It is rare that an owner, when picking out a puppy from a litter or a companion from a shelter thinks about the choices available at the end of a dog’s life. How often does a new owner look at a frolicking, excited dog and realize that bundle of energy is going to get old and die? It’s too depressing to contemplate. Unfortunately the final stages of life creep up all too fast and an owner is faced with some tough decisions when that time comes. How does one know when it’s really time to let go? Do we put Fido down or let him die at home surrounded by all those who love him? These are some questions owners face when caring for a senior dog.
Is it REALLY time?
Some symptoms to be aware of in a dog’s final days are loss of appetite. Not even the tastiest morsel can get him to lick up nutrients. Has the dog stopped drinking water? Water is an important element in any dog’s health. If they can’t or won’t drink from their water dish, something is wrong. Can the dog make it to a designated potty area? If the dog has lost control of his bodily functions, it is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored. How can an owner tell that if it is old age and not some illness that the dog will recover from? Best thing to do it talk to the vet. They can give an owner advice and options on how to proceed in the final days of the dog’s life.
Is euthanasia best?
If an owner chooses to euthanize their elderly dog, talk to the vet about what to expect. When booking the procedure, ask to have it done first appointment in the morning, last appointment in the evening or when the office isn’t busy. It’s hard enough saying goodbye to a family member, the procedure shouldn’t be rushed and an owner shouldn’t be hurried out the door. Is the owner comfortable with staying until the final breath? Some owners have expressed regret not staying to the end; others feel that the right decision was made in their not staying. It is a personal choice that an owner needs to contemplate.
Is natural death best?
Sometimes the comforts of home are what a dog needs to cross peacefully over the rainbow bridge. Owners with the best intentions sit by their dying pet’s side offering kind words and loving caresses. If all goes well, the passing will be quiet. Occasionally a passing may not be so peaceful. The owner needs to weigh this into their decision. Are they prepared for the possibility of a less than serene death?
It is difficult for someone to wrap their mind around a loved one’s death, let alone having a plan when the time comes. Contemplating it now, while the dog is in his prime, may alleviate some headaches and worries when the time does come.
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