Welcome to National Pet Month, which is celebrated every April. In this blog, Content Developer Azmina talks about how pets enrich our lives and gives top tips for responsible pet ownership.

A photo of a dog and a woman

What is the aim of National Pet Month?
National Pet Month is an annual celebration of the benefits that pets bring to our lives. The aim is to improve our pets’ welfare, encourage us to be responsible owners and make us aware of pet services that can help.

How can pets enrich our lives?
Pets can be a real source of comfort for people living with cancer. They are incredibly loyal, loving companions, who stay by our side no matter what and never judge us. Even at the most difficult times, pets can make daily life seem more bearable and create laughter, warmth and happiness.

Animal lovers may wish to join a group on Macmillan’s Online Community called Animals are family, too. This contains moving stories of the special relationship between pets and their owners. Lena9221 says:

An image of a quote from our supporter

How can pet therapy help?
Some animal charities, such as Pets As Therapy, Therapy Dogs Nationwide and The Mayhew in London, run pet therapy programmes. Volunteers try to brighten patients’ days by taking trained therapy dogs into care and residential homes, hospitals, hospices and day centres.

It is worth checking with your healthcare team or local organisations whether you could have a visit from a therapy animal. This could give you great enjoyment, have a calming effect and help reduce any feelings of being alone or isolated.

Top tips for managing pet care
Pets are such an important part of our family, but looking after them can sometimes become a worry, especially if you are going through cancer treatment. This can be a very distressing time, but here are some top tips for managing pet care:

1. Planning for an emergency: Think about who could look after your pet at short notice if you ever go into hospital. Write their contact details, together with those of your vet, on a card that you keep in your wallet.

2. Going into hospital: If you do go into hospital, consider these options:

  • Ask neighbours, family or friends whether they could look after your pet.
  • Your vet may know of a local service where volunteers could care for your pet temporarily.
  • Animal charities or organisations may be able to help. Mayhew in London runs a Pet Refuge programme which provides shelter and care for the pets of people in crisis for short periods. Other possible organisations to contact are The Cinnamon Trust, PetPals and Pet Fostering Service Scotland.
  • Speak to a hospital social worker for advice. They have a duty to protect your property if you are admitted to hospital. This includes pets if there is no one else to take care of them.
  • If you can afford to pay for pet care, consider using boarding kennels, catteries or pet sitters with a good reputation.

3. Protecting your pet’s well-being: Give detailed information about your pet’s food, daily routine and health to anyone looking after them. It can be reassuring for your pet to have familiar objects with them. These might include their favourite toys or bedding and something that smells of you, such as a jumper.

4. Going into care: If you need to go into a nursing or residential home, try finding one that will allow pets. Many pet friendly homes are listed on the Housing Care: Information for older people website.

The Cinnamon Trust can provide long-term care for pets whose owners have moved to residential accommodation that will not accept pets.

5. Re-homing your pet: If you have no option but to re-home your pet, ask an animal charity such as the National Animal Welfare Trust to find them a suitable new home.

6. Making a will: It is a good idea to think about who you would like to care for your pet after your death. You can leave details about pets in your will.

If you do not have any relatives or friends who could look after your pet, many national charities run re-homing services. Examples include Cats Protection and Dogs Trust. You can register your pet with these services to give yourself peace of mind.

For further information, have a look at Macmillan’s webpage about pet care.

Happy National Pet Month and remember to give your furry friends extra cuddles!

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