Get Darren’s practical guide to improving your disabled dog’s life
September 14, 2022
Whether you have decided to adopt a disabled dog, or something happens or develops that means your pet becomes disabled, there are many things to consider about how to give them the best care. Vet Darren Partridge wants pet owners in Surrey to know there is support available for many conditions as well as ways you can help your dog navigate life more easily.
To have your dog’s condition assessed by one of our Veterinary Surgeons, or to ask for more advice on caring for a disabled pet, get in touch with us here at Molesey Vets.
Living with a disabled dog
Possible disabilities include:
- Neurological issues
- Limb deformities/amputation
- Medical conditions such as Haemophilia
With each condition it is important to have a good understanding as an owner about what the condition is and how it is likely to affect your pet. Read Darren’s advice below and contact us if you have any questions.
September is recognised as Deaf Awareness Week – with deaf pets, having an understanding of how the world is different to them and how they adapt to life is very important. If you suspect your pet could be fully or partially deaf, make an appointment with one of our Vets to get this confirmed so you can start learning how to adapt to their needs.
Many white coloured species are naturally prone to being born deaf and breeds such as Dalmatians, Great Danes, and Welsh corgis are at higher risk. Dogs with Pied/Piebald or Merle/Dapple coat pattens (carrying these genes) can be at a higher risk of deafness – two dogs with these genes should not be mated together as the offspring will very likely be born deaf.
Training & walking aids: You will need to adapt your training tactics to help your dog understand basic commands in ways that don’t rely on hearing. You can use your hands to create visual cues and show your dog what you require them to do – remember to reward successes. Deaf dogs can become anxious when unfamiliar people approach them. There are awareness tools you can use, such as leads and harnesses, that state your dog is deaf and make other people aware they should not approach them.
Resources: There are many resources online for living with a deaf dog such as these training tips on the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home website. You can also buy books such as this one: The complete guide to owning a deaf dog.
Blindness in dogs is common for various reasons such as blindness from birth, an eye condition left untreated, an injury, or a disease that causes blindness. Just like with deaf pets, you (and anyone else your dog spends times with) will need to adapt to help your dog have the best quality of life. You can make your blind dog’s life less stressful by:
- Keeping furniture in the same positions to avoid confusion
- Keeping your dog’s routine (and yours where possible) the same
- Using noises to help direct them
- Using leads and harnesses that state your dog is blind will help others know not to approach and startle them
If you suspect your pet is blind or is having problems with their sight, contact our Park Road surgery on 0208 979 1384 for advice. There are many Ophthalmologist Specialists that can help with diagnosis.
Limb deformity or loss
When caring for a pet with a limb deformity or loss, it is important to understand their abilities and how they navigate everyday tasks.
Some breeds are naturally more prone to conditions that end up in limb amputation or paralysis such as back problems in dachshunds. Some dogs may have been in a traumatic accident resulting in amputation or paralysis. Whilst any Tripod dog can cope well on three legs, Darren advises that it can take time and a lot of physiotherapy to help build up their strength to ensure the best protection of the remaining limbs.
There are also many supports that may be useful such as slings and braces that can help give your pet the best mobility. If more than one limb is affected or has been amputated, there are pet wheelchairs and even prosthetics that can be fitted in some cases. Our Vets can advise you on what may be best for your dog and refer them to a Specialist.
Canine physiotherapy can benefit a range of musculoskeletal conditions whether following an accident or surgery, or before surgery if an amputation is planned. Our Veterinary Physiotherapist, Sam Buss, will work with your dog to strengthen and build muscle on the limb(s) affected, or for amputees, to stabilise and strengthen the remaining limbs. The term ‘physiotherapy’ covers a range of treatments including laser therapy – a combination of treatment types can help to boost your dog’s overall wellness as well as reduce pain levels and improve mobility.
In April this year, a dog walk ‘with a difference’ took place in Lincoln to celebrate dogs with disabilities – you can watch the video here.
You can make your home more suited to your dog’s abilities by:
- Using stair gates to avoid accidents
- Using ramps for getting up and down smaller sets of steps
- Adding rugs to slippery surfaces and using anti-slip tape underneath
- Limiting their opportunity to jump on and off furniture
- Considering the entry points to your home i.e., steps, door thresholds, gaps
- Using ramps or slings to help you get your dog in and out of vehicles
- Using pet buggies to get your dog from A to B and provide enrichment out of the home
Our team at Molesey Vets can help with advice, treatment, and specialist referrals for your disabled pet’s needs. Call us on 0208 979 1384 to book an appointment.
How Pet Insurance can help
If your dog has an accident or develops a condition that leads to a disability, as long as your pet has been insured for a certain period of time (check with the individual insurer), you may be able to get financial support for the investigations, treatment, and ongoing care your pet will need.