Life is not a desire program – neither for us humans nor for our four-legged friends and family members. Disability can affect anyone. In the case of a disability, we ourselves would absolutely choose a therapy and accept the necessary help to cope with the changed everyday life. In most cases, our animals deserve this opportunity as well.
Humans and animals together form a team, and it depends on many individual circumstances on both sides, which is therapeutically possible and in terms of the necessary care. Very practical things also play an important role here: the living situation, the financial possibilities and, last but not least, the flexibility of time to manage life with a disabled animal. It is one of the great tasks of the veterinarian to explore what is reasonable for the animal and its people and what can be expected of them. Some disabilities develop slowly, but in an accident, a short moment can change everything. The owner of an affected animal is always confronted with a new and unfamiliar situation, which initially scares people. Providing the necessary assistance and educational work at this moment is part of the work of the veterinarian.
Own experience with handicapped kitten
Even my own little apartment cat lives with a disability. She was a foundling and only a few weeks old when we operated on her after a complicated pelvic and femoral fracture and were able to produce her so far that today she can go back to normal. Only later did it turn out that she does not move her left front leg and feels nothing there properly. That was a tragic situation, of course, but no reason to put her to sleep. It has all four legs, but has only half the functionality in the front left. Normally you would have to amputate, but since I have her daily under control and as a veterinarian, of course, knows what to look for, she lives now soon twelve years with this disabled leg on which has now formed a callus to foot – and pleased every day of her life! With the diagnosis of a partial brachial plexus tear (violation of the nerve plexus in the foreleg) was clear that she could not become a cat with freewheel. Because she could get stuck in a fence with the disabled leg, can not run away fast enough, she could scratch herself and get a recurring, non-healing wound. These are all reasons why one advises in such a case usually to an amputation. The choice of therapy is therefore not only dependent on the disease, but always on the respective human-animal team and the circumstances.
Good things on three legs
When dogs and cats lose a leg, in the vast majority of cases they manage the situation without any problems and, after a mostly short period of getting used to it, handle it quite naturally. The decision for or against an amputation is always an individual one. Was the animal involved in an accident, so that there is a traumatic cause, the decision is usually given, since the limb may already be missing anyway. One of the most common causes of amputation is bone cancer. Here, the decision is more difficult, especially in advanced stages, because the disability is associated with a serious illness that may already affect the entire organism. In these cases, amputation is not curative and requires additional chemotherapy. So the animal can still live up to one or one and a half years with good quality of life. It can also end earlier – or later! There are now many pet owners who consider amputation to be able to offer their beloved animal a new form of quality of life, few still categorically reject this form of therapy. Unfortunately, there are still vets and veterinarians who think that you can not expect an animal. But that’s not true. Of course you have to set the right indications and observe the condition of the other limbs. One can only lose one hind leg when the other is largely healthy. There are certainly limits, but the amputation is actually the smallest evil – especially for animals that have not burdened the affected leg for some time and already come on three legs in the ambulance. In these cases, it is easy to explain that amputation is the best solution for the animal, if absolute freedom from pain can not be achieved otherwise, or if no other method of surgery makes sense according to the needs of tumor surgery. All these conversations and decisions he Demand a special relationship of trust between owner and veterinarian. The facts, the risks and the opportunities must be objectively presented and communicated. Paralysis and incontinence need management
Paralysis and incontinence need management
Injuries or tumors of the spine or spinal cord lead again and again to partial or complete paralysis of the hind limbs. In addition, the affected animals are often unable to remove urine and feces in a controlled manner. I admire livestock owners who can manage such situations and, for example, willingly learn to empty the bladder of the disabled animal three to four times a day. Sometimes these cases also come to a good end, because depending on the disease, one should not underestimate the regenerative capacity of the organism, especially in younger animals!
In order to meet such challenges, the bond between animals and humans must be very close and the animal must also fulfill certain conditions. With a dog that weighs over 70 kilograms, it will certainly be very difficult. You can not confront every animal with every situation. The crucial question is always whether the quality of life is maintained. But the most important requirement is that the owner really loves his pet. Love and security have a proven supportive effect on the healing capacity. Obviously even the greatest love can do nothing against incurable diseases, but if the owner can provide his animal with security and security, this is an important contribution to therapy. In addition, today there is a whole range of orthopedic aids that make everyday life easier for disabled animals. Thanks to a trolley, even dogs with complete paralysis of the hind limbs can regain mobility and decisively expand their range of action. The skepticism of such aids is all too often based on human vanity, while the dogs usually take a liking to their vehicle from the first test drive and accept the support easily. A “Rolli” stands for mobility and zest for life, for variety and enterprise.
Vision and hearing loss require special empathy
Restricted functions of the sensory organs are at first glance less clearly visible, but can represent a greater limitation for the animal than an orthopedic disability. A dog can dig with only one front leg, he can do it! If he’s missing a limb, he’s certainly not as perfect in the game as his healthy counterparts, but he can play as well. A disability of the sense organs is more restrictive. An animal that has lost its eyesight will find its way in its habitual environment, but not on foreign territory. Usually these things do not happen from one day to the next, but they are creeping processes, to which animals and humans can slowly get used to each other. Visually impaired animals know exactly where the desk is and where the door is. Of course you should not change the environment every day, you would not do that with a blind person. Deafness also requires a special empathy of the owner. I know what I’m talking about, because I have another second disabled cat: she has become deaf. She used to be a big speaker, and we talked right. It was a tragic event that she lost her hearing. In the beginning she withdrew a bit, but slowly she found her normal rhythm and was expecting me again when I came home at the usual times. Now we communicate via hand signals. Of course you can not say in passing “Hello Mimma, how are you!” I have to go to her extra so she knows I’m there – and maybe she gets a little more attention than my other cat, because you just can not talk to her from one corner to the other.
Even small pets can cope with disability
Even small pets can be affected by disabilities. Blindness or the loss of an eye can manage rabbits and hamsters almost as well as dogs and cats.
Even amputation is possible in most cases. You can take a hind leg out of a rabbit and it can live very well with it. I once amputated a front leg of a hamster, and later he could easily walk in his hamster wheel. He also mastered the species-specific fresco technique with his cheek pouches with his remaining legs.
Living with change
Serious illnesses and disabilities always lead to changes. That’s part of life. However, quality of life is variable and situation dependent. It is the task of man to cope with the obstruction of his animal comrade. But for some people, there is still a long way to consider the life of disabled animals as liveable and to act accordingly. The environment can have a big impact on the owner and this pressure should not be underestimated. A popular argument is, for example: “How many rats or hamsters could one buy for the price of therapy ?!” But that’s not the point! In some surroundings, one certainly needs a special stamina to live everyday life with a disabled animal – even if a lot has changed in the last ten years in this area and all these things are already much more natural today. You certainly have to work on yourself. To deny the individual the chance of life on the grounds that the animal would not be able to do it anyway is too simplistic an explanation and by no means justified. It is always the person who does not succeed, and the honesty to stand by this knowledge should be expected. Many tasks that arise from living together with disabled animals are an enormous challenge, which must also be logistically thought out and organized. But that is part of the responsibility we have taken on our side for the life of the animals.