"You can be blind because of loving them so much": The impact on owners in the United Kingdom of living with a dog with osteoarthritis
KEYWORDS Veterinary, osteoarthritis, canine, burden of care, impact, human-animal bond, welfare, quality of life 2 Abstract Background There is a growing awareness that caring for a chronically ill pet may have a detrimental impact on their owner's quality of life. Companion animal orthopaedic disease has received little research interest in this context. Canine osteoarthritis is known to negatively affect the welfare of many dogs in the United Kingdom, but its consequences for their owners has
... or their owners has not previously been described. The aim of this study was to use a qualitative methodology to explore the impacts on a dog owner that occur following their dog's diagnosis with osteoarthritis. Owners of osteoarthritic dogs based in the United Kingdom (UK) were recruited through veterinary practices to participate in semistructured interview about life with their dog. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was used to construct key themes. This publication describes the theme that focused on the impact(s) that the dog's condition had had on the life of their owner. Results Forty owners of 35 dogs of a range of breeds and ages were interviewed. A wide range of negative impacts on the physical, mental and financial health of owners were described. Owners detailed increasing worry over time about their pet's condition, frequently combined with a growing need to physically assist their dog, as osteoarthritis severity increased. Their dog's reduced mobility and need for medications progressively limited their own lifestyles and ability to have time away from their pet. Owners typically described a strong bond with their dog as a motivator to provide ongoing care. Conclusions The impacts on owners of caring for an osteoarthritic dog appear multi-faceted and may be sustained over multiple years. Veterinary surgeons may be unaware of the challenges faced these owners. The negative consequences for owners of arthritic dogs may be buffered by access to quality information about their pet's condition, and improved support from both veterinary surgeons and other owners, enabling them to provide the best possible care.