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What to Consider Before Getting a Pet

Pets are truly wonderful. My dog and cats keep me company when I am unable to join my family for an outing. They comfort me when I am in pain and make me laugh when I am feeling down. With that said, not every animal is a fit for someone who lives with psoriatic arthritis or any other painful chronic illness. Today I am sharing a few things to think about before adopting a furry friend.

What amount of strength will the pet require?

The first thing you need to consider is their strength and yours. How strong of an animal are you able to handle? Would you be able to walk a large and powerful dog? What about a little one who refuses to follow commands and pulls the leash in every direction?

My family had a large Border Collie/Labrador mix when I was first diagnosed. He was a gentle giant who never pulled on the leash. He remained by my side no matter what. He truly was the perfect dog until I became too sick to care for his daily needs.

We couldn’t install a dog door because we also had three strictly indoor cats. This meant that someone had to let the dog out every time he needed to go potty or wanted to chase birds.

Handling a pet when you are alone

This wasn’t an issue when everyone was home, but when my husband was traveling for work, my son was at school, and my youngest was too small to open the door all the responsibility fell on me. There were days when the pain from walking to the backdoor left me in tears.

The worst was during his final months. He was a big boy and when he began having problems with his hips he needed assistance getting up from the floor and up the stairs to sleep with us. I couldn’t do it, which made me feel like a failure as his human momma.

I was hesitant to get another dog after he passed. In fact, I swore I would never have another. But then came Zeva our adorable Chihuahua. She is content with only having to go potty twice a day and is light enough for me to carry when necessary.

What kind of maintenance will the pet require?

Will the cat or dog you want to adopt need a lot of daily care. Feeding and keeping a freshwater bowl is easy with timed-release dispensers, but what about brushing and washing?

  • Could your hands handle brushing a long-haired animal?
  • Would you be better off with a low maintenance short-haired animal?

Unless you have a pet door and allow your cats outside, you will need a litter box that will need cleaning. I suggest one of the electric self-cleaning ones that sell for around $100.

What kind of expenses will the pet require?

Are you prepared for the expense? If you’ve never owned a pet before, there’s much more than just food to consider. Make sure you can afford yearly vet visits, any required vaccinations, registration, and surprise health issues.

There are certain breeds that I won’t even consider because they are known to have numerous health issues. The expense to treat them is ridiculous, even with pet insurance.

Will you need assistance caring for the pet?

Who will help you care for the pet? If you have a partner and children living with you, assign daily tasks and chores to help with caring for your new family member.

If you live alone, do you know someone who would be willing to walk your dog when you are unable? Who will check-in or care for your pet when you are hospitalized or are bedridden?

What are things to look for?

When visiting a shelter, go beyond the typical interview of the animal. Instead of just spending time in a room with it, ask the staff if you could take it for a walk throughout the facility or outdoors if they have a space available. This will give you an idea of how much training the animal has had or needs.

  • Watch out for jumpers! If you struggle with balance, the last thing you need is a dog who likes to jump on you.
  • If you don’t want hair all over your floor, furniture, or clothing look for a breed that doesn’t shed.
  • Pay attention to the animal’s temperament. Are they aggressive, spastic, or calm?

Pets truly are fantastic companions when you find the right one.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • GailH
    2 months ago

    Good article but sorry I am offended by your use of the word spastic to describe the dogs behaviour.

  • wmslcw
    2 months ago

    I had Golden Retrievers when I was first diagnosed with PsA. I couldn’t walk them, because they were too strong for me. When our last Golden came to the end of his life, his arthritic limbs made it necessary for me to pick him up for him to be able to stand. It got harder and harder. When he passed, I still wanted a dog. I opted for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She learns quickly, and doesn’t pull when walking. She and I now work as a therapy dog team in hospitals and nursing homes. When I’m feeling down, she is the perfect heat warmer and she knows which part of my leg hurts. She’s the perfect pup.

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