Caring for a dog through the good and the bad times - It is always sad when any creature is coming to the end of its life. In the case of a dog dying it could be an animal that you have found after an accident, or your own beloved pet whose life is coming to an end. Whatever the circumstances, the role that you play in the animal's final days will be important.
So often a dog will not just quietly slip away in its sleep but rather YOU will have to make the choice to euthanize. Knowing that this is the right decision does not make it any easier. However before that stage of your pet's life you may have to care for a dog which is terminally ill. These days there are many options available to extend a pet's life comfortably, treat various life threatening conditions and keep a pet out of pain. If your dog has a terminal illness it does not necessarily mean that you have to euthanize it immediately. Instead you and your pet can enjoy what time there is left and make the right choice when it is appropriate.
Bear in mind though that you must not extend the life of an animal that is suffering.
Getting the right diagnosis
Just like people dogs need to have the right medical diagnosis.
You should never vaguely guess at what is going on with your dog's health or try to medicate the animal yourself without checking with a veterinary professional first.
Before you visit the veterinarian try to think about the physical, mental and general health changes in your dog. Make a note of those that are relevant or new so that you will not forget any when you are in the surgery. Any or all of these could help your vet make the right diagnosis.
Follow the Veterinarian’s Instructions
Your vet may need to undertake tests or investigations of your pet before he or she can make a proper diagnosis. This can be expensive but is vital for your dog.
Once a diagnosis has been made your vet may offer a few solutions. Depending on the animal's condition the vet may advise euthanasia. This will usually only be in severe cases. However, although you cannot be forced to make such a choice, the animal's well being must be paramount.
Alternatively the vet may give your animal a course of treatment or even medication for life. This may not be easy and can be expensive. You must follow the vet's instructions though. If your animal needs its medication four times a day then that is what it must have.
Unless you can offer the commitment necessary you are being cruel keeping a sick animal alive.
Illnesses that could be the cause
Dog's can suffer from various life threatening illnesses. Some are treatable whilst others will require ongoing treatment and TLC, tender loving care, until the dog's death. The vet will no doubt tell you when they have done all that they can. Your dog still may be quite comfortable but the prognosis will not be good. This is when you need to care for your animal appropriately until it is time to say your goodbyes.
Such illnesses can be:
The dying animal
If a dog is literally dying in your arms. there may be little you can do. If it is due to an accident the basics of first aid apply just as they do to a person. A veterinarian should be contacted at once so that treatment can be given. In the mean time keep the dog warm, calm and in a quiet environment if possible.
When you have a dog as a pet that has a terminal condition keeping him comfortable will depend on many things.
For example: If your dog has heart disease it would be cruel to keep it indoors all the time with no exercise. What you need to do is adjust your animal care routine.
Adjusting your dog care routine
On the whole it is all about being sensible. A dying dog may need more of your time, energy, thought and love but your pet is surely worth it, isn't it? However, it can be difficult. Consider:
Enjoy the time you have left
Make sure that you and your pet enjoy the time that the dog has left. This will not always be possible but it is worth trying. Extra cuddles, strokes and love will help all of you.
Know when it is time to say goodbye
However much you prepare yourself for the death of your animal it will be hard. It is often just as hard for any other dogs that live with you. Consult your vet about how to make those final steps less traumatic for all concerned. Ideally, after loving and caring for your animal for so long, you want its death to be as painless as possible.
Half the battle is knowing and admitting when it is time to say goodbye to your pet.
A dog may live years with a life threatening condition, almost thriving on its medication. Suddenly out of the blue all of this could change.
However hard it is, you must admit when it is no longer fair to keep your pet alive. There comes a time when to do so would be purely for selfish reasons. If you love your pet you have to let it go when the time is right.
Often a pet will let you know when it is time, or simply your gut instinct will tell you. Listen to your heart and make the right choice.
If you are in any doubt consult your veterinarian.
You will need
Tips & Warnings
As a child in fifties Great Britain I only had a vague knowledge of what a guide dog for the blind was. At school and at home children would save the foil tops from milk bottles "for a blind dog". Firstly I thought that we were saving up for a dog that was blind and, even when the truth was explained to me, I could not understand just how these foil lids could provide a guide dog.
The top and the bottom of the matter is that training a guide dog for a blind person takes time, effort and, as usual, money. Despite the worthiness of guide dogs to this day funding is never enough.
The guide dog concept dates back to the First World War
During this conflict, the Great War, which ran from 1914 until 1918 dogs in Germany were trained to lead soldiers who had been blinded. Dogs are such willing learners and far more capable than many people give them credit for.
Both the trainers and the animals deserve huge thanks for the work that has been done since those early days.
The Blind Association Guide Dogs group was founded in 1934. From the late 1920's in America, and the early thirties, in the United Kingdom, research into the dog experiences of Germany was taking place.
By 1931 the UK had four fully trained guide dogs, for the blind; the guide dogs for the blind association was well underway.
The Guide Dog service in the UK has always been a charitable service and getting the appropriate dogs was costly in the beginning. A volunteer program was created so that volunteers could walk young dogs in order for the animal to get the feel of the guide dog life ahead. Soon after a breeding program was started to ensure that there were always suitable dogs available.
Guide dogs in the UK tend to be Labradors.
These days guide dogs for the blind does not accept collections of milk bottle foil tops to raise funds. I guess with modern milk bottles and cartons these would be in short supply anyway but instead you can donate used stamps, mobile phones and ink-jet cartridges.
The cost of training a guide dog for the blind has risen like every other cost in life. This means that the charity needs any help that you can give either financially or physically, more than ever.
In the early days of guide dogs, trainee dog walkers were often derided and people did not favour this charity. In the UK many people felt that it was a waste of time and cruel to the animal anyway but how wrong they were.
Over the years that they are together an owner and his or her guide dog usually develop a special bond. Ultimately the dog will have to retire in order for the owner to have a safe, fit and well dog acting as a guide.
Until that time though a guide dog will be a blind person's eyes and almost constant companion. Many people who are blind hold down challenging jobs these days and their guide dog will usually be welcome in the workplace also.
Times have changed and guide dogs for the blind is one way that they have changed for the better.
Guide Dogs for the Blind UK
Originally posted in 2015 some stories are timeless.
In late 2013 we reported another sad story of a dog's brush with death but at least it was a story of hope and love.
"A 1-year-old female Husky dog found at a trash dump was presumed abandoned. It could have been the end for the young dog but she was rescued by a dedicated animal lover named Eldad Hagar.
Then there was Frankie.
Frankie was a tiny Chihuahua, found living in a drainpipe and rescued, by Hope for Paws; Eldad Hagar works for the Hope for Paws Animal Rescue Organization, in Los Angeles.
When Hagar found the young Husky dog at the dump the pup was in a deplorable condition, but now the dog's life is changing for the better. The dog, now called Miley, was in a very poor condition. She was spotted by a man called Daniel. He saw the dog as it walked along the side of a railway track. He took a couple of photos of Miley and sent them to Hope for Paws".
The images tugged at heart strings but the story continues:
"First he followed the dog, which led him to the trash dump. Then he text-ed the images over to the animal rescue charity, hoping they could help the sad little creature. Eldad Hager, Co-founder of Hope for Paws, said “I’m sure many others must have seen her, but no one attempted to help until Daniel.”
"Eldad visited the dump site and found the dog he later named Miley laying down on some filthy cushions amongst the trash heap of old bicycle tires, telephone poles, discarded auto parts and much other unwanted debris. Covered with severe mange, she appeared resigned to her fate. Eldad had been told she had been surviving there for several months. He spent more than an hour with her, giving her food and gaining her trust".
The road back to health was not easy for Miley. She was still cautious but that changed when she encountered another canine victim of neglect, a Chihuahua named Frankie Chihuahuas are small dogs but Frankie is tiny weighing a mere three pounds.
A young dog, one or two years old, Frankie was living rough in a drainpipe under a busy highway, until Hope for Paws came to the rescue.
Frankie and Miley just clicked. Perhaps it was their shared history of neglect but, for whatever reason, they became firm buddies. Both dogs are now doing fine and have a bright future, thanks to the good Samaritans who rescued them and helped turn their lives around".
But coming across our earlier report as Christmas 2014 rapidly approached we wondered what had happened to Miley. Was there a happy-ever-after?
Yes there was
Miley went to the Fuzzy Pet Foundation while he waited for his 'forever-family'. After his sad tale went viral there were plenty of people willing to re-home Miley but he needed and deserved an extra special home.
That home was found in February 2014.
Miley went to live with Toni and boy does he look happy and well.
But what about little Frankie you ask?
Frankie, the black Chihuahua also rescued, found his forever home too! He was adopted by a wonderful family in Los Angeles and he now has four siblings, including three (rescued) Chihuahuas and an Australian Cattledog.
Deciding whether to get a dog from a rescue centre, or not
So you have decided that you would like a little four-legged friend, namely a dog, to join your household?
Even if you are looking for a specific breed of animal it may be worth checking out your local rescue centres. Believe it or not pedigree dogs do occasionally end up in a rescue centre needing a new home.
However, it could be that the dog, pedigree or mongrel, is there because it has behavioural problems or more.
Buying a dog from anywhere can be just as fraught with problems though. Even if you buy a puppy, if you are not 100% sure of its first home and parentage, you could be in for a bumpy ride.
Personally I would recommend adopting or fostering a dog, or puppy, from a charity as all my rescued dogs have been so successful as pets. We did have one dog that was a slight disaster but he was a stray which we simply rescued from the streets and he did live with us for more than ten years.
This woman has never wanted a pedigree dog but there are some fabulous cross-breeds out there if you are a little choosy. These dogs usually have great characters, better health in the long run and less hang-ups.
When your new dog is adopted from a rescue centre though you have to accept that this dog will probably come with baggage, and I do not mean an overnight case.
Depending on why the dog was in the rescue centre in the first place, the dog could be physically and mentally scarred. It may have been beaten, starved, maltreated in any number of ways or simply neglected. Unfortunately there are all too many sad stories of animal cruelty these days.
If you are unsure about adopting a dog, from a rescue centre, you could always try fostering first. This would give you chance to have the dog with you, provide a temporary loving home and could ease the financial burden of having a pet.
It can be hard to give up a foster dog though and maybe you would end up adopting after all. However, if you are unsure fostering can really help the rescue charity temporarily, and enable you to assess if a dog is really for you.
Fostering sometimes is partially funded by the charity and therefore expensive veterinary bills will probably be paid for by them not you.
Remember that when you adopt a dog from a charity there will be some sort of fee and it may be more than you would expect. However this is necessary to prove your commitment to the animal.
Finally never discount an older dog. The dog may only be in the rescue centre because its owner has died or had to go into permanent residential care. This could mean that the dog is fully trained and well-behaved but also sorely missing his or her previous owner and home comforts. Sure, you may want a puppy, but I have to say that the dogs we have taken in have all been between one and five-years-old and have all been little darlings. Well most of the time.
Dog Rescue Charities in the UK
There are many dog rescue charities around the country. Of course it makes sense to search for your new dog with a rescue service that is near to your home. This means that it will be easy to visit the centre, call back if you have problems and is just generally a more sensible idea.
The Internet offers lots of information about dog rescue charities, far and wide.
Traditionally, in England the RSPCA re-homed dogs however, as animal welfare is such a problem in the UK these days, there are now many smaller charities all over the country.
Consider offering your help in other ways, such as dog walking, donations or offering your help at the charity's sales and fairs for example.
Hints and Tips
Well get to it!
This story is not new but it may be to you. Read it and make the necessary consumer choices to help end this cruelty.
Does mankind have no end to its animal cruelty? Just when you think you have heard and read it all, along comes another harrowing tale. Thank you PETA for bringing this cruelty to our attention:
The attached video makes grim viewing. If you feel that you are still happy to buy Down products make sure that you watch it. Please do all you can to make sure such cruelty is stopped. Boycotting Down products is a good place to start.
"The cold-hearted and cruel down industry often plucks geese alive in order to get their down - the soft layer of feathers closest to a bird's skin. These feathers are used to produce clothing and comforters, but for geese, the down industry's methods are anything but comfortable.
Undercover video footage shows employees on goose farms pulling fistfuls of feathers out of live birds, often causing bloody wounds as the animals shriek in terror. The frightened animals are often squeezed upside down between workers' knees during the painful procedure—in one instance, an investigator photographed a worker who was sitting on a goose's neck in order to prevent her from escaping.
Live plucking causes birds considerable pain and distress. Once their feathers are ripped out, many of the birds, paralyzed with fear, are left with gaping wounds—some even die as a result of the procedure. Workers often sew the birds' skin back together without using any anaesthetics.
That's not all—buying down can also support the cruelty of the foie gras and meat industries because many farmers who raise birds for food make an extra profit by selling their feathers as well. When these birds are slaughtered, they often have their throats cut or are dumped into tanks of scalding-hot water while they're still conscious.
HOW YOU CAN HELP It's impossible to tell whether the down used in the products you buy was obtained from live-plucked birds. The only way to stop live plucking and ensure that no birds suffer for your clothing or bedding is to choose cruelty-free materials. Please make the compassionate choice to sign the pledge to go down-free now!
If you haven't already done so, please share this information on Facebook and Twitter with everyone you know so that they, too, can make the compassionate choice to pledge to be down-free. You can also spread the word to everyone that you come in contact with by wearing "Down Hurts" merchandise! That way, everyone will know that the down industry abuses birds.
In these times, when money is an even more precious commodity than usual most of us are looking at ways to economise. If you own one dog, or more, you will know that dog’s can be costly to keep. After the initial buying of the animal there are vaccinations, health checks, pet insurance, miscellaneous expenses and of course dog food. No pet lover would want to economise on a dog’s food if it was going to put their animal’s quality of life, happiness and health in jeopardy but there are ways to reduce your dog feeding bill without doing any of these.
Do not just buy your dog food from the most convenient store. Shop around and make sure that you compare prices. You will be surprised at just how much the price of a basic tin of dog food can vary from shop to shop. Usually larger supermarkets will offer the best prices.
Look around for special offers, promotions and good prices for bulk buying dog food. Usually, for example, if you compare the price, weight for weight, of a dry dog food mixer you will find that it is far more economical to buy a huge bag as opposed to a small one. Store this food well though to prevent it becoming stale. Once the bag is opened tape down the top to keep it airtight. Transfer a weekly amount, for example, into an old biscuit tin, or similar, and store the rest in the garage or shed. Make sure that you do not overfeed your dog, as this is easy to do if you have a large loose amount of dry dog food.
If you buy tinned dog food make sure that you buy the largest multi-pack that you can afford, carry and store; as long as the use by date is good this will save you a great deal of money in the long run.
See what is available on-line
On-line is perfect for bulk buying as long as you know that the seller is reputable and the goods are as advertised. This method of shopping will save you time, money and effort. Goods will be delivered to your door and so you can order as much as you like. Remember to watch out for short use by dates though.
Look at the labels of dog foods to see if the nutritional values are the same on the more expensive dog foods as the cheaper ones. Many dogs actually prefer the cheaper dog foods once they have tried them. A store’s own brands are always cheaper than well known brands and the quality is usually just as good. Dogs, like human beings, get bored with the same old diet anyway and usually like the occasional change of food. Remember though, that a drastic change of diet may upset your dog’s tummy, so use caution.
Supplement traditional dog food with other foods
Take care if you feed your dog table scraps as many foods that humans consume are not suitable for dogs. Chocolate, grapes, raisins and white bread are prime examples of foods that can harm a dog. However dogs love boiled rice and pasta. Both of these are cheap to buy and are good for the dogs as an occasional treat. When you cook a pan of rice or pasta for the family add a little extra for your dog. Mix some of this with the dog’s food as a cheap alternative to a mixer.
Avoid purpose made dog treats
Many dog treats are overpriced, unnecessary and bad for your dog. If they are made with more than 30% protein they will make your dog hyperactive. Many of these treats are also fattening for your pet as well as being expensive. Try cutting a few peeled, fresh, raw carrots into snack size chunks and give them to your dog instead. Your dog will love these treats and they are a healthy alternative treat and good for a dog’s teeth. Take care not to over feed them with the carrot though as it may affect the dog’s bowel movements.
If you can still buy lungs or lights from your local butcher shop do so. Many butcher’s used to give these away to their customers on request. They can be hard to find on sale these days. Cut the windpipe away from the pair of lungs and then cut each lung into small to medium sized chunks. Boil these for about 20 minutes. They will smell awful to humans but dogs love the smell as the lungs cook. Serve to your dog, when cool, with rice or a dog mixer as a replacement to the wet dog food. Nutritious and very cheap but not for the feint-hearted.
If possible buy a few pairs of lungs at a time and freeze those not to be cooked immediately.
Use your common sense and take your time when buying dog food. If you rush your shopping you will just grab the first thing that you see which may be the most expensive dog food available. Use any money saving coupons that are genuine savings and appropriate. Plan your shopping well. If you have done your research and know what is a bargain and what is not you will save money. If necessary take a shopping list with you to prevent spur of the moment purchases and to help you stay focused on bagging a bargain.