by Lisa Stahr
When I adopted Bear, my Manx cat, I learned very quickly about the challenges of living with an incontinent pet.
Bear was the cutest little black-and-white, tailless Manx you’d ever want to see. But she leaked urine all the time: when she slept, when she walked, when she ran around the house. Most people thought I was crazy to “put up” with that, but I loved Bear and wasn’t about to give her up. Besides, if I—someone who professed to love animals more than anything—wouldn’t keep her, who would? It’s not like shelters see a big demand for cats who leak.
So I just learned to deal with it. Not that it wouldn’t have been nice to have had some help, but that was back in the early 80s, long before products for disabled pets existed. So, instead, I relied on my washing machine and a mountain of old towels to cope.
Today, there are all sorts of products out there for special needs pets like Bear, but unless you’ve lived for awhile with a pet who has those kinds of unique requirements, it’s unlikely you’d know about them. At Scout’s House, our rehabilitation therapy, boarding, and daycare center for special needs animals, new clients often arrive for their first visit feeling overwhelmed about how to care for their pet, particularly when the dog or cat has recently suffered some sort of medical emergency that’s affected its mobility or function. Disk ruptures, FCEs, car accidents, these are just a few of the more common events that can change a pet’s life—and the owner’s—in an instant. As someone who’s had many special needs pets, including Bear and Scout, the dog I named our facility after, I understand how they feel. It’s like you’ve been thrown down the rabbit hole and you suddenly find yourself in a strange, new world, not knowing what to do or where to turn.
That’s why we carry so many products for special needs pets at Scout’s House. We understand what a difference disposable diapers or a good harness with a handle can make in the life of a disabled pet—and in the life of the person who loves him. We’ve seen how the right booties can keep a dog who drags her back feet from scraping her knuckles raw and how a simple thing like a rear harness can save an owner’s back. We’ve learned about these products any number of ways: through continuing education, veterinarians, surgeons, Internet searches, catalogues, sales reps, online discussion groups for animal rehab professionals, and talks with clients. And we’ve tried these products out ourselves, evaluating how well they fit, protect, clean, absorb, or last.
We consider it our responsibility to learn as much as we can about these products—and to find out about all the new ones coming on the market everyday: things that help disabled pets be more mobile or that make incontinence easier to deal with, or products that help animals get better traction as they walk or just be more comfortable.
So if you have a pet whose rear legs don’t work like they used to or who’s incontinent like Bear was or who has any other issue that compromises his or her functionality, don’t despair. There are many wonderful products out there that can help you—and your pet—live more comfortable and more functional lives. And everyday there are more and more places like Scout’s House that are dedicated to helping you find them.