Dogs with disabilities

7 Aug

This is something i haven’t talked about yet, but is also something that i think isnt talked about enough. if you look at rescue centres, or anywhere online you will see that dogs with disabilities often find it more difficult to find a forever home. This could be because people think they are too much responsibility, too much money or because they think they cant do the things a “normal” dog can do.
When i speak of dogs with disabilities, i am talking about those with special needs. This could be anything from a missing limb, being blind or deaf, or having health problems such as epilepsy. Anything that means that they need a little bit more of a helping hand in life.
I personally have never owned a dog with a disability, unless you count my labrador who had arthritis, but he wasn’t affected to the point where he couldn’t get around, just to the point where some days he didn’t want to get around. I also have never really been around a dog that had a disability, not knowingly anyway. So this means i have had to do some research.
Lack of information:
I thought that if i typed “dogs with disabilities” into google, i would be given a wide range of information of different disabilities and how you can best care for a dog that needs extra help. I was wrong.
What i did find was lots of different adoption agencies that cater specifically for these special dogs, helping them to find the right home.
I also found this website, which provides a lot of information, much of which i am going to use today in this feature. So, here i would like to thank the source for being one of the few, and best sources of information on the internet for people who own or are considering owning a dog with a disability.

What you need to know about a dog with disabilities:

1. They don’t know that they have a disability
2. We feel sorry for them, but they don’t feel sorry for themselves
3. They accept their life, take each day as it comes
4. Enjoy life the same way any other dog does
5. They are not a burden
6. Do what they can to live a normal life
7. They are not concerned about their status in the pack as long as we do our job in reasuring them that they still have it
8. They have a lot of patience
9. Don’t need to be told that we love them, they know that we do
10. Like all dogs, they live in the moment and dont think about the past or the future

As long as we look after these dogs in the correct way and give them the help and understanding that they need, dogs with special needs can live happy lives, just as those without. All dogs know how to live life to the fullest, and disabled dogs are no exception.


Mobility problems:
This could be anything from spinal problems, athritic problems that came with old age, los of limbs or problems cause through injury. For whatever reason, some dogs find it difficult to carry out daily routines due to lack of mobility.
Nowadays, they can cope much better because there is a wide range of equipment and products designed to help them get along. A dog that can no longer jump up and down, might be provided with a ramp or stairs which enable it to get in and out of the car for example. This is actually something that would have benefited my old labrador as he aged and his hind legs got stiffer, his movements slower and less agile. Similarly harnesses and slings can be used to aid walking or help your dog into a standing position where he does not have the strength to do so himself. These are a way of helping them to help themselves by lightening the load and the pressure.

Wheelchairs are something that is used more frequently now, and have only really been around for the last twenty years or so. These wheelchairs are perfectly fitted, and allow a dog that cannot walk due to being unable to use its hind legs to live a normal life. They are able to go on walks, run around and and even do his business normally.


When not in their wheel chair, drag bags can be used to ensure that pets that have to move around using their front legs only do not develop sores and abrasions from scraping their body against the floor.
Dogs that have suffered due to an injury can where leg braces and splints to give extra support and ensure that no further damage is made whilst the dog is moving around and acting like a normal dog. Dogs with missing limbs can also be fitted with prosthetics, allowing them to move around as though nothing had ever happened.


Spinal problems:

Spinal problems can effect anything from your dogs mobility, to its bladder function. depending on the problem a number of tools are available to help him live a normal as possible life. You can find a large amount of information on this using the website that i mentioned earlier. It is definitely worth a read.



Canine Epilepsy is broadly divided into idiopathic and symptomatic disorders.Idiopathic Epilepsy, also called primary epilepsy, means that there is no identifiable brain abnormality other than seizures.Symptomatic epilepsy (also called secondary epilepsy) has a direct cause such as an identifiable tumor or traumatic blow to the head – causing the seizures.
Usually a dog with epilepsy will be put onto medication or drug therapy, but this is something that may seem daunting to potential new owners. Again the website i mentioned provides a lot of information on how to care for a dog that suffers from epilepsy, what to look out for and how to recognize a seizure.


Blind dogs:

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you will probably remember what i said before about how dogs use their senses.

Their sense of smell is the most important sense. When meeting a dog or person for the first time, they will use their sene of smell first, sight second. What they see only comes second. This paired with the fact that they can also hear, means that a dog can get onin life perfectly well if he is unable to see clearly, or at all.
They pick up easily on our feelings and emotions, and do not need to see us smile to know that we are happy with them.
There are a number of things that you can do to help your dog get on in life. Things such as ensuring that your home is safe, that there is nothing he can accidentally step on or bump into that will cause an injury. You can attach bells to the collars of your other pets so that he knows where they are. Talk to your pet so that he knows when you are approaching and is not surprise when he feels your touch.
Visit for more helpful hints and tips along with lots of stories from other people. As they say “dogs see with their hearts”.


As a dog lover, you probably will have heard of these two beautiful dogs. The dog who can see acts as a guide for the blind dog. Beautiful.



Deaf dogs:

Living with a deaf dog is something that i have actually seen in the media lately. I remember seeing one of the rescue organizations providing some information about how to train a deaf dog recently, though i am unable to recall which organization it was.

They only have one of their senses missing. This means that they can still smell, see and feel. Training can be easily done using hand signals alone. Something many trainers actually chose to do anyway with their dog. You can still speak as you sign, as this will help to convey your feelings. for example if you say something happy like “walkies” and you smile, your dog will know that it is something good.
Dogs do a lot through body language, and they know how to read ours as well as their own.
There are actually a lot of resources on the internet at the moment so i wont include any here, but type in deaf dogs into google and you will find resources from the dogs trust, blue cross and other organizations as well as articles from blogs and newspapers.



Disabled Pets
Most pets have the use of two eyes,
Some have one or none.

Most pets can hear through both ears,
Some hear a little, some hear nothing at all.

Most pets can eat anything and visit the vet but once a year,
Some need special food, shots or medicine.

Most pets go potty on a walk or in the yard,
Some wear ‘hot pants’ or go on a special matt inside.

Most pets walk in normal stride,
Some hop along or roll in wheelchairs.

Differences exist between most and some, but does it really mean that much?
All pets have such great big hearts and yearn to feel love’s touch.

Opening your mind, home and heart to a disabled pet will prove one thing for sure,
The love and thanks you’ll receive in return will touch your life like never before.

-Lynne Przychodzki, 2004

If you have ever owned or know someone who has owned a dog with a disability i would absolutely love to hear your stories and see your pictures. If you would like to share feel free to contact me (whichever way you like) and i would be more than happy to do a feature on you and your dog.


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