Facilitating End-of-Life Decisions for Your Pet
Making the last decision for your furry family member can be very difficult, so knowing what to ask your veterinarian can make your decision easier.
Of course as a pet owner you wish that your aging pet would pass peacefully in his sleep, but that is often not the case.
As your pet ages, they will begin to feel aches, pains, and discomfort, but when is it time to talk to your veterinarian?
A friend’s dog has had four tumors removed only to have them grow back within six months. He is 13 years old and is consistently weakening and becoming increasingly more uncomfortable. She is worried that he is suffering, so she scheduled an appointment with her veterinarian to assess the situation.
Her veterinarian gave her some great advice. He told her to consider the 3 A’s: Appetite, Attitude, and Activity. Near the end of life, most dogs and cats will feel discomfort, weakness, loss of appetite, dehydration, and lack of mobility.
It is important to recognize when your pet’s typical behaviors have changed and to what extent. If he or she can still enjoy activities, then euthanasia should not be considered.
When the time comes that you notice that your pet is suffering more than enjoying life, it is time to have the discussion with your veterinarian. Each situation is individual and should include not only a discussion of the medical aspects, but also a discussion of what types of treatment both you and your pet are comfortable with.
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement has special resources for people with anticipatory grief, including an online discussion room, at the APLB web site.