Dogs and Cats with Disabilities/Senior Dogs and Cats
As dogs age, what they need and are able to do physically changes over time. Being the sole dog walker for many years has great benefits with respect to the relationship between the dog and the walker. In becoming so familiar with a dog I walk for five days a week, year after year, I see the physical limitations and capabilities for each dog I care for. I have years of experience offering supportive care, whether that is a dog who needs to be carried up and down stairs, using a sling to support a dog going up and down the stairs, or a slow walk that is based upon what the dog is able to do. Older dogs need a dog walker who is paying close attention on the walk, as they are fragile, often in pain from arthritis, and falling down can lead to injuries which an older dog cannot withstand.
Dogs with Disabilities
Dogs of any age with a physical or medical disability present unique challenges to both the guardian and the dog walker. A good working relationship and effective communication between the guardian and the dog walker is important to ensure careful monitoring of the dog’s status and also if medication is to be given. A good understanding of the disability and the limitations the dog struggles with is needed in order to tailor the walk to the dog’s abilities. I have worked with dogs who are blind, deaf, partially paralyzed, dogs with epilepsy, and dogs who developed peripheral vestibular syndrome (who both recovered).
The same is true for cats as they age; what they are able to do changes over time, although they are not being taken out on walks. Greater care and sensitivity is required as they become more fragile and struggle with various medical conditions, even arthritis. Cats need to be monitored more closely as they age, and having a long term relationship with one pet sitter is once again, an important part in being able to tell what is normal and what is not. I have worked with many cats over the years who are older; one cat I cared for many years lived to be 17, and I cared for two cats who reached the incredible age of 22.
Cats with Disabilities
Cats with disabilities can present various challenges for both the guardian and the pet sitter. The cats I have cared for who have had physical disabilities needed support with eating and using the litter box. Sometimes it was physically helping them to eat, supporting them as they ate, or assisting them as they got out of the litter box. Often these were cats with neurological issues, or who had physical disabilities from a birth defect or being hit by a car prior to being taken in by the guardian.
Fees for work with animals with disabilities varies with the amount of time and work involved.