A paralyzed dog needs extra special care. Whether the cause of the paralysis is due to an injury, surgery, or congenital disease, the way you, as the pet parent, care for him, is the most crucial part of his recovery and quality of life.
Some paralyzed dogs can recover while some do not. Nevertheless, no matter the case, it’s important that you provide him with special care management so he is able to recover faster or live out the rest of his days with comfort and good quality of life.
If you’ve never cared for a paralyzed pet before, you might be worried about whether or not you can care for him the way he needs to be cared for. Don’t worry, as it’s completely normal to not know anything about caring for a paralyzed dog.
To help you provide your pet canine with the best care possible at home, here are some things you need to know, as well as a few tips to making your dog’s life healthy and happy.
What is Dog Paralysis?
A dog is considered to be paralyzed when he can’t move one or more of his limbs. Some dogs may only lose the ability of movement on the front legs, or some on the rear limbs only, or on all limbs.
The most common paralysis in dogs is real limb paralysis. The dog may still be able to move his front limbs, with a lack of movement on the rear limbs. Or, your dog can only have partial ability to move any of his limbs, which is called paresis.
There are varying reasons why a dog may be suffering from paralysis. Some of these are a spinal cord issue, an injury, a congenital disease, tumors, an inflammatory disease, or a neurological cause.
No matter what the cause is, there are steps you need to take to properly care for your dog, prevent the progression of the disease, as well as to give him a comfortable, healthy, and happy life with you at home.
Tips to Taking Care of a Paralyzed Dog
While it’s an unfortunate case, a paralyzed dog can still enjoy life despite his disability. With your help, your canine friend can still have a life well-lived.
Here are some tips on how to take care of a paralyzed dog:
1. Food and Water
Your dog’s diet (consider ketogenic diet – carb free diet) is key to his recovery, as well as the prevention of certain illnesses and problems. A vet may need to add fibrous food to your dog’s diet to help with his bowel movement, as well as prescribe supplements to make sure he is getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals every day.
Do not overfeed your dog, though. Because your dog is immobile, he can’t use his energy on playing or running, and that means there’s a high risk of obesity. Obesity in a paralyzed dog is dangerous because it increases the difficulty in movement, as well as leads to other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart conditions.
Similarly, an underweight dog weakens his body, which means he is more prone to infections and diseases. Talk to your dog’s vet about his diet to make sure you are providing him with the right nutrition.
In terms of water, make sure that your dog has access to water at all times. They can easily get dehydrated and can also cause health issues such as constipation.
A paralyzed dog will not be able to groom himself. You can brush his hair every day, and make sure he is properly bathed as much as possible.
And because they can’t move, there will be a problem in terms of urination and defecation. You can opt to have your dog wear a dog diaper, or place an absorption pad where your dog sleeps or stays throughout the day.
You would need to clean his anus with baby wipes each time he defecates because feces that are left behind can lead to the bacterial formation, as well as attracts insects.
Urine left on the skin of your dog can also cause rashes and skin problems. Make sure your dog’s genital area and anus are always clean and dry as moisture is the perfect environment to breed bacteria and parasites.
Some dogs will be incontinent as well, especially those who have rear limb paralysis. Bladder infections can occur if your dog won’t be able to urinate on his own.
You would need to do a manual expression of your dog’s bladder by squeezing it to release urine. You would need to empty his bladder at least three times a day.
If your dog only has rear limb paralysis, a sling, cart, or dog wheelchair can help him move on his own. A sling is like a special harness that you put on your dog’s body, then you lift your dog’s rear and help him walk. By lifting the weight off his rear, your dog is able to move without dragging his body.
A cart or wheelchair can be customized to tailor-fit your dog’s rear area. These carts or wheelchairs are attached to your dog’s rear and he can move around without your help since this equipment features wheels that will move together with your dog.
With a cart, sling, or wheelchair, you can walk your dog every day to give him a good dose of exercise, social interaction, and get some fresh air. This can help him with exercise, eliminates boredom, as well as boosts his sense of confidence.
4. Physical Therapy
Some paralyzed dogs can still recover even without surgery and this can be done with frequent physical therapy sessions. You can hire a professional physical therapist for your dog, or you can learn a few exercises from your vet on how you can apply them to your dog at home.
Movements of the joints, limbs and other parts of your dog’s body can help him recover and improve faster.
Related: Doga yoga for you and your dog
5. Bed Sores
Paralyzed dogs are prone to bedsores because they are unable to move. These sores are mostly found on pressure points, such as their elbows, ankles, and pelvis area.
If your dog is completely paralyzed, you would need to turn your dog every few hours to prevent pressure sores. If your dog can move his front limbs and drags himself around, his rear limbs will be prone to sores and cuts as well.
You would need to check your dog for sores frequently because these can lead to infections and can cause serious problems if left unchecked and untreated.
An orthopedic bed can also help prevent the frequent occurrence of sores in your disabled dog.
The Bottom Line
It can be a major challenge to care for your paralyzed dog. While there’s nothing you want more than to keep your pet happy and healthy, there may come a time when you will have to give him special care management until he recovers, or for the rest of his life.
Nevertheless, there are many things you can do to make his life comfortable and healthy. With the help of a sling, wheelchair, physical therapy, and your determination to improve your pet’s condition, you can help your pet canine live a long, healthy, and happy life despite his disability.