From the highest halls of power to the world of everyday work and everywhere in between, dogs have lived up to their reputation as Man’s Best Friend. Therefore, it is only fair and fitting that we do our part and be a good friend back by looking after our four-legged friends when they need our help most. Guide dogs help the disabled among us, and so we, in turn, should provide care for disabled dogs.
To that end, here are six tips to follow for improving the quality of a disabled dog’s life, from making your home more accessible to buying a dog wheelchair for your pup.
Make your home disabled dog-friendly
First and foremost, you want to be sure that your home is disabled dog-friendly. If a member of your family were disabled, you would have to change your home’s layout a bit to account for their disability. Dogs are Man’s Best Friend and, thus, a member of the family. You’ll, therefore, want to do a bit of work around the house to make it comfortable for your dog to get around.
For example, if you have doggie doors, you’ll need to make sure that they are large enough to for your dog to get through without difficulty and wide enough to accommodate any dog wheelchairs, which we’ll discuss later. Also, you’ll want to install ramps up outdoor decks and staircases to ease the strain on your dog’s legs and paws.
Disability identification tags, collars, and leashes
If you have a dog that is disabled, it is a good idea to include this information on any identifying tags, collars, or leashes. That way, if your dog becomes lost, anyone who finds it is immediately aware of their disability and the special care they require.
Let there be light
As humans get older, their mind and body slow down, and the same holds for dogs. If you have a dog on the older side or has chronic vision problems, you’ll want to account for potential eyesight problems. Be sure to leave the light on for them, and make sure that your home is brightly lit in all places that are meant to be accessible for them.
If your dog is wholly or nearly blind, you’ll have to care for them as you would a blind human being. Take the time to discuss methods of accommodating your blind dog with your vet.
Account for hearing loss
For as keen as a dog’s sense of hearing can be, it’s heartbreaking to think of them starting to go deaf. Similarly, in the same way that older human beings and dogs can begin to lose their eyesight, the same holds for hearing.
If your dog is starting to go deaf, you will need to be extra careful in allowing them to go outside. They will not be able to hear nearby noises like the cars’ approach, so you’ll need to be incredibly careful about allowing them anywhere near an area with traffic.
You’ll also want to try and teach your dog some nonverbal signs to watch for so you can continue to give them commands and communicate with them. This will take time and patience, but the bond between yourself and your old dog is worth it.
If your dog has suffered an accident, has general mobility problems, is beginning to grow old, or is from a breed with a history of chronic hip, leg, or back problems, you may need to get your dog a canine wheelchair some point. Thankfully, the best wheelchairs attach with ease around your dog’s waist and back and can provide some much-needed support.
Dog wheelchairs allow your dog to move with ease, even if they have weak backs or leg injuries. That said, you don’t want to cause fresh back or leg problems by attaching your dog to a wheelchair that’s too heavy for them. Dog wheelchairs come in many shapes and sizes, are incredibly durable, and can last for years. Be sure to confer with your vet and see which fit works best for your dog.
If your dog suffers from a condition that requires medication, such as canine arthritis or seizures, you’ll need to speak to your doctor and discuss ways of treating them. This will naturally differ depending on the nature of your dog’s condition and their medical history.
What’s more, if your dog requires medication to be taken orally, you’ll need to find a way to make sure they take it. It is typically a good idea to hide a dog’s medicine in their food, so they will be sure to ingest it when they have their meals. Another option, give your pup CBD dog treats to help fight inflammation and pain.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to make a real difference in the life of your disabled dog.
Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She writes about pet care and veterinary. You can find her on Twitter & LinkedIn.