America is a nation of animal lovers.
Indeed, 85 million families across the country have pets at home! A huge assortment of pets is kept around the US. Dogs, cats, fishes, reptiles, birds, and horses all abound.
And every single one can become the newest member of the family. Pets become treasured friends and lovable companions. For many people, they provide a sense of purpose and joy in life.
Which is why there’s nothing more distressing than when they get sick.
Caring for a sick animal can be a huge practical and emotional challenge. It’s even worse when the illness won’t get better.
Do you have a chronically sick pet at home? We want to help.
Keep reading to learn 7 tips for getting through the tough times.
1. Be Self-Compassionate
Pets leave a lasting mark on our lives.
They may have been with you from childhood! They remain by your side through thick and thin. They’re a constant companion in a lifetime of continuous change.
Seeing them ill is hard. The thought of them no longer being around is unbearable.
It’s natural, and by no means silly, to feel true, heart-breaking grief in this time. Be kind to yourself. Take things easy. Respond as you would to a human family-member getting ill
After all, in many ways, this is no different. Expect a litany of mixed emotions to come and go. Try, as hard as you can, to practice self-compassion at every turn.
2. Give Yourself a Break
We mean this both literally and figuratively.
Caring for a sick pet can become all-consuming. Every waking moment can be filled with thinking, worrying and taking practical steps to support them.
It’s important to give yourself time. Take a break. It’s an emotional situation. Even the shortest reprieve can restore your energy levels.
Give yourself a break mentally as well. Many owners of sick pets blame themselves. For one reason or another, they decide the situation is their fault. That self-flagellation won’t help anyone.
Remember, be as kind and compassionate to yourself as possible in this difficult time.
3. Try Not to Blame Others
We just mentioned how it’s easy to blame yourself for your pet’s illness.
It’s just as easy to fall into the trap of blaming others too.
Anger is a natural outcome of grief. You don’t want your animal to suffer or die. It feels unfair. You turn that inner turmoil onto others as a result.
The vet didn’t do their job properly. Your family isn’t helping. Your friends don’t understand.
Any number of people could be the target of your anger. Try to be reasonable. Realize the anger is coming from pain at the thought of losing your pet. Take a breath.
Is that anger helping the situation in any way? The answer is almost always ‘no’. Try, if you can, to let the anger dissipate.
4. Remember Your Own Wellbeing
Caring for a sick pet isn’t easy.
It can demand so much of your attention that you start ignoring your own wellbeing.
This is a recipe for disaster. To look after others, it’s always essential to look after yourself first. If you fall sick, then your pet is only likely to suffer more as a result.
Eat properly. Get enough sleep. Get outside. Meditate. Exercise regularly. Do what you can to maintain your normal routines of self-care.
Moreover, go the extra mile. Now’s a time to pay special attention to your wellbeing. You could treat yourself to a spa day, speak with a counselor, or buy some new and calming music…
5. Don’t Do Everything Yourself
It’s your pet, so it’s your responsibility.
It falls on your shoulders to care for them. Right?
Wrong. Remember, self-care is key!
Caring for a suffering animal is a serious burden. Sharing the load and getting support can make a mighty difference to both you and the animal.
Friends and family can be important sources of support. They don’t even have to care directly for your pet. Their role may be looking after you!
Find time to meet up, or speak over the phone. Sometimes, just talking about your struggles can be enough to ease the strain.
6. Get Organised
Big problems are daunting.
They can feel overwhelming and out of control.
It’s easy to feel like that when trying to care for an ill pet. Being charged with their health, and remembering everything you need to do, can feel like a serious responsibility.
Being organized can help you feel in control of the situation. Feeling in control is often an antidote to uncertainty and stress.
Keep a written record of what the vet’s told you to do and when.
Have a notebook to hand. Record when you need to give your pet their medication. Have a tick box next to it so you know if you’ve done it. Likewise, organize the medication into weekly pillboxes.
Steps like this can restore a sense of order and reduce levels of anxiety.
7. Make Practical Changes at Home
The nature of your pet’s illness may demand environmental changes at home.
For example, a dog with poor bladder control and low mobility may need to be closer to the back door. Think about the specific challenges your sick animal is facing; consider how making practical changes at home might make their life easier.
Removing obstacles, moving their beds, adding ramps, and changing the temperature are a few examples of alterations that can help.
Other considerations, such as pet insurance, may be important to keep in mind as well. This comparison may help in this regard.
Final Thoughts on Life with Sick Animal
Tens of millions of families in the United States have pets at home.
Regardless of the animal, pets soon become a part of the family. They provide comfort and companionship to everyone around. The bonds you form with them are deep and enduring.
For some people, pets are their greatest source of support and purpose in life.
That’s why living with a chronically sick animal can be so distressing. Hopefully, this post has provided some useful advice for coping better with this unenviable situation.
Want more articles like this one? Check out our other articles on the ‘pets’ section of the blog!