Alternatives to Euthanasia for Disabled Dogs

Having to decide when to put a beloved dog down is never easy; however, there are alternatives to euthanasia for disabled dogs. There are those who believe euthanasia is cruel and others who believe making a dog live out a disabled life is inhumane and selfish. Depending on the injury or disease, a dog owner has several options as alternatives to euthanasia.

Dog Amputees

Unfortunately, some dogs need to have a leg or two amputated due to disease or being involved in an accident, such as being hit by a car. If surgery is unable to repair the damage, it may be necessary to amputate the dog's leg. Surprisingly, a dog amputee can live out the remainder of his life happily. Some tasks may be harder or need some improvising, but he will still be able to enjoy life. There are some 3-legged dogs that are perfectly capable of walking and even running as if nothing has changed. Some dogs have learned to walk on two legs.

Wheelchairs for Dogs

Another option is a dog wheelchair. They are custom made according to the dog's needs.

Most have two wheels, although if the dog is rather larger, it may need four. If the back legs need assistance, then the wheelchair would be attached to the back hips by draping the dog's body over the an upside-down "U" shaped bar. Half of the body would be in front of this bar and the other half behind it. If the front legs were involved, then the bar would be placed closer to the chest; however, the dog's body would still be draped over the bar.

Dog Harness and Sling

Another alternative for a dog in need of assistance in walking would be to use a sling. This takes coordination between the walker and the dog. Basically, the sling is slung under the dog's body depending upon whether the front or back legs need assistance. The walker would hold the dog's body level by using the sling to suspend the dog in the air so the dog can walk. Depending upon the size of the dog, this may require a measurable amount of strength on the part of the walker. Dog harnesses that combine a sling with wheels are also available and work in the same manner.

Other Options for Disabled Dogs

Dogs in need of assistance can also use a brace, much like those used by horses. A prosthesis (artificial leg) is also available. This would be more costly that the wheelchair and would require a considerable amount of training and practice on the part of the dog.

Euthanasia should be considered as a last resort for any disabled dog. Dogs are surprisingly resilient and can often adjust rapidly to any serious injury or handicap.