Pets with Disabilities and Special Needs
Pets with disabilities and special needs are everywhere. In fact, if they live long enough, most pets become disabled due to chronic illness, mobility issues, and injury. Fortunately, disabled pets are accepted as part of the norm by their families and veterinarians. However, because there is a wide range of disabilities seen in pets, just as there are in humans, the more profoundly affected animals raise concerns about quality of life. We all want our pets to have comfortable, happy lives.
Evaluating quality of life is subjective and relative. Many pets with profound disabilities don't have the same type of life as their mainstream "normal" counterparts and that is ok. They may need to be carried, ride in a stroller, use a wheel chair, be kept safe with a harness and leash, take medication, and have their bladder and bowels expressed numerous times a day. Of course, chronic and acute pain, difficulty breathing, safety, and the ability to provide appropriate humane accommodations and support for disabled pets are always considerations when evaluating quality of life.
But once we accept compromise and look past the traditional ideas of what pets "should" be and do, we can sit back and enjoy caring for and celebrating our pets that happen to be disabled.
What are some examples of disabilities seen in pets?
deaf, blind, deaf blind, hind limb weakness and paralysis, congenital deformities of limbs, missing limbs, cerebellar hypoplasia, hydrocephalus, diabetes, heart failure, brachycephalic palate and cleft defects,
spina bifida, seizures, injuries to back, limbs, and eyes,
Where do disabled pets come from?
Family pets become disabled due to injuries and illness. They are saved by rescue groups who then place them with families that are willing to provide proper care for their individual challenges and needs.
Who chooses to care for disabled pets, and why?
When pets become disabled by injury or illness, most families choose to continue taking care of their own pets. Some aren't able and many end up with rescue groups. Some people are drawn to the "underdog" and because they are able, will adopt pets with special needs. Others are drawn to a particular animal that they identify with for a variety of reasons. Some people with disabilities are interested in adopting a pet who is disabled. All are kind, compassionate people who have a little bit extra to give.
Can a disabled pet have a meaningful, productive, happy life?
YES! Barring some life threatening or other issues that cause chronic pain and severe discomfort, or dangerous behavioral issues, most pets that have disabilities and special needs live very happy productive lives. Most are inspiring members of families, school communities, and other organizations where they bring their own positivity and kindness to kids and adults.
Support for Pets with Disabilities
What does a disabled pet look like?
Resources and Support
Rescues and Resources
•Deaf Dogs Rock
•Foster Dogs, Inc.
•Be Like Josh Foundation
•Road Dogs Rescue
•Speak for the Unspoken
•Speak St. Louis
•Amazing Aussies of Arizona
•Present Moment Rescue
•Hydrocephalus for Dogs Facebook Group
•The Mia Foundation
•Boxers On Wheels
•Handicapped Pets (Walkin’ Pets)
•Muffin’s Halo for Dogs
•Your Inner Dog- deaf blind dog education
•Help ‘em Up Harness
•Blind Dog Rescue Alliance
•Honey, Have You Squeezed the Dachshund, book by Dr. Adam Christman
This is a list of rescue groups and other organizations that may provide information and support for people who are caring for pets with disabilities and special needs.