Coping with the impending loss of a pet is a challenging experience.
If your furry friend is in his golden years or diagnosed with a terminal illness, it's best to calmly guide the end-of-life experience and minimize any distress and discomfort.
When the time approaches, you may elect to care for your pet at home or decide to end the suffering with euthanasia.
Is your pet in pain?
When suffering, dogs and cats may not show outward signs of distress (like crying and whimpering). Some physiological and behavioral symptoms that your pet might be experiencing pain include
- excessive panting or gasping for breath
- reluctance to move
- and food pickiness.
Caring for an Elderly Pet
The most important thing you can do for your elderly pet is to minimize any pain or distress they're experiencing.
Oh, poor kitty.
With your vet's help, treat any health problems, since undiagnosed issues can cause discomfort and rapid deterioration. Surround her with her favorite things, like a squeaky toy or warm blanket.
Those pets with limited mobility can develop sores, it’s also essential to provide a warm, cushioned sleeping spot.
Be on the lookout for incontinence or the loss of bladder control. If your pet needs help getting up to urinate or defecate, you can purchase a sling or use a large towel.
Pet Hospice Care
Pet hospice is not a place, but personal philosophy and choice based on the idea that death can be a dignified part of life. Be very careful that you don't prolong the suffering of pets who are in pain or experiencing poor quality of life.
These are tough choices, one we know all too well.
With pet hospice care, the goal is to make a pet’s final days or weeks more pleasant with the proper use of dietary strategies, pain medications, and human interaction. Hospice care requires constant supervision to make sure their pet’s life ends comfortably.
For pets who would otherwise continue to suffer, euthanasia provides a peaceful, painless way to cross the rainbow bridge.
During the procedure, your vet will inject your pet with a sedative followed by a particular medication. The animal experiences no awareness of the end of life—the protocol is akin to undergoing general anesthesia for a surgical procedure and takes about 10 to 20 seconds.
Your vet can offer the best advice about the timing, as pet owners often delay the moment of euthanasia in anticipation of grief. If you observe that moments of discomfort outweigh his capacity to enjoy life, it is time to euthanize, even if your pet still experiences pleasure in eating or socializing. If your pet is in pain, your primary goal should be to minimize his suffering.
How can I face the loss?
For some people, spending some time with their pet after euthanasia is helpful. The grieving process includes accepting the reality of your loss, accepting that the loss and accompanying feelings are painful, and adjusting to your new life that no longer includes your pet. By understanding the grieving process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help others in the family who share this loss.
Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel. Everyone experiences grief differently.
If you or a family member have great difficulty in accepting your pet's death and cannot resolve feelings of grief and sorrow, you may want to discuss these feelings with a person who is trained to understand the grieving process and can support and help you as you mourn your loss.
Sorry for those dealing with these issues, our hearts go out to you.
Dealing with the loss of a special companion is never easy.
Whether you need grief counseling for yourself or if you need it as a family, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible after the in-home pet euthanasia so that the healing can begin.