How to Improve Quality of Life for Disabled Dogs
Photo: Peter Kunasz/

Unfortunately, our dogs will not remain perfectly healthy forever, but some dogs are born with physical and health challenges that they must deal with their entire lives.

These dogs suffer from illness or injury that makes it difficult for them to live a normal life. As dog owners, we must keep in mind that disability doesn’t mean incapability.

Your dog, even if disabled, can still have a good life and be happy. It’s up to you as the owner to provide him with a quality life full of love and lots of fun.

Just because a limitation has been set doesn’t mean it can’t be worked around/with.

There are many things that you can do every day to make your dog more comfortable, and in turn, he will have a higher quality of life.

How to improve quality of life for disabled dogs
Photo: handicappedpets1

There are also a lot of canine products on the market that can assist you and your pet to make life easier for both of you.

Some dog products, like canine wheelchairs, can have a dramatic impact on your pet's quality of life, but there are more subtle products, like dog boots, that can greatly help disabled dogs as well.

How to Improve Quality of Life for Disabled Dogs infographics

How to Improve Quality of Life for Disabled Dogs

Just like us, dogs don't want to be treated differently for any reason. With the proper equipment, handicapped dogs can have virtually the same quality of life as any other canine. As an owner of a handicapped dog, you need to remember that your attitude will greatly affect how your dog behaves.

Positivity really is a wonderful thing. If your dog sees you as happy and encouraging, his mood will be greatly improved. There are so many service dogs out there that cater to humans with disabilities, both physically and mentally, so we owe it to dogs to return the favor when they need us.

RELATED: Improving Quality of Life for Senior Dogs

Keep in mind that dogs aren’t humans. They don’t consciously understand that they’re disabled (they can’t label it), so they don’t feel sorry for themselves. It’s not in a dog’s nature to mope around—that’s a cat. Dogs are naturally happy creatures, and they’re going to try to do what they can even though they have a disability.

By purchasing the right products and working closely with your vet, you can ensure a high quality of life for disabled dogs that widens the avenue of what they can and cannot do. Your disabled dog will not hold back, so why should you? It's your job to foster his growth and development to help him achieve the best life possible.

“What can I do?”

First, take your dog to the vet and see if there are any prescriptions or recommendations that the vet has for your dog and his specific needs. Don’t immediately accept a vet’s suggestion to “put him down.” If there’s a way to help your pet function as normally as possible, then that’s the way to go.

Perhaps your vet isn't experienced with disabled dogs or your dog's particular handicap. If possible, you may want to see a specialist or at least get a second (and maybe third or fourth) opinion from a different veterinarian.

How to improve quality of life for disabled dogs
Photo: ocean yamaha

However, if your dog's quality of life is not going to change with treatment and is going to be negative no matter what you do, then it may be time to say goodbye. That’s never an easy call to make, and relying on professional help is the way to ensure that you are fully informed and open to suggestions on what to do.

Secondly, after seeing the vet, figure out what your dog can and can’t do.

For example, if he has Degenerative Myelopathy, a disease of the canine spinal cord in dogs, his activities may be limited, but you can still spend time with him and maybe take him in the pool or in a dog stroller around the park.

Locking your dog indoors without any fresh air is likely to worsen the illness and will certainly diminish your pet's quality of life.

If, on the other hand, the canine has a bone disorder and must use a dog wheelchair, they can still go outside and play.

The play might have to be a little less rough than it would be for a dog with perfectly functioning legs but don’t forego exercise just because they need to use a wheelchair.

RELATED: Helping a Dog Adjust When the Owner Passes Away

Finally, spend time with your dog. As humorist and lecturer Henry Wheeler Shaw (real name: Josh Billings) once said, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” That’s very true.

So, as his owner, you are the one thing above all else that can make your dog happy. Brighten up your dog’s day by spending quality time with him.

Products made for disabled dogs

Don’t neglect the power of the purse. We're all on a budget (some more strict than others), but spending a little money on a quality product now could give your dog years of fun and independence.

There are so many cool inventions out there for dogs. Here, we’ll discuss four that are likely to make your dog’s life as easy as possible: dog wheelchairs, double-sided dog boots, leashes, and dog strollers.

Dog wheelchairs

Dog wheelchairs allow your pet to go outside and play, just without the strenuous physical activity. The Walkin' Wheels Dog Wheelchair is pricey, but it is well-made and affords your dog a very high quality of life. It’s made for medium to large-size dogs and can support anywhere from 70 to 150 pounds.

Walkin' Wheels Dog Wheelchair - for Med/Large Dogs 50-69 lbs - Veterinarian Approved - Dog Wheelchair for Back Legs
Photo: Walkin' Wheels

This dog wheelchair is veterinarian-approved for dogs that are unable to use their hind legs due to paralysis, amputation, or injury. Essentially, it works like a wheelbarrow. The dog’s hindquarters are lifted off the ground, and the wheels replace their hind legs. The dog can still run around, just with a little extra assistance.

The Walkin’ Wheelchair is great because it is heavy-duty. The wheels are twelve inches in diameter, and they work well on any terrain. Your dog really gets a chance at a second life with this piece of equipment. For smaller dogs, the HobeyHove Wheelchair for Small Dogs supports 18 to 40 pounds of weight and works by the same concept as the Walkin' Wheels wheelchair.

This chair is offered in a variety of sizes and is constructed with an aluminum frame and neoprene harness, meaning that it is very sturdy. Your dog will be able to go outside just like the other dogs in the neighborhood and play wherever he wants because of the solid construction of this chair.

Double-sided dog boots

Double-sided dog boots might seem like an unusual purchase for a disabled dog, but for those canines that have suffered a stroke and drag their paws, dog boots are a good protective item for them to have. Conditions such as spinal stroke, nerve damage, and many others can cause your dog to drag his paws on the ground.

Pro-Active Paws Double-Sided Dog Boots Designed for Disabled Dogs who Drag Their Paws CDRM, FCE, Stroke, Injury, Spondilitys Pro-Active Paws Dog Boots are double-sided, and they ensure that your dog has joint support and won’t get hurt because of his condition. They provide your pet with all-weather paw protection. They'll keep him from slipping on wet grass or ice, and they will protect his paws from sharp rocks and hot asphalt.

These dog boots are lightweight and have an orthopedic design. They allow for free movement and stay on your dog securely in all conditions. The long length and adjustable strap position allow you to secure the boots to your dog's paws comfortably.

Specialty dog leashes

The third item that all dog owners with a disabled dog should have (and all dog owners in general, for that matter) is a specialty dog leash. You can have a leash custom-made with your dog's disability stitched into it, so people know your dog is handicapped and they won't crowd him.

RELATED: How to Teach a Dog to Walk on a Leash

The Dexil Limited Blind Dog Leash is labeled “BLIND DOG” on the leash so that people know that your dog is unable to see and they’ll give him plenty of space. The leash is equipped with a no-pull harness and allows you to gently but firmly guide your dog through crowds while also warning others of his condition.

Dog strollers

Lastly, dog strollers are good for dogs that are unable to walk or that can't support themselves for long periods of time. Dog strollers are a great way to get immobile dogs out of the house and out into the fresh air.

How to Improve Quality of Life for Disabled Dogs
Photo: BestPet

The All-Terrain Extra Wide Dog Stroller by BestPet is a great way to wheel your dog around the neighborhood or park. He can sit up and enjoy the sites while you do all the work. The stroller also has a storage compartment for your things and is three-wheeled, meaning that the front wheel is able to make sharp turns if necessary.

This stroller is equipped with a rain cover and mesh windows to prevent bugs from getting in. It folds up easily in just a few seconds, making it ideal for traveling, and the handle even has a convenient cup holder. You could use this dog stroller for one medium-sized dog, or as you can see in the photo, two small breeds fit inside comfortably as well.

RELATED: Why You Should Be Proud of Your Dog Stroller

Having a disabled dog doesn’t mean that his quality of life has to suffer. You can still provide for your dog and care for him excellently to make him as happy as possible. A dog’s physical limitations are only as restrictive as you, the owner, allow them to be.

Buying the correct products for the correct ailments will ensure that your pet lives a life full of exploration and adventure, which is what every dog really wants. Talk with your vet or a specialist to decide on the right course of action for your dog's particular needs, and they will also be able to help you select the proper equipment to provide your dog with mobility and comfort.

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Quality of Life for Disabled Dogs

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.