What is Involved in Caring for a Paralyzed Animal?
We have many animals listed who are paralyzed in their hind limbs. This most frequently develops secondary to trauma, degenerative disease, or congenital problems. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
1. What should I expect in terms of urination and defecation?
The animal's level of continence or ability to urinate/defecate on it's own depends entirely on where the spinal cord injury or degeneration is. Some animals with no use of their hind limbs can still urinate and defecate without assistance. They generally cannot control when they go (although some can!) but they do not need help. Others need their bladders expressed manually by their owner a few times/day and this isn't hard at all. It is a gentle squeeze of the lower belly of the animal and every owner can learn to do it. There are tricks and tips to make this easy on you and your animal and we promise you will quickly become an expert. Once your pet knows what to expect, they will find it a great relief!
This is a nice link to some information on expressing dog bladders in different sized dogs: https://www.handicappedpets.com/blog/how-to-express-dog-bladder/
2. What happens when the animal is just hanging out on the floor?
How they act when they are relaxing depends a lot on the strength and age of the animal. Paralyzed pups and young dogs often move around like seals, cheerfully 'humping' their bodies across the ground. Stronger animals can also easily drag themselves across the ground. There is a device called a "Drag Bag" in which you insert the back end of the animal and it protects their limbs while they are pulling themselves along the ground. There are a lot of brands and instructions on how to make them yourself as well if you're inclined! One thing to think about is keeping the animal on a cushioned surface to prevent trauma to their limbs. They won't feel wounds or abrasions and let you know that they're there so it's important to examine their limbs daily.
3. How do I get my dog some wheels?
You should work with your veterinarian and see what companies they recommend for carts. You do not need a custom fit cart for your dog and can frequently find them used BUT the fit of the cart is extremely important. I strongly recommend working with an expert to fit your dog to a cart if you've never worked with one before. Having the right fit is paramount to your dogs success and if the cart doesn't fit right, they will not want to use it.
The stronger the front legs of the animal, the easier they can use wheels. Puppies or younger animals who acclimate to wheels early in life never seem to miss their legs and they run and chase and play with all of their buddies! Adult animals may take a little longer to figure it out but once they do, they are fully mobile. Carts are also a great time to express the bladder of your dog, especially if they're bigger.
Putting a large dog in a cart is frequently a two person job. Handling a smaller dog is easily handled by one capable person.