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.
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