Helping a Pet Owner With COPD

Last updated: October 2022

COPD is an acronym for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, with four stages.

  • Stage 1: Mild
  • Stage 2: Moderate
  • Stage 3: Severe
  • Stage 4: Very severe: often called end-stage COPD

Helping around the house

Here is a list of helpful suggestions that you or someone else could do to be of help:

Necessities that your loved one might need help with

In the early stages of COPD, the person likely experiences shortness of breath. In the later stages, breathing becomes more complex, especially in stage 4. Sadly, as a person enters stage 3 and stage 4, you might see him or her struggle to breathe or have difficulty getting things done.

Whether it’s preparing a meal or cleaning a house. Does this person have a loved one or friend who is an active caretaker? They might appreciate additional help, even a day or night off.

When you go to visit? Look around. Is there an area that looks like it could use some extra attention?

For some, it might be a one-time visit. Others might need weekly help for the more difficult chores.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help. He or she might tell you ‘no.’ They might not want help, and it might be embarrassing to them.

Yet, they might welcome and accept help. Be patient with them.

These could be for one time only or regularly. Be specific in what you tell them. They will likely look forward to your next visit.

If they are forgetful, it might be best for all to have you write the information down. If you can’t make it, or if you will be late, call and let them know.

It would be wonderful to give them a quick call to let them know when you will be there.

How to best assist a COPD pet-owner

Before I go any further, please do not use this as a time to tell them to get rid of their pets. Something should be said if hoarding is happening, animal neglect or abuse.

Even if the person is going into assisted living, it may be best for all if the pet situation is dealt with through a third party.

The dog owners

You could help pick up pet waste. You could do these 3-7 days a week for those who live in the area. Maybe less, depending on how much time you are available.

Maybe another family member or friend would be willing to help part-time too. Then you could split this unpleasant yet very important task.

As a visitor, you could offer to do this while you are there. In some areas, people are even advertising to do yard care, waste removal, and dog walking.

Maybe they would appreciate someone taking their dog for a spa day. It could be full grooming or maybe a pedicure and toenail trim.

Be sure to ask the owners what groomer they go to. Do they like a specific type of haircut? Short? Long? Is there a best type of shampoo that is preferred? Do scents make a difference?

Ask if a scented spray should be avoided. My COPD gets in the way of my being able to tolerate scents.

Does the dog need an actual vet appointment? Vaccinations or worming? Another thing to consider before having anything done is whether you will pay for this spa day or if the owner is supposed to.

It's best to have important things, such as money, discussed ahead of time. Then, there are no hard feelings. If you are the one offering, they might expect you to pay.

It could be an early Christmas present or a late birthday present. Maybe even a birthday gift for the pooch.

Time for a walk!

The dog possibly needs a walk, even in a fenced yard. Some dogs have extra energy to burn. There is a chance that the owner would like to go along! Encourage this if you can. The dog and owner would probably really appreciate it.

The cat owners

Do you detect an odor? How many litter boxes do the cats have?

The owners and visitors would probably appreciate you cleaning the litter boxes. The cat would appreciate this as well.

With more than one cat, they should have an extra litter box. Is kitty litter or food needed?

Does the cat need a vet visit? Are immunizations up to date? Rabies and heartworm? Does the cat need to be spayed or neutered? The vet should have records.

Is the cat matted? Shedding season is the worst. He's probably due for brushing, and that should be done every few days, especially when the cat is shedding.

There is likely a groomer at the vet. Does the cat need a nail clipping? A bath?

As with the dog, discuss who will pay for the vaccines and/or the grooming. 

Other pets

Have your loved one advise you about their care or needs. This can also make for good conversation.

Do not make this pet lover feel bad if the pet is overdue for care. Be grateful that you are there to make a difference.

Do you have ideas or suggestions? Please let us know in the comments.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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