Adopting a Dog with Medical Issues
Just like you, your dog is prone to catching the occasional cold, suffering from seasonal allergies, ear infections, or dermatitis. Some dog breeds are more likely to be affected by certain medical conditions due to body type. For instance, a dog with drop or folded ears will most likely need more regular ear treatments than a dog with erect or button ears.But overall, these things are easily managed with regular routine veterinary care.
Chronic or more serious ailments, like hip dysplasia, heart murmurs, diabetes, or a severe patellar luxation are issues that do not fall under the guise of normal pet ownership and shouldn’t be taken lightly by would-be pet owners.
There is a lot to consider when adopting a dog with a medical condition, but primarily the overall cost of care and treatment usually makes the top of that list. Determining the actual cost of care will incorporate more then just pharmaceutical costs. The price and frequency of veterinary visits that will be needed should also be included in the estimate.
If a specialist is needed, that will add to the cost as well. Surgery is the most obvious cost that can be incurred since anesthesia is pricey, but what about the cost of missing work? Can you afford to take off early, or take time off altogether to help nurse your pup back to health? Being financially stable is incredibly important when taking on an animal with medical needs. If you are just starting out in your career you probably don’t want to roll the dice as to whether or not your pet will need a lifesaving operation.
It is not uncommon for animals to be surrendered to shelters due to unforeseen medical costs (the key word being unforeseen). If you know that there is a good chance your new dog will need additional care down the road, don’t cross your fingers and hope for that promotion. Get the animal that fits your financial state right now.
Time is another consideration when adopting an animal with medical needs. Considering you will most likely be met with great resistance by your new patient, are you willing to make time in your current schedule to administer eye drops and other treatments? Are you willing and able to take time out to schedule and keep doctor visits? What about vacations or business trips? Do you have friends or family who would be willing to take on the responsibility of giving Mr. Pickles his medication?
Clearly there are lots of questions you should ask yourself before taking on a special needs dog, and it is important to be honest with yourself. Can you really offer the quality of life this animal deserves? Or are you just hoping you can because you would like to be able to help him?
The most important thing a future pet owner can do when considering adopting a dog with a serious health problem is to research the issue. There is a lot of breed-specific literature out there, as well as websites like petMD.com that will help you get a better understanding of the issues affecting your potential new dog. Health issues like heart murmurs, for instance, are designated by grades of severity, which can help you to better understand the level of veterinary maintenance you will need to provide.
Figure out what your best and worst case scenarios are and prepare accordingly. Be comfortable that you will be able to provide the means necessary to care for the dog you are choosing to adopt if the worst should become a reality. It may be a bleak outlook, but what is even sadder is seeing someone have to surrender their new best friend because they cannot afford a lifesaving surgery.
All pet owners, regardless of whether their dogs have medical conditions, should be financially prepared to incur the cost of emergency and routine medical care for their pets. Additionally, pet owners have a responsibility to invest the necessary amount of time it takes to meet their dogs’ exercise and socialization needs, which, even for a normally healthy dog, can be a huge undertaking.
So before adopting a dog with medical issues, make sure you are aware of not only the monetary responsibility and effort it will take to provide for the dog, but also of your own personal limitations as a pet owner.