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Two tips for helping a chronically ill friend who owns a dog

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If you have a chronically ill friend who has a dog and they are finding it difficult to juggle caring for their pet and looking after themselves, here are some things you could do to help them.

Take over the dog-walking duties

If a person is ill most of the time, then they may find it impossible to walk their dog as frequently as they need to in order to keep their pet physically healthy. However, using the services of a professional dog-walker regularly is too expensive for a lot of people. If this is the case for your ill friend, then you might want to offer to take over their dog-walking duties (either indefinitely or for a specific number of weeks or months).

This is something that your friend would probably appreciate a lot but might be too embarrassed to ask you to do (particularly if they cannot afford to pay you). By extending this offer without being asked and emphatically stating that you are happy to do it for free, you can allay any guilt or worries they might be feeling about not being able to give you money for your efforts.

If your friend accepts your offer, it is also important to reassure them that you can come in, pick up their dog, walk them and return them without your friend having to come to the door, invite you in for a cup of tea and socialise with you. The reason for this is that, while your friend undoubtedly enjoys your company, they may not have the energy to chat and make drinks on a daily basis if they are very ill. However, if you do not assure them that they are not obliged to engage in chit-chat each time you collect their pet, they might feel that they have to expend what little energy they have on welcoming you into their home every day.

Help them when they need to use any type of veterinary service

Regardless of how often they're walked and how much nutritious dog food they are fed, most dogs will end up having to go to the vet to receive occasional treatments for issues like accidental consumption of inedible objects, tapeworm infections and broken bones, as well as for yearly check-ups and vaccinations.

However, the process of using veterinary services like this is not easy for a chronically ill dog owner, as they may be unable to drive to the vet or they might be unable to explain the problem their dog is experiencing when they get to the vet clinic (if the person's illness affects their speech or if they have a psychological condition that inhibits their ability to communicate).

In this situation, you might want to offer to either accompany your friend when they have to use their vet's services or take the dog for their veterinary treatments yourself instead. Additionally, you might want to assist your friend with the process of signing up witha vet that does home visits for appointments that involve routine procedures and basic check-ups. 

To learn, contact a resource that offers veterinary services.