Your Small Handicapped Dog by Joey DiFrancesco |Published 09-25-2019
Our small and toy breed dogs bring a tremendous amount of joy into our lives. Thanks to their longer average lifespans, we get to enjoy their company, loyalty, and unconditional love for extra years.
However, with more time spent in their golden years, small dogs often face handicaps that come with age such as mobility issues from arthritis and other degenerative conditions.
This article will explore some of the hardships that our handicapped small dogs face and some products, gear, and services that can help them enjoy the exceptional quality of life they deserve.
Some toy breeds have special risk for certain kinds of conditions that can affect mobility. For example, Dachshunds are at risk for IVDD, a degenerative spinal disease. Welsh Corgis are prone to Degenerative Myelopathy, a condition that can cause paralysis of the hindquarters.
Other conditions that can affect just about any breed of dog include arthritis, injuries, and plain old senioritis.
To help our little furry friends, it is essential to take note if their mobility is starting to decline. Looking into products that can help avoid further injury as well as strain on the joints and back can go a long way towards helping your pooch hang on to good health.
Here are a few products to consider to help your dog with declining mobility:
Going up and down stairs can be hazardous, particularly for small dogs that have joint, hip, or back problems. Providing carpeting or non-slip pads on slippery stairs such as hardwood or laminate can help. In addition, sometimes a ramp can make a regular route safer for dogs. Additionally, if your small dog enjoyed climbing up on the sofa to reach your lap, dog stairs may help.
Specially designed lifting harnesses can help get your dog up and down stairs or other obstacles without also straining your own back. In fact, there are now options to help handicapped pets get in and out of the car with the use of special ramps that fit in your vehicle.
There are now several trusted manufacturers that offer specially designed doggy wheelchairs that allow dogs with severe mobility issues to get around the house and enjoy the outdoors.
If your dog has a bad back or an injury in the leg, it is now relatively affordable to find a custom brace or splint to help make sure the injury does not get worse with everyday movement.
It turns out that there are a variety of natural supplements that can help our disabled small pets. In some cases, going with an effective natural alternative can prevent your dog from experiencing the harmful side effects of some prescription medications.
As always, it is important to discuss using supplements with your vet as they can sometimes interfere with other medications. Here are a few good options to consider:
Glucosamine Chondroitin: This supplement has long been recommended by vets to help improve joint health and slow the progression of degeneration from arthritis.
Fish Oil: Rich in omega 3 fatty acids and also anti-inflammatory, many vets recommend this supplement to help our aging pets maintain a glossy coat and healthy skin.
When disability strikes our pets, it can be easy to give in too quickly and reducing the overall amount of exercise to help our furry friend more comfortable.
After all, they may not be as interested in games and long walks now that pain or discomfort comes with the activities they used to enjoy. However, it is critical to help our disabled pets continue to get exercise and movement to maintain overall muscle tone and flexibility.
There are several options that you may find in your area for therapies designed with our disabled dogs in mind:
Canine Physical Therapy: When people are dealing with disabling injuries or mobility issues caused by stroke or degenerative arthritis, they often see a trained physical therapist as part of their wellness program. In fact, there are specially trained veterinarians that can also provide such services for our dogs.
Acupuncture for Dogs: Acupuncture for dogs is based on traditional Chinese medicine and is a technique that some specially trained holistic veterinarians practice. It may be particularly helpful to reduce pain and inflammation from arthritis, injury, and other illnesses in our small dogs.
Doggy Massage: Although there are specialists for canine massage, you can also learn some of these techniques at home. Helpful for stimulating blood flow and massaging muscles that may be sore and achy, massage is another option to consider for your handicapped pocket pet.
Low Impact Exercise: If your dog is starting to slow down, achy joints may be part of the problem.
It might be time to change up your exercise routine to include low impact exercise options such as swimming or walking on softer terrain such as grass rather than concrete.
Many conditions such as IVDD, spinal injuries, urinary tract infections, hormonal imbalances, and others can cause urinary incontinence in our small dogs. Also, certain medications can cause incontinence.
If you notice that your dog is suddenly having some trouble making it outside for their potty break, then it is a good idea to schedule a check-up with your vet.
It could be a sign of a serious medical condition that requires treatment. However, once other underlying causes have been ruled out, you may still be faced with the challenge of a small breed dog unable to uphold his end of the house training bargain you made when he was a pup.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to make this situation less acute while minimizing damage to your home:
Sometimes, the most natural solution is right in front of our noses. As our dogs age, needing to urinate more often comes with the territory. So, changing up the routine a bit to get them out more often is often the first line of defense.
Most dogs learn to use these scented and absorbent pads if they are not able to hold it long enough to get outside. With a waterproof bottom, they will prevent your carpet and/or hardwood floors from getting damaged. Pee Pads are available in disposable as well as reusable forms.
Made for either male or female dogs, these disposable diapers are a great choice if your dog has wholly lost bladder or bowel control. You can also find cute little covers for them to make them a bit more attractive.
In some cases, your vet may recommend incontinence medications that may solve the problem or make it less severe. For example, the drug phenylpropanolamine can help some dogs improve their bladder control by strengthening the urethral sphincter. Talk to your vet to see if this medication would be right for your dog.
A healthy and well-balanced diet is of course recommended for all dogs, regardless of size, age, or health. However, for dogs that have health issues, a great diet can make a big difference.
And, one recent trend in dog food is to incorporate small additions of home-cooked nutritious foods to regular meals. Of course, many foods that are safe for people are actually highly toxic to dogs, so this is certainly a practice that requires research and care. Here's a list on those foods dogs shouldn't eat.
Discussing your dog’s situation with a holistic veterinarian may offer you some natural ways to help your dog deal with poor digestion, a picky appetite, chronic inflammation, poor sleep, and many other common problems our small and toy breeds face as they age.
Also, since holistic vets have all of the same training of regular vets plus additional training in alternative healing practices, they are an excellent resource to learn more about some of the services mentioned in this article. If they are not trained in acupuncture, for example, the odds are good that they know a vet in your area who is.
If you can't find one in your area, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association may be able to help.