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Caring for a senior or disabled pet comes with challenges. Nothing is more important than the health and comfort of your pet. The decision on whether or not to diaper your pet can be a difficult choice, but there are some clear benefits to owners in managing their pets condition. Dog diapers help your pet regain their independence, and reduce accidental soiling of the home environment. By regaining the the freedom to roam around the house again, your pet is able to get back up on the furniture and rejoin their family.
Expressing the Bladder & Diapers: Why Both Are Essential
The use of pet diapers are not an alternative to expressing your pet’s bladder. Expressing the bladder is still essential when you use a dog diaper or a male wrap. To avoid infection, the bladder needs to be fully emptied every 8 hours. Even a small amount of urine left remaining in the bladder can be enough to cause infection. Your pet’s skin can be very sensitive. And both urine and diapers can cause skin irritation, urine scalding, or irritation in pets. Expressing the bladder will help to minimize the amount of urine coming in contact with your pet’s skin.
Pet diapers can be helpful in managing bowel incontinence, but they are only one part of a complete program of bowel care. Expressing the bowel is healthier for your pet than wearing a diaper. If you express your pet’s bowel, feed your pet a diet that produces quality stools, and work with your pet’s natural elimination schedule. Diapering may become unnecessary. It is also better for your pet’s peace of mind because adult pets can smell waste even if they are unable to feel it.
Proper Hygiene for a Diapered Pet
If your pet scoots around, a diaper may offer additional comfort and protection. Diapers help to prevent dirt and germs on the floor from entering the urethra and causing a Urinary tract infection. However if you do not change the diaper regularly, you increase the risk of urinary tract infection, as bacteria from stool or urine can travel back up the urethra.
When we diaper pets, we remove their natural ability to groom or clean this area, so it’s your job as an owner to take time to brush the coat regularly, five your dog breaks from diapers, check for rashes, and make sure your pet is completely clean and dry before applying a new diaper.
When choosing a disposable diaper for your pet, you want a dog diaper that is both comfortable and easily adjustable for the best fit. Disposable dog diapers are designed with elastic gathers and adjustable fasteners that allow for a tight fit and help protect against leakage. Along with incontinence, disposable diapers can be used for female animals in heat, training, or for post-surgical care.
Washable cloth diapers are reusable and offer a more environmentally conscious solution. Washable dog diapers have a soft fabric exterior, that is often lined with a soft, absorbent mesh liner to protect against leaks. Reusable pet diapers may offer a better value long-term. This eco-friendly pet diaper is typically water proof or water resistant to help keep your pet dry.
Dealing with feline incontinence may take a little extra patience. Most cats don’t enjoy having anything wrapped around them making the fit of the cat diaper incredibly important. All cats are different and have different needs. In the cat world, there are many other factors to consider aside from weight. Other important factors to consider: how much meat is on the hips, how long they are from “waist” to base of tail and if they have a tail.
Cats with manx syndrome or spina bifida can be easier to choose diapers for because they fit snuggly up against the rear. Cats with tails are more difficult as there are small differences in where the tail is positioned on the body. In very small cats or cats with fused legs, turning the diaper sideways may allow you to diaper around the tail and under the belly.
A healthy rabbit does not need a diaper. Rabbits can easily be litter box trained. Rabbit diapers should only be worn if the bunny is disabled, or if recommended by your Veterinarian.
To use diapers on a rabbit, you may need to make some slight alterations to the diaper for your rabbit’s health. Cecal pellets are a normal part of a rabbit’s diet and bunnies who cannot eat their cecals may become ill. You may need to cut the tail hole large enough for the pellets to drop out, so the rabbit can access them. Or remove the cecal pellets by hand and give them to your rabbit at changing time.
The diaper should never restrict the rabbit’s natural movement. Check to ensure that the diaper is not too tight, pinching or cutting off circulation.
Diapers have the potential to hide a medical condition called flystrike which is when fly eggs hatch and burrow into your rabbit’s skin. The eggs hatch into maggots and this can be a life threatening condition. The heat from the diaper can worsen this condition.
It is common for lambs who are bottle raised in the home to wear diapers. Remember to cut a small hole for the tail and change regularly. Lamb need a break from the diapers so when putting them out for exercise, take off the diaper so they can run and play as normal. Lambs have fragile skin so it’s important to check regularly for signs of redness, swelling, or signs of infection.
Children’s Pull-Ups can work for your pet, even though they don’t have tabs. To put them on, face backwards and straddle the dog between your legs. Then put the back legs in the holes and pull them up. When you pull them up, it is best to pull up and out at the same time to avoid making a mess. Then to remove, simply pull down and they’re off.
Keeping Pet Diapers On
Some pets keep diapers on while others scoot out of them. There are several ways to keep diapers on. To keep disposable diapers in place, use pet suspenders. Suspenders are designed for when a firm hold is needed to keep the diaper in place. They attach with touch-fastener closures and adjust easily to fit your dog’s body.
A simple solution is to have your pet wear a standard, infant onesie on over their diaper. If the onesie slips off the shoulders you can fasten it with a safe breakaway collar (that will not choke your pet if caught on something) or try a turtleneck onesie. We do not recommend the use of string which if comes undone can cause constriction of blood supply to limbs (often permanent) and a foreign body if eaten, requiring surgery to fix.
Wearing Dog Diapers at Night
Wearing a diaper overnight and for extended periods of time can cause discomfort for your pet. An elevated bed with mesh surface that allows your pet to get a good night’s sleep, could be the dog diaper alternative you’re looking for. Urine flows through the mesh surface into a tray underneath. Allowing air to circulate for comfort and keeping your pet’s skin dry all night.
Skin Care with Diapers
Change your pet’s diaper frequently. Urine and waste trapped in the fur leads to skin problems, resulting in skin irritation, burning, itching and bacterial infections. Shaving the diaper area makes skin care easier. Talk to your vet, even vets who do not offer grooming services will do a “sanitary clip” for health reasons.
Ointments and creams can be used on the skin as well. Be aware that many diaper creams on the market contain Zinc Oxide, which is poisonous to pets if swallowed in large quantities. Fresh air is good for the skin and you may find it best to let your pet go without a diaper for part of each day.
An important factor in determining the right size diaper for your pet is their weight. There are other factors to consider, such as breed, gender or medical condition. Male dogs often need a diaper at least one size larger to accommodate their anatomy. Cats may need to go down a size for the best fit. Then length of the pet from waist to base of tail or how wide your pet’s hips are can also affect the way the diaper fits. You may need to experiment with several sizes before you find the best fit for your pet.
For male dogs with urinary incontinence a male wrap or belly band can be a great alternative to a dog diaper. Male wraps are a wide belt that fits snuggly around the waist, covering the male area. For more absorbency a sanitary napkin can be placed inside to catch leakage.
Incontinence can come from any number of underlying causes. For the best way to treat your pet’s incontinence always speak to your Veterinarian. Do not attempt to manage incontinence at home with dog diapers without having a veterinary appointment first to discuss.
Guest Author: Dr. Corinne Wigfall, DVM
Veterinarian Dr. Corinne Wigfall, DVM graduated from University of Nottingham, U.K, in 2014 and lives in New Zealand. Cori has worked with all animals big and small over the years. Currently, she splits her time between writing and working as an emergency care veterinarian. When not working, she enjoys taking Amber, her Labrador puppy out for adventures, and finding new sewing projects to get stuck into!