No matter how hard we try to protect our beloved pets, sometimes they get ill and their condition doesn’t improve. The only solution is long-term medication that promises to set us back a small fortune each month and brings with it a whole host of questions and concerns.

Below is a breakdown of the things to consider when your dog receives a diagnosis of a chronic illness. It is worth asking your vet about the costs involved, potential side effects, quality of life, and how you will need to adjust your life to meet your dog’s needs.

Cost:

The cost implications associated with having a dog on long-term medication can be huge, especially if your dog isn’t insured. This can cause a lot of financial worry, which, when added to the emotional stress of your dog’s diagnosis, can really take its toll.

It used to be the case that you could only buy animal medication from your vet, but since a law change in 2005, vets are now legally obliged to write you out a prescription so you can buy your drugs elsewhere. Although they are allowed to charge for this (usually £10-15), ultimately, it allows you to shop around for the best deal.

If requested to, your vet can also add ‘repeats’ to the prescription so you can buy the medication more than once. This, along with the time and money it saves, is why many pet owners are now choosing to buy online. The medication is exactly the same as you would buy from your vet, but often a fraction of the price.

Side effects:

One of the biggest considerations when embarking on long-term medication is the side effects that come with the drugs your dog has been prescribed. It is very important that you discuss these with your vet and decide on the best course of action.

Sometimes the side effects will present so severely in your dog that they will outweigh the potential benefits of the drug, meaning you need to discontinue use. Other times, the side effects will be easily managed. It may be that your vet recommends a supplement to feed alongside the medicine.

If you are worried about side effects, talk to your vet. It may be that there is a preferable alternative that is worth exploring e.g. dietary changes, hydrotherapy etc. Your vet will be able to guide you through this decision and offer up the pros and cons of every option.

Quality of life:

Sometimes a dog can be maintained on medication long-term, although this doesn’t always guarantee its quality of life. If the medication is going to help your dog lead a normal, happy life, then it is definitely worth pursuing.

Life adjustments:

The extent to which you need to adapt your life around your dog’s chronic illness will depend on the illness itself and the type of medication he is on.

A dog with a chronic skin condition, for example, may need medication and a change of diet to achieve healthier skin. Dogs with diabetes, as well as requiring their daily injections of insulin, will also benefit from a dietary change and increased exercise (if they’re not already exercising moderately and consistently) to avoid peaks and troughs in their glucose levels.

Whatever the condition you are faced with, most of them will require a degree of lifestyle adjustment to manage correctly, whether it’s budgeting for medication costs, allowing time for more exercise, or even researching different ways to help your dog cope.

But it is all totally worth it – after all, you can’t put a price on your dog’s health and happiness.

Please comment below if you have any advice for our other readers or personal experiences you would like to share.

Written by: Hannah Dyball