Respite Care Options

The most difficult part of taking care of a disabled dog is finding respite care. Many kennels just will not take a handicapped pet. Care of a disabled pet can be a demanding 24/7 experience but in spite of this, more than ever owners are finding it rewarding! And no one appreciates it more than the handicapped pet - who are often the most loving, appreciative patients possible. Respite care for dedicated owners is essential; and finding the right person to provide this service forces most pet owners to think creatively.

What is respite care?
Respite care is short-term assistance for a disabled person or pet that gives the primary caregiver a break from his or her duties. It is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It gives the caretakers a break, so they can continue to feel good about taking care of their handicapped pet. It can allow the caretakers to go on vacation and not worry about what is happening with their beloved pet. While respite care for people has been around awhile, the concept for a disabled pet is relatively new. It takes some creative thinking to find a person with the skills to help. Sometimes a family member or friend can fill the void, but often the care is daunting to someone inexperienced with taking care of a dog in a wheelchair, or requires regular bladder emptying.

Some ideas for where to look for respite care:

Sometimes Vet Tech's are willing to take on this extra work either at home or with the blessings of their Veterinarian.
Boarding at your Vet's office is also an option.
Licensed pet sitters may also be a solution - ideally you'll want one that understands your dog's disability and can work with your instruction.
Websites such as can provide the names of potential sitters (always check them out!)
Check the Internet for veterinary hospice care companies, some may supply in-home medical respite care
Exchange care with another caregiver of a special-needs pet
Local rescues may be willing to give a referral to their most reliable foster families
If it is just a matter of mobility and your pet is healthy otherwise (just uses a wheelchair and not too many meds), daycare may still be an option - contact them and ask!
Dog breeders are also usually not afraid of unusual circumstances - if you know of one that has your breed, it can't hurt to ask.
Groomers may know of someone that can provide respite care...just make sure they know this is not a normal petsit situation.
Always allow time for a trial run to make sure he or she is a good match for you and your pet.

Always allow for a trial period which will give the pet owner the opportunity to be sure the individual can perform all of the necessary duties. More importantly, it also provides the opportunity to see if your dog likes the new caregiver. Prepare a list of medications, when they are given, how often to change bedding, and the dog's basic routine. You'll want someone that can 'go with the flow' as much as possible. Disabled dogs have had a lot of adapting to do just to adjust to their disability, so the more you can keep their routine the same, the better. Many dogs will feel panicky when you aren't around, so it's important to get a caregiver your dog feels happy with and can relax with.

If it works out, you can take longer and longer respites. Make sure the respite caregiver has all of your important veterinary info in case problems develop while you are away.

It will be hard to leave your very dependent pet, but consider it for your welfare as well! I love webcams because I can check on the pet remotely if the sitter comes to the house or stays with the pet - you'll know exactly what is going on.

Disabled Dog Friends....Stories

Greetings from Ireland!

Cooper I just came across your site and I was so happy reading all about the wonderful care you have given your dogs!

My cooper is 1 and was diagnosed with sensory neuropathy about 7 months ago. It's a genetic degenerative disease that causes his feet to go numb and then gradually moved up the legs. We were advised to put him to sleep. My dog was happy and not in pain so I wasn't going to put him to sleep! Now 7 months on he's receiving accupuncture every week and is starting to walk better, have more feeling in his feet, and the back paws that were Knucking are starting to turn around and correct. It's truly a miracle.

He is a lot of hard work as he must wear socks and shoes, and needs to be bandaged as he chews his legs due to a tingling sensation he gets every now and again but overall he is fantastic.

I've attached a picture for you to see. I'm so glad I came across your site. Caring for a disabled dog is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I love him with all my heart and I'm glad that there's more people who feel the same about their disabled dogs too and they're willing to give them a chance!

Carly and Cooper xx