If your best buddy no longer has the use of his back legs, you can still provide him with a good quality of life. It takes extra effort, but he's worth it. Orthopedic beds are the best beds for dogs suffering from paralysis. Orthopedic beds offer various features, so narrow the choices by determining what will best suit your dog's circumstances.
Orthopedic beds are designed primarily for older canines with arthritis, but they fill the bill for paralyzed pets. If your older dog had joint issues before becoming paralyzed, it's possible you can still use an orthopedic bed you bought for that purpose, but it isn't suitable if it's a bed the dog must climb into. If you're buying a new one, look for a bed with special, orthopedic foam construction. Ask your vet if a bed with a bolster would benefit your dog, cradling him inside the sleeping area. Many dogs like a bolster; but in the case of a dog with partial paralysis, it may become obstructive. Generally, a dog whose rear legs won't work can still maneuver himself to a comfortable position, as well as can maneuver over humps.
Since paralyzed dogs are often incontinent, you want a bed that's easy to clean, and machine-washable and -dryable. If you find a bed that works for your dog in other regards but isn't easy to clean, you can purchase products to line the bed; once soiled, they can be washed or thrown away. Avoid beds that have only a washable cover. Urine will soak into the padding, causing the bed to smell and creating ammonia buildup.
Dogs lying in one place for too long can develop bedsores. A properly designed orthopedic bed protects pressure points, minimizing the development of bedsores. That doesn't mean you won't have to reposition your dog regularly. Pay special attention to sores appearing on elbows, hips and ankles. If you move your dog frequently and sores develop, consider getting another type of orthopedic bed.
The Second Bed
Once you find an orthopedic bed that suits your dog's needs, consider purchasing a backup bed if it fits within your budget. That way, your dog always has a comfortable bed for resting even when the dirty bed is in the wash. If money is an issue, purchase a more expensive primary bed and a less expensive backup.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.