A dog getting checked out by the vet.

How To Care For A Dog With A Chronic Illness

5 mins |

Just like us, dogs can suffer from a chronic illness. And in sickness and in health, it is our responsibility to take up the burden and care for our dogs the best way we know how. So, how do you care for a dog with a chronic illness?

In order to care for a dog with a chronic illness, first, you need to define the illness, get the proper medications, and adapt to the new way of life to help them as much as possible. This will require advice from a veterinarian as well as possible adjustments to your home and lifestyle.  

Keep In Line With All The Vet Check-Ups 

A vet checking a dog out.
Getting checked out.

When your dog gets diagnosed with a chronic illness, it might be hard to keep track of all the vet checkups and medications. 

But that’s where planners and calendars come in handy. Keeping a separate planner for your dog’s needs, dietary changes, vet checkups, and even its regular treatments might be a good idea.  

Get Yourself Organized In Managing Its Medications

Most dogs that are chronically ill need to take many medications to continue with their daily lives. However, more often than not, dogs tend to refuse to take medication. 

The best way to get the dog to take their medication then is to hide it in their favorite snack and watch them until you’re sure they’ve eaten it. 

If that doesn’t work, look for tips and tricks on administering medications that must be given orally. 

Try To Adapt To Their New Way Of Life

We know how hard and heartbreaking it is for a dog with a chronic illness. The feeling of not doing enough is hard to let go of.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying or beat yourself up about it. On the contrary, you need to adapt to their new way of life, make some life-changing decisions, and try to live as normally as possible. 

And don’t forget, you are doing everything you can, and your dog loves you for it! 

Be Open To Any Dietary Changes

The most common chronic illness in dogs, especially adults, is diabetes, a tricky disease that can even lead to blindness. 

Dogs dealing with a chronic illness might be more susceptible to dietary changes as the illness advances or stagnates. 

We know just how important proper nutrition is, so interventional nutrition from the vet may help critically ill dogs to cope easier and can even serve as an additional aid in the dog’s treatment. 

So, it’s normal for the vet to make some changes in your dog’s diet, as its diet can play an essential part in dealing with chronic management. 

Vets might prohibit the consumption of meat altogether too. 

Make The Necessary Adjustments To Your Home 

Depending on your dog’s chronic illness, you might need to adjust your home to make their life easier. 

For instance, if they have urinary incontinence due to their illness, add a litter box or potty patches that are used when potty training. 

Or, if you have a vision-impaired dog, make sure you move some of the furniture to make a place for the dog to move easily. As with humans who have blindness, do not re-arrange anything. 

However sad it may sound, dogs are accustomed to that exact pattern, and any changes might negatively affect the dog. Worse, it could lead to an unwanted injury due to the change of furniture placement. 

Additionally, dogs with a chronic illness need to be in a calming and caring environment. So, it might be a good idea to place their bed in a calm, somewhat darker place for the dog to fully relax. 

Keep Them Occupied

Chronic pets tend to spend less time outside and more time indoors. We know how hard that might be for your dog, as it’s in their innate nature to run around, smell, and enjoy their time outside. 

But, as with everything else, you need to find a way to keep them entertained. If your dog loves going for long walks, but that’s over because of its disease, buy a child roller and roam the streets with your dog. 

Or if your dog loved playing fetch before being diagnosed, try to find an alternative. The simplest action – rolling the ball on the floor – might do the trick, for example. 

Just because they are suffering from a chronic disease, their daily activities don’t need to be dropped. They only need to be adjusted.

Lend Them A Hand When Needed

Dogs enter our lives and help us cope with anxiety and depression, so it’s only fair we lend them a hand when they need it most too. 

Most chronically ill dogs cannot care for themselves, but a little can go a long way for them. So, whenever you notice your dog has trouble cleaning itself, for example, just add it to your daily to-do list and wipe them with a damp cloth all over their fur, but especially their mouth and paws. 

Also, many chronic dogs might experience uncontrollable urination because they cannot go to the bathroom themselves. When this happens, all you want to do is help them. So, get a damp cloth and clean them after any bathroom issues. 

Moreover, change their bedding daily to make sure your dog sleeps in a clean bed every day. 

And whenever your pet makes a mistake, do not scorn them. Instead, stay calm and positive. They need it. 

Final Thoughts: How To Care For A Dog With A Chronic Illness?

So, how to care for a dog with a chronic illness? While dealing with a chronic dog is no easy feat, we don’t see a reason why your dog shouldn’t lead a happy life. Try to adapt as much as possible to their new way of life, and you’ll get lots of love in return.

So, do you have a dog with a chronic illness? How do you help them with it? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.