Caring for special needs pets…

It’s funny when you think about how many similarities our pets share with us. They enjoy having fun. They enjoy being social. They enjoy discovering and learning new things! (And, of course, they enjoy good food and treats, just like we do.) But they also deal with many of the same potential ailments and injuries humans do, and so can suffer from certain conditions that might leave them dealing with a lower quality of life if not cared for. However, dogs and cats also share another human trait–high adaptability. Meaning if they receive the right support and understanding from their owners (or guardians, as we talked about in our last post), dogs and cats that are blind, deaf, paralyzed or missing limbs, and other conditions can still experience life in all manner of wonderful ways. Here are some tips if you already have a special needs pet or are considering adopting one!

First off, take the time to research and fully understand the scope of your pet’s condition. Exactly how much care will they require on a daily basis? How much would potential treatment cost? Will their condition require any special gear or training to manage? Vets can often help educate you on a wide range of these topics, and there are specialized animal doctors who can help pet owners understand more advanced issues (such as neurological problems).

Second, establish and maintain a treatment and care routine. Special needs pets may not be able to be as flexible in where they travel or who they interact with because of their condition in order to keep them safe. Not only that, but if they’re already dealing with some malady, giving them a stable and comfortable routine can help improve their mental and emotional state in the long run. If you have a family, make sure everyone understands the care routine so no one accidentally disrupts it–and be sure that someone will always be on hand to provide it, in case the primary caretaker has to travel or is temporarily absent for some other reason.

And lastly, make sure you have the right gear on hand. Do you need a special harness to keep a blind dog under better control while on a walk? Which “animal wheelchair” is best suited for a dog or cat with paralyzed hind legs? Certain ones are better for certain sizes and breeds, for instance. Take the time to find exactly what you need, so you can feel assured that whatever initial financial investment it might require will pay off in the long run.

Do you have a special needs pet? What tips or strategies do you have to keep them as healthy and happy (and loved) as possible?

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