My sweet Pomeranian has been disabled for over a year. She has a neurological problem which has cut off her brain’s signal to her back legs. She can walk a short distance, but her front legs and back legs no longer work in unison. Once her back legs give out, and her bum hits the floor, she’s done because she can’t tell her legs how to lift herself.
While it sounds miserable, she’s a very happy girl and isn’t in any pain. However, her disability means that she doesn’t have full control over her bowel and bladder, so she’s prone to potty accidents. While it’s no fun helping her with her toileting needs, there’s no way I’m going to put her down when it’s a small price to pay her for the ten years of companionship she’s given me.
Having an incontinent dog is very much like having a potty training toddler in the house. Many times I can anticipate her needs just right and help her eliminate onto a pad, but other times I forget or ignore her barking assuming she’s reacting to something she hears outside, and I have to clean up the mess and give her a bath. I’ve been doing this for so long now that I have it down to an easy system, so it’s no bother. I hope that if you’re in a similar situation, you’ll consider using my suggestions so you can comfortably keep your best friend around a little longer, too.
My 5 Tips For Taking Care of an Incontinent Dog:
Washable Bed/Raised Bed: Our 9 pound Pomeranian used to sleep in our bed, but now she has a raised bed, so she still feels like she’s sleeping with us, but there’s no chance she can ruin our costly bed. It’s very much like a co-sleeper for an infant, only Jewel’s bed is a wooden box we built on top of a large plastic storage container. I wanted to make sure the bed was lightweight enough for me to move around but sturdy enough that she feels safe. It was meant to be temporary until we could find something else or until she was no longer with us, so we never bothered to paint it or make it look nicer. But it’s still serving its purpose, so we’re still using it, even though she no longer uses the ramp that was attached (see below). Inside the box is a washable and waterproof outdoor pet bed that acts as her mattress. We have two identical beds, so she always has a clean one. They’re identical because Jewel doesn’t like change.
Incontinence Supplies – Potty Pads & Towels: While I want Jewel to be comfortable, I also have to protect my investment in my furniture by making sure that anything she’s laying on is protected. To do this, we layer a puppy potty pad with a doubled over a white bath towel. This layering gives her some cushion in addition to her bed and unlike puppy diapers, the pad and towel help keep her urine off her skin which can cause irritation and redness. The towels are handled like diapers. They have their own covered laundry hampers and are washed and dried separately from our household laundry. Because the towels are white, they can be washed in hot water and bleached if necessary, and they won’t accidentally get mixed in with our bath towels. We also use a diaper pail for her soiled pads to prevent their odor from escaping.
- Gentle Shampoo and Natural Barrier Cream: Like an infant, if feces or urine remain on her skin for too long, redness and irritation can occur. When our dog soils herself, I wash her bottom half with a mild shampoo. A natural shampoo is essential since some days she has to be repeatedly bathed (I wear a rubber glove on my cleaning hand, but not my other hand so I can monitor the water temperature at all times). To soothe her red bottom, I use a petroleum jelly alternative called Waxaleen that’s all-natural and I apply it with long handled cotton swabs. There’s no stinging, and it soothes instantly – I know because I have the same product for my dry, chapped lips!
- Accessibility – Ramps & Stairs: Our little Pomeranian lost the use of her legs over time, so her bed was built with a shelf and a cutout to make it easy for her to get into her bed. Ramps are easier for most pets, but they take up a lot of floor space. This set-up worked for about six months before she lost the ability to climb the ramp. Now we carry her around the house in a set of “travel” beds. They’re small donut beds that we layer the same way with a potty pad and towels as we do her raised bed.
- Never Run Out of Pet Necessities with Amazon’s Subscribe & Save. We get all of Jewel’s necessities delivered to our door every month and at a discount! We currently have Good Lovin’ Wild Kangaroo Jerky, Natural Balance L.I.T. Limited Ingredient Treats Fish & Sweet Potato Jerky Bark, Natural Balance L.I.T. Limited Ingredient Dog Food Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Fish, Four Paws Wee-wee Pads 150 Count delivered with our laundry soap, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, dish washing soap, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, and more. No chasing coupons, we get great prices every time, and since we order more than the minimum number of items required, we get 15% off and FREE SHIPPING. That’s real savings you can count on.
Caring for my Aging & Incontinent Dog
It’s my pleasure to care for my senior pet, she’s earned a cushy retirement, but there’s no reason it should be a chore for me, and I’ll take advantage of home delivered pet supplies. Amazon’s Subscribe & Save is a fabulous way to save, and it makes caring for pets so much easier. I’ll never run out of food, potty pads, or treats, again!
I adore my little girl, but I won’t hesitate to let her go when she’s ready. Until then belly rubs, ear scratching, and snuggles are what she lives for.
UPDATE 8/9/2017: We had to say goodbye to our sweet girl in December of 2016. It was much earlier than we wanted too, but she was losing weight and starting to cry in her sleep. We took her to the vet who agreed she was now in pain and it was time to say goodbye. We were also told at this time our Maltese, Gracie (seen above), had a terminal disease and we lost in her April of 2017. Our world has changed because of the love of these two little girls, and we still miss them every single day.