• Reanna Mathis

DSN Weigh In- Pet Owning and Chronic Illness

We got a dog. I have been resisting my husband’s pleas to bring home the dog from work that needed a home and I gave in the other day. I agreed to have him come home “to visit” so he could get some family love and attention. All dogs deserve that. What I did not expect was to fall in love with him almost immediately. I have been a cat person for many years now. My cat “Charley” is still hiding out in his “safe room”. It has been awhile since I have owned a dog. I have not had one since falling ill a few years ago. We have decided to keep “Rocco” and give him a forever home. In addition to having a trainer we know come work with the whole family, I asked DSN Family to weigh in pet owning with a chronic illness. This is what our global group had to say about the subject.

Britt M talks about integrating a new dog with a cat. “Start slowly with the two and make sure he shows respect. The kitty is going to put up his defenses at first to make the dog know who is who, but they will come along. Just don't force it. It will come in time”.

Janine W. “My husband helps with the cat and dog when he’s home like walking feeding etc . When it is just her and I, I will let her out back and feed her. She lays down when she knows I’m sick . The cats bowl stays full so she can graze and my husband cleans box” .

Rachel M. “Let your dog love you. That's all they really want! If needed, find or hire someone to take him/her for a walk. It might be stressful at first, but the joys of owning a fluffy will be well worth it”.

Alys F. “I do simple scent training with Saoirse when she needs to play. I put her in a different room, and then hide a treat (sometimes rubbing the treat on things as I walk, to leave a "trail"). Set her free, and tell her to "Find it!" She loves it, and I can okay with her without risking impact/pulling on joints”.

Laurie M. “I always tell my two dogs when I'm having a bad day ( I think they already know) and then say give me extra time ...be patient .... I must say this a lot more than I thought because when I say it now they sit down and wait for me to do activities with them”.

Erin R. On days when you can’t be active and the dog could use some stimulation (and you some entertainment), these puzzles are brilliant! My dogs love them”.

Rose G. “Do you have a harness yet? I love my harness and my pup (ok so he is 6 now) has a harness we love it is Amish made with a leather like substance that doesn't mold and I got mine of Amazon. My boy is 200 pounds.. so the big thing is to remind him to be gentile. .. and nice.. .. oh and a horse lead rope as a leash with a handle tied in, it is bigger around and easier to hold when you have bad hand days”.

Allison K. A harness that redirects their chest is so much better for them than a collar leash. It also makes it easier for you to control him during potty times. Training yourself is as important as training your pup. Learning their cues helps them learn yours as well. My girl is quite lazy so she enjoys laying on my heated blanket when I have it on. She stays closer to me when I'm not feeling well. It's nice to have a warm body to snuggle when you are not feeling well”.

Rachel S. A flirt pole! It in essence is a big cat toy that's made for dogs. So you can stand and hang on to the pole and swing the long string with toy on the end around for your dog to chase. Also, if you are interested there is a FB group called “canine enrichment” and there are tons of good ideas on how to make their life better and yours easier”.

I have implemented some of these suggestions and life with “Rocco” is starting to settle down and we have gotten a good routine going. I enjoy having a buddy to hang out with during the day and I believe he does too. Many people with chronic illness benefit from having a canine friend around. DSN even offers service dog grants that members can apply for. Click here for more information on our service dog grant program. I hope some of these tips have been helpful to you and your fur-friend! Visit DSN blog every Wednesday for more “DSN Weigh In” articles!

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