Understanding Hip Dysplasia

If you think your dog may have hip dysplasia, here are some basics you should know about the disease including the most common symptoms and treatment

What is Hip Dysplasia

It is the malformation of a dog’s hip joint. A dog’s hip joint is composed of a ball and socket joint. To give you a better idea, a human hip joint is also a ball and socket joint. As with our hip joint, range of movement can be done more or less in a circular motion.

The motion, under normal conditions, is smooth as if the ball and socket are sliding on each other. When hip dysplasia happens in dogs the ball and socket are not formed properly and because of this, instead of a sliding motion during movement, there is rubbing and grinding of the joint. This is very painful especially when moving the back legs. 

How Dogs Get Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is probably the most common skeletal problem that dogs get. Large and giant breeds are the most prone to it but it can also occur in small breed dogs. Gender is not a factor as both male and female dogs may be diagnosed with the disease. Genetics is considered a very big factor as it seems dogs with parents who have had the disease are more prone to also getting it. German Shepherds, Great Danes, and St. Bernard’s are some of the breeds prone to hip dysplasia.

Because genetics is a key factor in predisposition, hip dysplasia onset may occur early, even as young as four months old. Much older dogs may also get it as a result of other health problems such as osteoarthritis. Obesity and lack of exercise are also considered as risk factors.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia 

Check your dogs for the following behavior:

  • Less active then usual
  • Has difficulty
    • getting up
    • running
    • jumping
    • climbing stairs
  • Weakening of back limbs
  • Hopping or swaying gait when walking or running
  • Back legs unnaturally close together when standing
  • Pain in hip joints
  • Grating sound when moving back limbs
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip joints
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles
  • Enlargement of shoulder muscles due to front limbs compensating for weakness of back limbs

Risk Factors of Hip Dysplasia

As we have already stated earlier, genetics is one major factor as well as size. Obesity and rapid weight gain is also a factor as well as lack of exercise.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from hip dysplasia bring them immediately to your veterinarian for a check-up. Be prepared to give them details that will help in diagnosis such as health history, recent injuries and their parent’s history.

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia

Treatment may include weight reduction, physical therapy, medications for pain relief, acupuncture, and the use of mobility aids. Treatment must be under the supervision or approval of your dog’s veterinarian.

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The Loyal Dachshund

The Dachshund is truly a magnificent breed. They are one of the most popular choices as family companions mainly because they are small, loyal, and adorable.

People tend to think that because they are small, they are not meant for hard work, but they were originally bred to hunt down badgers and other animals that tunnel underground. The name “dachshund” actually means “badger dog” in German, which is their country of origin.

Their peculiar shape makes it easier to distinguish them from other breeds. It is also what makes them so cute and endearing. Their shape has also given them loving nicknames such as wiener dog, hot dog, and sausage dogs.

Possible Health Issues

Like all breeds, they are prone to certain diseases and health conditions for which you should be prepared if you decide to take one in to the family. It does not necessarily mean your particular wiener dog will get any of these diseases, but there is a possibility.

INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE (IVDD)

This is basically a back problem, to which dachshunds are prone to having. Some people attribute their tendency to acquire this problem to the disproportionately long torsos of dachshunds, although there is no conclusive evidence to support this. It may also be due to genetics, certain movements, or falls from height.

Initial symptoms include difficulty or inability to use their hind legs. This could eventually lead to paralysis, and in some instances, loss of bladder and bowel control.

Health professionals suggest always supporting the dog’s back and rear area when they are being carried to prevent injury. Treatment for the disease may include crate confinement, anti-inflammatory medicines, surgery, and the use of a dog wheelchair.

In some cases, rehabilitation therapy can also help before the disease completely takes over. Use of dog wheelchairs are also included as part of the therapy or rehab program.

EPILEPSY

Dachshunds are also prone to epileptic seizures. This may also be due to genetics, congenital abnormality, or severe trauma to the head. Treatment usually involves medication. Bring your dachshund to the vet at the first instance of a seizure get proper treatment.

GASTRIC DILATATION-VOLVULUS (GDV)

Also known as bloat or torsion, this disease usually affects large breed dog, but dachshunds are the exception. This may be due to their deep chest shape. It is a life-threatening condition that causes the dog’s stomach to fill up with gas. This causes the stomach to twist and get distorted. As the air or gas builds up, the dog cannot belch or vomit to remove the air because of the distortion. This blocks the normal flow of blood to the heart, causing blood pressure to go down, and eventually lead to shock.

Immediate medical attention is critical for this condition. Symptoms may include excessive salivating and dry retching. It is best to bring the dog to the vet immediately if you observe these signs.

CANINE DIABETES MELLITUS (DM)

This is common to the breed,  especially for overweight dachshunds. Symptoms may include urinating excessively, persistent thirstiness, and weight loss despite an increased appetite. Treatment may include a special diet and regular insulin medication. Keeping your dachshund’s weight in check is a good preventive measure.

Choosing Your New Best Friend

When selecting a dachshund puppy, look for a breeder that can provide you with a health clearance for both parents of the puppy. Genetics may play an important part in the eventual health of the puppy.

If you are getting a dachshund from a shelter, try to get as much health information as possible. Bring the dog straight to a vet for a complete checkup to get a rundown of existing and potential health problems. This will give you a good idea of how to provide your new best friend the best care.

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Braver Hund! The German Shepherd

For all you German Shepherd lovers out there, here are some facts about these awesome-looking dogs you may not know:

They are a fairly new breed. They date back to 1899 when a German Cavalry Officer, Captain Max Von Stephanitz decided to come up with a German herding dog breed better than their human counterparts.

Hollywood made them popular. During World War I an American soldier rescued a German Shepherd puppy from a bombed-out dog kennel and brought the pup back home to America. This puppy eventually became the most popular dog in Hollywood: Rin Tin Tin. This dog’s rise to fame also made his breed very popular in America and eventually the world.

They are very smart. Intelligent and capable of accomplishing almost any task, they can easily be trained to do all sorts of things.

They are very hard working. Not only are they smart,they are also very persistent. Once they are given a job to do, they will make sure it is done just the way they have been trained to do it.

They’re not just shepherds. Because of their intelligence and persistence, they eventually ended up doing so much more than just shepherding livestock. German Shepherds help in law enforcement, military, rescue, assisting the blind and disabled, and so many other jobs.

They get lonely. You cannot leave them alone for long periods of time. By long periods, we don’t mean days but hours. If you do leave them alone, they get bored, lonely, and upset. To cope they turn to disruptive and destructive acts such as constant barking, scratching or chewing on anything they can get their paws at.

They need activity. Partly because they easily get bored and lonely and mostly because they seem to generate a lot of energy, it is a must that they enjoy regular, rigorous activities to keep them preoccupied and to use up all that energy. Daily runs and park visits help as well as assigning them simple tasks to do. They can fetch the daily newspaper—if you still subscribe to print or your slippers, if you don’t—or keep the doors closed or put down the toilet seats and covers. Giving them regular training sessions will definitely keep them happily busy.

They shed a lot of fur. You’ll need to practice regular good grooming to keep their fur at bay. Plus you’ll probably need to vacuum around the house more often.

They don’t like strangers. Although they need companionship, they are very wary of people they do not know. This can be remedied by getting a German Shepherd pup adapted at an early age through regular exposure; for example, try bringing them to public places where they can be exposed to other people.

They make good guard dogs. Their wariness of strangers is what makes them good at guard duty.

They love their family. When we say family we don’t just mean their moms and puppies. When we say family we also mean their human family. They are one of the most loving, caring and loyal pets you and your family can ever have. They are very good with kids, sometimes acting like human parents would.

We’re sure you and your family will have lots of fun moments with a German Shepherd, that is if you’re not having lots of fun already.

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Do Disabled Dogs Need Dog Shoes?

Are dog shoes really necessary? Many pet owners are buying dog shoes for their pets, believing it essential as it gives their pet’s paws added protection. Others question the trend. There are those who feel that dog shoes are just fashion accessories imposed on dogs by their owners. For disabled dogs, this question becomes even more important.

For dogs that can stand and walk normally on all four legs, the need for dog shoes may depend on the environment they live in. The terrain and weather may make dog shoes necessary. With extreme temperatures, floor surfaces, as well as slippery and muddy ground, it may make some sense.

It may be even more necessary for disabled pets. Because of the challenges that disabled dogs have to live with on a daily basis, dog shoes may be a necessity for most of them. Dog shoes can:

  1. Help prevent slips and falls – Dog shoes are usually designed with non-slip soles. This gives disabled dogs added support and stability when standing, keeping their legs from slipping apart.
  2. Give better traction – The non-slip nature of dog shoes also helps give disabled dogs a better grip on the walking surface, especially while in a wheelchair. This is especially helpful when they are walking on smooth and slippery floors.
  3. Give added leg support – Many dog shoes are also designed to wrap around and support the paw joint area.
  4. Prevent scrapes and wounds – This is the most common advantage of dog shoes. Since most disabled dogs tend to drag their non-mobile limbs behind them, this can result in scrapes and cuts on the skin and damage to the nails. This is especially worse for active dogs that need to run around, with or without their wheelchair. Wearing dog shoes helps protect the paws as they drag them on the floor.
  5. Help in the healing process – For dogs recovering from surgery or undergoing physical therapy, using dog shoes helps in the recovery process. This is because the shoes give them added support during therapy.

Check out this dog boots review from Wirecutter

This article was updated on March 11, 2019

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A Guide to Bathing Your Disabled Pet

Most dogs and parents dread it, but it’s something that has to be done. We’re talking about giving our dogs a bath. It’s a very important routine, more so for disabled dogs than regularly mobile dogs because of the challenges the former faces on a daily basis. Giving them regular baths is not only good for their hygiene but also for their overall health and comfort. Here are some tips on how we can give our best friend a proper cleaning.

Make a Regular Schedule

For most dogs, regular bathing is generally once a month. For disabled dogs, it usually has to be more frequent, at least twice a month or even more. This is because disabled dogs get their coats and skin dirty faster. Most of them have partial or no control of their limbs. Many drag a part of their body, typically the hind legs, and doing so gets this area more prone to dirt. Also, because of their limited mobility, they often get dirty from their own pee or poop. In many cases, disabled dogs don’t even realize that they are wallowing in their own dirt. In some cases, dog owners are also unaware that their disabled pets soaked in their pee, especially when it has already dried off.

Add to that the unavoidable small accidents that occur due to a pet’s disability such as spills and falls.

How Often is Regular

You need to bathe your dog regularly. How often is regular? It greatly depends on your dog’s lifestyle. For example, if your dog likes to roam around all the time and gets their fur dirty often, then twice a month is not enough. Regularly check the condition of our dog’s skin and fur to find out how fast they get dirty after each bathing session in order to find the right interval.

In Case of Emergency

When you do find the right schedule, it does not mean you have to stick to it faithfully, especially if your dog gets into an accident. If our dog gets dirty in an isolated area, it may not be necessary to give them a full bath. In such cases, you can simply clean them off with baby wipes or a wet towel. For major pee and poop soiling, though, a full bath may be necessary.

The Right Shampoo

Because they need more frequent baths, the skin of your dog may be prone to problems such as dryness or rashes. This is why it’s important to find a product suited to your pet. Unless specifically instructed by your veterinarian, never use shampoos for humans to bathe your dog. Often, a no-tears shampoo is good for using on your dog’s head and face and a moisturizing dog shampoo for the entire body. Consult your vet before choosing a shampoo for your dog.

Water Temperature

When giving your dog a bath, the temperature of the water is also an important factor to keep them calm and comfortable. Too cold or too hot and it could upset them and cause them to associate bath time with discomfort. On the other hand, many disabled dogs also have partial or full loss of nerve function so they may not be able to tell if the water is too hot or too cold, which may also cause skin problems. As a rule of thumb, use warm or tepid water for your dog’s bath.

Positioning Them for the Bath

Bath position may seem like a weird concern, but remember you are bathing a disabled dog. Most of them are unable to place themselves in a comfortable position during the process. There is the possibility of getting their nose, eyes and ears wet, which may cause more discomfort or even drowning. The aim is to position your dog so that they are comfortable and ensure that their head is high enough to avoid accidentally dipping their nose, eyes, and ears in the water. If your dog cannot sit up at all, put it on its side and elevate the head using a waterproof non-slip pillow to keep it above the water. Check that your dog’s legs are straight and in a comfortable position, and that the tail can move freely.

Check the surface you bathe your pet on. Avoid anything that might cause an accidental slip or slide, that’ll make the bathing process harder than it needs to be.

Pick a tub that’s big enough to ensure the comfort of your dog. A non-slip mat goes a long way to keeping everyone safe. Depending on you dog’s size, bath time can be done in your own bath tub, in the sink, or a small wash tub or basin. Again, make sure to place your dog so that its head is higher than the rest of its body.

Giving Your Dog a Bath

When all is set, begin by getting your dog wet from the head to paws. If you are using a hose, make sure the water pressure is gentle enough to avoid hurting your dog. You should also direct the spray in an oblique angle to lessen the pressure.

Avoid getting the nose, eyes, and ear holes wet. After getting your dog’s entire body wet, start shampooing the head with a no-tears shampoo. Start on the face, behind the ears and head, avoiding the nose, ear holes and eyes. Rub and massage in the shampoo following the direction of the fur coat. Shampoo the rest of the body with the same motion using the moisturizing dog shampoo.

Rinse with water starting from the head to the limbs, again avoiding the nose, eyes and ear holes. Make sure to rinse off all the shampoo by rinsing twice. After rinsing, place your dog in a comfortable position on a thick dry towel and gently rub dry.

Now you have a clean, dry, happy dog!

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Canine Hydrotheraphy: The What and Why

We became a bit curious about hydrotherapy when we found an interesting article on it, so we decided to find out more about this method of therapy and rehab to see if it is a good option for our handicapped best friends. We’ve done some research and come up with this brief but hopefully informative article.

What’s It About

Hydrotherapy, as the term implies is a method of physical therapy or physical rehabilitation making use of water as a medium. It has been in use for quite a long time now for people and is slowly gaining popularity for animals such as horses and dogs. It takes advantage of the properties of water to help the patient to recovery muscle mass, blood circulation and joint movement. The most important advantage of making use of water for therapy is its buoyancy, which creates a low gravity environment, thereby helping the patient focus on the limbs that needs therapy. It also lessens the friction on the joints during sessions.

It has been proven to be effective in helping many dogs with various problems and complications. It is a beneficial form of treatment for dogs recovering from injuries and/or operations, those who have degenerative joint problems, and even paralyzed dogs. It is very beneficial for old dogs with arthritis and is has also been proven to be effective as a weight loss program for overweight dogs.

Types of Hydrotherapy for Dogs

There are mainly three types of hydrotherapy for dogs: whirlpools, dog pools and treadmills.

WHIRLPOOLS

This is mainly used to help dogs get accustomed to the water environment. The water temperature is regulated based on the nature of treatment. It is a safe and relaxing environment, but at the same time provide just the right kind of stress for effective rehabilitation. A trained medical professional assists the dog while in the whirlpool and performs the therapy.

DOG POOLS

This is similar to a swimming pool for people where dogs can learn to swim, do laps, and play catch. The dogs wear life vests and the therapy sessions are supervised by trained medical professionals.

TREADMILLS

This is usually a transparent glass tub with a treadmill inside. The dogs, with a life vest on, is placed inside the tub on the treadmill, and then water is allowed to pour in up to a height a little above the dog’s limbs, covering part of the body below the neck. The treadmill is then turned on to make the dog walk while supported by the water.

Benefits of Water Therapy

Based on our research, water therapy is a very effective method of physical therapy for various kinds of muscle and joint problems as well as for weight loss programs for dogs. It is very effective because it is an environment that effectively addresses the difficulties associated with physical therapy, such as the impact of gravity and increased friction on the joints during exercise. It also increases the efficacy of exercises due to the increased resistance water creates compared to air.

Is It Good for Your Best Friend?

Clearly, hydrotherapy is something worth exploring and considering to help your best friend get the exercise it needs when faced with physical limitations. The best first step is to consult your veterinarian and find out more about this type of therapy, as well as other options available in your area.

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Giving Your Disabled Pet a Normal Life

It may seem like bitter irony to be thinking of “normal” when your pet can’t walk or is otherwise disabled. Yet your pet may not even realize that they are disabled, and will usually adapt to their new restrictions quite easily. They take each day as it comes without much thought, and may be perfectly capable of leading a healthy and happy life despite their disabilities.

It’s true that they will need special care, with you as the service person. However, they are incapable of feeling sorry for themselves, unlike most humans. The best thing you can do for your pet is to give them a normal life and enjoy their company.

Blind pets

Dogs rely more on their sense of smell rather than their sight, so blindness may not affect them as much as you might think. In fact, it may be some time before you even realize they’re blind. The case is otherwise for cats, but you can help them adjust by making a few changes in the surroundings.

  • Encourage their sense of smell by hiding distinctively scented treats in toys, motivating them to “follow their nose”
  • Clear hallways and floors of clutter to give them passage with a minimum of bumps
  • Acclimatize your pet to the layout of the home by leading them around them several times
  • Continue to take your pet for walks, but make sure they stay close and on a leash to control encounters with aggressive animals
  • Talk to your pet to give them a sense of security
One heartwarming pair, Glenn and Buzz.

Deaf pets

Both dogs and cats have acute hearing, and unless they were born deaf, you will both need some retraining to cope with its loss.

  • You have to learn to use hand signals to take the place of spoken commands, so practice with your pet
  • Get their attention by touching them or making eye contact; try not to sneak up on them by taking firm steps they can feel
  • Keep one light on at all times where your pet stays to give them a sense of security

Mobility-impaired pets

Mobility impairment is actually a much bigger challenge for your pet than the loss of sight and hearing because it essentially makes your pet helpless. Whether the impairment is temporary or permanent, in order to give your mobility-impaired pet a normal life, you need to make some significant changes in their routines.

  • Consult a vet for a long-term prognosis of your pet’s condition to better understand how to give them a normal life
  • Establish a regular routine to give them a sense of structure and security, and keeping your pet from feeling anxious
  • Bathe them regularly, especially if they are unable to do their business on their own or incontinent
  • Learn to express their bowels and bladder to make your pet more comfortable
  • Check your pet’s hair and skin regularly for any signs of sores or wounds resulting from always lying down or dragging their paralyzed limbs around
  • Consider alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage, especially if the impairment is a result of surgery and temporary to keep the muscles supple
  • Give them plenty of opportunities to go outdoors and socialize with other pets; you don’t have to worry about teasing
  • Regularly check forums for disabled pets for support, tips and suggestions from other pet owners

You should also consider mobility aids such as dog wheelchairs appropriate for your pet’s size. It may be a bit of an investment, but it will give them much more freedom and dignity than carrying them all the time. It will also make your pet healthier physically and psychologically, and save you back problems later on. You only have to check out the videos of dogs in wheelchairs and you will realize how much difference it can make to your pet’s life.

Conclusion

The most important thing you can do for your disabled pet is to be patient with them as they adjust to their impairments. It can require considerable commitment in money and time on your part, but it will all be worth it.

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Disabled Dogs and Potty Problems

One of the major issues you will probably have to deal with if you have a disabled dog is incontinence. Number two is especially an issue, as the mess can be considerable.  If you’re one of those people with a pathological fear of getting dirty, then you may find the following article hard to swallow. However, if you’re determined to keep your disabled dog, then you will just have to suck it up (thankfully, not literally!).

The best way to deal with your dog’s potty problems is to take control. Learn to express the bowel so that your dog will do its business under controlled conditions. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s actually quite similar to stimulating the poop reflex in babies, although babies don’t bite, so dogs can be a bit challenging. If you put forth the effort, however, it can pay dividends.

Stimulating the reflex

When you express the bowel, it’s tantamount to saying “It’s time to go.” There are several ways to do this, but it all involves some touching and squeezing of the dog’s anus, so you will need gloves (preferably the thin disposable latex ones used by vets). You may also need:

  • Squirt bottle
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels or old newspapers
  • Cool (not cold) water
  • Petroleum jelly

METHOD 1

If your dog is small, this is probably the easiest and neatest way to get it to give it up. Hold your dog over the toilet bowl with its butt in the clear over the water (make sure the tail doesn’t make splash down first!) in the crook of your arm so you have a clear field of view. Your dog may struggle at first, so make sure you have a firm grip or you might end up with it in the toilet

When you’re ready, find the anus opening and with your other hand (gloved), gently push down on the tissue around it. If you feel something solid, then your dog has something for you. Make a pincher of your fingers and squeeze the hole shut and release several times, pulling outward all the while. If your dog has anything to give, it should plop (or ooze) out at some point.

METHOD 2

If your dog is bigger, this may be a more practical method. Put some cool (not cold) water in a squirt bottle. Adjust the nozzle so it produces a stream rather than a spray. Place your pet on an old newspaper or several sheets of paper towel, and lift the tail to find the anus. Squirt the cool water in the opening, and you should see it pucker. Do this several times to get the anus going. You can also use baby wipes to add to the stimulus. Do it long enough (and presuming your dog has anything in there), you should get satisfaction soon enough. After the business is done, simply fold up the newspaper or paper towels and dispose.

METHOD 3

A simpler method, requiring less effort, is using an ice cube. Do the same as with Method 2, but instead of using a spray bottle, have an ice cube ready. Place it directly on the opening and keep it there. When you feel some pushing against the cube, then you have success. This is especially useful in large dogs, because their poop is going to be proportional to their size, so you don’t want your face anywhere too near the opening!

METHOD 4

This is the last resort when none of the above methods work for your pet. It involves direct stimulation of the sphincter (just the outer one, don’t worry), which means inserting your finger slightly into the anus. Do the same as for Methods 2 and 3, but instead of water or an ice cube, you will need lubricant. Rub the end of selected gloved finger with petroleum jelly and insert in the opening. Go in just a centimeter or two, don’t go prospecting! This is just to stimulate the reflex, you’re not trying to pull it out yourself! You may have to wait a while, but it will come.

Important tips

You should stick to a regular time and place for expressing the bowel to get your pet used to it. Pets can be stressed when they are presented with a situation they don’t understand. It will also make your pet more “regular.”

The best times to express the bowel are in the morning and just before bedtime. However, each pet’s system differs, so you may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find the optimal times to get it to do doodoo.

You may have to change your pet’s diet if the stool is too hard or too soft. In either case, it’s just more work you don’t need. Dried food may be your best option, but not all brands produce the ideal type of stool (solid, low odor). Some people swear by Science Diet w/d, while others recommend Bil-Jac. Again, trial and error is in the cards. 

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Quad Wheelchairs for Dogs with Disabilities

Dogs are our constant companions and nothing is more distressing than when our lively pets lose their mobility by accident or disease. Mobility aids such as dog wheelchairs can help them regain some of the quality of life they have lost. However, many different types of dog wheelchairs are available and you have to choose the best one for your pet’s condition. Here are some things you need to know about quad wheelchairs and when they can benefit your disabled dog the most.

What is it?

A quad wheelchair has four wheels designed to support a disabled dog with little or no ability to support itself using its own legs. The ideal quad wheelchair should be adjustable to accommodate dogs within a certain range of weight and size, and rigid enough o give pelvic support. In most cases, a quad wheelchair is only appropriate for dogs that are totally paralyzed or quadriplegic, but not always.

Qualifying conditions

DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY

A diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy or DM often comes to a dog at the age of seven or thereabouts, and most likely to affect certain breeds of dog such as German shepherd dogs, boxers, and Pembroke Welsh corgis. If your dog has DM, an adjustable quad wheelchair would be a good choice for you, even though the early stages only require rear support at first. Dogs with DM experience progressive weakness in their rear limbs, and eventually become completely paralyzed.

WOBBLER SYNDROME

Wobbler syndrome, or cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM) is a debilitating disease that affects large dogs and results from spinal cord compression at the neck. It results in total paralysis, which makes a Wobbler syndrome dog a good candidate for a quad wheelchair. In some cases, a dog with this disease may be a candidate for surgery to relieve the compression of the spinal cord. If your dog is such a candidate, a quad wheelchair can provide rehabilitative benefits as well.

TRAUMATIC INJURY

Some dogs suffer from temporary paralysis due to a traumatic incident, and may require the use of a quad wheelchair during recovery and rehabilitation for supported mobility. These include dogs that lost the use of their limbs after being by a car, attacked by another dog, or as a side effect of surgery.

Conclusion

Mobility is an important aspect for any dog, and can elevate their quality of life. A quad dog wheelchair can be of immense benefit for any dog with a progressive degenerative disease, temporary paralysis, and permanent quadriplegia.

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Caring for a Wheelchair-Bound Disabled Dog

Dogs are man’s best friend. They are, for the most part, fiercely loyal and engagingly affectionate. Their essential nature holds true even if they become physically disabled. However, just like humans, they can suffer from emotional problems if they do not get the care they need. This can lead to a change in behavior and an untimely death.

Caring for a disabled dog can be difficult, but pet owners may take comfort from a few home truths:

  • Disabled dogs don’t wallow in self-pity – dogs that become disabled do not indulge in self-pity. They have no problem dealing with their disability if you give them a little help. For them, disability is just a change in their dynamics, not the end of the world. The human owner has difficulty in coping with the pity fest. Get over it, and do something constructive for your stricken dog. A doggie wheelchair is just the beginning; you can help more by getting with the program.
  • Dogs don’t understand that they are disabled – There are dogs that walk and those that do not. Disabled dogs accept their lot with an admirable aplomb, and don’t waste energy on contemplating what they had lost. You should do the same thing.
  • Dogs are sensitive – Dogs take their cues from their humans. If you feel sorry for them, then they will feel sorry for themselves as well. They worry when you worry. Keep your happy face on and your dog will feel much better as well.
  • Dogs don’t let pride get in the way – So your dog needs help with the potty or getting on or off the wheelchair. Do you think they’ll refuse because of pride? Not at all. If you treat them with dignity, they will not feel that they are disabled at all.
  • Dogs make the most of their situation – You will be surprised at how resilient the dog spirit is. They can bounce back from situations that can flatten a human. They can even derive joy from simply being out in the sun or getting a good scratching despite their health or physical problems. Your disabled dog can serve as your inspiration when you are feeling down in the dumps.

Having said all that, you still have your work cut out for you in caring for your disabled dog. Here are some practical tips to lighten the load.

Establish a system

Your disabled dog has special needs, so you need to have a daily schedule to make sure that everything that needs to be done is done. If you have healthy dogs in the house, you should send them out first so you can concentrate on getting your disabled dog ready for the day. A routine will also help your disabled dog adjust more quickly to their new situation, especially if it includes getting them strapped to their wheelchair.

Be ready with the supplies

If your dog is incontinent, you will be facing some unique challenges for maintaining their cleanliness. Have the following at hand:

  • Machine washable orthopedic bed
  • underpads for sleeping
  • diapers
  • baby wipes for spot cleaning
  • dry shampoo
  • mild shampoo for regular baths
  • moisturizing rinse if the dog develops dry skin from frequent washing (ask your vet)
  • bandages to cushion pressure points and prevent bed sores

Be on the lookout for signs of bladder infection

A disabled dog typically has problems voiding their bladder completely. Just because you find urine does not mean the bladder is empty; it may simply be overflowing. Urine trapped in the bladder can lead to infection. You can usually tell if there is an infection by the way it smells and looks, but to be on the safe side have your dog’s urine checked regularly. Prevention is, of course, the better option. Your dog may need help, especially if your dog suffers from spinal problems. You can do this by regularly expressing it by squeezing. Ask your vet to teach you how to do it.

Find the right mobility gear

Some dogs can greatly benefit from a harness to help you carry and move your dog, Make sure that you know how to use it properly so that you do not injure yourself or your dog.

A disabled dog will also benefit greatly from the right wheelchair. Ensure that it is the right size and height for your dog to prevent exacerbating their condition. Educate yourself on how to put it on your dog, adjust it, and acclimatize your pet for its regular use. You can also ask your vet to help you. 

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