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Paralysis can be a devastating diagnosis for pet parents to hear ― but there is good news. While these injuries can be challenging, advances in veterinary care mean they don’t have to lessen your pet’s quality of life.

Whole-body or partial paralysis can occur for a number of reasons, including spinal damage (which can be caused by trauma or injury), intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), tumors, bone infection or inflammation, blood clots or degenerative myelopathy. Many pets with paralysis have spinal cord damage between the front and rear legs, which affects their back legs. The damage can be temporary or permanent.

Depending on your pet’s prognosis, a variety of therapies may be used to keep his quality of life in tip-top condition, including massage, hydrotherapy, cold laser therapy and acupuncture. Many pets are able to enjoy nearly the same freedom as they did before, thanks to pet wheelchairs or carts.

It’s easy for pet parents to feel overwhelmed by their pets’ condition and unsure of how to care for them. Here are some tips to get started.

Taking Care Of Business: Bladder incontinence often accompanies hind-limb paralysis, but you (and your rugs) can rest easy with a little forethought:

Plan Ahead:
Keep your pet on easy-to-clean surfaces. Laying puppy training pads on his bed and other pup-ular nap surfaces will make clean-up a snap.

Baby Me: Keep unscented baby wipes on hand to prevent skin and urinary tract infections (not to mention unpleasant smells!).

Diaper Duty: (You read that right!) Like those for two-leggers, doggie diapers allow for easy clean-up and more dignity for your furry friends. They’re also ideal for pets in carts, wheelchairs or slings.

Pampered Pooch: Because of the extra leakage (and possibly a limited ability to clean themselves), some extra grooming will likely be in order.

Change It Up: Check and change diapers frequently to avoid rashes or skin infections caused by bacteria.

Rinse, Repeat: Frequent bathing can lead to dry skin, so use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners.

Blow Dry: When it’s too chilly to air-dry, towel your pet off gently, then set a hair dryer on low while you brush through his coat.

There are some other issues that paralyzed pets can face, including urinary tract infections and pressure sores from lying still too long. But most can be prevented with frequent monitoring and good hygiene. Talk to your veterinarian about what to expect and schedule a visit if you notice any signs that something might be wrong.

Caring for a paralyzed pet may take some adjustments ― but with a little extra love, time and attention, your furry friend can still enjoy life as part of the family.