New orthopedic devices are designed to be more comfortable, as well as more economical for pet owners. This, along with treatments that are constantly improving, allows pets with special needs to have longer, more active lives. There are treatment options for families that can’t afford surgeries too. So whatever the cause, it’s no longer a given that lack of funds means euthanasia for a pet with a birth defect or injury.
Stifle braces are now available for dogs that are physically unable to endure surgery or whose owners cannot afford the surgery and aftercare. A stifle brace addresses one of the most common surgeries for knee injuries. Surgery is no longer the only option, and sometimes it is not even the best option. I’ve even seen pictures of dogs in the water with their wheelchairs. They looked like they were having a great time. Of course, that’s not a recommendation to take a dog in a wheelchair swimming. These pooches were just enjoying a little play in shallow water. It does prove that their quality of life and enjoyment doesn’t have to end with the need for adaptive equipment.
Just as in people, adaptive equipment and greater mobility can improve a pet’s health and relieve the depression that comes with the lack of excercise and mobility. Many of the devices available are not widely publicized. Some aren’t even covered in veterinary training. In addition, the marketing of these products may also be limited to specialists who are located in large cities or university veterinary hospitals. When a pet has a problem, it often falls on the pet owners to search out the lesser known options.
The most important point for owners is not to assume nothing can be done or that the cost will be prohibitive. There are support braces, protective slings, wheelchairs, and more. The first step is to contact a specialist in your area. If that person or clinic doesn’t have any recommendations, contact a specialist in the nearest large city or at a veterinary hospital at a university. Also, look up the names of some animal rehab therapists and ask them for advice. They are often more current on what’s new and what works than the doctors. Manufacturers of pet orthopedic products may have lists of clinics and doctors that purchase these products and be knowledgeable about a variety of needs.
Don’t hesitate to contact people and ask for advice. I’ve found that the people who work with special needs animals are extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Here are a few places to start your search:
Wound Wear http://www.woundwear.com
Dewey’s Wheelchairs for Dogs http://www.wheelchairsfordogs.com/
Doggon Wheels http://doggon.com/
By the way, I know a cat with a wheelchair too. It can be done! I’d be happy to help you do some research too. Just email us.