Assistive Technology for Disabled Pet-Owners

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There are some great tools out there that can help make pet-ownership a much more simple experience for anyone with a disability, and Where it’s AT is here to provide an entry point to discovering some of those solutions. Our list can’t be exhaustive, because the types of pets people can have are innumerable and disabled pet-owners might need many differing types of support, but this is a collection of some of the more common options to make pet-ownership a breeze.

A young man with lower limb difference sits outside with a fluffy dog. Under the Where it's AT logo, the text reads Assistive Technology for Disabled Pet-Owners -

If you are looking for a grip-free option for walking your pet, there are a few great products to look into! A hands free bike leash can be attached to a wheelchair and as long as you and your chair are heavy enough that your dog can’t tip you with a big jerk, after all, these are designed to be tugged by dogs and not knock over a bicyclist, you have a nice hands free dog walk option. The Tuff Mutt Hands Free Bungee Dog Leash allows you to walk your dog completely hands free by attaching the stretchy leash to a waistband, aligning the pulling motion with your center of gravity, ensuring a sturdy hold on your pup. The Liberty Wristband® is fully hands free and works with any leash, you just wear the wristband and are able to use the built-in clasp to attach any leash to it and the spring-loaded release can instantly open the clasp with a simple tug. The Handy™ Leash is worn like a glove and can be adjusted to fit all hand sizes. It uses zero shock technology, has an adjustable length and has a built in D-ring for you to be able to carabine items to continue with your no-grip walk, like a Portable Dog Poop Bag Dispenser with and easy dispense opening. Use any of these with a magnetic leash connector and you have a walking routine with minimal fine motor requirements.

Speaking of walks and inevitable poop picking-upping, there are devices that are light weight and have long handles that enable the user to pick up after their pet without needing to bend over or leave a sitting position. Devices like the HandiScoop have a long reach and trigger style grabbing mechanism, the Pet Fit For Life has a spring-loaded grabbing mechanism and folds for easy storage, and the Sanidoo are much smaller, so would require more reach, but it is fully contained without a top opening like other scoopers, so when paired with a stroller hook, a wheelchair user could grab and go, without worrying about odor or having to hold onto the device, just simply dispose of the mess at the end of the stroll.

If going on walks to relieve themselves isn’t an option for your pets or your needs, then there are great options to choose from to make managing their toileting an easier task. For those who have a hard time remembering cleaning tasks or have difficulty leaning down to scoop litter boxes or clean up potty pads, check out the PetSafe Simply Clean Cat Litter Box self-cleaning litter box for cats or the Brilliant Pad Self-Cleaning Automatic Indoor Puppy Potty Pad. If you have difficulty managing doors as frequently as necessary for your critter to go outside to do their business, you can install a PetSafe Pet Door for Dogs and Cats in an outside facing door, and if you are worried about critters other than your pet getting in through it, you can install a style of door like the Cat Mate Elite Super Selective I.D. Disc Cat Flap that has tags that go on your pets collar that make it so the door only lets your pets in. If your living situation means that you can’t cut into a door to permanently install a pet door, check out inserts like the Ideal Pet Products Aluminum Pet Patio Door that fit in the track of a sliding door, or In or out Pet products inserts that work with swinging or French doors.

When considering mobility in your living spaces, if you are a wheelchair user or have difficulty reaching high spaces and therefore can have a hard time getting your bird to their perch, you can use a long stick so that your out of reach birds can easily step on and over to you.

When it comes to feeding time, there are a variety of options to choose from to suit your needs, like food bowls that have long handles so you can pick them up from a sitting position or from a standing position without the need to bend, there are versions with larger capacities also. If you have a difficult time remembering to feed your pets, you can always set up reminders on your phone or smart device, but there are also great feeders with timer options. The Petlibro Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder dispenses kibble up to 4 times a day with 9 customizable portion sizes, but if your pet needs soft food, you can consider the Cat Mate C500 Digital 5 Meal Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder which provides up to five portions to be eaten throughout the day and comes with ice packs to keep the food good all day or the Cat Mate C200 2-Bowl Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder if you need larger portions, as this device allows for two 14 oz. meals a day with ice packs included.

There are a variety of exercise and play devices that are adaptive for your needs and will help keep your pet healthy and happy. There are treadmills for animals that need walkies, but you may not be able to get them out for that exercise as often as they might need, or if your space is small and you have an active cat, you can get an exercise wheel. There are great automated toys, if you don’t have enough energy to meet your pet’s activity needs, like the AFP Automatic Dog Ball Launcher, a Motion Activated Cat Laser Toy, the Wobble Wag Giggle Ball, or even an automated treat dispenser from PetSpy that allows you to see and talk to your pet while using your smart phone to send love and treats. If want to play fetch, but have trouble bending to pick up the ball, get yourself a ChuckIt! Pet Toy Ball Launcher or if you aren’t able to go outdoors as easily but still want to play fetch, check out the Chuckit! Indoor Dog Toy.

Additionally, if you have difficulty holding your pet still to groom them, you can get a Downtown Pet Supply Collapsible Dog Grooming Arm to mitigate the wiggles without needing to juggle them and the grooming tool or you can get a HandsOn All-In-One Pet Bathing & Grooming Gloves and turn pets time into a secret grooming session.