Why Pet Owners Should Care About Special Needs Dogs
****Pets Teach Us So Much welcomes contributing expert Sharon Seltzer! Sharon is a specialist in Special Needs Dogs. We think you will find her posts touching and informative. She is a great resource for us all. We look forward to learning more about Sharon’s journey.****
Advances in pet nutrition and veterinary medicine have increased the lifespan of our dogs. It’s not uncommon for medium-sized and even large dogs to reach their mid-teens and small dogs reach the age of twenty. This longevity has created a double-edged sword because like people most pets do not die suddenly. Chronic illnesses creep slowly into their lives and change a once healthy dog into one with special needs. If you are a pet owner, you will more than likely face the challenges of taking care of a dog with some sort of special needs.
I faced this situation when my dog, Sophie, became paralyzed from an undiagnosed illness. Her condition changed almost every aspect of the way my family lived for the next five years. We learned about expressing a dog’s bladder, the proper way to lift a dog, where to buy a wheelchair and doggie cart and much more.
Looking back I see her illness as a gift that taught me about patience and how to adjust to life when the unexpected happens. I write about our journey and cover tips for caregivers as well as resources for medical treatment, equipment and clinical studies on my website, Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog.
Most dogs will not become paralyzed like Sophie, but there are many other common conditions that older dogs and their owners are likely to encounter. Each condition requires a lifestyle change for the dog and their family and it is wise for pet owners to consider how they will handle the challenge of a special needs dog.
Here is a list of common special needs conditions in older dogs:
- Spinal Cord Disease or Injury
- Arthritis and Hip Dysplasia
- Endocrine Disorders – Cushing ’s disease or Hypothyroidism
- Kidney Disease
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