Get Jamie & Emily’s practical guide to improving your disabled dog’s life

September 21, 2022

Whether you have decided to adopt a disabled dog, or something happens or develops that means your pet becomes disabled, there are many things to consider about how to give them the best care. Head Vets Emily and Jamie, want pet owners in Hampshire to know there is support available for many conditions as well as ways you can help your dog navigate life more easily.

Pre-register with The Hampshire Vet – opening soon

Living with a disabled dog

Possible disabilities include:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Neurological issues
  • Limb deformities/amputation
  • Medical conditions such as Haemophilia

With each condition it is important to have a good understanding as an owner about what the condition is and how it is likely to affect your pet. Read Emily & Jamie’s advice below.

Deaf dogs

With deaf pets, having an understanding of how the world is different to them and how they adapt to life is very important. If you suspect your pet could be fully or partially deaf, make an appointment with a vet to get this confirmed so you can start learning how to adapt to their needs.

Many white coloured species are naturally prone to being born deaf and breeds such as Dalmatians, Great Danes, and Welsh corgis are at higher risk. Dogs with Pied/Piebald or Merle/Dapple coat pattens (carrying these genes) can be at a higher risk of deafness – two dogs with these genes should not be mated together as the offspring will very likely be born deaf.

Training & walking aids: You will need to adapt your training tactics to help your dog understand basic commands in ways that don’t rely on hearing. You can use your hands to create visual cues and show your dog what you require them to do – remember to reward successes. Deaf dogs can become anxious when unfamiliar people approach them. There are awareness tools you can use, such as leads and harnesses, that state your dog is deaf and make other people aware they should not approach them.

Resources: There are many resources online for living with a deaf dog such as these training tips on the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home website. You can also buy books such as this one: The complete guide to owning a deaf dog.

Blind dogs

Blindness in dogs is common for various reasons such as blindness from birth, an eye condition left untreated, an injury, or a disease that causes blindness. Just like with deaf pets, you (and anyone else your dog spends times with) will need to adapt to help your dog have the best quality of life. You can make your blind dog’s life less stressful by:

  • Keeping furniture in the same positions to avoid confusion
  • Keeping your dog’s routine (and yours where possible) the same
  • Using noises to help direct them
  • Using leads and harnesses that state your dog is blind will help others know not to approach and startle them

If you suspect your pet is blind or is having problems with their sight, contact a vet for advice. There are many Ophthalmologist Specialists that can help with diagnosis.

Limb deformity or loss

When caring for a pet with a limb deformity or loss, it is important to understand their abilities and how they navigate everyday tasks.

Some breeds are naturally more prone to conditions that end up in limb amputation or paralysis such as back problems in dachshunds. Some dogs may have been in a traumatic accident resulting in amputation or paralysis. Whilst any Tripod dog can cope well on three legs, Emily & Jamie advise that it can take time and a lot of physiotherapy to help build up their strength to ensure the best protection of the remaining limbs.

There are also many supports that may be useful such as slings and braces that can help give your pet the best mobility. If more than one limb is affected or has been amputated, there are pet wheelchairs and even prosthetics that can be fitted in some cases. Our Vets can advise you on what may be best for your dog and refer them to a Specialist.

You can make your home more suited to your dog’s abilities by:

  • Using stair gates to avoid accidents
  • Using ramps for getting up and down smaller sets of steps
  • Adding rugs to slippery surfaces and using anti-slip tape underneath
  • Limiting their opportunity to jump on and off furniture
  • Considering the entry points to your home i.e. steps, door thresholds, gaps
  • Using ramps or slings to help you get your dog in and out of vehicles
  • Using pet buggies to get your dog from A to B and provide enrichment out of the home

How Pet Insurance can help

If your dog has an accident or develops a condition that leads to a disability, as long as your pet has been insured for a certain period of time (check with the individual insurer), you may be able to get financial support for the investigations, treatment, and ongoing care your pet will need.

Pre-register with The Hampshire Vet – opening soon

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