice for every pet owner, but if you decide to go for it, the experience can be life-changing.
I always tell people that my world turned upside down when Sophie became paralyzed, but when I was recently asked to describe a typical day I realized that living with a special needs pet just took organization. Here are tips that helped me with my “specially-abled” little girl.
Quality of Life
Determining if your paralyzed dog or cat will have a good quality of life is the most important decision to make. This didn’t take long for me because Sophie’s enthusiasm for life didn’t change. She wanted to do the activities she always loved. We went for walks and car rides and Sophie still played with my two other dogs. I decided that as long as she wasn’t in pain and had this zest to live, I would do everything I could to help.
Paralyzed dogs and cats take up more of your time than an able-bodied pet. They need your assistance to lift them, move them, go potty and more. I was lucky that I work from home so my time was flexible. Having enough time to properly care for your handicapped pet is an important consideration.
It’s hard to bring up finances, but paralyzed dogs and cats cost more money than healthy pets. There is equipment like wheelchairs or carts to buy, physical therapy or other rehabilitation sessions, PT equipment for at-home exercises, diapers, booties, harnesses and possible future surgeries. Being aware of what you can afford is essential.
Establish a Routine
Living with a paralyzed animal is all about being organized. Establishing a routine makes life less overwhelming and will keep your pet healthy. For instance, setting a bathroom schedule every four-five hours will keep you day on track and prevent your pet from getting urinary tract infections which are common in paralyzed animals.
Be Creative/ Have Fun
Disabled dogs and cats like to have fun and engaging them in games keeps their minds alert. Paralyzed dogs confined to one location for long periods of time become unhappy and frustrated. So be creative and enjoy your pet. If your dog loved to chase a ball, teach her how to catch one that you toss gently in the air. Or strap your dog into a wheelchair and let him run after the ball like he used to. You can play tug-of-war with paralyzed dogs and cats can swat their paws at pretend prey at the end of a fishing rod. With your creativity, your pet can enjoy lots of activities.
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