Disabled Dogs

Could you find it in your heart to care for disabled dogs? You can imagine if healthy dogs are sitting in shelters waiting for new homes, that a disabled dog has an even longer wait and less chance of finding a forever home. Perhaps you aren't able to take the dog forever, but would be willing to foster the dog. If taking a healthy dog into your home requires a lot of consideration, caring for a dog with special needs requires even more thought. You may have the heart, and not the time. Only foster or adopt a disabled dog if you have the time, patience, and are willing to learn how to properly care for the dog.

Some disabled dogs have minor disabilities; they may have a limb missing, or need daily medication, or just may need to go outside to potty more often. If you work at home or don't have a full time job away from home, and have a kind and compassionate heart, please consider caring for a special needs dog.

Dog Disabilities

Following is a list of some typical disabilities in dogs. They may have been born with them or may have acquired them, similar to how humans find themselves with an illness or injury.

Canine Epilepsy

Canine Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent seizures. It is a disorder of the brain where abnormal electrical activity triggers uncoordinated nerve transmission. The reason for seizures is difficult to diagnose as there are many things that can cause seizures and you will not know what it is until it happens.

Typical causes include the following, (and there are lots more):

  • Hair spray - this is easy to control, simply do not spray when the dog is in the same room.
  • Wool - Wool blankets, wool sofas, etc. - don't put your dog in a wool sweater! Don't make his bed with wool blankets.
  • Heartworm pills - difficult to controls as a seizure may occur 1 to 1 ½ weeks. after administering heartworm medication; just be aware that this can happen.
  • Cigarette smoke - simple; don't smoke!
  • Carpet powders - shoot, I like this one - don't vacuum! Seriously though, simply don't use carpet powders.
  • Air fresheners - simple things like this that you can avoid using.
  • Fabric softeners and dryer sheets - if even exposed to clothes that have fabric softener or a residue from a dryer sheet on them.
  • Low quality canned food - you're not going to feed your dog cruddy food anyway, right?
  • Fumes from bathroom cleaners and bleach - not good for humans either!
  • Mold - another thing not good for us; get rid of it; it's not healty for anyone!
  • Eating cat or dog feces - YUCK! You wouldn't let your dog eat poo, would you? Keep that litter box away from your dog and pick up poo in your yard each time your dog goes.
  • Stress - Different dogs react differently to different things. Wow! Profound, huh? For instance, my dog is bothered by family members raising their voices or arguing, another good reason not to!
  • Loud noises - (as mentioned above!) - yelling, fighting, doorbell ringing.
  • Vaccinations - you'll need to be aware of this after your dog gets his shots.
  • Cheap painted pet toys - well you wouldn't buy those anyway, right?
  • Scented candles - sorry if you're a candle lover!
  • Blinking lights - yes, it's true - Christmas and other bright lights.
  • Red food dye - easy not to use.

  • Categories of Epilepsy

    Canine Epilepsy is broadly divided into idiopathic and symptomatic disorders.

    Idiopathic Epilepsy: Also known as primary epilepsy, means that there is no identifiable brain abnormality other than seizures.

    Symptomatic Epilepsy: Also known as secondary epilepsy; it has a direct cause such as a tumor or traumatic blow to the head.

    Seizures can be broken into two types, generalized and partial.

    Generalized Seizure - the electrical impulse appears everywhere in the brain at once.

    Partial Seizure - the abnormal electrical impulses begin in a small area of the brain, and may expand.

    A severe seizure, also known as a tonic-clonic (formerly called grand mal): the seizure begins with contraction of all skeletal muscles and loss of consciousness.

    The dog usually collapses to one side with the legs stretched out and the stretched head back. Often the dog will drool excessively, urinate, defecate or eliminate his anal glands. Typically you'll see the dog's jaw clamp and his legs may jerk uncontrollably. It's important to either get the dog to an area where he will not hurt himself, or remove things in his way.

    You'll want to contact your vet immediately after the dog's seizure and describe how your dog acted during the seizure and what he'd been exposed to prior to the seizure.

    There is no cure for seizures, however; medication helps to decrease the frequency, severity, and duration of the seizures.

    Other Dog Disabilities

    Degenerative Myeopathy - Spinal damage or hereditary disease leading to rear leg paralysis is a common problem in dogs. You may notice that your dog is not moving or walking in his usual way.

    Heart Murmurs - Dogs with heart murmurs cannot exercise a lot. If you are someone who doesn't lead an overly-active life, disabled dogs with a heart murmur might be a perfect fit for your lifestyle.

    Diabetes - As with humans, the dog may need insulin shots on a daily basis.

    Kidney Dysplasia - this occurs when the kidneys do not fully develop; the dog may need to urinate more, so will need to go outside more frequently. The dog is treated with medication and must always have FRESH water, as drinking water that is contaminated can cause urinary tract infections that could further harm his kidneys.

    Some dogs are simply missing limbs because of an accident. These dogs usually adapt quite well. I've seen numerous dogs that are missing limbs and they are perfectly mobile and happy.

    Please allow me to emphasize that I am not trained in medical care for dogs and this is a brief summary of some of the diseases disabled dogs may have. Please consult a veterinarian for further clarification.

    I just want to point out that disabled dogs may live perfectly normal lives and need to be given that opportunity. There is a need for fostering and adoption for dogs that simply need some extra care. After all, most humans have a chronic illness or injury at sometime in their lives.

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