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Publié le by NmNomador

Pet Sitting a Disabled Pet

What to Know before Pet-sitting a Disabled Animal

Pet-sitting can be a fantastic way to spend time away from work or home, with plenty of people offering the opportunity of free accommodation in return for caring for their pet while they are away.

However, it is possible that certain opportunities may be offered to look after a pet with a disability, health issues, or even just old age. This type of pet-sitting may not be suitable for everyone, unfortunately, but those that are capable and willing to take on an experience should definitely prepare themselves beforehand. This is a guide that will discuss in detail why people would hire a pet-sitter for a disabled animal and what to do if you decide to pet-sit for one.

Why Someone Would Hire a Pet-sitter for a Disabled Animal

It is imperative to understand why someone would go through the lengths of hiring a pet-sitter for a disabled animal, first and foremost.

For the pet owner, it is important that their beloved friend remains in a place of comfort while they are away from home temporarily. A place of comfort and familiarity for most pets is their very own home. For example, if a dog or cat is blind, they will already have their territory mapped out in their minds and are less prone to accidents caused by bumping into unknown objects.

In addition, the support and love of a pet-sitter can help put the animal at ease while its family member is away. Depending on the disability, this can be a huge sense of comfort for both the owner and the pet as they are confident that the animal will receive the attention and love it needs.

While the extra duties of a pet-sitter can be a bit daunting if the animal requires a bit more attention, it can be an utterly rewarding challenge, as you will bond with the pet in a unique way that you may not have been able to do with a fully functional pet.

Prior to saying ‘yes’ to that first pet-sitting of a disabled animal, there are a few things to really consider and think about.  These are five things to consider before pet-sitting a disabled animal:

Patience is Key

The most important thing to consider when looking after a pet with disabilities is that you will need to be patient and calm at all times. The animal may be slower or lack the ability to walk as quickly as other animals you have looked after.

Alternatively, the animal may be more prone to stress and can act out or be more erratic at first. The trick is to be patient and remain calm, even when, for example, a dog decides they need to go out to the toilet a few times in quick succession or at first refuses to walk with you far from their house. The animal will need time to adjust and get used to you, just as you will need to get used to them.

Routines are Essential

Animals love routines and their biological clock is often incredibly accurate with expectations to be fed or taken to the toilet at certain times. For pets with disabilities, this can be very important as it elevates any additional stress and keeps a sense of familiarity.

It is likely the owner will let you know the established routine with feeding and medication times stated explicitly. It is important to follow these instructions fully and not deviate from them.

However, in some cases, if the animal is tired or the weather is hot, they may choose not to eat when the food is put out for them even if the food contains medication that must be given during at a certain time. Do be patient with this but it is crucial that you coax the animals into eating or taking the medicine. If you make any subtle changes to the animal’s routine, try to let the owner know right away.

Understand the Pets and Their Needs

Before agreeing to look after a disabled pet, you should fully understand the needs of the pet and the size of the animal. By knowing the size of the animal and if it will need to be carried, you will quickly know if you are actually even capable of looking after the pet in the first place.

You should also gain an understanding of the temperament of the animal. For example, a cat with MS can often seem a little standoffish with new people and it may take a long time to warm up to you, possibly longer than you will even be staying there. It is simply their demeanor and they mean nothing by it - it is just how it translates across their body and motions.

Pets with physical difficulties will often need to be carried more, as stairs present a challenge, and those with more severe difficulties may even need you to hold them up while they go to the toilet or eat.

The owner should make this all clear before you accept the job.  Please make sure that you’re 100% dedicated and capable to do everything the pet needs to function and feel comfortable.

Care Can Be a Full-Time Undertaking

While many more able-bodied pets have varying degrees of independence, those with disabilities will generally need greater levels of care. If you are looking to utilize pet-sitting as a way to explore a new city or region, caring for a disabled pet may not be the correct option for you.

In many cases, you will need to be flexible when it comes to leaving the house in case the pet needs you or you will need to be at home during certain parts of the day to fulfil certain obligations.

In the evenings, you may need to spend time relaxing with the pet by watching TV or a movie and forgoing checking the local restaurant or bar scene for time at home with a cooked meal.

You May Need to Administer Medication

Many pets with disabilities will be on regular medication that will need to be administered at different points of the day. There are multiple ways pets can take their medication. Some will simply take it inside of their food. Or you may need to give it to them by hand which can be met with a more adverse reaction and will take more time.

The normal way to give pets medication is by forcing their mouth open with one hand, while placing the tablet at the back of the tongue so they cannot spit it out. This can be quite daunting and nerve-racking the first few times, but over time, you will get used to it and the animal will learn that you will do it no matter what.

The owner of the pet should explain how the meds need to be given and you will need to decide if you feel comfortable enough doing it. Be sure to have this shown to you prior to their departure, even if it means arriving a day early

What is the pet dies in my care?

Everyone’s worst nightmare is that a pet could die while in his or her care. Even though this is relatively rare, there is a chance that it could happen, particularly for animals with additional health issues.

If you are worried that the animal may pass away during your time looking after the pet, you should ensure that the owner gives you all important contact information so that you can contact them in an emergency, or a family member close by who will be able to help out in case of emergency.

If the pet does pass while you are caring for it, the first thing you should do after informing the owner is to take it to the vet where they can store the body and perform any tests until the owner returns. The owner may have left specific instructions with the local vet, which you should discuss before the owner leaves.

Another thing to note is that if you do take the pet into the vet for an illness and the option or suggestion to put the pet down is given, it is imperative that you get in touch with the owner and discuss it with them, relaying all details and information in an accurate manner so that they can make the final decision.  

Finally, if the worst case does happen, you should know it is not your fault. Reach out to neighbors who may have had interactions with the pet and seek support for yourself as it can be a very emotionally challenging time.

If you’re pet-sitting a disabled pet, it is best to remember to be patient, dedicated, and realize that the animal’s needs are your priority and responsibility. It can end up being one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Megan Starr

Megan and Aram are best friends who travel around and promote traveling to some of their favorite places, particularly those in the Nordics and Eastern Europe. We love sports, animals (especially dogs!), music, and finding good food when we are on the road. We are based in Armenia and write for meganstarr.com and absolutearmenia.com as we try to lure in tourists to Aram's home country of Armenia. We love house-sitting on the road because it gives Megan her fill of animals when she is away from her dog, Jax.

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