Unfortunately, our pet’s life spans are much shorter than the average human lifespan. Sadly, this means that you will likely see the day that you have to say goodbye to your faithful companion. This is the unpleasant side of pet ownership, but an important one. Your pet relies on you to advocate for him or her, and end of life pet care is no different. Thankfully Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center is here to help guide you through this difficult season.
Assessing Quality of Life
Animals are amazing in so many ways. Perhaps one of the most admirable qualities they have is their lack of self pity. Most pets will endure things that people would never be able to without any sign of complaint. This does not, however, mean that they should.
It can be difficult to know when it is time to say goodbye. Taking into account your pet’s overall quality of life can bring a little clarity to the decision. Animals need to be able to function and experience some joy. They should be able to:
- Move around as desired without pain
- Eat enough to sustain an adequate body weight
- Eliminate away from their sleeping quarters
- Sleep restfully
- Indicate enjoyment when engaging in certain activities or under certain circumstances
Pets who are not able to meet these criteria may be experiencing a decreased quality of life. We are happy to discuss the situation further with you in order to see if there is anything that we can do to help mitigate the situation.
End of Life Pet Care Tips
Even if your pet has been given a terminal diagnosis, that doesn’t mean that you should give up hope. There is often a lot that can be done to improve overall quality of life and help you and your pet to enjoy the world a little longer.
End of life pet care often includes:
Good nutrition – Providing a solid nutritional foundation gives your pet the nutrients and energy he or she needs to maintain a healthy immune system and function optimally. Encouraging a healthy body weight is also vital.
Pain management – Pain and discomfort is a deal breaker for us. End of life pet care in most situations should encompass some type of pain management.
Wellness care – Just because a pet may not be around for years more doesn’t mean his or her quality of life should suffer during the time left. A painful tooth or a flea infestation can greatly detract from quality of life. It is important to continue good wellness care throughout your pet’s life.
Mobility and comfort aids – In the end of life, pets may have a hard time getting around. Utilize ramps, steps, and non-slip rugs where possible to help him or her get around. A well-fitted harness can help you to maneuver larger animals. Also be sure to provide a soft, comfortable place for your pet to rest.
Mental and physical stimulation – Your pet continues to need interaction with people and/or other animals as well as something to challenge his or her mind. Take your pet’s physical abilities into account and be sure to incorporate visitors, games, or gentle exercise into your daily routine.
It is important to note, though, that sometimes no matter how much we want it, we cannot improve our pet’s quality of life to an acceptable level. When this happens, as pet owners we often face a difficult decision.
Humane euthanasia is a noble choice for those pet owners who recognize that their beloved companion needs help. Deciding to say goodbye is a difficult thing to do, but it is an important decision for us to make on behalf of our loving pets.
At Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center, we are here to hold your hand through the process and help you to come to a decision. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your pet’s life, from start to finish.