Caring for a Special Needs Pet

special needs petThere’s no doubt about it: everyone loves a cuddly little kitten or puppy. They’re young, impressionable, and have their whole lives ahead of them…who could resist adopting one of them? Unfortunately, that’s why so many senior pets and those with special health needs languish in shelters, often never finding a family to care for special needs pets.

One of the most loving decisions a person can make is to adopt an animal with special needs. Special needs pets range in what specific accommodations are needed, but typically include those with behavior challenges or a traumatic past, chronic health conditions, physical disabilities, or they’re simply old.

Special needs pets do require some additional care, but they provide every bit as much love, happiness, and companionship to the lucky person who can see just how special these pets are.

Adopting a Special Needs Pet

Adopting any pet requires thoughtful consideration of these important questions:

  • What breed, age, species, etc. will be a good fit with my lifestyle?
  • How much time I can invest?
  • What kind of space does my pet require, and can I accommodate this?
  • Are there children in the home or individuals with specific pet allergies to consider?
  • Can I financially care for this pet – including health care costs?

With a special needs pet, you’ll have to dig a little deeper into these questions. Because most rescues and shelters want the adoption to be successful, they’re usually able to provide you with a pet’s background of specific issues, as well as a monthly cost estimate.

Since special needs pets do sometimes require additional time, TLC, and veterinary care, those who seek to adopt these loveable friends will have done their research and are fully committed to their new furry family member’s needs.

Making a Home for Your New Pet

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for a special needs pet, the best place to get recommendations is during your pet’s wellness appointment. At Rocklin Ranch, we can help you better understand your pet’s needs and make suggestions for at-home care, diet, etc.

In general, if your pet has a chronic medical condition, consider some of the following tips to make him or her more comfortable:

  • For mobility challenges, keep all pet care items on one floor and minimize the need for stairs (or install ramps).
  • Purchase the right food station (does your pet need a raised platform to reduce strain on the neck and back?). Also consider the right bed (older pets and those with arthritis benefit from an orthopedic bed).
  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for daily exercise, tailored to your pet’s abilities.
  • Ensure someone is consistently with your pet if you’re unable to be home (some pets may require daily medical support).
  • Educate yourself on your pet’s condition and what you can do to provide better support.
  • Keep the home calm and comfortable to minimize stress or anxiety.

Not all pets with special needs require such intensive care. Pets who have lost a limb or have some physical deformity are sadly viewed as “broken.” But nothing could be further from the truth. These pets can be just as healthy, energetic, and happy as any other pet when given the chance to thrive.

At Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we adore ALL animals and hope you will consider a special needs pet or senior pet the next time you adopt. If we can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us.