Having a pet is one of the greatest joys a person can experience. Pets are endlessly loyal, they offer companionship and comfort, and can even help support people who struggle with mental health and disabilities. But what happens when the tables turn?
Our pets need us just as much as we need them. It is challenging to care for a disabled or ill pet, just as it is to care for a person with more needs. But a disabled pet deserves the same love and loyalty they give us, no matter how hard things may get.
Giving pets with disabilities love and support can improve their quality of life and help alleviate their pain and suffering. And for some pets, the right support and care can even extend their life. Just because they have a disability does not mean they live happy and healthy for years to come. They just might need a little extra love and care to make it through.
Below are some helpful tips for keeping your disabled pet happy and improving their quality of life:
Get Them a Wheelchair
Mobility issues are often the most challenging to deal with when you have a disabled pet, but getting them the right harness or wheelchair can change their life. While it is scary to see your pet struggle to get around, especially if the loss of mobility is sudden, there is no reason they can’t live a long and happy life as long as they have the right assistance.
Pets can lose a limb or the function of a leg for many reasons, including hip dysplasia, disc disease, arthritis, traumatic injuries, strokes, degenerative diseases, and vestibular syndrome. While there are lots of treatments for these conditions, sometimes a wheelchair is the best way to improve their quality of life because it can help them stay active and healthy and get around.
Just make sure the wheelchair you choose is the right fit. An ill-fitting harness or wheelchair can make things worse and potentially cause more pain. It also takes time for pets to get used to using a wheelchair. But with a little time and patience, they will be zipping around in no time.
Mental health is just as important as physical health when dealing with disabled pets. It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on the physical aspects of their life, but a healthy, active mind can do just as much good as a healthy body.
You can do this by:
- Taking them outside as much as possible for stimuli outside the home.
- Buying them interactive toys that keep them engaged.
- Teaching them new tricks.
- Playing games with them throughout the day, like tug-of-war, fetch, and even hide and seek.
Listening to music isn’t just for us humans—it is surprisingly beneficial for pets as well. And if your pet is disabled and under higher amounts of stress, playing music during the day or at night can help them calm down. Overall, playing music for pets has been shown to reduce anxiety, decrease aggression, improve focus and sleep, and some even say it can help promote a healthier immune system.
A quality diet is also essential when caring for a disabled pet. The foods they eat can play a significant role in how they feel overall, and certain foods and supplements can help treat the specific condition they are struggling with.
All dogs need a healthy balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, but you should also make sure they are getting the right vitamins and minerals, depending on their specific needs. For example, certain vitamins and minerals can help with cardiovascular health, pain, inflammation, mobility, and more. Just make sure you talk to your vet to ensure the foods or supplements you are giving them are safe for animals.
There are lots of options out there beyond traditional medicine and surgeries that can help improve a disabled pet’s quality of life. Just as there are holistic practitioners for people, there are also holistic veterinarians and other specialists that offer various alternative methods and treatments to help animals with disabilities.
Alternative options for pets can include
- Water therapy
- Magnetic therapy
- Physical rehabilitation
- Laser therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Energy healing
- UVB Ozone Therapy
Despite having limitations, regular exercise is important for animals with disabilities. The more they sit around at home, the more they will lose their strength and mobility. Keeping them active can prevent their health from declining and can even help rehabilitate them. And again, if mobility is an issue, some options can help keep them moving, such as canine carts and wheelchairs and special harnesses.
Some exercise options include
- Dog yoga
- Swimming and water therapy
- Walking and running (if possible)
- Playing fetch
- Various forms of physical therapy
The home environment can also play a part in your disabled pet’s quality of life. So it’s important to make sure they have a safe and comfortable space to move around in and relax. It’s also essential to keep your home clean and clutter-free for pets that have mobility issues.
Disabled pets might get sick or have accidents more often, but having to sleep or live in their own filth can increase their stress and harm their health. So make sure you are keeping their living space clean and odor-free to create a more comforting and relaxing environment.
You can also set them up in a separate room if it helps make them feel more comfortable. Making your entire home disabled-pet-friendly might be challenging, but you can more easily do so with a smaller, designated space. Focus on giving them comfortable blankets and pillows, minimizing clutter, choosing pet-friendly rugs and upholstery, and using sturdy and safe furniture.
Overall, the key to improving a disabled pet’s quality of life is making them as comfortable as possible, helping them stay active, and giving them lots of love and support. Though they can’t tell you in words, your disabled pet is likely just as scared and stressed as you are while navigating this challenging situation. So, remember to go easy on them and give them lots of love to keep them happy and healthy.
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.