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Tough Decisions: Deciding What is Best for Your Dog with a Disability

Pet owners love their furry friends more than anything. Chances are, you consider your dog to be an essential part of the family, and you wouldn’t trade them for the world.

However, when you have a dog with a disability, it can sometimes be difficult to make the right choices regarding their health and well-being. The last thing you want is to cause them to suffer or be in pain because of your choices. But when they can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong or hurting, it’s up to you to provide for their unique needs.

The good news? Dogs with disabilities can enjoy fulfilling and fun lives. If you can make the right decisions regarding what’s best for them, you’ll give them the best life possible.

Let’s take a look at some of the common challenges owners face when caring for a dog with a disability and what you can do to overcome those challenges with your canine companion.

Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair
Dog uses rear support harness for weak back legs
Walkin’ Lift Rear Harness
BuddyUp Harness provides lifting support for dog
Buddy Up Harness

Mobility Issues

Disabled dog runs in wheelchair

Some dogs struggle with mobility issues from a young age. Later in life, the risk of mobility problems increases thanks to conditions like:

  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Obesity
  • Sarcopenia

Watching your dog struggle to stand up, walk around the house, or go up the stairs can be difficult. If they used to be incredibly active, it’s heartbreaking to see that kind of decline. Even if you have a young dog and they struggle to get around, you might be wondering how you can make life easier for them. Thankfully, there are things you can do both in and out of the home to give them some relief and let them enjoy more freedom.

The most important thing is ensuring your dog isn’t in pain. If they are, and there doesn’t seem to be a “cure” for the problem, consider talking with their veterinarian about your options. If they don’t appear to be in pain but have problems getting around, consider rearranging your home to be more mobile-friendly. Install ramps leading into the home and going upstairs. If you want them to sleep in your bed, small steps near the foot of the bed can make it easier for them to get in and out.

Some dogs benefit from “wheelchairs” that can be secured to their waists. It allows them to move around freely without using their back legs.

Constant Supervision

lulu on wheels with owner

If your dog has an illness that requires someone to monitor them more often than not, one of the common challenges you might face is finding someone trustworthy to do just that. Hiring a pet sitter is an option. However, you might be hesitant to bring someone into your home who doesn’t fully understand your dog’s condition.

One solution to this problem is asking whether you can bring your dog to work with you. Dog-friendly offices are becoming more popular across the country as employers are seeing the benefits of having pets around. Some of those benefits include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved productivity

Many businesses already have pet policies in place. Review your company’s policy; if it doesn’t currently allow pets to come in, consider talking to your employer about it. Be sure to cover the benefits and assure them that your dog will be well-behaved.

Another option is to consider remote work. You might not be able to bring a dog into the office. Still, as more businesses take advantage of remote employees, it could be a fantastic way for you to stay home and monitor your four-legged friend while remaining productive and moving ahead in your career.

Whether you’re able to bring your dog into your workplace or stay home with them, you’ll be establishing a daily routine. That can significantly improve your pup’s quality of life. It cultivates good habits and provides structure to their days, reducing stress and making them feel more comfortable. 

Financial Struggles

beagle wheelchair

Most people spend around $500 to $3,500 on their dog each year. By the time a dog reaches their seniors years, you’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on the “basics,” including food, toys, treats, and training. You also probably take your furry friend to see the vet at least once a year for a routine checkup, which might not break the bank.

However, when you have a dog with a disability, those vet visits can become more frequent — and more expensive.

Depending on your dog’s disability, they might require monthly medication, regular injections, or certain types of therapy to help them manage pain and mobility. You might even have to purchase special equipment for your home to keep your dog safe, happy, and healthy. While you’re undoubtedly willing to do whatever it takes for your canine companion, it can create financial issues — especially when you’re in a single-income household.

If you’re managing money as a single parent, you might not have a big budget to work with. Consider creating a list of your current expenses and cutting out what isn’t mandatory. It can also help create a list of income streams so you know exactly what’s coming in each month and what you can afford.

Even if you live in a two-income household, vet bills can quickly add up and become problematic. If your dog has a disability and needs to go to the vet frequently, it might be worthwhile to get them insured. Pet insurance is becoming more popular for pet owners who regularly take their furry friends to the vet. It’s relatively inexpensive and can end up saving you thousands of dollars if your dog needs special equipment or if they need to undergo surgery.


Your dog depends on the choices you make to keep them happy and healthy every day. That can be a lot of pressure to deal with, but when you’re putting the needs of your four-legged friend first, you’ll find that the decisions come easier, and you can feel more confident in every choice you make.

Your dog might always have to face challenges as they navigate its disability. Keep these ideas in mind to help them overcome those challenges and make life easier and more comfortable for both of you.

German Shepherd dog wheelchair
Charlie Fletcher's Profile Picture

Guest Author:
Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer and pet parent from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for animal rights and search for the truth. You can find more of her writing on her Contently.

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