Owning any pet is a wonderful experience, but providing extra-special care to a specially-abled pet can be even more fulfilling. Pets who are blind, deaf, missing a limb, or otherwise challenged are just as deserving of love, and they often return affection tenfold to their families. However, caring for a specially-abled pet requires a few adjustments to ensure they remain safe, healthy, and happy.

Special considerations for blind pets

Whether your pet is partially or fully blind, being unable to see can be unsettling, so avoid “sneaking up” on your furry pal. Make plenty of noise when approaching so your pet knows you are near. To keep your blind pet safe inside your home and outdoors, take the following steps:

  • Block access to stairs and dangerous areas — Set up baby gates to prevent your pet from trying to get to areas that could be dangerous, such as stairs, the kitchen, or around the fireplace. 
  • Keep your pet in a fenced-in yard or on a leash — Although your pet may respond well to verbal commands, keeping them close to your side with a leash when going for a walk can help prevent a potential disaster. You can let your pet explore a fenced-in area off-leash, provided it has no unrepaired holes or hazards, such as ponds. 
  • Place scent markers around your home — If your blind pet struggles to find their way to the door to go out, or to their bed at night, consider applying scent markers to help guide them.
  • Avoid rearranging your furniture — If possible, keep your furniture layout the same to avoid confusing your pet. Typically, pets can learn a new layout quickly, but excessive rearranging or additions can make it difficult for them to safely navigate their home.

Special considerations for deaf pets

As with blind pets, deaf pets also can be startled if you fail to announce your presence, especially when they are sleeping. Try to avoid bothering your sleeping deaf pet or toss a strong-smelling treat under their nose to encourage them to wake up before interacting. Other considerations for your deaf pet include:

  • Teaching hand signals — Deaf pets can quickly pick up on hand signals that indicate they should come, stop, or drop it—all commands that can come in handy.
  • Restraining your pet when outside — If your pet gets out of eyesight when outdoors, they will not be able to come back when called with a hand signal. Keep them on a leash or within a fenced-in yard to ensure their safety.
  • Keeping your pet away from toxins — Areas that contain potential toxins should be off-limits to your deaf pet, since you cannot call them away if they discover something dangerous. The kitchen, bathroom, and garage can pose a threat to your pet with their toxic foods, medications, and chemicals, so keep them out when you are handling these items.

Special considerations for mobility-impaired pets

There is something especially endearing about a pet who is missing a limb, and these lovable “tri-pawds” make excellent pets. However, they need a little help to comfortably navigate their environment. In addition to three-legged pets, the following tips can be used for senior pets with mobility-limiting osteoarthritis or other orthopedic conditions:

  • Minimize your floor’s slickness — Hardwood, tile, and laminate flooring can be too slick for your pet to traverse safely, so create walkways out of carpet runners or yoga mats.
  • Apply traction aids to your pet’s paws — Traction aids that are applied to paw pads or nails can help your furry pal grip slick or uneven surfaces.
  • Use slings or harnesses to support your pet — Pets with limited mobility may need help rising, getting into vehicles, or walking across uneven ground. Use a harness or sling to help your pet get up and keep their paws under them as they walk.
  • Purchase an orthopedic bed — Pets who are missing a limb have to put extra pressure on their remaining limbs, so a firm, orthopedic bed can help support aching joints.
  • Elevate food and water dishes — Bending down on already overburdened joints can be painful, so place your pet’s food and water dishes in an elevated stand.
  • Install ramps — Pets with limited mobility still want to curl up on the couch or snuggle under the covers at night, so install a ramp next to their favorite resting areas to eliminate their need to climb or jump.

Specially abled pets can enjoy happy, fulfilling lives, and our MetroPet Veterinary Clinic team can provide recommendations on how to help your furry pal get the most out of life. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.