End Of Life For Dogs
When you first bring home that bouncy puppy, it’s hard to imagine that only 10 or 12 years later you will have to say goodbye. Dogs are so full of life, the inevitable end is hard to imagine.
Your Elderly Dog
Dogs approach old age at different times, depending on their size and breed. While a Great Dane is considered elderly at 7, a miniature poodle doesn’t hit old age until about 10 or 11. Some dogs are still running agility courses at 13. The oldest dog recorded lived to be 29.
As your dog ages, you will notice that he begins to slow down. He may have a harder time getting up or jumping into your car or onto furniture. The fur on his muzzle and around his eyes will become gray or whit, and his coat may start to lose some of its shine. Mentally, your dog may slow down a little as well. He may even have moments of confusion or forgetfulness, his personality may change and he may become fearful or aggressive, and he may have more anxiety than he used to.
Providing a supportive bed to cushion his achy bones, a ramp to a piece of furniture or to help him into the car, and regular veterinary treatment will ameliorate his discomfort. Your veterinarian can help determine the best route to take in treating age-related confusion and physical ailments.
Your elderly dog may also require special food and may receive some comfort from supplements such as glucosamine fatty acids. A senior diet may help sedentary dogs keep off the pounds and a low-protein diet may slow kidney disease. After about the age of seven, your veterinarian will likely recommend yearly physicals to check for any age related conditions. Use these visits to discuss nutritional and exercise needs, as well as physical symptoms.
Just because your dog is elderly, doesn’t mean he no longer enjoys life. While he may not be up to a 5-mile run, he will cherish a leisurely walk, a car ride, and even a visit to the dog park. You may find that your bond strengthens as your dog ages-now that he is not busy chasing every squirrel he sees, there is more time for cuddling on the couch. He may begin to look to you for more companionship than he did as a rough-and tumble youngster. Your dog’s senior years provide you an opportunity to return all the gifts your dog has given you over the years.
These days, because of medical and nutritional advances, dogs are healthier than ever. We are able to keep our geriatric dogs living well into their senior years. Because we have the means to cure or temper many of the ills of old age, our dogs can live long lives, and we are often put in the position of deciding when it’s time for our beloved friends to go. Sometimes, because of illness or injury, even relatively young dogs may need to be put to sleep.
When to put your dog to sleep is a personal decision. Some feel that it is most humane to put their dog to sleep before he ever suffers; others let their dog die naturally. Most people feel that their dog lets them know when he is ready: he loses interest in activities that once delighted him, may refuse to eat or drink, and seems depressed or in discomfort or pain more often than not. Whatever you decide to do, your veterinarian should support your decision and provide you with the information you need.
Today there are more options than there were in the past when it comes to ending your dog’s life. Instead of going to the veterinarian, many have now implemented home visits for euthanasia. If your veterinarian doesn’t do this, she can probably put mobile in touch with a veterinarian who does. There are even mobile veterinarians who specialize in this end of life care. Allowing your dog to pass away in the safety and comfort of his own home is a great gift to him and may be a comfort to you. To ensure that this is a possibility, it’s a good idea to ask you veterinarian about her policy far before you need this service.
Whether you decide to put your dog to sleep at home or in your veterinarian;s office, there are a few basic procedures, If possible, make arrangements for payment and body transportation and final disposition before putting your dog to sleep. This is a traumatic event for you and you shouldn’t need to deal with the mundanities of finding your check book or deciphering bills at this time.
A good veterinarian will be happy to bill you or have you pay beforehand. If done at a clinic, your vet should be willing to do the euthanasia first thing in the morning or at the end of the day when there are few patients waiting, and you should be allowed to wait in an exam room rather than in a waiting room.
Your vet should give you the option of being in the room with your dog as he dies. Although it is a personal decision, many people who opt not to be in the room later regret the decision. Most people find comfort in seeing that as their dog dies, he feels no pain and simply slips away.
If you opt to have your dog euthanized at home, you can allow him to choose a location to lie down or lay him in a location of your choice. If he loved to sleep on f]the sofa or bed, he may feel most comfortable here. His favorite snoozing spot under a shady tree can also be soothing to both of you. If you are indoors, place an old blanket under your dog. Do not be alarmed if your dog seems to perk up when the veterinarian arrives; this is very normal and does not mean that he has recovered or that you are doing the wrong thing
Before putting your dog to sleep, your vet will probably administer a sedative. Your dog will become sleepy and lie down. This is a good time to say your last good-byes, give a last kiss and head rub. Then your veterinarian will administer a lethal dose of sodium phenobarbital. Your dog will rapidly lose consciousness and soon after, his heart will stop. let your veterinarian know if you would like to spend time with your dog following his passing. A good veterinarian will accommodate your wishes.
Losing pet can be as difficult as losing any other family member. There is nothing wrong with grieving for your dog. You have shared many years together, living through both good and bad times. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t provide as much support for grieving the loss of an animal companion as it does for grieving the loss of a human friend or relative. Let your friends and family know what you are going through. They may be more supportive than you expected. If you do not have someone to turn to, seek support from a therapist, clergy person, or other professional.
Some people grieve the loss of their dog for a long time and choose never to bring another animal into their lives. Others feel ready to adopt a new companion within a couple of weeks. There is nothing wrong with either, it’s simply a matter of what makes you most comfortable. Do not assume, though, that a new dog can replace the one you lost, dogs are individuals.
I hope you found this article about the aging and dying of your dog informational. It is never a good thing to go through, I know this from experience. Leave a comment below, I welcome them.