I’m excited to see a growing awareness and appreciation for special needs pets! This pets-are-family awakening means that many cats and dogs, who were once considered unadoptable, are getting a second chance.
Rescue animals who are too old, too sick, too shy, too small or have behavior challenges, are now getting the help they need.
Thankfully, many of these wonderful animals are no longer automatically euthanized.
Our mission at Dr. Pet Mom is simple: To create a pet parent community to encourage adoption of rescue and shelter animals. We want to help older and special needs pets find their forever homes.
Today, pet parents have a plethora of resources to improve the lives of their special needs and older pets.
Pets with Physical Disabilities
Veterinary care is evolving. And innovations in assistance devices for pets is growing. Pets with amputated limbs from diseases, accidents or genetic defects can still thrive.
They can retain mobility when fitted with a wheelchair, cart or a prosthetic device.
The quality of life for special needs pets is much improved. Creative minds are working hard to give these pets long, active, and happy lives. Cats and dogs with physical disabilities can enjoy active lives with the help of these organizations:
Walkin’ Pets builds lightweight aluminum wheelchairs for dogs, goats and other animals. Each chair has adjustable parts that snap together and can be modified to add front wheels or skis.
Many devices (2,000 each year) are created for dogs. But sheep, horses, cows, llamas and a baby mouse also use fabricated devices.
The animal must have a functioning elbow joint, or at least 30% of the forelimb radium intact. An eight-week period of rehabilitation therapy helps to strengthen their muscles as animals learn to use the device.
Pet Rehabilitation Therapy
Many disabled animals will benefit from rehabilitation therapy as part of their standard of care. The process prevents injuries, strengthens muscles, and reduces pain for animals with mobility problems or missing a limb.
Therapy includes underwater treadmills (hydrotherapy) daily stretching exercises, massage, maintenance chiropractic, acupuncture, and the Assisi loop for pain management.
Pet parents can learn massage and exercise for home therapy sessions. Acupuncture can relieve pain, increase range of motion and improve limb function for many disabled pets.
Rehabilitation therapy should be the standard of care for all disabled pets.
Rehabilitation therapy resources include American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine, and the Rehabilitation Canine Rehabilitation Institute.
Blind and Deaf Pets
Pet parents of a blind or deaf animal can work with a behavioral therapist. A safer home and ease in moving around the house are the goals to improve your pet’s confidence and stability.
Simple changes include scents and sounds to help a blind dog or cat find food or the litter box. Nonslip runners can guide your pet to sleeping or feeding areas. A halo collar is a thin metal tube around the collar to guide blind pets.
Behavioral Therapy Services
Along with physical rehabilitation, behavioral therapy services also contribute to a pet’s second chance for adoption.
Professionals must earn a requisite number of working hours as a dog trainer, provide letters of recommendation and pass a standardized test. CPDTs must understand canine ethology, basic learning theory, canine husbandry and teaching skills. Continuing education credits are required.
Behavior Counselors, Pet Psychologists or Pet Therapists develop a range of experience. They start with apprenticeships with skilled trainers, participate in pet training seminars, or volunteer at animal shelters. Some pet trainers are certified by specialized training schools.
Veterinary Behavior is not taught in veterinary schools. A veterinarian can specialize in animal behavior with a certificate from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
These specialists prescribe medications, help animals with fear of people, objects or other animals, and separation anxiety.
If your pet has behavior problems, talk to your veterinarian or contact the ASPCA for more information.
Thanks for stopping by!
Dr. Pet Mom
“Animals are like people because people are animals”
–Barbara T. Gates