Part II – Coping With Your Elderly/Sick Pet – Caring For Yourself

In our last blog we talked about coping with sick/elderly pets and how to make the best decisions for them during this difficult time.

As important as it is to take care of our pets during this time, it’s equally as important to take care of ourselves so that we can take do the best we can for our pets. In this blog we’re going to discuss ways of caring for ourselves during this difficult time.

Enjoying the Moments

When we are dealing with our sick or elderly pets, it’s very easy to get caught up in their day-to-day care. We have a multitude of chores, including, but not limited to, making sure they are eating, sleeping, pain-free, mobile and taking their medications. Add to that the time we take to speak with doctors and research their ailments. While all of this is important, it is probably just as important to take the time to enjoy each day with them.

Our “furkids” are experts at living life one day at a time even when they are facing a serious illness, and we can learn much from them about this. It’s not only good for them when we stop to enjoy what time we do have with them, but also it’s good for us as well.  Taking this time helps us “de-stress” from the rigors of their care and helps us to heal when we lose them because we will have those special memories to look back on. Here are just a few suggestions for how you can embrace each day that you do have with them. Think about your pet and what other activities you may be able to add to this list.

  • Go on special walks or rides if they can’t walk.
  • Give them a massage or take time to brush their hair.
  • Feed them even a little of their favorite treats
  • Take pictures/videos of the two of you together
  • Talk to your pets. Thank them for sharing their lives with you. Let them know the lessons and gifts you have learned from sharing their lives with them.

Balancing Our Needs With Those of Our Pets

There is much truth to the saying that we can’t take good care of others if we don’t take good care of ourselves.  When we are under the stress of caring for our sick or elderly pets, it’s very easy to get run-down and to let our immune systems run down.  The last thing that you want to do is get sick while having to care for your “furkids.”

We spend so much time worrying about whether or not our “furkids” are eating and sleeping enough, yet we don’t worry if we are doing the same. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may want to consider taking an over the counter remedy (Tylenol PM) or holistic remedy (Calm Forte) or try meditating before bed. Exercise is also a great tool for helping to relax before bedtime.

Being sure that you are eating well is also important. If you are finding that you don’t have much of an appetite or no time to prepare meals for yourself, graze on healthy snacks throughout the day. Eating an apple, piece of cheese or other protein or even a protein bar will help ensure you have the strength and energy to care for yourself as well as your pet.

It’s important to note that the suggestions that are in this section apply to those already grieving for a pet.

Respite Care

Similar to when dealing with a sick family member, it’s so important to find help so that you can take “care breaks”. Although, at first thought, you may feel that taking time to go to a movie or out to coffee with a friend isn’t fair to your pet, nothing can be further from the truth. Taking some “recharging” time, can give you the necessary energy and outlook to give them the best care possible.

See if you can get a good friend, neighbor or family member to watch your pet while you take some time for yourself. If you’re concerned that they don’t have the proper skills, see if you can hire a pet sitter or veterinary technician to come sit with your pet for awhile.

 You’re Not Alone

When we are going through this difficult situation, we can often feel very alone. Not only are we going through the anticipatory grief, but also we have a hard time sharing our feelings with others. We can worry that others will not understand the measures we are taking to care for our “furkids.”

It’s important to realize that you don’t have to go through this time alone. Pet Loss Counselors often work with clients who are in these types of situations, and many support groups have members dealing with sick or elderly pets. We encourage you to seek out the support you need. Look for a Pet Loss Counselor or group to support you or visit one of the online chat rooms offered by the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (

Know that we at PetLoss Partners are always here to support you and are only an email or telephone call away.

We also encourage you to comment on this blog with either what you have gone through with a sick or elderly pet or any questions you may have.

We are here to support you!



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