Culture & Entertainment

What you need to know about adopting a special needs pet

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

What you need to know about adopting a special needs pet

Guest blog by Sarah Manning

Photo courtesy Tjflex2/FlickrCC When I adopted Oliver, a four-month-old kitten, from my local animal services, they told me he was in perfect health. After taking him to the vet, I found out he had an umbilical hernia that required surgery. A few days after the operation, we discovered Oliver was allergic to the suture material the vet used, so he was back on the operating table. After this initial hiccup, it’s been pretty close to smooth sailing with Oliver. (If I could get him to stop drinking from the toilet, that would be the icing on the cake). However, there are animals who have more long-term challenges and need a forever home just as much as that healthy kitten chasing anything that moves. “Special needs does not mean broken,” says Makyla Deleo, a registered veterinary technician with the Toronto Humane Society. There are many different special needs an animal might have, such as FIV (feline AIDS) or a missing limb. Conditions like hyperthyroidism can be managed pretty easily and aren’t expensive to treat. Behavioural issues may also be classified as special needs, but only in cases of extreme aggression. “Some animals are just shy or anxious while in the shelter, or because of how they were treated before they came into our care,” says Deleo. Don't consider caring for a sick or injured animal a burden. There are a lot of benefits that come with adopting any pet, but the perks of having a special needs companion can be even more profound. “You are their knight in shining armour,” says Deleo. On some level, your pet understands that you saved it, which will only strengthen your relationship. The specific issue an animal deals with might even make it the perfect fit for your home. For example, a diabetic pet can be a great source of comfort and support for its guardian. Ready to adopt but not sure you're up for the challenge of a special needs cat or dog? “Keep an open mind," says Deleo. "Sometimes that cuddly kitten or bouncy pup might not be ideal for you and your family, and the animal you least expect could be the perfect fit.” Even first-time adopters can provide a loving forever home for an animal with medical or behavioural complications. As long as you’re knowledgeable about your pet’s condition, you are most equipped to bring that animal home. “Before you visit the shelter, establish what you will realistically be able to handle,” says Deleo. If you truly can’t accommodate a canine who needs a dog wheelchair or a drag bag, don’t talk yourself into trying. Failure will only result in more hardship for the animal. Also, make sure you have a trustworthy team to support you: family, a vet and a behaviorist, should your new friend need one. Whatever challenges your pet might face, Canadian Living has your guide to keeping them happy and healthy. Photo courtesy Tjflex2/FlickrCC
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What you need to know about adopting a special needs pet

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