When you adopt an animal, you are committing to their care for a lifetime. And as with all things in life, nothing is certain. Animals, like people, can be born with or develop chronic illnesses that require varying levels of attention and care. Whether you adopted the animal knowing of their illness or found out later down the line, rest assured that there are resources to help your pet live happy, fulfilling lives. Here are some recommendations we can share on how to support a pet with a chronic illness.
Animals with chronic illnesses will likely require more veterinary care than animals without them. Finding a vet you trust, maybe one whose specialty includes caring for your animal’s illness, is critically important. You want to find a vet and a facility that makes you feel comfortable, listens to your concerns, helps you develop care strategies and demonstrates affection for your animal. If your veterinarian doesn’t offer emergency or after-hours services, be sure you talk with them about local options should your animal need urgent support when their office is closed.
Caring for animals with chronic illnesses can require specialized care. From disbursing medicine to helping with stretches, there may be things that you have to work into your day for their well-being. To stay on top of your animal’s condition, add animal care practices to your daily, weekly and monthly routines. Simple processes, like adding special foods to your Amazon subscription service or stopping by the vet on a specific day of the week to pick up prescriptions, can build reliable habits. But even with a routine, it can be hard to remember whether or not you’ve completed all of your tasks! In this case, things that you might do for yourself – like placing daily medicines into a pill case or leaving sticky notes on the door – can be helpful strategies to ensure you don’t forget essential components of your care regime.
As much as you’d love to be the person who is able to care for your animal all the time, life will inevitably get in the way. You should still live your life, take vacations and spend time outside of your home. When you have an animal with a chronic illness, this might feel especially challenging. We encourage you to build a support network of people who love your animal and understand the level of care it takes to manage their illness. Having these people in your life, and incorporating them into your animal emergency plan, can give you peace of mind to know that your animal will be cared for even if you’re not there.