Monday, November 24, 2014

Life hack: create a sling to help support your dog's hindquarters when walking

It's not surprising that those who share lives with pets by and large, aren't opposed to spending money when it's related to their animal companion. When it comes to toys, food, enrichment, training for the family, paying up has increased tremendously.

This holds true for the health and comfort of pets, too, and anyone who has a pet with a medical condition or issues related to aging can attest to the added costs of medications, equipment and supplies.

My pooch, Gretchen — a St. Bernard/Shepherd mix — is 15 years of age and falls into the latter category. Over the past few months, there have been changes with her health that one would expect, so tweaking medication regimens, adding therapies and using products to help with her mobility has been an ongoing part of the process. While most of these things have been relatively affordable, others have been quite costly (though the benefit has far surpassed the money that has been spent; more on that at a later time) and being mindful of what's helpful and what's not is key.

Spending money in the right places is a huge part the success of a care regimen, and anytime I am able to save some money or repurpose an item, I'm there.

Using a support sling temporarily has been necessary a couple of times in Gretchen's life, as she has pinched a nerve in her spine (which is quite long) or when she has strained a muscle. A sling is super-helpful in keeping the spine aligned as a dog goes up or down stairs, or offering assistance in walking if the rear legs are weak or injured. Designed with two handles (usually adjustable to accommodate the human's height) to securely support a dog's hindquarters, they are simple and easy to use and can be found better pet stores.

(I do keep a large beach towel in my day bag that can be used in a pinch should a canine charge unexpectedly require a little temporary assistance. I simply fold it into quarters lengthwise to fashion into a sling.)

The other day, Gretchen pinched a nerve in her spine at an appointment, so once again using a sling had become necessary, so I borrowed one from the facility we were at. Though she had recovered from the injury quickly, using a sling for a few more days seemed smart. Rather than purchase one, I had a better idea: why not somehow repurpose a reusable cloth shopping bag? They're durable, they can support a fair amount of weight and best of all, they're inexpensive.

I have several bags around the house, so I set about fashioning one, and all I needed was a pair of scissors. By cutting out the sides of the bag, I have a nifty sling that is useful and easy on the pocket book. For added comfort, a little fleece could certainly be added to the sling with Velcro adhesive strips to keep it in place.

These bags are relatively inexpensive when purchased new, but to be even more thrifty, consider looking for used ones at garage sales or your local thrift shop.

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

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