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10 Tips for Caring for Your Pet When You have a Disability

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Pets & Service Animals

10 Tips for Caring for Your Pet When You have a Disability

Who hasn’t laughed at the antics of a puppy, enjoyed the purring contentment of a cat or kitten, or marveled at the color and movement in a fish tank? Pets make us laugh with their antics, provide companionship, and give us an opportunity to just love and be loved in return, unconditionally. For people with disabilities or those over 60, owning and caring for a pet can contribute to a healthier outlook on life, promote a feeling of safety, and improve health, including lowering stress and blood pressure. But along with all the benefits comes the responsibilities of caring for your loving friend. Here are a few tips to make caring for a pet easier.

1.    Make feeding and watering pets easier:

•    Long-handled pet feeder reduces the need for bending: If you have poor balance, a spinal cord injury, or mobility disability, or just find it difficult to bend over to fill your pet's food and water bowls, ask about a long-handled pet feeder at your local pet store. This pet feeder consists of a long handle attached to two bowls, one for food and one for water. To fill, lift the feeder by the handle and put it on a counter or table. Specify dog or cat bowls.
•    An automatic feeder makes feeding and watering pets easier: If bending to fill your pet's food or water dish is an issue, purchase an automatic pet feeder and/or water dish. These containers allow you to keep a supply of food on hand for when you are away. Just fill the container with food or water and it dispenses automatically, as your pet consumes what is in the bowl at the base. More expensive models hold up to 10 pounds of food and let you program feeding times, up to 3 times a day, and portions. There is even an automatic feeder for your aquarium, if daily feeding is difficult for you. View models and styles available at your local pet store or order from online stores like PetStore or PetSmart.com

2.    Collapsible bowl for pets on the go: If you use a service animal to assist you in getting out and about, the Hydro Bowl from Canine Hardware offers a thirst quenching drink whenever and wherever your furry friend needs one, whether around town or during a long hike. These colorful bowls collapse flat to fit into your purse, coat pocket, or backpack, yet snap into a bowl quickly and easily. Several colors and sizes are available at your local pet store or www.caninehardware.com

3.    Make pet grooming easier.

•    Lint roller: If your pet sheds but shies away from a brush or comb, try using a lint roller. Most pets, especially cats, love rubbing against the roller, which gently removes and hangs onto loose fur.
•    Rubber gloves: Don slightly damp rubber gloves and pet your furry friend.  As you shower them with affection, the loose fur will stick to your gloves and make it easy to dispose of.

4.    Reduce allergens with ionic pet brush: If you have asthma or an allergy to pet dander, you might try grooming your pet with an ionic pet brush. Emitting negative ions, this brush reduces pet odors and dander, effectively bathing your pet while combing out stubborn pet hair tangles. Ionic technology has been proven to destroy pollen, mold, pet dander, viruses, and bacteria safely and silently. Look for ionic pet brushes at your favorite pet store or order online. Amazon.com has a nice selection.

5.    Remove pet hair from clothing and furniture without a vacuum.

•    Rubber gloves: If you have a pet and thus pet hair all over your car seats, furniture, and/or clothes, here is a tip to remove it. Don a pair of rubber gloves, dampen them slightly and wipe your hands over the hairy surfaces; the hair will come right off and stick to the damp gloves. Hang the hairy gloves over the edge of a paper bag to dry, then brush or shake the hair into the bag (being careful not to let the hair escape into the air around you) and toss in the trash.
•    Damp sponge: Pet hair will stick to a damp sponge rubbed lightly over the hairy area, making it easy to remove the hair and dispose of it.
•    Lint roller: Keep a lint roller by the door and in your car to quickly and easily remove pet hair from clothing and car seats.

6.    Play with your pet despite mobility challenges. If you have a mobility disability, limited range of motion, or difficulty bending or gripping, Canine Hardware, Inc. makes a number of easy throw and fetch products that allow people with disabilities to have a little fun with their pet. The patented Chuckit!® ball launcher, a plastic device that looks like an oversized spaghetti spoon, gives someone with minimal grip or range of motion additional leverage in tossing a ball. The design also lets someone in a wheelchair pick the ball up from the ground without having to bend over. Chuckit!® comes in several sizes for large, medium, and small dogs. Find Chuckit!®  and other easy to toss and play pet toys, for indoor and outdoor use, at a pet store near you or www.caninehardware.com

7.    Keep a few treats handy.

Keep a few pet treats handy when you take your pet for a walk with the Treat Tote, a small treat bag that attaches to your belt or inside your bag.  Also handy for keeping change, nails, clips, or hangers at your fingertips when catching the bus, hanging pictures, or while cleaning up around the house. The drawstring top helps to keep contents contained while moving. Available at your local pet store or from www.caninehardware.com

8.    Eliminate pet odors with essential oils.

To give carpets a subtle, pleasant scent without artificial sprays or chemicals, place a cotton ball soaked in your favorite oil (clove, lavender, rose, etc.) in the blower compartment of your vacuum. Essential oils are known to be calming, soothing, or lift the spirits--use them to brighten a sick room, to eliminate pet odors, or to make your home more festive when entertaining.

9.    Pet bowl tips and tricks:

•    Keep pet bowls from sliding. Put a rubber-type decal or jar opener on the bottom of your pet's food bowl to keep it from sliding around as your pet eats. This will have the added benefit of less mess to clean up afterward.
•    Use a bundt pan for pet's water dish. To keep your pet's outdoor water dish in place, use a bundt pan. Keep the pan stable by placing a stick through the center.
•    Create a moat to keeps ants away from food. You can keep ants out of your pet's food by placing the dish inside of a larger dish and filling the larger bowl with a little water. The water between the two dishes creates a "moat” which will prevent unwanted pests.

10.    Bathe your pet safely. Before bathing your pet, put a large towel in the bottom of the tub. Fill the tub with water and then put your pet in. The towel will keep your pet from slipping and they will be much less likely to want to jump out. Have a dry towel ready after you let the water out.

For information on pets for the elderly or people with disabilities, see the article Pets ARE Wonderful

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