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Should You Adopt a Pet with Special Needs?

Friday, February 26th

Should You Adopt a Pet with Special Needs?

Welcoming a new companion into your home is such a joy; it's a moment to cherish forever. Pet owners know that adopting a pet is a lot of work, but it's worth gaining a companion that gives you unconditional love. However, not all pets are the same, and it's important to find one that is a good fit for your home. If you're looking at adopting an animal with special needs, there a few things to consider.

A pet with special needs can mean a range of things, but is essentially an animal whose needs go beyond what a typical pet would need due to medical conditions. This can include an animal with a mental disability, heart disease or obesity, mobility impairment, amputated limbs, an animal who is blind or deaf, or one who is simply older and suffering from different health conditions. Pet insurance is a good idea for any dog or cat, but for those with special needs it can be even more of a necessity, along with an especially caring owner and comfortable home.

Why You Should Adopt a Pet with Special Needs

Adopting an animal with special needs can bring a lot of joy into your life, but it's not for everyone. Older animals and animals with medical conditions are a lot less likely to be adopted and have a higher chance of being euthanized. Choosing to adopt an animal with special needs can be a life-saving act for them. For those who can afford the time, money, and attention to give to their animals, adopting one can be the best decision for both man and animal.

...And Why You Shouldn't

For many shelter animals, the happiest day of their lives is the day they get out of the shelter and meet their new family. This new living arrangement doesn't always last. For those unfortunate enough to be back days, months, or years later, returning back to the shelter is the saddest experience. For that reason, it is imperative to only adopt a special needs pet if you know for a fact that you can take care of them - and if you are not sure, don't.

Don't consider adopting a special needs animal if you:

  • Don't spend a lot of time at home
  • Live a busy, active lifestyle with little freetime
  • Are overly forgetful or tend to be irresponsible
  • Have never had a pet before
  • Don't have enough money for medical expenses

It's important to remember that animals are living creatures, and you should only adopt a pet if you can handle the commitment, especially to their individual health and medical needs. Shelter animals go through enough without the added step of having to return to the shelter. If you love animals and want to help them, but are unable to adopt at the moment, you can still help by donating food, supplies, and money or by volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Caring for Special Needs Dogs

If you truly believe you can dedicate enough time to care for a special needs dog, then you can dive into further research about how to do so. The process will include everything normally involved with adopting a dog, as well as some additional considerations and steps unique to special needs animals, or the particular shelter where you are getting your dog. Welcoming such a unique furry friend to your home will not only require your time, but also likely extra medical appointments, medicine, and other medical treatments. Here are some tips for adopting a dog with special needs.

Healthcare Needs

There are many kinds of special needs dogs, and each dog will have its own set of healthcare needs. This is why it will be necessary for you to develop a trusting relationship with your puppy's veterinarian. They can help you answer all your questions and teach how to best take care of your special needs dog.

Scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian is the only way you can be sure to confidently address all of your pet's needs. They can help you figure out a healthcare routine, show you how to best administer medications, assist you in navigating their social development, and answer any additional questions you have about your dog.

Pet Insurance For Dogs

Regardless of what needs your pet has, it's best for all handicapped dogs to have a veterinarian who knows their case well. More frequent appointments at the vet's office can get expensive, so you may want to consider getting pet insurance for dogs to help you pay for it all.

There are a few factors to keep in mind when shopping for pet insurance. The first is affordability. Pet insurance dogs typically costs about $15 to $75 per month, and the more you pay, the more services and perks will be included.

Also consider coverage length and type. You can choose between a lifetime or non-lifetime insurance policy. Lifetime insurance means that your pet will be covered without limitations, while non-lifetime policies will be reviewed every year and can go up with any developed conditions. If you have a dog with disabilities or special needs, they may be at higher risk of developing more conditions, no getting a lifetime policy may be best.

Depending on whether your dog has a physical or mental disability, you should check your policy for what kinds of limitations it has. Some pet insurance policies may have limitations regarding how much medical care will be covered, and how often.

Lifestyle Needs

Dogs are active creatures, and your four-legged friend will likely be no exception. Even if your dog has physical disabilities or handicaps, mobility impairment, or social issues, they will likely require exercise - it might just be different from other dogs' typical forms of exercise.

If your dog is missing more than one leg, they may require a device to help them get around, such as a dog-specific wheelchair. However, many dogs with such devices often adapt well to them, and can still get their exercise in.

Still, you might consider alternative forms of exercise. Swimming, for example, is great for dogs with joint issues, such as older dogs with arthritis. You can also work on teaching your dog different kinds of tricks to stimulate their mind, so even if your dog is physically impaired, you can still provide

Routine Care

If you adopt a dog with a disability, you will need to develop a daily routine to ensure that they are getting the top-notch care they deserve. This can involve making sure they get their daily pills, it might mean having to administer injections to your pooch from time to time, and you will need to sanitize any equipment, like prosthetics or wheels, to keep them clean.

If they need specialized exercise or socialization, you will need to include that in your schedule, as well as veterinarian visits. Caring for a dog with a handicap can be stressful, as there are many things to keep track of, and the best way to make sure you stay on top of all of them is to stick to a routine.

Training

Along with other healthcare needs, your dog may require specialized training. Disabled dogs can feel threatened, as they can't always easily protect themselves. This can make them scared of other people or animals, which can make them aggressive. To avoid this, you will need to train and socialize them. If they are exceedingly aggressive, you may need the help of a professional.

If your dog is blind, deaf, or both, you will need to train them on other ways they can communicate and get around, especially when you first bring them home. Not having all of their senses can also trigger insecurities in your pet, so helping them learn how they can navigate is key to living a happy life.

Caring for Special Needs Cats

If your special needs furry friend is a feline, caring for them will be a bit different. Just as with learning how to care for a dog, you will need to do extensive research on your kitty's particular medical needs. Caring for a cat with disabilities or extensive medical issues can be a challenge, but learning about the process can help you do it in the best way possible.

Healthcare Needs

Again, the needs of your handicapped cat will depend on exactly what condition they have. Just as with a dog, you will need to rely on your veterinarian to guide you to provide the best care possible. Developing a close relationship with your vet will help you, as they can get to know your kitty's specific medical needs very well.

Pet Insurance For Cats

These veterinary visits can add up quickly, with tests, examinations, and procedures sometimes adding up to thousands of dollars. Especially in the cases of special needs cats, pet insurance can save you hundreds - or even thousands - of dollars when it comes to veterinarian appointments.

When purchasing health insurance for cats, just as with dogs, you want to make sure you look at affordability, coverage length and type, and limitations. Make sure the insurance you choose is the one most compatible to the needs of your cat.

Lifestyle Needs

Cats are typically more laid back than dogs, but a lifestyle for cats with disabilities will still be different than that of regular cats. For example, their level of physical activity may differ; cats with joint issues will need less strenuous activity, and cats are overweight or have diabetes will need more exercise.

If you have a cat who has a very low level of physical activities, then make sure you keep them entertained in other ways. To do this, you can play with toys that don't require running around, or are otherwise within their capabilities.

Routine Care

Taking care of a handicapped cat takes a lot of care. Not only do they require more time than regular cats, but you will need to make sure they get all medical care they need. Just as with special needs dogs, you will need to make sure they take pills, get any shots they need, and make sure you take care of their medical equipment.

If your cat has any sensory issues, like blindness, deafness, or both, make sure to introduce them to their new home very carefully and thoroughly. You want them to be comfortable in their new environment, but it will take time for them to get to know it and know their way around.

Training

The most important training you will need for your special needs cat is getting them used to their new environment. Secondly, you will need to make sure they don't have any bad habits from before you adopted them. Scratching people, for example, is something you should make sure your cat doesn't happen. If your cat has severe behavioral issues, you can talk to your veterinarian or a professional cat trainer about how to proceed.

Adopting Your Pet

Choosing to adopt a special needs animal shows that you have an abundance of compassion. Not everyone can handle the responsibility - emotional and financial - it takes to take in a handicapped dog or a disabled cat. While the challenge isn't for everyone, those who do undertake it can attest that special needs animals offer so much love and attention.

If you decide that you can take care of a handicapped or disabled pet, be on the lookout for special needs pets at your local animal shelter. You can check the list of adoptable dogs and adoptable cats online, and sometimes you can give a shelter your phone number to contact you when a special needs animal comes in.

Hopefully, you can welcome your new best friend into your home and learn to live a happy life together. By adopting a pet with special needs, you can save their life, and bringing a furry companion into your home can bring a lot of joy into your life.

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Pet Insurance Company FAQ

Generally speaking, all ages are welcome when it comes to providing your pet with pet insurance. As the pet gets older rates may be more expensive than if you would have gotten coverage at a younger age. Please keep in mind some companies have age restrictions for when they can accept a dog or cat into their insurance plan. Typical restrictions are around 12+ years of age.
No one can forecast when your dog or cat is going to digest something they shouldn't have or have an accident related injury. Luckily, pet insurance helps to protect the pet owner against unexpected veterinary bills that can reach into the $1,000s.
It is recommended to get pet insurance before winter or summer seasons. During those seasons, there are more dangerous elements that are exposing your pet to potential illness and accidents. As far as age goes for the puppy, insurance companies recommend getting your pet insurance when your new best friend arrives home.
Typically, insurance companies only insure cats and dogs. But some companies will insure dogs, horses, other large animals, cats, other small animals, rodents, reptiles, and birds.
Depending on the company, a pet insurance claim can be sent via several different methods. Methods can include email, fax, or regular mail. When completing a claim make sure to include all of your paid vet bill invoices, and any other required documents. When the claim is processed it will either be accepted with a reimbursement, more information needed (i.e. incomplete claim form), or denial (i.e. due to non-coverable services)
Of course, your pet insurance travels with you, wherever you go. Some insurance companies may have restrictions when it comes to international travel. Make sure to check with your pet insurance company if you plan on taking your furry friend across the border.
It depends greatly on which company and plan you decide to go with. Most pet insurance companies cover accidents and illnesses after a waiting period. If the illness is a preexisting condition, you're likely not to receive any coverage. It's important you understand the fine print of any plan you may decide to go with.
In general, veterinarians do not handle pet insurance claims. Veterinarians and the owner make choices for the pet's medical care and overall health. If the care is covered by the insurance, the insurance company will reimburse the owner a percentage of the bill (depending on the chosen insurance plan's coverage) after the care and service has been performed.

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