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Coping with DM - How to help your dog and yourself

When you first hear a possible DM 'diagnosis', so many things can run through your mind at first. How will we cope? How soon until my pup is unable to walk? what will we do to deal with urinary and fecal incontinence? What can we do to help? The good news is there are now a lot of places that offer equipment and help for handicapped pets.

Carts: Carts or wheelchairs for dogs, are a great way to help your dog cope with DM once the hind legs can no longer bear weight. A word of advice is to not wait for your dog to go down before measuring for a cart. Many cart companies custom build carts and accurate measurements are needed. It is much easier to measure and get accurate measurements if your dog can still stand as you take measurements. Each cart company is different so be sure to check with them on how you should measure your dog. There are many cart companies that exist and to help make a decision on which company to choose, look at return policies, costs, what you want in a cart, options to equip it as a quad cart, customer service and ease of use. A brand that works for one dog may not be what your dog is comfortable with. If you are based in the U.K. or U.S. take a look at our page for 'Cart/Wheelchair Companies and loan organisations.

Harnesses: As with carts, there are many harness options that you can choose from. A harness is invaluable as your dog starts to stumble as they lose the use of their rear legs.  When they can no longer use them at all, a harness becomes vital, even if it is for quick potty breaks outside or for help to get them into a cart. Do not towel walk your dog, (meaning, using a towel to lift from the belly as this can put pressure on internal organs and cause them to urinate if pressure is put on the bladder) Choose a harness that supports the entire pelvis and try to choose a harness that will see your dog through the progressive stages of DM. There are companies that make harness for both the front and back end and will work for your dog through the entire course of DM.

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