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Choosing Dog Shoes for Your Disabled Dog


May 18, 2018

Taking care of disabled dogs is a unique responsibility. The challenges both you and your dog face are much different from those of taking care of dogs with no disabilities. It takes special people to take care of special dogs. Because of their disabilities, most of them need special items to help them have better lives. These items also help dog owners take better care of their dogs.

These can be essential things that will help them get better or live normal such as prosthetics and wheelchairs. They can also be small items that help make life easier, safer and healthier, such as dog shoes. In this article we will talk more about the importance of dog shoes and how to choose the best ones for our dogs.

Importance of Dog Shoes

Initially, most people saw dog shoes as more of a fashionable accessory for their pet dogs. It was more of an accessory that dog owners bought to make their pet dogs look good when going for a walk or to the park. Eventually, pet owners found that using dog shoes do have other advantages aside from the aesthetic. They are a very good form of protection for dog’s paws when walking on extreme conditions such as the beach on a sunny day or walking in cold snow. In addition, they can also help dogs get a better grip when walking on slippery surfaces because they usually come with non-slip soles.

Dog shoes are even more useful for disabled dogs. For some, these may even be necessary. What may be second nature for normal dogs are challenging for disabled dogs, and dog shoes are just one more aid that makes it easier for disabled dogs to pull through these challenges.

Walking and standing are probably the major challenges disabled dogs have to face daily. Making use of prosthetics, a wheelchair and other tools are definitely helpful. Augmenting this by wearing dog shoes is a plus. For starters, dog shoes give dogs better grip on the floor, which helps them control their movement better. It gives them better control when turning and slowing down. It also prevents sliding on slippery surfaces. Better grip also means better traction. This means it takes them less effort to move around.

Dog shoes gives added leg support. This is especially true for the lower part of the leg specifically the wrists. Some dog shoes are even designed to give support up to the middle part of the legs. Dogs recovering from injury or surgery and those undergoing physical therapy are most likely to reap this benefit. Having added support for the wrist and lower leg prevents dogs from getting injured during exercises. It also helps support the muscles and in turn helps strengthen them.

It protects dog’s paws and legs. Aside from protecting their legs and paws from the elements an extreme weather, dog shoes also protect the paws and legs from scratches, scrapes and wounds. This is especially true for dogs that cannot use certain limbs. This could be because of weak muscles, nerve degeneration, or bone problems. In many cases, they drag their legs or paws when they move around, and this leads to scrapes and worse open wounds.

This is a major concern for highly active disabled dogs that manage to go everywhere despite their disability. Having them wear dog shoes lessens the occurrence and degree of these injuries without having to curb their exuberance.

Choosing the Best Dog Shoes

When choosing the best dog shoes for your dog, make sure you base your criteria on your dog’s specific needs. For example, if your dog is recovering from an injury and undergoing therapy, leg support may be an important factor. Here are some things to check:

1. Safety and comfort –Make sure the design and materials used are safe and comfortable for your dog’s fur and skin. It should be non-toxic and not rough on the skin. It should fit snugly without being tight as this could cause poor blood circulation, which could cause even more problems.

2. Grip – The sole or bottom part of the shoes should have a firm grip and not cause slips when walking on smooth and slippery surfaces. Slipping is one of the most common problems of disabled dogs. The dog shoes should be able to address this problem.

3. Leg support – As we have already stated earlier, dog shoes should be able to give additional leg support. At the very least it should help support the dog’s paw joint when in use. You may also find that some dog shoes give added support to the upper portion of the leg for dogs that need such support, much like support hose for people with varicose veins

4. Terrain – Most dog shoes are appropriate for different terrains, but ask anyway to make sure. It is best to get an all-terrain type of dog shoes.

5. Waterproof – It is not always necessary, but waterproof shoes would be a good idea. You and your dog will be ready for anything.

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Tips on Giving Your Best Friend a Bath


April 5, 2018

 

It has to be done. Whether you or your pet dogs like it or not, they need a bath, especially if they are disabled dogs. Because they are not completely mobile, they get dirty faster and more frequently. They drag their body when they move, they get dirty in their own pee or poop, or they get in to littles accidents such as spills and falls.

Because they are disabled, there is a right way of giving them a bath. Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do when giving your disabled dog a bath.

Regular Bath Time

Have a regular schedule for their bath. Generally speaking, disabled dogs need to take a bath more often than normal dogs, which is usually once a month. Twice a month is usual for a disabled dog, but this may not be true for all dogs so you have to base it on your own dog’s needs.

You do not have to stick to this schedule all the time, though. If you think they need a bath earlier or later than scheduled, then go for it. The important thing is to use the schedule as your guide. You may even change the schedule if you think it is necessary.

Choose the Right Shampoo

Using the proper shampoo is very important when giving your dog a bath. The health of their skin and fur are very important to their overall health, so using shampoo that can damage both can cause a lot of problems. One important rule is never to use shampoos for humans unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian. Most shampoos made for dogs are fine, but use no-tears shampoo for their head and face and a regular dog shampoo for the rest of their body. A dog conditioner is also an option worth considering. Before choosing shampoos, ask for your vet’s advice.

Bath Time is Fun Time

Bath time should be a comfortable and fun experience for your dog. This will make them feel relaxed and docile during the process. If they feel discomfort, they may get agitated and anxious. To keep them calm and relaxed, you should also remain calm and relaxed. Do not show agitation when something goes wrong. Try to have fun yourself while giving your dog a bath. Before you know it, you and your dog will really have a fun and good bonding time during their bath.

Positioning Your Dog

Since disabled dogs are less mobile than a regular dog, they need assistance in positioning themselves for bathing. if possible, use a tub when giving them a bath. You may use your bath tub if your dog is big or a bath sink or portable tub if it is a small breed. Make sure there is ample space for them to fit comfortably. Use a non-slip mat as flooring for your tub to keep them from slipping and sliding. If your dog can still use their front legs but not their hind legs, you can place them in the tub in a sitting position (front legs upright and hind legs resting). This way, its head is up high while bathing.

If your dog can make use of the hind legs but cannot use the front legs or if they cannot use both, you need to place them on their side making sure the head is a bit more elevated then the body by using an inflatable, non-slip pillow or something similar. In this position, you have to move them from one side to the other during wetting, shampooing and rinsing. Makes sure that your dog’s legs are not tangled or in an awkward position. Also check that your dog’s tail is free to move.

Water Temperature and Pressure

It is also important to use tepid or warm water for bathing your dog. If it is too hot, it may scald and cause harm to your dog’s skin. If it is too cold it may feel uncomfortable and also harm the skin. Water pressure is also important if you use a hose or spray to wet and rinse your dog during bathing. Do not spray your dog directly from a distance as this is painful on the skin and body. Hold the nozzle near the dog and spray in an oblique position so that the water is diagonal to the body. You may also position your finger in front of the nozzle to diffuse the pressure coming out before it reaches your dog’s skin.

Eyes, Ears and Nose

Do not get the eyes, the inside part of the ears and especially the nose wet from hosing. When a dog’s nose is hit with water, it may give them the sensation of drowning and cause them to panic. That is not a sensation you want them to associate bath time. It is important to clean the back of the ears, but jmake sure water does not go in to the ear hole.

Rinse and Dry

While shampooing is important, rinsing thoroughly is even more so. Leaving shampoo on their fur and skin can cause irritation or skin problems. This is why it is recommended to rinse your dog twice. After your dog is well and truly clean, dry your dog’s skin and fur thoroughly. Use a big thick towel to do this. Place the towel flat on the floor or table, place your dog on the towel and rub the fur dry. Do this vigorously but also gently, like giving your dog a massage with the towel.

You now have a clean and happy dog. For a little while, at least.

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Benefits of Water Therapy for Disabled Dogs


February 28, 2018

There is a new physical therapy method gaining popularity for animals recently and this is water therapy. Water therapy for humans has been in practice for a very long time now, but its application to animals started quite recently. It started as therapy for horses and now it is also gaining ground as a therapy for dogs. Based on what we’ve read and seen so far, this may be a good form of therapy for your disabled dog. We thought it worth finding out more so we’ve done some research to see what benefits our pets may get from water therapy.

What is Water Therapy

Water therapy or Hydrotherapy is a method of physical therapy or physical rehabilitation that makes use of water. The patient is immersed in water during the physical therapy session. It makes use of the properties of water to assist and supplement the therapy process. When submerged in water, the body becomes buoyant and is supported by the water making gravity less of a hindrance during the therapy. Water also helps in reducing the stress on the patient’s joints during therapy. It is safer because the water supports the limbs unlike empty space and it also has a higher efficacy since it is a more dense environment compared to empty space thereby producing more resistance during sessions.

Medical practitioners make use of water therapy to address bone, muscle and joint problems. It is especially effective for patients recovering from an injury or surgery, those who have degenerative joint problems and paralysis. It is also used as an exercise regimen for weight loss as well as to prevent muscle loss and joint problems.

Water Therapy for Dogs

There are mainly three types of water therapy for dogs, whirlpool, dog pool and treadmill.

Making use of a whirlpool is one of the basic methods of water therapy for dogs. The dog is suited up in a life vest and assisted by a trained therapist in the whirlpool during the session. Water temperature is controlled as part of the therapy. Warmer water is usually used to ease muscles during sessions. The water movement also helps in relaxing the dog while in session.

A dog pool is similar to a swimming pool for humans where dogs do their therapy exercises such as playing catch or doing lapse. Again, dogs wear life vests and are assisted by trained medical practitioners during these sessions. Even dogs who cannot swim may undergo this type of treatment as they can be guided and taught by the medical practitioners.

A water therapy dog treadmill is a treadmill placed in a see through, water tight tub. During sessions, the dog is put in a life vest and placed on the treadmill. The tub is then filled with enough water to submerge the limbs and lower body of the dog. This puts the dog in a partially weightless environment. The water temperature is also regulated as part of the therapeutic process. The treadmill is activated so that the dog can walk underwater. The speed and duration is regulated based on the prescribed therapy regimen for the dog. The entire session is supervised by a trained medical practitioner.

The type of water therapy, the exercise regimen and the intensity and duration of each session varies depending on the specific diagnosis for each dog and is based on the prescription of a trained medical practitioner.

Benefits of Water Therapy for Disabled Dogs

As we went through more and more reading materials regarding water therapy, we also found more reasons why water therapy is worth considering to help our disabled pets. Aside from the ones we have already mentioned earlier, here are more benefits of water therapy:

  • It relaxes while it stimulates and strengthens the body
  • It helps generate higher energy levels for the body
  • It improves over-all balance and coordination during movement
  • It helps decrease pain and stress on the body
  • It improves blood circulation
  • It improves the body’s immune system
  • It improves digestion and removal of body toxins

Another area that water therapy may be beneficial for disabled dogs is weight loss. Many disabled pets become overweight over time due to the decrease in their activity. Water therapy can be used as an alternative exercise regimen more acceptable to overweight pets since the water lessens the weight on the limbs during exercises.

What’s Next

If this article has made you interested in hydrotherapy, consult your veterinarian first before taking any other steps. If you decide to place your pet in a therapy regimen, make sure you do your research first and that you bring them to a clinic or institution certified in canine rehabilitation. Your veterinarian can help find a suitable clinic for your pet’s rehabilitation.

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Dealing with Holiday Travel Stress and Disabled Pets


October 18, 2017

The holiday season is usually also the traveling season. Many of us will travel to visit our folks for the annual reunion, or visit other family members to celebrate the yuletide season with them. Some of us will also plan family vacations during this season. For those of us who have disabled pets, we would like to bring them along since they are part of the family. However, you should prepare for some challenges.

 

Challenge 1: Kids

Whether visiting family or going on a vacation, traveling can be a stressful experience. Long distance travel by car is already a very stressful experience for most people, especially kids as many of us have probably experienced. Sitting for hours in a cramped space isn’t really a very comfortable situation. Kids get bored and become very impatient during long travels. This leads to disruptive behavior, which in turn leads to an even more stressful situation.

 

Challenge 2: Disabled Pets

The same pattern of behavior happens to our disabled pets when they go with us on long trips. It is probably worse for them because the cramped space as well as the constant motion of the car is not really an environment to which your pet is accustomed. To keep them in this environment for a long period of time probably makes matters worse. For pets not used to traveling in a car, they can get motion sick, which is just the final straw for pet owners dealing with restless kids and their own fatigue.

 

The Solution

Traveling does not have to be a stressful situation for you and your traveling companions. If done properly, it can be a very happy and memorable event for the entire family including your pet. The key is to plan for it, and to prepare and practice your kids and pets before the scheduled trip.

 

To help ease the situation during long trips, you should get them ready at least a few weeks before the scheduled trip. The goal is to get them accustomed to the new environment, your vehicle, in which they will be staying during the long trip. To do this, slowly make them feel comfortable staying and traveling in your vehicle.

 

For your kids, make a list of things that will keep them entertained during the ride. Avoid anything that will make them motion sick, such as books or tablets. Bring their favorite toys, invest in some travel games such as Battleship or Monopoly, and download audio books appropriate for their age. The night before, make sure they get a good night’s sleep or they will be cranky a short time into the trip. You should also give any child prone to motion sickness an appropriate dose of child-safe motion sickness medication an hour before your scheduled departure. It will make everyone more comfortable.

 

For your pet, plan what you will bring with you to make your pet feel comfortable in the car. Bring things that your pet is accustomed to using and having around at home such as your pet’s favorite toy or favorite pillow. If your pet sleeps in a sleeping basket or crate, use this as his area inside the car during your trip.

 

A few weeks before the long drive, bring your pet and all the things you plan to bring for him, inside the car. If necessary keep the car doors and back compartment open so that he gets a feel of the car but still sees a familiar environment such as your yard and house. If you feel your pet is not yet comfortable being in the car, do not take him for a ride yet. Just let your pet get used to being in the car first. Keep doing this until your pet is ready, then take him for short rides at first. You can also take your pet with you during your daily routine trips such as to the shopping mall or to your kid’s school.

 

During the trip itself, it would be a good idea to keep your pet in a secure but comfortable space away from your kids such as a sleeping crate or basket. This is to keep them from getting stepped on and also to prevent them from getting in the driver’s way. It is also important to set numerous pit stops during the trip to give your pet and your family time to stretch and relax.

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Weight Management for Disabled Pets


September 12, 2017

Lola suffers from a pinched nerve in her back, making it hard to exercise

Weight management for your disabled pet is very important. Weight has a major impact on your pet’s over-all health. If your pet has excess body fat, it has additional weight to carry. This in itself has a lot of bad effects because it is harder for them to move around.

It also makes life more uncomfortable for them. Even simple daily routines such as sitting and lying down become less comfortable when your pet becomes overweight. Because it is harder to move around and over-all life is uncomfortable, your pet becomes less active. This will increase the chances of gaining more weight, which creates a vicious cycle.

This is one of the reasons why many disabled pets suffer from weight gain problems, which is why you should monitor and manage your pet’s weight.

Check body condition

First, find out if your pet is actually over-weight. Use a body condition chart to find out if your pet is at a healthy weight level. If your disabled pet is over-weight, start monitoring and managing your pet’s nutritional intake and regular activities.

The key is to balance food intake and food burning activities energy. You must find the right balance so that your pets food intake is a little but less than the food burning activities. Again, this is exactly why it is more difficult for disabled pets to keep to a healthy body weight level. Lack of mobility means less food burning activities. this is where you come in to help your disabled pet maintain a health body weight level.

Monitor food intake and weight

To help your pet lose that excess weight, establish the amount of food your pet eats daily. Monitor the amount of food your disabled pet eats based on weight and not on portions. This will give you a more accurate way of monitoring and managing your pet’s food intake.

When you have established the amount of food your pet eats daily, start to gradually reduce this amount. It is very important to do this gradually. A sudden or abrupt loss in weight could create more health problems for your disabled pet. A good rate of weight loss is a maximum of 2% of actual weight per week. If the percentage of weight loss goes higher than 2% per week, gradually increase the food you give your disabled pet. Continuously monitor your pet’s weight and continue to gradually lessen the food intake until your pet reaches the ideal body weight. When this happens, maintain the food intake.

Continue to monitor your pet’s weight even after they reach their ideal healthy body weight. If your disabled pet loses too much weight or becomes over-weight again, adjust the food intake accordingly.

Establish an exercise routine

It will also help if you can get your pet moving more. Obviously, that’s a little harder when your pet is physically disabled, but with the right mobility aids, it should be doable. The best way is to take them for daily walks using the appropriate wheelchair if your pet still retains mobility in either front or rear legs. You can also bring them for regular exercise in a swimming pool or a rehab center. Regular exercise will not only increase their activity levels, but also their quality of life.

Food Supplements

It may also be a good idea to give your disabled pet food supplements. Ask your vet what supplements are beneficial for your pet’s health.

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Acupuncture and your disabled pet: The basics


August 31, 2017

Sticking needles into your disabled pet may cause most owners to cringe, but it hurts you more than they and may be the best therapy for many conditions.

Acupuncture has been around for more than 3,000 years, the go-to therapy for the Chinese. It has become more accepted in the West in recent years, in line with the growing movement for more holistic approach to medical treatment. However, many people still doubt its efficacy, and most studies that show positive findings for the treatment are for human subjects. Will it work for dogs and cats?

Acupuncture is usually prescribed to manage pain, especially for patients for which Western medicine does not work or produces side effects that are often worse than the medical condition itself. It takes the place of many drugs and surgeries that are often more injurious than acceptable for human health.

Acupuncture is also found to improve the life quality of patients, making them more comfortable and less anxious. Aside from these, acupuncture is said to be effective in treating conditions such as psoriasis, musculoskeletal diseases, arthritis, and some cancers. It is no wonder that some vets have looked to acupuncture to address health issues of their animal patients. The question is, does it work?

The principles behind acupuncture

Research has yet to demonstrate concrete evidence that definitely shows that acupuncture works. However, analysis of acupuncture “points” in the human body shows that needles stimulate nerve bundles associated with specific organs and tissues, causing them to signal the production of certain hormones such as endorphins. The release of these hormones trigger the body’s response, particularly pain blocking and blood flow. Depending on the condition of the patient, the needles target specific nerve bundles to activate the necessary reactions.

The study of acupuncture is centuries old, but its applications to animal patients is relatively new. However, while the physiology of dogs and cats are different from humans, the same principles apply. Vets with the proper knowledge and training can offer acupuncture treatments that pet owners swear has brought considerable relief to their disabled pets.

One of the most appealing features of acupuncture is the idea of using the body’s energy or Qi for self-healing. You don’t have to do any invasive surgeries or take tons of pills and drugs, and there are no side effects. It is a holistic approach to medicine that sounds like a good idea if it works. Acupuncture therapy is also a portable method of treatment, so your vet can make house calls if it is too difficult to transport your pet for a session.

Managing expectations

Considering that many pets with degenerative myelopathy and other similar ailments can find no real relief from their condition using Western medicine, acupuncture seems to be a viable option. It may not actually cure your pet, but it can certainly improve their quality of life. At the very least, it can do no harm provided the vet has the correct training in using acupuncture.

Animals actually respond better to acupuncture than many humans, probably because they do not fear needles. Because the needles are so thin and small, most pets will not even notice when they are inserted, provided the practitioner does it properly. In fact, after the initial curiosity, pets often relax enough during treatment to go to sleep. You may notice that your pet will remain sluggish after treatment, but you don’t have to worry. You should just allow them to rest after a session to give their bodies enough time to respond to the treatment.

Conclusion

Your disabled pet may yet find a new leash in life even when they are no longer mobile. Aside from mobility aids such as wheelchairs, acupuncture is a good way to improve your pet’s quality of life. Acupuncture has no side effects, so at least your pet will not be worse off. In some cases, acupuncture may not be effective, but that is for your vet to determine. Before writing it off as a waste of your time, give it a try. It may be the best thing to happen to your disabled pet.

 

 

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The Lowdown on Canine Rehab for Disabled Pets


June 14, 2017

Back in the day, you had to be a prize-winning racehorse to get the benefits of professional animal physical therapy.  In the 1980s, however, canine rehabilitation caught on in Europe and later in the US, and the demand became so great that vet colleges started to offer it as a specialty.

Today, canine rehab is taught formally in US vet colleges, and is the fastest growing specialty in veterinarian medicine.  While agility exercises and physical training benefit healthy dogs that compete or work as rescue or police dogs, modified exercises can also help disabled dogs.

Among the many benefits of canine rehab for injured or disabled dogs include:

  • Higher functional capacities
  • Better pain management
  • Shorter recovery periods from surgery or injury
  • Higher quality of life
  • Improved range of motion and more strength

Goals of canine rehab

The main goal of canine rehab is to enable the patient dog to get back as much function as possible after injury, surgery, or disease. If normal functioning is precluded, such as when the dog suffers from a progressively degenerative disease i.e. degenerative myelopathy, canine rehab can help the patient develop the right way of coping with their disability and lead a relatively normal life.

The biggest problem that a disabled dog may develop is atrophy of the muscles. This can happen quite quickly , sometimes after just a couple of days of inactivity. Early signs of incipient muscle atrophy include swelling in the area of the injury or surgery, shakiness or stiffness in the joints, muscles, and tendons, and diminished muscle control. Because of this, the sooner you do canine rehab, the better the results.

While a dog that has just undergone surgery will not be able to do the normal weight-bearing exercises in canine rehab for up to several weeks, but it can do some activities in water within a few days post-operatively.

Of course, a post-operative dog may not be allowed to do any weight-bearing activities for several weeks. However, canine rehab can take place in a pool much earlier, often a few days after surgery. Water provides some resistance, but also provides support when moving.

Physical therapy using an underwater treadmill is a great way to get your dog’s muscles moving again without causing further injury. This includes natural gait functions such as walking, running, and trotting. Not only will it keep the muscles from atrophying, it will maximize its range of motion.

Eligibility

Postoperative dogs are the primary target for canine rehab, but the science has gotten to the point that it can also provide significant benefits for dogs with disabling conditions such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Abnormal gait
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Joint problems
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Pain
  • Old-age problems
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Pain
  • Overuse injuries

Specialists will create a program appropriate for the dog’s condition. Canine rehab activities will have to meet a vet’s approval before therapy can begin.

A course of rehabilitation can be as short as two visits or as long as three weekly visits for three months. Sessions are generally an hour, and progress is carefully documented at each visit. You as the owner will also be given a set of exercises for your pet to do at home.

Rehab therapy options

Therapy aids

A canine rehab specialist may require the patient to use tools that will address balance issues such as wobble boards, rockers, physioballs, and therapy bands. These aids will also increase their coordination, strength, and flexibility. Getting the dog to walk on an irregular surface trains it to know where the feet are at all times (spatial awareness). This comes in handy when it changes positions.

Manual manipulation

Canine rehab specialists properly trained in the manual manipulation techniques may perform them on the patient when needed. These are especially important for dogs with degenerative diseases, and include stretches, moving the joints, massage, and other exercises.

Aquatic therapy

Aquatic therapy is appropriate for dogs that may not be allowed to do weight bearing exercises. These include swimming and the use of an underwater treadmill. The water supports the patient’s weight to prevent injury, and at the same time exerts gentle resistance to improve cardiovascular function, range of motion, and strength that will increase its mobility out of water.

Other therapies

Your canine rehab professional may also employ several techniques to treat some conditions. Cryotherapy contracts the blood vessels to reduce deep tissue and surface bleeding using ice packs. This helps keep inflammation down and relieve pain. One the other hand, heat therapy with warm towels dilates the blood vessels to promote healing, which also helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Special machines may also be used in turn, such as:

Low-level laser therapy – accelerates wound healing and reduces post-trauma pain and swelling by stimulating the natural production of pain-alleviating chemicals in the dog’s body such as endorphins

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation or NMES – treats vascular and musculoskeletal issues by causing the muscles to contract and release using low-volt electrical stimulation

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy or ESWT – accelerates healing b transmitting highe energy waves through the dog’s body, generating heat the increases blood flow. ESWT can also reduce muscle spasms, swelling, and inflammation. It is especially effective in treating ligament and tendon damage, fractures, osteoarthritis, and hip dysplasia.

Takeaway

Mobility is more important for your dog than you think. The absence of physical activity can have a significant impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health. While wheelchairs are important to their well-being of permanently disabled dogs in the long term, canine rehab helps them develop the proper coping mechanisms for their disability and make the most of any mobility they retain. Canine rehab together with good quality mobility aids can give your injured or disabled dog a new leash in life.

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Creating a Normal Environment for Your Disabled Pet


April 12, 2017

Most people get teary-eyed and upset when they hear stories about a disabled dog or cat. However, such emotional reactions will most probably go over the head of the afflicted pet. Most animals are incapable of feeling self-pity, and cheerfully adapt and accept any changes in their circumstances. That is, unless their owners consistently treat them with pity.

Pets are quick to pick up their owner’s mood, and may start feeling anxious as a result. The best thing you can do for your disabled pet is to stop projecting your own feelings and start creating a normal environment for your pet. Disabled pets are capable of living long, happy lives if you give them half a chance.

That doesn’t mean you will not have to give them special care, however. Here are some quick tips for living with your disabled pet.

Sight impaired pets

Blindness in pets is not as devastating to them as they are for people that used to have their sight. Most people forget that dogs, particularly, rely largely on their sense of smell, so losing their sight is not all that debilitating. You may not even know they’re blind for a long time! Cats do use their sight much more, but they too can adapt to its loss if you make it easy for them to do so.

  • Reinforce their sense of security by talking to them; the sound of your voice assures them
  • Help them use and develop their sense of smell more by using attractive-smelling treats and toys to keep them alert
  • Make a point of keeping areas they frequent free of obstacles
  • Lead them around furniture and rooms to familiarize them with the layout and dimensions
  • Encourage them to socialize with other pets under controlled conditions until they are more comfortable with their sightlessness

Hearing-impaired pets

Most pets that were not born deaf have good hearing, so the loss of it does have a significant effect on their lives. You will have to make some changes to your communication and routines to cope with a loss of hearing.

  • Start practicing hand signals and touch to communicate with your pet as spoken commands will no longer work
  • Make eye contact frequently so your pet will start picking up on these non-verbal signals
  • Avoid startling your pet by approaching them with a firm step so they can feel your approach
  • Use a light to get their attention at night and keep some light available to give them a sense of security

Mobility-challenged pets

Loss of mobility presents some major challenges for both you and your pet. Mobility impairment renders your pet completely dependent on you, even if the situation is temporary. To create a normal environment order for your pet, you need to make some changes to your daily lives.

  • Get a specialist to give your pet a complete check-up and ask for long-term care recommendations
  • Keep your pet from becoming anxious by keeping to a regular schedule for daily activities
  • Give them more frequent baths if they are incontinent or cannot move quickly enough to take care of business on their own
  • Find out how to express the bowels of your pet to make life much easier for both of you
  • Make a point of regularly checking your pet for sores and wounds especially in the afflicted limbs as mobility-impaired pets can get some nasty injuries without knowing it by dragging their useless limbs around; this can lead to serious infections if not treated
  • If your budget allows it, you might try acupuncture or massage for your pet to improve mobility, especially if they are recovering from surgery
  • Continue walking your pet to give them a chance to socialize and get some outdoor time
  • Seek some support and advice from pet owners in your same situation; you just might get some great tips

Mobility aids are also a great way to create a sense of normalcy for your disabled pet. Adjustable wheelchairs, for instance, are available for all types of dogs provided they have some mobility in their front legs and otherwise healthy. Giving them the ability to get around on their own will do wonders with their well-being and physical health.

Check out these dogs in wheelchairs videos for inspiration.

Conclusion

Your disabled pet is capable of living long and happy lives despite their limitations given half a chance. While creating a normal environment for your disabled pet may requires a significant amount of time and resources at first, it will be worth it in the end.

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How to Train Your Disabled Dog to Poop on Demand


January 20, 2017

You will encounter many challenges when caring for a disabled dog, but one of the messiest is poop incontinence. Your pet does not have the ability to mobilize its forces as it may want to, so it just goes whenever it moves them. That can be upsetting for anyone, but what can you do?

Actually, you can do quite a bit, but if you are particularly squeamish, you may not like the alternative. Expressing the bowels, a.k.a. training your dog to do number two on demand by stimulating the poop reflex is not pretty, and involves the touching of the anus. However, for everyone’s health and well-being, you might have to steel yourself to do it.

Controlling when and where your disabled dog does his business can take some time, and you may have to do a bit of trial and error. However, if you succeed, it would mean no more nasty surprises in undesirable places.

Inducing the reflex

Expressing the bowel is essentially conditioning the dog’s body to evacuate it under controlled conditions, and the most convenient way to train your disabled dog to poop on demand. You will need a few things depending on the method you choose, but in any method you will need gloves. Ask your vet where to buy disposable latex gloves, the thin kind with the powder. It is hygienic because you just discard it after each use. You only need it for one hand, so a box should go a long way.

Are you ready? Here are the best techniques for inducing the poop reflex.

Technique 1:

This is the preferred technique if you have a small breed of dog, because you will be able to use the toilet to get rid of the evidence. Hold your dog securely in the crook of one arm, orienting it so that the butt is directly over the bowl and you are in a position to see what you are doing. Gently secure the tail up away from the hole so you have a clear view. Okay, now here comes the icky part.

With your gloved hand, palpate the area around the butt hole. The tissue there is usually soft, so if you don’t feel anything solid behind it, then your dog is probably not ready to go. However, if you feel a solid mass in that area, you’ve hit the jackpot. Gently press down around the solid mass until part of the fecal matter puts in an appearance. With a pincer grasp, squeeze the butt hole shut, effectively cutting a section of the poop (it can get pretty long) so it can fall off. Do the same thing again for the next section, and the next, until there’s nothing coming out anymore.

Be very careful with this technique, as pressing too hard can injure your pet. If the poop is too hard to come out easily, don’t force it. You may have to use a suppository. Consult your vet before you put anything up there.

Technique 2:

Medium and large breed dogs may be too heavy and ungainly for the potty technique, so you can try the squirt technique. Fill a squirt bottle with slightly cool (not cold) water, and test if you get stream and not spray.

When you’re ready, place your disabled pet’s butt region on some old newspapers, or lay down a couple of paper towels. Find the butt hole and squirt a bit of water directly on it. You should observe it contract when the cool water hits it. That’s the poop reflex.

Do this several times until poop starts coming out. If it is taking long, you can further stimulate it by rubbing the hole very gently with moist baby wipes. When the deed is done, simply fold over the poop-laden paper and get rid of it.

Technique 3:

You might be interested in a simpler, although not always effective technique involving ice cubes. This is very similar to the squirt method except you simply hold an ice cube on the butt hole to induce the poop reflex rather than squirt water on to it. The idea is to hold it there until the poop surrenders and comes out with its hands up. It’s not very comfortable for the dog, though, so it doesn’t always work.

Technique 4:

If none of the above techniques is proving effective for your dog, you can try one last thing. This one involves the use of a lubricant such as petroleum jelly, so you can probably guess where this is going. Rather, you know where your finger is going.

It sounds gross, yes, but you will be wearing gloves and the lubricant will ease the way, so stop whining. Do the same preparations for Techniques 2 and 3, but you won’t need any form of H20. Slather the probing finger with petroleum jelly and gently slide it in the butt. The purpose of this is to cause the butt muscles to clench, so if it does, don’t freak out. Don’t go in too far, though. A centimeter or two should do the trick. Wiggle the finger around a little and then take it out. Do this several times until the eagle lands.

Important!

You need to commit to a regular schedule and area (call it the expressing station) for training your dog to poop on demand. This gets them used to the idea, and keeps them from panicking about what you’re about to do to them with those gloves. It also conditions the body to respond appropriately, so there may come a time when you won’t need to do anything more than bring them to the right place at the right time. You can always hope.

You should try to induce the poop reflex at least twice a day, one in the morning, and one just before turning in for the night. Of course, not all pets will have the same cycle, so you may need to adjust your timing as you get to know the cycle.

Poop is a by-product of the food your pet eats, so if it smells too strong, or the texture is too hard or soft, you may have to change what you feed it. The goal is to get poop that is solid and not so smelly. Many pet owners prefer dry Bil-Jac for the ideal poop, but others think Science Diet w/d is better. Do your experiments and adjust accordingly.

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Does Your Dog Need a Quad Support Wheelchair?


August 12, 2016

Tinkerbell in a quad wheelchair.

Dogs are man’s best friend, and it is simply heartbreaking when the ability to walk of these constant companions are taken away by disease or traumatic injury. Aids to mobility such as dog carts or wheelchairs can improve their quality of life for however long they are needed. Each case is different, however. Your dog’s disability may require a specific kind of wheelchair. There are many different types, including quad wheelchairs. Below are some facts about when to choose quad wheelchairs for dogs with disabilities.

Description

Quad wheelchairs are designed to assist disabled dogs that have little or no function in any of their legs. They have four wheels and a rigid support frame to hold up the weakened pelvis. It should ideally be adjustable to accommodate dogs within a certain range of weight and size, as dogs can be slightly different from each other in a myriad of ways.  While a quad dog wheelchair is designed for a totally paralyzed or quadriplegic dog, it is not always the case.

Appropriate conditions

Accident or trauma
The best-case scenario for a disabled dog is when the paralysis is temporary, due to surgical treatment or some type of traumatic injury, such as a car accident, a disagreement with another dog, or as a hitch in the surgical process. A quad wheelchair can help with mobility while the dog is in rehabilitation or recovery.

Cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM)
Also known as Wobbler syndrome, this condition is a debilitating one caused by compression of the spinal cord, usually affecting large dog breeds. The result is total paralysis of the afflicted dog. A quad wheelchair would be appropriate for this type of disease. In some cases, the effects of CSM may be reversed with surgery to ease the compression. The quad wheelchair thus serves a temporary, but rehabilitative, function.

Canine degenerative myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive disease that afflicts certain dog breeds at around the age of seven. These include boxers, German shepherd dogs, and Pembroke Welsh corgis. If your dog is diagnosed with DM, your best mobility aid investment would be an adjustable quad wheelchair. The early stages of DM involve just the loss of function in the rear legs. However, the paralysis typically spreads to the front legs as well, leaving the sufferer totally paralyzed. An adjustable quad wheelchair can provide mobility to the DM dog throughout the progression of the disease.

Conclusion

A quadriplegic dog can live a relatively normal life for many years, provided you choose the right mobility aid for the dog’s physical needs. An adjustable quad dog wheelchair can improve a disabled dog’s quality of life significantly, even if the condition is just temporary. It is even more important when your dog’s condition is tragically permanent.

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