“Degenerative myelopathy, (DM) makes it hard for him to walk…” “He’s an older dog with arthritis…” “He’s over 16 years old and can’t control his bladder…”
These are common stories that, at one time, often had very sad endings — but not anymore. Advances in health care for pets, products for handicapped pets, and a general acceptance of a pet’s role as a ‘member of the family’ has turned what was once a potential tragedy to a mere inconvenience.
Johanna, a dachshund from Tennessee had a broken spine and, incontinent, was tied outside day and night. A group of 4th graders from Oklahoma raised money to buy her a cart and send her to her new home in Maine where she enjoys life with the help of a wheelchair and disposable dog diapers.
Innovative products like the the Walkin’ Lift Rear Harness, the Walkin’ Support Sling, dog leg splints, and dog carts (or wheelchairs for dogs) offer the opportunity for a handicapped pet to enjoy many years of quality life and happiness.
The warning signs that you pet may be developing a handicap include:
- Your pet has been in an accident
- Inability to stand up without assistance
- Difficulty going up stairs, or getting into a car
- Difficulty walking or running, limping or whining
- Uncontrolled or accidental urination, urinating in bed
- Hesitancy to walk across a slippery wooden floor
- Unusual growths on any part of the pet’s body
- Change in weight, eating habits, or temperament
- Weakness due to recovery from a medical procedure
Here’s what to do if you observe any of these signs:
- See your veterinarian. As an animal health care professional, he or she may recognize the problem immediately and offer advice.
- Research the condition. To give the best support possible, become an expert yourself in the affliction. It is possible that in your research, you may find information that will be invaluable to you, your veterinarian, and of course, your pet.
- Get support. The Internet provides unlimited forums, mailing lists, and support groups about dealing with caring for handicapped pets. As a member of these groups you can get support, speak with people who have experienced your situation, and be of help to others.
- Some of the most popular Handicapped Pets support products are readily available in stores and through the internet. Many can be shipped overnight at reasonable cost.
- An important category of handicapped pet products provide support for the back end of the pet. This allows the dog to walk, get exercise, and play.
The Rear Harness is more like an article of clothing that the animal wears. This garment has leg-holes and wraps completely around the back end while allowing freedom for urinating and defecating. It stays in place with the help of touch-fastener closures and clips. Fit is important and the animal needs to be measured to determine the correct size.
Many pet owners have used a towel under the animal’s belly to help him stand, or give a little extra support. Although this does give a dog the necessary support, it can be uncomfortable for the caretaker to bend over to hold the ends of the towel. This fleece-lined Walkin’ Support Sling is softer and has handles to help a person lift the pet without bending.
Most dog cart owners attract a lot of attention when they walk down the street. It’s quickly becoming commonplace, though, to see a happy dog in wheels running through the park, chasing a ball or playing with other dogs. A dog wheelchair uses wheels to support the back end of a handicapped dog while the healthy front legs provide the propulsion. Dog carts are custom built based on careful measurements. Different models provide support in several ways and some research is required to choose the right cart for your animal. Carts come in rear, front, and quad support and can be used for any animal from a dog to an Alpaca.
Other handicapped pets products solve the problems faced by caretakers on a daily basis. Most of these devices were invented by handicapped pet owners to help their own pets.
Injuries to the lower limbs of small animals frequently need to be splinted or braced. Leg Splints are modeled after the human splints for lower leg, ankle and foot injuries. Dog splints are positioned behind the leg and the adjustable touch-fastener closures are placed over the front of the leg. A soft, pliable lining helps keep the animal comfortable.
Pet boots have a wide range of uses including protection from road chemicals, preventing abrasions, mud control, and relief from hot pavement. Pet Boots are suitable for handicapped pets to keep them from sliding on hardwood floors, protecting wounds, and adding support for the foot.
It’s not unusual for older or injured dogs to become incontinent. This causes a number of problems for both the dog and caretaker. Often an incontinent dog is no longer allowed in bed and is kept confined when left alone so as not to soil floors and furniture. A Pet Diaper solves this problem. Pet Diapers are available in washable and disposable form.
Elderly, disabled, and handicapped pets around the country and around the world are living longer; enjoying happy and healthy lives with the help of products and services for Handicapped Pets and the love and care of their families.
Sites with Products for Handicapped Pets
HandicappedPets.com (All products for Elderly, Disabled, and Injured pets)
PetDiapers.com (Disposable and Washable Dog Diapers)
PetBoots.com (Various brands of boots for pets)
HandicappedPets.Net (Pet Care Discussion Board)
Mark C. Robinson is the creator of HandicappedPets.com, a website for the caretakers of elderly, disabled, and injured pets. The website includes all the products, services, and support that a family needs. Mark is a noted speaker and an adviser to the board of directors of the National Cancer Society for Animals.