People who have dealt with chronic illness know the value of peer support groups. These groups provide information, a place to “hang out” and share your stories, a place where people in your situation can help you. Or at least give you a shoulder to cry on. But for some reason we tend to think of peer support groups as in-person gatherings that help us deal with human chronic illnesses. And yet, there are online peer support groups for dog owners whose furry friends have a chronic illness—or who just want advice. We found that out the hard way—when one of our pugs developed Canine Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemia or AIHA.
Nobody really understood what we were going through. To friends and family our little, five-year old pug “was just a dog”; to us she was (and thankfully is) a member of our family. But the wonderful people at VetNet not only understood; they provided us with advice and, at times I think, with sanity. The people who post on VetNet are from all over the world –and the one thing they all have in common is that their dog died or is being treated for this disease. As a result, their collective knowledge is encyclopedic. In their posts, I found information on the disease itself, drug options, free medicines, relapses, and dealing with stress and grief. I found out about the questions to ask the vet and what to watch for when we finally got our little one back from the hospital. And most of all their stories of survival gave me hope when I thought all was lost.
Of course they are not the only dog peer support group around. Just google dog owner forums and you will find any number of them here. (I think Global Paw and Dog Owner Forum are good general peer support groups but you may prefer others.)
However, if your specific breed has a specific illness you will probably want to google that breed and that illness. For example, if your Labrador Retriever has a mast cell tumor, you may want to go here . Whatever the issue though, the Internet is such that there will be a peer support group out there for you.
And no-one on that support group will tell you, “Oh, it’s just a dog.”