Disabled puppies don’t know what they’re missing but as a result may become less adoptable. Despite loss of limbs, mobility, sight or hearing, they live and enjoy life regardless of the challenges they face.
Often, the pet has less difficulty coming to terms with such changes than do owners. Pets seem to willingly accept conditions that devastate people.
Adopting Handicapped Pets
I suppose we could be politically correct as with people and instead call them "other-abled" pets. Puppies can suffer challenges from injury or illness that leaves them with permanent impairments.
Puppies lose limbs as a result of accidents that irretrievably damage either the bone or the nerves. Bone cancer also may require amputation of the affected leg, to prevent the disease from spreading and prolong the pet’s quality of life.
For instance, my colleague runs a small animal rescue and adopted a young pup with nerve damage of one leg. They don't know how Hank was injured. But the pup drags the affected foot and it stays raw and risks infection. While we hate the thought of a cute puppy losing a leg, Hank will get around just fine—or even better!—on three legs, once that useless damaged limb no longer holds him back.
The pain of cancer makes pets feel so bad, that once the painful limb goes away, they get a new lease on life. Older pets take longer to adjust, while youngsters like pups bounce back incredibly fast. Pets just don’t KNOW any better than to act normally.
Illnesses like distemper is often deadly. Even when the pup recovers, he may be left with neurological damage so that the dog has tremors the remainder of his life.
Seizures from epilepsy are another type of neurological disability that can be challenging for puppy owners, but the dog won't know any different. Often medication can relieve the severity or incidence of seizure episodes, too.
Pets can suffer paralysis through accidents, degenerative back diseases or other health conditions. Nobody knows what happened to Willy the rescue Chihuahua, who lived with rear-limb paralysis for more than two decades. He wouldn’t stop dragging himself from place to place, determined to stay in the thick of things. Once owner Deborah Turner got him strapped into his K9-cart (wheelchair for dogs), he was literally off and running. Willy became the mascot for his local branch of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, had his own website, and two children’s books written about his exploits.
Dr. Paul Gerding, a veterinary ophthalmologist, never considered that his Labrador couldn’t still enjoy life when Katie began losing her sight. He wasn’t able to correct the progressive disease medically, but took steps to ensure the blind dog could still navigate her home and yard by memory. She still hunts—in safe clover fields with no ditches or holes—and at home Katie relies on the younger dog Grace to be her personal guide dog pal.
Puppies born blind actually have it better. They don't know any different and meet life head on with gusto. You will need to make some accommodations for your blind puppy and can learn more about dealing with blind puppies here.
Deaf puppies also can lead normal lives. They may be born deaf or lose their hearing through accident or illness such as chronic ear infections. Learn more about what to expect and how to best deal with deaf puppies in this article.
Pets inspire us with their stoic attitudes. They don’t know how to feel sorry for themselves, and may not recognize they’re any “different” than other cats and dogs. Fluffy and Prince simply want to get on with the important business of eating, playing, and loving their family. As readers know, furry love comes in all shapes, sizes, and packages.
It takes a special person to support and care for a special needs puppy. The love they have to share knows no bounds and you'll be rewarded in ways you cannot imagine! Find out what you need to know, and then adopt your own special needs fur-kid.