Warm baths can be wonderfully therapeutic for paralyzed dogs. If your pooch is small (like our paralyzed Dachshund, Greta), you can easily do hydrotherapy at home in the bathtub. Greta takes baths several times a week for about 30 minutes at a time. These soaking sessions help to stimulate her circulation and diminish joint strain by making her back legs buoyant. For large dogs, there are an increasing number of hydrotherapy centers around the country. Click here for a list of providers who are registered with the Association of Canine Water Therapy.
When a dog's back legs are immobilized and they sit/lay in the same position for long periods of time, they become susceptible to sores and skin ulcers. Therefore, it's essential to provide plenty of padding for your pooch. Our paralyzed Dachshund Greta has a number of different beds in order to keep her comfortably cushioned throughout the day and night. Click here for more information about preventing bed sores and skin ulcers.
Paralyzed dogs typically don't have bladder control, so it's necessary to manually empty their bladders by expressing them. The thought of doing this several times a day can be incredibly daunting to those with newly paralyzed pets, but I can assure you that it becomes very easy over time and it's really no big deal! Handicapped Pets has step-by-step instructions for expressing a dog's bladder and you can also click here for a previous post that details my own method for Greta.
Many paralyzed dogs are great candidates for wheelchairs and there are a number of excellent companies that specialize in creating carts for dogs with disabilities. Since no one knows your pooch better than you do, you can also build a custom set of wheels for your best friend. Check out Handicapped Pets' DIY dog wheels page for instructions and templates.