Everyone who loves a pet will eventually face losing them. Whether your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or is approaching the end of their lifespan, you will have to decide the best way to handle end-of-life care for your pet. Letting a pet go is one of the hardest things any pet parent will face. Because the grief during this time can be immense, the experts here at Long Animal Hospital & Emergency Center are here to help.
Signs to Look For
As time goes on, your pet will give signs that they aren’t as happy or healthy as they used to be. You might notice things such as:
- Losing weight, eating or drinking less
- Doesn’t want to play or go on walks
- Potty accidents
- Hiding or sleeping a lot
- Confusion or agitation
- Moving slowly, whining, or other signs of pain
When Is It Time?
A good way to monitor a sick or elderly pet’s condition is to track good and bad days on a calendar. It could be as simple as noting a smiley face or a frowny face for each day. You can also track how often they participate in 3-5 of their favorite activities. Another important sign is whether their pain symptoms are managed well by medications or pain management therapies. If the bad days are more common than the good ones, it’s a clear indicator that their quality of life is declining.
Pet Hospice Care
The goal of pet hospice care is to make your animal’s final days at home comfortable and full of love. Also called palliative care, hospice care is an individualized plan created in partnership with your veterinary team. It is a commitment for continual supervision to manage pain and provide support. A hospice plan will also include what to do with your pet’s body after they die. As your pet’s condition changes, your plan may change as well.
Euthanasia is a gentle, painless way to end your pet’s life when they would otherwise continue to suffer. Veterinarians undergo specialized training in order to perform the procedure, which takes a total of 15-20 seconds. While it often takes place in the vet’s office, in-home services may also be an option. After placing an IV, a vet will give a sedative to calm and relax your pet while they slowly become unconscious. A euthanasia solution is administered that will stop their heart. These final moments are often full of emotions for owners, but being with your pet until the end can be an important part of the grieving process.
End-of-life care for a beloved companion is full of difficult decisions. Many owners who have been through the process say they would rather make the decision a day too early than a day too late. If your pet is aging and their quality of life is on the decline, reach out to us to discuss options and create a plan to care for your pet.