Dogs with hind leg paralysis have special needs, but their treatment is manageable. The paralysis is usually permanent, so you must have understanding and commitment to care for your paralysed dog. Luckily, dogs adjust to their paralysis much more quickly than humans do, and if you keep your dog's routine as close to what it was before paralysis, it will adjust more quickly. You and your dog can enjoy a rewarding life together in spite of the dog's paralysis.
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Things you need
- Dry shampoo
- Baby wipes
- Dry skin supplements and products
- Towel or sling
- Mobility cart or wheelchair
- Orthopaedic dog bed
Keep the dog clean of urine and fecal matter. Dry shampoos for dogs, available at pet supply stores, work well for spot cleaning. Use baby wipes for quick cleanups.
Moisturise the skin if it becomes dry from frequent baths. There are a variety of products available from your pet supply store or vet that treat dry skin such as vitamin and oil supplements, moisturising shampoos, cream rinses and sprays and rubs.
Control fleas. Flea control products, such as Frontline or Revolution, work well since they're waterproof. You apply the flea medication topically, and the oil glands store it and then distribute it to the dog's skin and hair, providing long-lasting protection from fleas.
Provide your dog with protection if it suffers from incontinence. Diapers, wraps and other products are available from pet supply stores. The diaper will also protect your dog's bed and your floors and carpets. Check the diaper often, and change it if soiled. The dirty diaper can attract flies, and your paralysed dog may not be able to shoo them away. On a hot day, maggots can form from fly eggs in as little as an hour.
Check with your vet for recommendations on bladder care and infection prevention. Your paralysed dog may have trouble completely emptying its bladder, resulting in infection. Be aware of changes in the colour or odour of the dog's urine. Your vet may also wish to take regular urine cultures. If your dog can't urinate on its own, you may have to express the urine from the dog's bladder. Ask your vet how to do this.
Be aware of possible bedsores forming on your dog's elbows, ankles and hips from lack of changing position.
Consider buying a mobility cart or wheelchair, which will keep your dog from dragging itself and eliminate abrasions and other injuries.
Provide physiotherapy for your dog. Massage and gently flexing the limbs are helpful. Swimming is excellent exercise since it's non-weight bearing. You can walk your dog using a sling under the dog's belly and holding up its rear while walking. Use a towel for the sling, or you can purchase slings from the pet supply store.
Tips and warnings
- You can buy orthopaedic dog beds designed to relieve pressure points and prevent bedsores.
- Do not use zinc oxide-based creams, which are toxic, so your dog should lick them.
- Check with your vet before attempting any physiotherapy.
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