If a normal pet is a challenge, a pet with special needs can sometimes be overwhelming. To properly take care of them, we will take a wise approach. So, let’s review some tips on how to care for a dog with special needs.
Schedule regular checkups and follow the advice they yield
The first thing you need to understand about caring for a dog with special needs is that they require much more care than regular dogs. And we don’t mean that just in the sense of looking after them in your home. They will also need to be taken to the vet more regularly since their condition might make them more vulnerable to disease and other problems depending on what it is.
If your pet has a missing leg or eye, then it might be able to function mostly like a typical pup. However, if they have severe difficulties with moving around, such as partial paralysis, their bodies will likely suffer from sores or even muscle atrophy. Such dangers need to be tracked, and while pet supplements for your dog can help a little, it’s not an absolute thing. So, even if you are worried about following some of your veterinarian’s advice, trust they have your dog’s best interest in mind.
Build up routines for your dog
Routine becomes extremely important when you take care of a dog with special needs. That is because perfectly healthy pets love routine and will quickly get upset or scared if it’s broken. While healthier animals can withstand this stress relatively quickly, a dog with special needs might be unable to!
What does this mean, exactly? If you feed them simultaneously, don’t suddenly switch things up. If you take them for a walk regularly, don’t skip days for no reason. Even if you can’t do it yourself, look for a friend or family member to replace you. Any deviation or change in the environment could trigger them.
That is especially relevant when trying to figure out how to help them adjust quickly to new surroundings. Dogs with special needs frequently don’t have access to some of their senses, so you need to fill their new environment with things they can easily recognize with those they do possess. Toys and their favorite bedding are excellent for this.
Adjust your home a little
It is also wise to look into ways to make your dog’s home more comfortable. Regular advice on making your home more pet friendly won’t cut it since it needs to be tailored to your dog.
Here’s an example: For a regular dog, you don’t need to pay special attention to stairs. However, if your special needs dog is unsteady on their feet or missing a limb, stairs become a problem. In this scenario, you want to add a little ramp on the side of the stairs. One with a rough surface, so they can go up and down it easily without having to climb over steps.
Look into useful tools
Depending on the problems your dog is facing, you might be able to quickly improve its life. There are plenty of doggy wheelchairs or prosthetics that make it possible for even dogs that are missing multiple limbs to function relatively efficiently.
In addition, some feeders and similar rely on alternative signals to call your pet to a meal. These are important for when you are not at home, after all. Once they get into the routine, they should go to the automatic dispensers immediately, but one with a blinking light would serve quite well to attract the attention of a deaf dog the first few times! If your dog is blind, feeders with an alarm will perform satisfactorily.
Get in enough exercise through play
Remember that even though you are trying to take care of a dog with special needs, their basic requirements are the same as regular dogs! In other words, they need lots of excitement, care, and companionship, topped off with regular exercise. Still, since your dog might not be able to exercise regularly, it is up to you to ensure they get it! That goes double for cases where physical therapy can partially or entirely alleviate the problems your dog is suffering from.
So, how do you ensure your dog gets their workout, especially since it can be hard to motivate them? Through play, of course! Your dog doesn’t require intense physical activity to keep muscle atrophy at bay. Helping them stretch their legs and body out is often enough if they are bed-bound. So, you can give them lots of pets and make a game out of it! Alternatively, if they are a bit more mobile, you can tease them with a treat to get them moving.
Try to stimulate your dog
Some dog breeds, such as huskies, require a lot of stimuli. They like to be challenged and active, and some dog breeds practically make you work with them on tricks and training. As such, although you will need to adapt your activities to your dog’s disability, you should do the same! That is often beneficial for owners, too, since working on such activities helps even disabled pups work as emotional support pets.
Give your dog patience and care
When you take care of a dog with special needs, remember they require much love and patience. Taking care of an animal with a disability is never easy. It will frustrate you at times how much attention they need. And some parts of their required care may be unpleasant.
If you, at any point, start to feel it’s all too much and you can’t continue to care for them properly, then it’s better to hand your dog over to someone who feels motivated and is capable of giving them the life they deserve. Otherwise, you are just hurting both of you.
For your pet’s brighter future
The tips we provided on how to take care of a dog with special needs will make your dog happier! Remember that the end goal is for you both to thrive together.