How to Find the Right Routine for a Newly Paralyzed Pet


Taking care of a newly paralyzed dog can be a challenging experience for your entire family. Your once self-sufficient and active dog now requires your assistance, even for the most basic tasks. It can be overwhelming to know where to begin, and it’s normal to place a lot of pressure on yourself because you want to do everything right. It’s okay to feel this way. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to caring for a pet with mobility issues. There are a few simple things you can do to start: always work with your veterinarian and ask lots of questions, and then start by establishing a daily routine that works for you and your best friend.

Create a Daily Schedule

Your dog’s been seen by the vet, and a treatment plan’s but put in place. Now it’s time to take your dog home – where do you begin? Start by reviewing your vet’s instructions and prescriptions. Now, let’s create a schedule for yourself and a checklist you can follow daily.

What to include on your schedule:

Paralyzed puppy uses dog wheelchair at home
  • Wake-up time – routine is important with a paralyzed dog, and they need to get on a regular potty schedule.
  • Medication times and frequency
  • Typical times your dog goes to the bathroom – this is especially important in paralyzed dogs that need to be expressed manually. Adjust this as you go, with time, you’ll figure out how regularly your dog needs to be expressed.
  • For incontinent dogs – note times throughout the day when you want to check or change your dog’s diaper.
  • Exercise and playtimes
  • Rehabilitation time – both for any recommended at-home exercises and stretches, as well as any regular appointments.
  • Veterinary follow-up appointments
  • Bedtime

If Something Doesn’t Work….Try, Try, Again

Allow yourself to try new things and forgive yourself if it doesn’t work. It will take time to establish a new normal for yourself. Caring for a special needs dog comes with its own set of challenges, and it definitely doesn’t come with a handbook. Finding the right routine for you will involve a lot of trial and error.  

Remember to be kind to yourself. If you find that something isn’t working, don’t worry; it just means that it’s time to try a new approach. Use the term “iteration” to motivate yourself and your loved ones when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed. Remember that it doesn’t have to be the final version when something isn’t working, and that’s okay.


Caring for a newly paralyzed pet can be difficult and challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Accept that there will be new challenges and understand that every day will bring something new. Keep yourself flexible and be willing to adapt to a new way of doing things as you go.

We’d love to hear from you! What tips or tricks have you found that help make life a bit simpler when caring a new paralyzed dog or cat? Leave your comments below!

German Shepherd dog wheelchair


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