Looking after chronically ill dogs: impacts on the caregiver's life
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article › Research › peer-review
Studies in human medicine show that care of chronically ill family members can affect the caregiver's life in several ways and cause "caregiver burden." Companion animals are offered increasingly advanced veterinary treatments, sometimes involving home care. Owners choosing such treatments could thus face similar challenges when caring for their animals. This qualitative study uncovers impacts on an owner's life, when attending to the care of an aged or chronically ill dog and reflects on the differing roles of caregivers with animal and human patients. Twelve dog owners were selected for in-depth interviews based on the dogs' diagnoses, and the choice of treatments and care expected to affect the owner's life. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed qualitatively. The dog owners reported several changes in their lives due to their dog's condition: practicalities like extra care, changes in use of the home, and restrictions relating to work, social life, and finances. These were time-consuming, tough, and annoying, but could often be dealt with through planning and prioritizing. Changes in the human–dog relationship and activities caused sadness and frustration, which in turn led to feelings of guilt, and in some cases created a feeling of loss. Also, concerns about the progress of the dog's condition, it's welfare, and euthanasia brought emotional distress and many doubts. The owners did, however, respond to the changes differently and as a result experienced different effects on their own life. This study confirms that the situations of caregivers with human and animal patients are in some ways similar, yet the study also identifies and reflects on some of the differences. These include the caregiver role and the options of assistance as well as euthanasia. Veterinary staff are urged to inform owners about possible impacts on their lives when considering careconsuming treatments, and to be aware of the need for support during treatment as well as in decisions about euthanasia.
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|
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