5 Things to Know About Adopting a Disabled Pet

If you’re considering adopting a disabled pet, you’re probably already in the “thinking ahead” phase. Where do I start? What will I need to do to make my new pet comfortable in my home? How will I care for them once we’re settled? So. Many. Questions.

The answers depend upon your unique circumstances, but we can point you in the right direction and help prepare you for what to expect. In this post, we’ll look at a few things you should know about adopting a disabled pet!

Adopting a Disabled Dog – Get the 411

Wheelchair dog and owner on a walk

Before you begin the adoption process, reaching out to others in the pet community who already have pets with special needs is essential. Look for support through your veterinarian, local trainers, and people who run rescues, all specializing in the requirements of disabled pets. 

These folks will have answers and real-world practical advice about what kind of pet would be a good fit for your home. For instance, if you’re renting with your pet, adopting an animal who can’t walk and needs a bulky wheelchair may not fit into your home well. Literally! 

Also, caring for a disabled pet can be an expensive endeavor, to say the least! (More on that in a minute.) Many professionals may have connections to businesses selling the products and supplies you’ll need at a reasonable price. 

Get Everyone’s Full Commitment

Once you’ve learned a little more about adopting a pet with special needs, it’s time to communicate with everyone else in your household. Emphasize the seriousness of the responsibility and what it will take to care for the animal, but don’t neglect to lay out the positives, too. 

Yes, it will take time, money, energy, and patience. That’s just a fact. But the profound bond you’ll likely establish will change you forever. So, give them the specifics you know and get everyone’s complete commitment before moving forward. 

Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair
Dog uses rear support harness for weak back legs
Walkin’ Lift Rear Harness
German Shepherd combo harness for leg support
Walkin’ Combo Harness

Prepare Financially

Caring for any pet is expensive. Vet bills, food, and pet swag all cost money. On top of that, additional pet fees and pet rent will make you put down some more money, depending on the city where you are renting your apartment.

But many special needs animals need more than your average pet. On top of that, it’s unlikely that you’ll find an insurance company offering even partial coverage for your vet bills (pet insurance is still an extremely worthwhile investment for future issues that have nothing to do with your pet’s preexisting condition.)

Hopefully, you got some advice and information from your network about how much you can expect to spend to care for your disabled pet. Use those estimates to create a loose budget and determine if it’s within your financial capabilities. 

Train Yourself

Wheelchair dog and owner relax on the beach

Often, owners must become experts in their disabled pet’s condition and how to care for the related symptoms. 

But nurturing and caring for an animal with special needs requires more than knowledge about their physical challenges. You must also train yourself to understand the animal’s behavioral and emotional needs. 

For instance, deaf or blind animals require specialized training to help them understand and feel secure with the boundaries you set for their behavior. 

Specific behavioral training is also required for disabled or retired working dogs. Often, these animals haven’t been acclimated to living in a domestic setting. It may take a lot of patience and skill on your part to help them understand they’re in a safe space of unconditional love. 

Prepare Mentally and Physically

Some pets with disabilities require extra patience and emotional resilience from their caregivers, which can wear down even the strongest among us. Some also need specialized physical rehabilitation, exercise, and domestic care that can be physically demanding for their humans.  

If you feel emotionally overwhelmed, take a break and hand off your pet’s care to someone you trust who knows what they’re doing for a few hours. (Or days!) If applicable, share the load with others in your home so the exertion doesn’t always lie on you. 

Remember, you’re only a human. Honoring your limitations and working with instead of against them will make you a much better special needs pet parent. 

Finally, the reality of parenting a disabled pet means you’ll almost certainly have to witness their difficulties, and it might get very difficult. You can never really prepare for how that will feel, but you can learn to be strong and give them the unconditional love and support they need to get through those times.

Prepare to Be Inspired!

While falling in love with any animal is easy, disabled pets can uniquely tug at your heartstrings. Caring for a disabled pet is one of the most rewarding experiences any pet parent can have. 

You’ll get goofy smiles and sloppy kisses, but you’ll also watch them face the adversity of their disability and find a way to adapt. That’s a lesson in unconditional trust, resiliency, and love that we could all stand to learn. 

Dachshund wheelchair buy now

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