Have you recently found yourself in the situation of owning a paralyzed dog? I can assure you that with the proper love and care paralyzed dogs can be just as happy as any other dog! However, caring for a paralyzed dog isn’t like caring for any other dog. It takes some extra consideration and work to ensure that they can be just as happy and healthy as the rest. There’s a lot to learn about caring for our beloved disabled pets. So here are some tips that I’ve learned throughout the years from my own experience as well as from other dedicated pet parents and research. Hopefully this will make it a little easier for you to transition into the best disabled dog owner you can be! And your dog will live a happy and healthy life.
- Baby Wipes: Things are bound to get messy. It’s always good to have some wet wipes handy to clean them up after potty time.
- Regular Baths: When wet wipes just won’t do the trick, more frequent baths will keep them clean and healthy. Using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will help keep their skin from getting too dry.
- Regular Diaper Changes: Changing their diapers regularly will help keep them clean and dry, which is important!
- Nail Maintenance: Reduced activity means faster growing nails! You will likely need to trim those nails more often.
- Diapers and Wraps: Diapers and male wraps are seriously a game changer. They absorb accidents and keep your pet dry, as well as keeping messes off the floor.
- Puppy Training Pads: Pee pads make it easy to express their bladder wherever you are, so you don’t have to take your pup outside every time.
- Wet Wipes: I’ll say it again, wet wipes are a life saver! Check out our post about products for incontinent dogs.
3. Bladder Health
- Supplements: Giving your dog cranberry supplements every day will support good bladder health and prevent UTIs.
- Expressing the Bladder: The most important thing to do is express their bladder completely and regularly to avoid build up of harmful bacteria in their badder.
- Urinary Tract Infections: Knowing the symptoms of UTIs is important, because they are a common problem among paralyzed and incontinent dogs. The earlier you catch it the better! Check out our post Spotting and Preventing UTIs to learn more!
4. Skin Health
- Urine Scald: Urine scald happens when urine sits on the skin for too long. It burns and is painful and invites possibility of infection.
- Pressure Sores: If a dog lays in one position for too long without the proper padding and support they can develop pressure sores on their joints. An orthopedic bed is soft, yet firm, and gives just the right amount of support and comfort. Make sure your dog is changing positions every few hours.
- Scraping: Paralyzed dogs still love to run around, only problem is their legs and booties are dragging behind. Things like diapers, pants, booties, or drag bags will help them from scraping their precious little paws, knees, and behinds.
- Stretching: Just like when humans break an arm and have to wear a cast for a while, joints that aren’t moved or stretched will start to become stiff. That’s why it’s important to make sure your dog’s limbs are staying limber. Especially if they are in the process of recovering their mobility. Ask your vet to show you how to perform passive range of motion stretches on your dog.
- Massaging: Massaging your dog’s muscles will also help to keep their muscles loose as well as increase circulation.
- Slings: You can use a sling to hold up your dog’s rear end to help them walk around the house. This is especially useful for dogs who can’t walk, but can go to the bathroom on their own.
- Rear Harness: You can also purchase a rear lift harness. The help em’ up harness is great, especially for larger dogs. It supports their rear end while they walk.
- Wheelchairs: The best mobility device is the wheelchair. Wheelchairs, like the ones from Eddie’s Wheels, will let your dog run and explore and play with the other dogs at the park. My dog loves playing fetch, swimming, and hiking all in her wheelchair. It really made all the difference.
- Walks: Just like any other dog, a paralyzed dog still needs to exercise! Keep taking them on their walks.
- Play: Paralyzed dogs still are full of life and want to play! They don’t need to sleep all day just because their legs don’t work. They will love to go on hikes or swimming, or trips to the dog park as long as they have a wheelchair to get around in.
- Hydrotherapy: Another great form of exercise that is low impact is taking your dog to hydrotherapy. Walking on the underwater treadmill will keep them strong and build up their stamina, while also being easy on the rest of their body. Check out our post about hydrotherapy to learn more about it!
8. Rehab Therapy
- Hydrotherapy: The underwater treadmill is a great form of therapy to help your dog not only stay strong, but as a tool to aid in their recovery as they regain their mobility.
- Accupuncture Therapy: Acupuncture, as well as electro-accupuncture, can help with pain and inflammation and neurological function as well.
- Cold Laser Therapy: Cold laser therapy is another treatment commonly used to help with pain and inflammation and to promote healing.
- Physical Therapy: If your dog is slowly regaining their mobility, physical therapy will help speed up the process and teach them how to walk and run again.
- Healthy Weight: Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will allow them to get around easier. It is especially important for dogs who are on the road to recovery, as well as dogs with back or joint problems. It is also just good for their over all health!
- Dietary Supplements: Ask your vet or rehab vet specialist what kind of supplements you should be giving to help keep your dog healthy. They can help support a healthy immune system, neurological function, joint health, and urinary tract health to name a few.
- Carpet or Rugs: Paralyzed dogs may have a hard time moving around on slick wood or tile floors. They are slippery, which can even be dangerous for a dog with IVDD. If you don’t have carpet, consider adding some rugs or runners to your floors so your dog can comfortably move around without slipping and falling.
- Ramps: Adding a small ramp to your doorstep or between rooms can help your dog move about freely.
- Open Space: Reducing clutter and tight spaces on the floor of your home will allow your dog enough room to move around the house. That little pile of clothes is a pretty big obstacle to them now!
- No stairs: Make sure to block off any stairs that they could end up falling down. This is one thing you do NOT want them to have access to.