Whether your pet’s hind leg paralysis is inborn or caused by an injury to the spine, the method and level of care required will depend on the severity of their condition. Some may suffer from partial paralysis while others may have complete paralysis, which often results in incontinence. In some cases, the condition may be treated with therapy. But what if your pet’s condition is permanent?
Two things are certain: First, their long-term care will require patience and dedication. But with these, the bond you share with your pet will thrive and they can live a long and happy life.
Hygiene, bladder care, urine scalding, bed sores, and other challenges
Managing your pet’s hygiene
The most common concern of pet owners dealing with their pet’s hind leg paralysis is cleanliness. Because incontinence commonly occurs with this condition, you may need to express their bladder and stimulate their bowel movement for better control and easier clean-up. This may sound like a lot of hassle, but it’s really quite easy once you’ve gotten the hang of it. It then becomes a shared routine for you and your pet, and it can further strengthen your bond.
It also goes without saying that your pet may need help cleaning their hind area with regular butt baths. You may do so with a mild pet shampoo or baby wipes.
Why bladder care is important
Even if your pet appears to be urinating on their own, it doesn’t mean that they are able to fully empty their bladder. A constantly full bladder is surely very uncomfortable for your pet and can cause infections and even death if not attended to. That is why it’s important that you learn to do it properly and consistently. In addition, always be observant of changes in the smell or appearance of their urine and notify your vet right away. This may signify an infection which can be readily treated with antibiotics.
When paralysis is accompanied by incontinence and urine scalding
In many cases, paralysis may also result in incontinence, which in turn causes prolonged exposure of your pet’s skin to urine. This can get very painful for your pet and could even get infected. You can avoid this by regularly emptying your pet’s bladder and keeping them dry. If they do get wet with urine, be sure to wash them right away. It may also help to apply petroleum jelly on affected areas to sooth the discomfort and shield the skin from urine.
Avoiding bed sores
Although your paralyzed pet may be able to move their legs or shift positions to some extent, it is essential to watch for sores forming on pressure areas. If sores appear, consult your veterinarian right away to get the sores treated and to discuss the possible use of bandages or other types of protection for your pet’s legs.
Although it’s not truly necessary, you may also want to invest in an orthopedic bed as they are designed to relieve discomfort particularly in their pressure points.
Useful accessories to help your paralyzed pet
In addition to an orthopedic bed, you may find these other items useful:
- Wheelchairs or mobility carts: There are 2-wheeled carts for pets with strong front legs, and there are 4-wheeled carts for pets with weak or unstable front legs. These can also be custom-made.
- Hind leg sling or harness: This is particularly helpful in rehabilitating or strengthening your pet’s legs, especially if their condition is still reversible. A towel may also be used for this purpose.
- Emergency cleaning kit: A cleaning kit that’s ready to go will make life easier for you and your pet, especially for car rides, vet visits, and other activities. This kit should include 1) towels or pee pads, 2) tissue or poop bags, 3) baby wipes, 4) trash bags for soiled towels or used pads/tissues/wipes, 5) disposable or washable diapers or belly bands (for males) 6) hand sanitizer (for your hands!)
How to give your pet physical therapy
If your pet’s paralysis is reversible, leg massages and stretching will stimulate blood flow and encourage muscle movement. This can be done for 5-10 minutes a few times a day. Towel or harness walking is also a great way to encourage movement. This is done by slinging an appropriate-sized towel or a harness under your pet’s abdomen and encouraging them to place their weight on the paralyzed limbs. Doing this regularly and consistently will build muscle strength and may bring back movement to their legs.
Caring for pets with hind leg paralysis requires some effort indeed, but your pet is counting on you. Once you get past the initial adjustment period, we promise that this would all be second nature and could even be one of the most rewarding experiences you could have as a pet owner.