How to Care for a Terminally Ill Pet
When you know that your pet is going to pass away soon—due to age or chronic illness—you must first prepare yourself emotionally for the impending loss—only then can you give your pet the care they need in their final days.
The greatest relief you can provide your sick pet is by recognizing and minimizing the physical pain they may be experiencing owing to their illness. Your vet can help you recognize the signs of physical pain and discomfort as well as emotional distress so that you can give your pet the attention and care they need at this junction of their life.
Recognizing pain in pets
It can be hard for pet parents to detect pain as animals—dogs and cats in particular—aren’t able to show that they are in pain as humans can. In fact, your pet may continue to behave normally in spite of being in pain, making it even more difficult for you to help them.
According to vets, some visible signs that your dog or cat may be in pain include difficulty in breathing, inability or unwillingness to move, excessive alone time, and change in eating habits. While these are general signs of sickness, it’s important to ask your vet for specific signs and symptoms related to your pet’s specific ailment.
Behavioral changes in sick pets
If you pay close attention, it’s not that difficult to find something amiss in your dog’s behavior and demeanor when they are sick. Some of the most common behavioral changes include reduced physical activity, aggression, poor appetite, and excessive barking.
Easing your pet’s pain
Terminally ill pets may be on constant medication to improve their quality of life. Healthy elderly pets should be taken for regular check-ups to rule out disease and associated symptoms such as pain and inflammation. If your vet finds it necessary, they will prescribe pain-relieving medication as well as devise a pain management plan that you can follow at home.
For instance, if your dog has joint or muscle pain due to age or a specific condition such as arthritis, they may need regular medication to alleviate pain and swelling. Note that elderly pets may not always show signs of sickness; therefore, they must be observed for any behavioral changes and taken for a physical examination even if they seem to coping well with old age.
Home-based hospice care for terminally ill pets
Choosing hospice care for a terminally ill pet in is an option if you can’t get to euthanize your pet and would like them to receive special care in their last days. Home-based hospice can be a lot of work, as you and your family need to be prepared to provide intensive nursing care to your pet, administer pain and other medication, make sure that your pet is clean and comfortable, and provide them proper diet and compassionate end-of-life care.
You will need the guidance of your vet to begin and continue hospice pet care. Seek their expert opinion to decide if home hospice is the right option for your pet and to make sure it will not unnecessarily prolong your pet’s pain and suffering.
When the time comes, or if you choose to euthanize your pet to end their suffering, you can preserve your beloved pet’s memory by giving them an individual and personalized cremation at a dedicated crematorium such as http://www.marleyhall.co.uk, a family-run pet cremation service founded by an animal-lover couple.
Making the choice to euthanize your pet
It is a difficult choice indeed, but if your vet determines that your pet’s suffering is only aggravating with each passing day, you may have to decide to euthanize your beloved furry friend to give them a peaceful end.
Trust your vet and seek their advice on when is the right time to let your pet go. If hospice care and intensive treatment have failed to significantly improve your pet’s health, and if medical tests report no improvement, talk to your vet about euthanasia.
Consider all factors, and if you determine that your pet’s pain and discomfort are far greater than the good moments they may be experiencing in your care, it may be the right time to let them go. Speak to your vet and understand the process so that you and your family are somewhat prepared for the moment. Losing a pet brings tremendous grief, but if keeping them alive is not helping them, make the difficult decision and let them go.
ALOP has been helping animals all over the world since 2007.