What to Expect When Caring for a Disabled Pet

Ivy in her Best Friend Mobility PRO wheelchair
Ivy in her Best Friend Mobility PRO wheelchair

Whether it is through age, injury, or adoption, there might come a time when you will face the challenge of caring for a disabled pet. Here is what to expect when that time comes.

Caring for a pet is always going to involve a certain amount of commitment. When it comes to a mobility-challenged pet, the stakes become so much higher. For one thing, the care of disabled pets requires significantly more time and money.

For another, the mental, emotional, and physical toll can be considerable on you as the pet owner. That is not to say that your disabled pet is not worth all of this. However, you need to manage your expectations and take an honest look at your capacity to provide the care they need.

Some facts

Before we get to the practical details of what to expect when caring for a disabled pet, you need to consider a few facts.

Animals feel no self-pity

It is natural to feel sorry for disabled pets, especially if they have not always been like that. However, animals do not have the same capacity for self-pity as humans. Disabled pets do not feel sorry for themselves. As far as they are concerned, everything is just peachy. As long as their owners provide them with reasonable care, they will live a full and happy life.

Things will change

The biggest challenge to caring for disabled pets is the capacity of owners to adjust to a changing situation. Most mobility-challenged pets have a problem going to the bathroom, so you, as the owner, will have to address this and other issues that might arise. If your pet is an amputee, you should be aware that they tend to become obese or develop osteoarthritis, so you will need to brush up on the proper exercise for them.

Support groups can help

Unless you have cared for mobility-challenged pets before, chances are you will have no idea how to manage. Support groups online can give you valuable advice and tips on coping with the extra challenges you will face. They might even help you connect with charities that can help you with costs.

Here is what to expect

Now that these facts have burned into your brain let’s get on with what to expect.

Resources are available

When you first embark on disabled pet care, you will quickly realize just how much material there is on the subject. You can get the first hand from your vet or the aforementioned support groups. You can also get a lot of sound advice from animal behaviorists, rescue animal professionals, and trainers. They have the knowledge and experience to make the transition a lot less overwhelming.

These pros will also be the first ones to tell you if you are a good fit as a pet owner with a particular disease or disability. Don’t feel bad if you get that kind of feedback. They only have you and your pet’s best interest in mind.

Costs can escalate

Pet disabilities can take many forms. For many pets with mobility issues, a wheelchair could be all they need to have a near-normal amount of physical activity.

However, some disabilities might require more investment in therapies, vet visits, medications, special equipment, and even food. Some pet insurance policies might cover some of your expenses, but not if the cause of the disability is a pre-existing condition.

The point is that costs can pile up when caring for a disabled pet. While you might feel that money is no object when caring for your fur baby, your bankbook might not agree.

You can get an idea of how much you can expect to spend on your disabled pet. Ask those among your support groups who have been there and done that. At the very least, you will have less of a sticker shock when the time comes to pay the piper.

Time is of the essence

The most important consideration when preparing for disabled pet care is time. Some conditions will be more time-consuming than others, so you have to keep that in mind. For example, an incontinent pet means you have to be very patient about the clean-up or diaper changes.

Just how much time can you dedicate to pet care in the long term? You cannot afford to be self-delusional here. If you have a full-time job or a houseful of children, the time element will be a significant factor in managing your expectations.  

Making tough decisions

While pet disabilities are not always a significant drain on your resources and patience, you need to know if they might be in your situation. Listing down what to expect when caring for a disabled pet can help you decide if you are up to the challenge.

However, you need to be completely honest with yourself, especially if you already own a pet with a disability. If you are not fit to care for a disabled pet, the responsible thing is to find someone with the capacity. Reach out to support groups for help with finding a good home for your pet.

If you are thinking about adopting a disabled pet, think very carefully about everything we just discussed above before taking the plunge. You might be depriving the disabled animal of the chance to find a family who can handle it.

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