How to Avoid Burnout When Caring for Your Senior Pet

My 13-year-old Labrador, Sanchez, has been fighting off an e-Coli infection. To be honest, his care has been all consuming lately.

Fortunately, I work from home, so I’ve been able to monitor all of his needs, including administering daily SubQ fluids. However, I realized how much I was suffering when the following happened one day: I gave Gina, my 7-year-old dog, an antibiotic that was meant for Sanchez. I gave Sanchez a probiotic when he should have had an antibiotic. I accidentally put the needle in my finger when giving Sanchez his SubQ fluids. Finally, I accidentally ladled homemade cauliflower/leek soup into the dog dish. Yikes!

My behavior alerted me that I was suffering from caregiver burnout. I realized the immediate importance of making changes in my routine for my own health so that I could take better care of Sanchez.

1. Shower and change daily

I went for three days without showering, only leaving my house to take Gina for walks, and wore the same clothing. As soon as I showered, I started to feel more myself. Although it did take some effort to choose different clothing, that also made me feel better. Putting myself together with make-up, styling my hair, etc also lifted my spirits. While Sanchez didn’t care what I looked like, I did, because it gave me renewed energy to take care of him.

2. Keep a chart of all meds and delivery times

After mixing up their medications with the wrong time of day and giving the wrong dog an antibiotic, a friend suggested creating a chart of their medications and herbal pills. This has helped tremendously. If I was in my normal state, I wouldn’t need these, but anything that helps me think clearly is a big plus.

 

3. Have friends visit

Even though I, understandably, didn’t want to leave Sanchez, it was good for me to be around people. Inviting friends over to visit not only cheered me up, but my dogs enjoyed the company as well. And, it was so heart-warming to see Sanchez engage with others again.

How to Avoid Burnout When Caring for Your Senior Pet

4. Spend time with your other pets and/or children

While I’m sure Gina has been aware of Sanchez’s illness, she also is a high-drive dog that needs my attention. Adhering to her normal routine of hikes, training and agility time has made me just as happy as her.

How to Avoid Burnout When Caring for Your Senior Pet

5. Be present

Admittedly, I’ve spent way too much time wondering if this is the end of life for Sanchez. And, every time my mind wanders in that direction, it makes me sad. My cherished times with him are moments when I am present and grateful for our time together. At this stage, every moment shared is a gift, and being present reminds me of my blessings.

I’m happy to report that Sanchez appears to be bouncing back and starting to act like himself again.

Related:
6 Ways Your Pet Tells You They’re In Pain
7 Steps To Help Your Senior Dog Be Happy and Fulfilled

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64 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Isa JOSSERAND HURE

Thank you for caring

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heather g.
heather g2 years ago

A saddening story when one has had similar experiences.....

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE2 years ago

We just enjoy each others company until we must part for a short while.

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Nancy W.
Nancy W2 years ago

thanks I'm also very worried about my aging dog he's slowed down alot.

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Larry McDaniel
Larry McDaniel2 years ago

Thank you

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Stefania G.
Stefania G2 years ago

It's been a comfort reading this article, I'm currently looking after a very senior dog and it's really taking its toll. My dog Buck is an almost 19 year old husky mix and he's been living with us for 3 years. He was coping very well until a few months ago, now he's incontinent and wearing a diaper day and night, also he's almost blind and his rear legs have become extremely weak. We just take it day by day, he's still very interested in food and in his daily walks to the park - it doesn't look he's in pain, he's just extremely old.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O2 years ago

Caring for an older pet is a way of learning how to care for a person who becomes old, ill or disabled.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O2 years ago

Do take care of yourself.

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