Having a pet diagnosed with a chronic disease can be overwhelming. The following are some tips to help navigate your pet’s chronic illness.
1. Ask Questions
Make sure you understand the diagnosis. Seek information from your veterinarian and staff so that you fully understand your pet’s disease process, expected treatment, and prognosis. The more you understand your pet’s condition, the better able you will be to provide care.
2. Establish Expectations
Ensure that you understand how your pet’s condition will be monitored, what improvement will look like, and what quality of life to anticipate for you and your pet. Many chronic illnesses that we treat are not cured but managed with long-term medications, diet changes, or other treatments.
3. Be Honest
There is often more than one option for treatment of many chronic conditions. If you have financial concerns, medication concerns, quality of life, or scheduling concerns, discuss these with your care team. They will do their best to provide you with options that work best for your pet and your family.
Make sure you understand your pet’s medications and their purpose. Having trouble administering the medication? Your vet may be able to find alternative formulations or provide tips to help you give the medication. If your pet is on multiple medications, ask your veterinarian to establish priority of which medications are most important in case medicating is difficult. Please let your care team know right away if you have concerns about side effects from medications.
5. Track Progress
Keep a journal or calendar of your pet’s symptoms. If your pet has been sick for some time, it can be hard to subjectively evaluate the response to treatment. Keeping a daily journal can help to determine if there’s been improvement, even if it’s subtle. A journal also helps to establish trends in the quality of life for your pet. Providing this information to your veterinarian at rechecks can be very helpful.
6. Give Yourself Grace
Having a sick pet is extremely difficult. Having a chronically ill pet can be overwhelming! If you are struggling with your pet’s treatment or disease, seek support. It is important to maintain a good quality of life not just for your pet, but for you and your family as well.
We hope this information makes you feel more confident and assured in managing your pet’s chronic illness. If you have questions or concerns, contact your family veterinarian or ask for a referral to a board-certified veterinary specialist.
Learn more about Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s Internal Medicine Service here.