The Savvy VetTech

How To Help Dog Owners Cope with Their Furry Friend’s Illness: A Guideline for Vet Techs

by Anna Smith - June 2, 2017 at 11:52 AM

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Illness of a loved one can be a very stressful time, and people often have no idea how to deal with the emotional pain. When it comes to companion animals, the feeling may be more intense, because not only will the owners feel distress and sadness, they will also feel a huge amount of responsibility, and perhaps even guilt.

As a vet tech, you will need to be sensitive to their feelings while being very professional. You are often the first point of contact when they come in with their sick pet, or when they are preparing for euthanasia.

Here is what you can do to help dog owners cope with their furry friend’s illness.

Listen Attentively

Often, when people come to you for help, they want you to listen to them properly. They need someone who can understand what they and their pet are going through at home. You should listen to them attentively, and make sure that they know you understand what they are saying. Validate their feelings by being responsive and kind.

Be Truthful

As a veterinary technician it may not your job to discuss the pet's disease or prognosis in detail with the owner, but they will still ask you for advice. If they have questions that the veterinarian should address, make sure to inform the vet so that they can have their questions answered. 

People appreciate it when you are honest, as no one likes being left in the dark about their pet’s condition. If the illness is a serious one, give them time to get used to the idea that their canine may never go back to his old, vital self, but he is still the same pet they have always known and loved. Encourage them to ask questions and talk to the veterinarian about the areas that are unclear. If they know what to expect, the outcome can be easier to accept.

Advice about Dog Products Which May Help

Just because an animal is sick does not mean it has to be uncomfortable. Advise the owners about what they can do to improve their pet’s comfort.

Dog Bed

A bed is a great idea for sick dogs. These beds are specially made for canines, and are very comfortable. The dog will soon realize that the bed is his property, and will enjoy napping on the bed when he wants to rest. Choose a bed which is comfortable and large enough that the dog can lie in it with ease. If your dog is seriously ill and on medication, he may need a lot of nap time, which is why buying a bed may be a great idea. For some dog bed advice, check out this great article

Orthopedic Mattress

If a dog is suffering from arthritis or back related problems, you can recommend an orthopedic mattress. These mattresses are firm and are specially designed to deal with orthopedic issues. An aging and sick dog will feel very comfortable and relaxed on such a mattress, and will be able to sleep better.

Toys

Dogs enjoy playing with toys, and chewing on them. It calms them down when they are feeling stressed or anxious, and helps pass the time when the dog is alone. Suggest to the owner that if the pet has a favorite toy, to keep it nearby when the pet is resting.

A Comfortable Environment

Just like a sick person, a sick dog also needs to rest in a peaceful environment. You must stress to the owners that it is extremely important to ensure that their dog has a space in which he can relax. The surroundings should be quiet, and no one should disturb the dog if he doesn’t want to play.

Providing the dog with a blanket is also a good idea, as it can keep the dog warm as well as make him feel soothed. If a pet has a difficult time getting up and around, keep their water bowl nearby where they normally lay.

Spending Time with the Sick Pet

Inform dog owners that they should try to keep their dog’s routine as similar to before as possible. Advise the people who come to you that they should try to spend as much time with their ill pet as possible. They should go on walks, as long as the dog does not get too tired. Even if they are watching T.V. or doing chores, they should do it somewhere where the dog will be around them.

A good rule here is to follow the dog’s lead. If he seems too tired to play, let him rest. However, if he seems restless and full of energy, a walk may be just the thing to make him feel better.

Emotional Support

While sick dogs need all the support they can get, so do the owners. Having a sick pet can be very stressful emotionally. Tell the owners that they need to make sure they have people in their life who they can talk to. If there is a support group for this purpose in your local community, you should direct the owners there.

There is nothing wrong with reaching out to family and friends for emotional support. Surely, anyone would understand the stress that the owner is going through, and offer help. Tell your patients’ owners that they should not be afraid of asking for help, as they really need it at this time.

Most of all guide them in a professional capacity and keep them updated about their pet's condition.

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About Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna’s passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed. She also helps curate contents for DogsAholic.com

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