A special needs pet is an animal which requires care above and beyond the conventional for a good quality of life. Examples of special needs pets include handicapped pets, who may be missing limbs, pets with congenital illnesses, or animals with behavioral problems. Adopting a special needs pet can be an excellent way to give an animal a new lease on life, if you are prepared for the responsibility associated with it. You should consider the decision carefully before making it, to ensure that you are capable of handling your act of generosity.
Budgetary constraints are one of the biggest issues surrounding special needs animals. They are much more expensive to care for, since they may require medication, frequent veterinary visits, surgery, or specialized diets. If you are adopting a special needs pet from a shelter, staff can usually give you honest information about how expensive the animal will be to care for in the long term. In some cases, caring for a special needs pet, may be like owning other animals costwise: animals who are missing a limb are an example of this type of special needs pet. In other cases, such as a cat with diabetes, medical expenses can quickly accumulate.
Lifestyle changes are also an important thing to think about. A special needs pet requires more attention and care, and generally cannot be left alone for long periods of time. If you go on vacation, you will have to find a caregiver who can handle the responsibility of a special needs animal. You may be required to give shots, provide fluid infusions, or perform other nursing tasks to make an animal happy and healthy. You should plan to commit to the animal for life.
If you have other pets, consider the impact of the special needs pet on the other animal members of the family or the neighborhood. If you adopt a cat with feline leukemia, for example, you will need to keep it isolated so that it does not pose a threat to other cats. If you have a dog or dogs, they may get jealous of the attention lavished on the special needs pet, potentially posing a problem. You may also find yourself overwhelmed by caring for the special needs pet, and unable to dedicate attention to your other animals.
If you are adopting a special needs pet with behavior problems, be aware that these problems may never be able to be corrected. The hope is that gentle loving care will make an animal emotionally secure enough to relax and enjoy life, but this does not always happen. You may be forced to keep an animal indoors, or on a short leash. Dogs can become especially problematic, if they become intensely attached to one person or highly defensive.
Adopting a special needs pet is an incredible act of kindness, and many animal organizations exist to support people who have taken animals who need a little bit of extra love into their lives. These organizations can also assist interested parties in finding special needs pets to adopt, as well as offering referrals to veterinarians, pet sitters, and other individuals who may make the process easier. Ultimately, a special needs pet can be a very fulfilling and enjoyable companion, and you may spend many years together.