Caring For A Sick Pet When You’re Also Sick: One Couple’s Story

Caring For A Sick Pet When You’re Also Sick: One Couple’s Story

Buck came into Jo and Rudy Hovey’s lives when their roommate found him on the streets of north Dallas, in an industrial area known for dog fighting.


“He had fireworks tied to him, his fur burned off, and a very bad flea infestation,” Jo said.

When they arrived at the veterinarian, they learned not only that Buck was just 6 weeks old, but also that he had Parvo and poisoning. The vet didn’t think he would make it.“Rudy took his vacation time and nursed Buck back to health,” Jo said. “Buck turned out to have a very joyful nature and loved to play with toys and us. So much so we got another puppy at a shelter for him to play with.”

Enter Bear.

Bear as a puppy

Bear as a puppy

When Buck was about 5 years old, Jo and her husband moved to live with her mother on 5 acres of farmland. There was plenty of room to run and play, and they thought it was the perfect time to bring another dog into the family.“We found Bear at the shelter,” Jo said. “They had a Lab mix mother give birth at the shelter, and all [of the puppies] were tan except one. He looked like a little German Shepherd mix. He was a little bit aggressive in the litter, and since Rudy has such extensive experience with all sorts of dogs, he knew this puppy would be trouble for the wrong family, so we brought him home.”

Paying For A Pet’s Unexpected Illness While Dealing With Your Own

Everything was going great for the new family. Jo and Rudy set a lot of boundaries for Bear, but also gave him lots of affection. Soon, he came to love people and cuddling, and he and Buck were fast friends.

Bear now

Unfortunately, things didn’t remain so perfect. Around Bear’s third birthday, he developed epilepsy, and began having seizures every 6 weeks. A few visits to the vet and some medication later, the seizures dropped to around 2 per month.

“Now we never know when he will have a seizure, but we had to add another medication because they started increasing again,” Jo said. “Because he is fairly large (German Shepherd mix) it is a harder balancing act with medications, vet visits, and lab tests to make sure his liver is okay.”

Paying for Bear’s epilepsy treatment hasn’t been easy. Jo and Rudy didn’t know about pet health insurance until it was too late and Bear already had a pre-existing condition, making it difficult for him to qualify for coverage.

“We pay out of pocket - on my disability,” Jo said.

Jo has a heart condition and chronic migraines. Rudy, her husband, is severely diabetic and also has a heart condition, as well as several other health issues.

Jo and Rudy often save up a few months in advance if they know the dogs will need to go in for lab testing. In the case of surprise large vet bills, Jo’s mother sometimes has to help out. And once in a while, Jo and Rudy just eat less in order to afford treatments.

“We have made a commitment that they rely on us to take care of them,” Jo said. “We can go without on occasion if we have to.”

Because of their disabilities, Jo says that it can sometimes be hard for her or her husband to find the energy or strength to take the dogs out or give them their medications. But even on the most difficult days, they continue to offer the care and support that their dogs need.Buck now

“For us it is the day to day, just trying to take care of them - some days are good, some are not so good,” Jo said. “Would we trade Buck or Bear for anything? Heck no. They are the reason I get up. I look at Bear’s face and he makes me glad I can do stuff with him. Buck just wags his whole body. They are joy. Even when it is really hard, it is totally worth every minute.”

We really applaud Jo and Rudy for their love and commitment under such challenging circumstances, and to show our appreciation, we offered the family a free year of PetPlus

coverage. PetPlus covers all pets regardless of pre-existing conditions, and with coverage Jo and Rudy will save up to 75% on their dog’s medications and receive discounts on boarding, supplies, and more.

We’ll check back in with Jo and Rudy to see how they are enjoying PetPlus. For now, take a look at some of the adorable and creative videos Jo has created of her dogs (and their friend Murphy, a Swiss Mountain Dog!): “Legendary Buck”“Bear The Spy 2”“Where Is The Ball?”“Squirrel!”“Playtime In The Yard”


How to Exercise Your Dog When You're Sick


Waking up with a headache, sore throat, and stuffy nose is no fun, and the last thing most people want to do when they’re feeling under the weather is take their dog out for some exercise. But your dog depends on you to provide them with mental and physical stimulation as well as bathroom breaks (unless you have a doggie door), and it’s up to you to find a way to give your dog those things even when you’re unwell. Here we’ll present some alternative ways to exercise your dog when you’re sick.

Note: Remember that forcing yourself to take your dog out for their regular exercise could make your illness worse. Consult your doctor if you are feeling out of sorts and you’re not sure how much activity is appropriate.

Indoor Games

Indoor games are a great way to get your dog active when you’re feeling sick. Many games can even be played right from the comfort of your own bed. Here are some examples:

Laser Pointer Chase:

Buy an inexpensive laser pointer and shine it back and forth across the floor. Your dog will delight in chasing the moving light, and will wear themselves out in the process. Remember not to shine the laser pointer into your dogs eyes as it could damage their retinas. Read these other tips for playing laser pointer chase for your dog without driving them crazy.

Indoor Fetch:

If you have a long hallway or other large indoor space, you can play fetch indoors. You may even be able to play it from the sofa or your bed.

Tug-of-War: Another stimulating game that you can play while laid up is tug-of-war. Many dogs love to play this game with a rope toy, but remember that it can bring out your dog’s competitive side, and you should make sure that you have a solid relationship in which you are the pack leader before engaging in this type of game. Many trainers also recommend ending games of tug-of-war with you successfully winning the toy.

Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys require your dog to problem solve in order to release food or treats that you stuff inside. There are many different types of puzzle and food-dispensing toys, and a variety could occupy your dog for hours while you get some rest.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

Low-Impact Outdoor Exercises

If you’re feeling well enough to go outside but still not 100%, you can engage in some outdoor activities while still taking it easy.Cut Your Walk in Half: If you usually take your dog for a half-hour walk, take them for a 15 minute walk instead. Choose an area with easy terrain (no hiking !) and a time of day when the weather won’t be unpleasant (e.g., in the summer, walk in the early morning or late evening to avoid high heat). Then, give your dog the rest of their exercise by playing some indoor games or offering them a puzzle toy.

Yard Fetch:

Take your dog out to the yard and throw a ball or frisbee. If you’re tired, you could even play fetch while sitting in a lawn chair or reclining in a hammock. Ensure that your yard is secure and all gates are closed and locked so that you won’t have to worry about chasing after your dog when you’re feeling low.

RELATED STORY: 3 Ways to Be Safer Walking a Dog at Night

Ask For Help

If you’re really ill, you may not be able to exercise your dog at all. If this is the case, consider taking your dog to dog day care or a boarding facility while you recover. Alternatively, you could hire a dog walker to stop by once or twice a day to relieve you from your duties.

Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. 

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