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Common Conditions - Articles of Interest - Caring for a pet with special needs

Caring for a pet with special needs

Not all pets are treated equally. Some require more attention and medical care than their more able-bodied brothers and sisters – fortunately, they have pet-owners like you.
Dr Jesse Harvey from Greencross Vets Stud Park says pets with special needs are receiving more specific and long-term treatment these days due to better diagnostics and monitoring. Here are three special needs cases Dr Harvey commonly sees.


Diabetes is caused in humans and pets alike when there is a lack of insulin in the body, or when the body doesn’t respond to insulin. In a nutshell, diabetic pets struggle to metabolise sugar. Treatments depend on the severity but most pets require insulin injections daily. With regular treatment, good control of blood glucose levels is possible, but most pets will still need to spend a day in hospital every few months for blood tests.

Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease occurs when your pet produces too much cortisol – a hormone that controls weight, fights infections, balances sugar levels and keeps stress levels in check. A human drug called trilostane is the most common treatment modality for this disease, it is administered once or twice a day and blood tests are required monthly for the first few months to monitor the effect of the medicine. 


Arthritis is a painful disease more commonly seen in older pets where the joint cartilage has been worn down from wear and tear. Greencross Vets recommend Zydax injections as the main treatment course. However, short-term anti-inflammatory medications, weight loss through low-impact exercise and a comfortable bed can also ease your pet’s suffering.

When to let your pet go

Unfortunately, for all pets, a time will come when you have to say goodbye. To avoid any rushed decisions, formulate a plan with your local Greencross Vets in advance.
“I can tell you if your animal is suffering or in pain, but in the end the relationship with the pet is the client’s and they will ultimately know when the right time is’,” says Dr Harvey.

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