Wheelin’ and Healin’: How to Care for a Disabled Pet

We’ve all seen (and sobbed at) the Facebook videos. The baby bunny that lost the use of its hind legs, the dog born without front limbs. The stories of their benevolent owners, and how they helped them, inspire us.


Some of us have been so inspired, we’ve considered adopting a disabled rescue of our own.


Caring for a disabled pet is so much more than the promise of a home. It’s an investment of time, money, and lifestyle changes. These can be all at once overwhelming and rewarding. Disabled pets need more attention and resources than able-bodied ones.


As a result, though, the joy you will feel at helping them recover will be incomparable. It’s important to know what sacrifices you’ll need to make and how to care for your special needs pet.



Adapt your home

How you adapt your home to your new furry friend will depend on their exact handicap. But, there are some general adjustments you can make to ensure easier maneuvering. For starters, place toys and feeding bowls within easy reach. Elevating feeding bowls is an easy modification. This makes it so that your disabled pet doesn’t have to bend down for food and water.


Also, consider baby-proofing your furniture. Sharp corners on coffee tables can cause more harm to your already injured pet. Place some padding in case they run into them. Unclutter your furniture as well, so that they can navigate the space.



If you have stairs, put in some small ramps. These can either be DIY or purchased online. Clear any power cords that are in the pathways and could cause your pet to topple. It’s important that, at least until they adapt to this new space, they can maneuver without obstacles.


Invest in a wheelchair

Wheelchairs can be a major life-changer for your disabled pet. You’ll witness how their disposition improves with renewed range of motion. You can measure your pet and buy them a pet wheelchair online. It will take some getting used to. They may need to adapt to their sudden increased width.


This is yet another reason improving the navigability of your home is essential. Give your pet a few weeks to get used to the wheelchair. Before you know it, they’ll be chasing their tail as if they’re no different from any other pet.



Consider alternative therapies

Much like with humans, a holistic approach can sometimes pay off with your pet. This doesn’t mean you have to resort to questionable methods. It does mean you can consider acupuncture, physical therapy, and massage therapy.


There are various physical therapy exercises that could help your pet regain flexibility. Hydrotherapy is great for targeting and restoring weakened muscle groups. The weightlessness provided by the water can help your pet restore their mobility.


Since most paralysis results from neurological issues, acupuncture is also a helpful therapy. Recent studies analyzed how electro-acupuncture helped dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease. It found that dogs receiving electro-acupuncture, as well as Western treatments, recovered quicker.



Buy aids & supplements

Besides ramps and wheelchairs, there are other mobility aids you may want to invest in for your pet. Harnesses are one of these. They help you lift your pet into/out of cars and bathtubs, as well as up stairs.


If you need to transport your pet, a harness is a must-have. There are other aids you may want to invest in as well, depending on the nature of your pet’s disability. Some of these include:

  • Back braces
  • Knuckling socks
  • Prosthetics
  • Blind pet halos
  • Leg splints


Vitamins and supplements can also aid your disabled pet. Turmeric, CBD oil, and fish oil are all helpful supplements. They’re known to aid in the well-being and longevity of disabled pets. This is especially so when implemented as a regular part of their diet.

Be kind and vigilant

The most important part of caring for a disabled pet is maintaining your optimism. Our dogs mirror our emotions, so be sure to praise them when they do something right. Give them treats when they finally get the hang of their wheelchair. Supporting your dog as they conquer their disability is crucial to their recovery.



So, give praise where praise is due and don’t expect them to last as long on walks – even when they do get their wheelchair. Returning to normal, strenuous activities will be a learning curve for them.


Finally, you’ll want to be extra vigilant of your disabled pet. Check-in with them and make sure to be hyper-aware to changes in their gait and disposition. These could be symptoms of worsening in their condition.


You might even consider installing a pet camera to keep an eye on them while you’re away at work or on vacation. If you leave them with a pet sitter, make sure the sitter is well aware of the care instructions for your pet.


Caring for a disabled pet can be a heavy task, and you’ll never heal them physically, but you will heal their spirit. With the right tools, your disabled pet will feel as capable as the rest of their four-legged friends. In fact, they’ll do everything to prove that they are.


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Ellie Batchiyska

Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for Handicapped Pets, the top provider of pet wheelchairs nationwide. When she’s not dispensing pet wellness advice, you can find her hiking, meditating, or adventuring with her dog.

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