adopting a pet


Adopting a pet is a kind and wonderful deed, and adopting a pet with a health condition or disability is an even more rewarding experience. Every pet deserves a loving, comfortable home, including pets with health conditions. Unfortunately, pets with chronic health issues are at a distinct disadvantage in the adoption process. They are often viewed as being ‘less adoptable’ and are left waiting significantly longer to find a home and an owner that is capable of providing enough love and support. While caring for a pet with health conditions is definitely a little more effort – although looking after a new pet regardless is quite a bit of effort – there is no doubt that it is far more rewarding. Not only are you saving this pet from the possibility of being put down, but you are enriching its life – however much longer that is. Some common health conditions experienced by household pets include thyroid problems, epilepsy, skin issues, digestive problems, allergies, ear infections, and physical disabilities. These often require additional care and different types of care. Let’s look at some ways you can care for these pets to make them more comfortable and support their condition. 

Before You Adopt

Choosing to adopt is a massive decision, especially if it’s your first pet. In every case of adoption regardless, it’s important to obtain a thorough understanding of the medical conditions your potential pet may have. This will save you a lot of time and money and potential grief. A long-term prognosis is recommended to make a fully informed, educated decision. Thankfully, many adoption shelters offer medical information regarding each pet – this is not always possible with buying a pet from a breeder or farm. 

Overall, it is important to consider how your pet’s health condition(s) will impact your life and whether you’re willing to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Pets with health conditions often possess different mannerisms and needs which may conflict with family, other pets, your house or lifestyle. Also, some conditions are more complex than others. Are you responsible enough to take charge of your pet’s medical needs? For example, medicating them when necessary? 

Animals with health conditions may require medication schedules, feeding routines, and may have specific exercise requirements. Although you may have it in your heart to adopt a sick or disabled pet, you may not be in the right stage of your life to meet its needs. However, if you are, then you may be the perfect candidate for these special animals. Before taking on this duty, talk with your adoption organisation to discuss the care your pet will need and how you can best tailor your home and lifestyle for your pet. 

Considering getting a new pet after the loss of a pet? Read our recent article before you do to see if you’re really ready. 

cat with blue eyes

What Does Caring For An Adopted Pet With Health Conditions Involve?

Caring for a pet as it is, is a huge responsibility. This is more so when it’s an adopted pet with health issues. The level of care required depends on the health condition of the adopted pet. Some health conditions are relatively simple and inexpensive, whilst others are life-long, severe and require continuous intensive care. Any responsible pet owner is aware that veterinary and food costs are a part of adopting and caring for a pet; therefore, it’s no surprise that pets that are already sick may require more veterinary care, which can incur more costs.  

The costs associated with caring for a pet with health conditions can be significantly higher in comparison to caring for a healthy pet. Special equipment, food, and additional veterinary costs may be required. Expected costs associated with adopting a pet should be carefully considered prior to adoption. The cost of caring for this pet will not only depend on the condition itself, but how much you’re willing to try and minimise effects of the condition. For example, if you are wanting to improve the life of a pet with amputations, you may want to make modifications to your home. That being said, conditions that are considered minor – such as malnutrition, internal and external parasites, and thyroid problems – are all relatively inexpensive. 

It should be noted, while providing all of the latest gear and modifications is a wonderful thing, it doesn’t replace love and time spent with the pet, which is always important. Always make sure you’re giving your pet the affection it needs as well as meeting its physical needs. 

How To Care For An Adopted Pet With Health Conditions

As mentioned, specific care will depend on the particular health condition of the pet. However, here are some general tips for helping your sick pet live a healthy, long life:

1. Prepare A High Quality Diet

A high quality diet is not only good for humans, but for pets too. A diet rich in proteins, fats, carbs, minerals and vitamins (and of course, water) results in a pet’s shiny coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. A good diet can also help strengthen a pet’s immune system, maintain their intestinal health, increasing mental acuity, keeping joints and muscles healthy and more! Further, it can also reduce a pet’s risk of obesity and becoming overweight, which is a big contributor to joint disease, heart disease and diabetes – these subsequently shorten a pet’s lifespan. So, maybe don’t give as many treats… Although, we know it’s hard!

2. Frequent Veterinarian Visits

All pets – healthy or sick – require regular veterinarian care, though no more than pets with known health conditions. Routine veterinary visits are critical in detecting the potential advancement of existing health conditions and/or uncovering any additional health conditions early to avoid them deteriorating. An early diagnosis of a health condition improves the chances of successful treatment and reduces long-term financial costs. 

3. Regular Supervision of Pet

Letting your pet roam free may seem like you’re doing them a favour, though doing so makes them susceptible to some dangers (e.g. automobile accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons etc.). If heath conditions affect your pet’s perception of dangers, it’s a good idea to keep them in closer proximity – perhaps limit them to being inside pets or create a safe enclosure outside.

girl with cat and dog


4. Careful Socialisation With Other Pets

If you have other pets in your household, it’s a good idea to facilitate a slow introduction with the new adoptee to ensure no pet is overwhelmed or gets over-excited and hurts the other on accident. For the first few weeks of socialisation, always ensure you’re supervising your pets. 

5. Medication

As the owner of a pet with health conditions, you may be required to administer medication to your pet. This may require you to develop a schedule or calendar of some kind to stay on top of dosages. Some tools that make life easier when it comes to managing medications include a weekly tablet container (it contains days of the week to prompt you) or a timed medication lid (it counts down the hours since you last opened the container). After all, no one has a perfect memory. 

Ultimately, it is important to give it some serious thought before you adopt a pet with a health condition. Caring for a pet with a health condition can involve a substantial amount of time and money; however, it is incredibly rewarding. Therefore, Pets in Peace provide some general tips to help with caring for a sick pet, to help ensure it lives a healthy and long life under your care. If you do decide to take the leap and take on the responsibility of caring for an adopted pet with health conditions, be prepared to enjoy a very special relationship!

If you’re looking to farewell your beloved pet in a meaningful way with an emotional tribute, consider planning a memorial service for them with Pets in Peace. We specialise in aftercare services for animals of all kinds and sizes, giving them a farewell that is dignified and respectful. Enquire about our services today

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