Talking about a difficult topic is never very easy and for me this is painful. Currently I am helping minimise any pain or distress a sweet dog of senior years is experiencing and supporting her owner to cope with the impending loss of her pet. This is one of the most difficult experiences a pet parent will face.
It’s important that I calmly guide her through the end-of-life experience and minimise any discomfort or distress. As her beloved dogs health declined, you elected to care for her pet at home with the supervision of a Vet and Animal Practitioner. As a team we are helping to make this sweet dog’s final days peaceful and dignified.
The goal is to make her final days or weeks more pleasant with the proper use of heart medications, dietary strategies and human interaction. Pet hospice is not a place, but a personal choice and philosophy based on the principle that death is a part of life and can be dignified.
What the Pet Paren is doing
To provide Care for her Elderly Pet and minimise any pain or distress she’s experiencing.
She consulted her vet to treat any health problems, since undiagnosed
issues can cause discomfort and rapid deterioration.
Surrounds her dog with her favourite things, like a warm blanket and or special squeaky toy.
Given pressure sores can develop in pets with limited mobility, it’s also essential for her to provide a warm sleeping spot with plenty of cushioning, so she has bought her a gel bed.
Because there is incontinence, and loss of bladder control, she has but puppy pads on top of the bed and makes sure that she checks her furry friend regularly for any wetness or soiling. Also when her dog needs help getting up to urinate or defecate, she uses a large towel to wrap under her body to assist her.
If considering hospice care, pet parents should very careful not to prolong the suffering of pets who are in pain or experiencing poor quality of life.
A participating Vet/Animal Practitioner will teach pet parents how to provide intensive home care to keep an ill pet as comfortable as possible. That said, Hospice care requires an active commitment and constant supervision from pet parents, who work with their vet/Animal Practitioner to make sure their pet’s life ends comfortably. If the pet parent decides hospice care is the right course for him/her and their pet, they will become their pet’s primary nurse and caregiver, as well as the link between their pet and the Vet/Animal Practitioner. Always check with a vet to see if he/she recommends hospice care for your pet based on his/her specific needs.
Indicators that a pet is in pain?
When cats and dogs are suffering, they may not show outward signs that we normally associate with pain like whimpering or crying. Sometimes an animal will continue to eat or drink in spite of pain or disorientation. Some physiological and behavioural signs that your pet might be experiencing pain include excessive panting or gasping for breath, reluctance to move and food pickiness.
Euthanasia provides a painless, peaceful end for a pet who would otherwise continue to suffer. A Vet has special training to provide your pet with a humane and gentle death.
How does the procedure work?
Your vet will inject your pet with a sedative followed by a special medication. The animal experiences no awareness of the end of life. The process is akin to undergoing general anesthesia for a surgical procedure and takes about 10 to 20 seconds.
A Vet is the best person to advise a dog parent on when the time is right to euthanize. Information from medical tests is often more accurate than what a pet owner can observe, and pet owners often delay the moment of euthanasia in anticipation of grief.
Observing and keeping an accurate record of your pet in his or her daily activities can help you to decide. If you observe that moments of discomfort outweigh his/her capacity to enjoy life, it is time to euthanize, even if your pet still experiences pleasure in eating or socialising.
If your pet is in pain, your main goal should be to minimise his or her suffering.
When your dies home
If your pet is under the care of a vet at the time of his or her passing, he or she can guide you through the next steps. However, if your pet dies in your home, there are options to consider. Like if you want the body to be removed from your home, or you wish to permanently memorialise your pet in some special way, the choice is yours.
Depending on your decision, you may need to keep the body in your home for a short
period of time. A perfectly cooled body can be held for up to 24 hours. That said, the
sooner it can be taken somewhere else, the better.
It is recommend that you wrap the animal and place him/her in a refrigerator or freezer, with one exception, if you plan to have a necropsy (autopsy) performed to determine cause of death, the body should not be frozen, but refrigeration is still okay. However, you must contact a vet as soon as possible if you would like a necropsy.
If the animal is too big to be put into a refrigerator or freezer, the body should be placed on
a cement floor or concrete slab, which is the best way to draw heat away from the carcass,
but don’t cover or wrap the body in this instance, because this will trap in heat and not
allow the body temperature to cool.
As a last resort, you could keep the body in the coldest area of your home, out of the sun, packed with bags of ice. Make sure case, the body is placed in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting wet.
Pet Cremation and Burial
It is very common for pet owners to have their deceased pets cremated. Therefore, you need to decide if you wish to keep your pet’s ashes as a remembrance. If you do, then you will need to decide if you want an individual or private cremation, hence, your pet will be cremated alone. Businesses that offer individual cremation commonly offer home pick-up/delivery of remains as part of their service packages.
If you decide to bury your pet on your own property.
Typically, home burial is permitted in rural and/or suburban settings, but is prohibited in urban areas. Check local and country ordinances.
Depth of the grave
Depth wise, the grave should be at least 3-4 feet deep. This is for health reasons and also to safeguard against scavengers, other pets from digging up the burial area, or even rain from washing away topsoil and uncovering the grave. Don’t forget a 3 foot deep grave allows for about 2 foot of soil to go back on top.
It is typically illegal to bury an animal on public lands such as parks. If you desire burial for your pet but do not have land of your own, check to see if there is a pet cemetery or memorial park in your area.
If you wish to simply have your pet’s body removed from your home, consult your local government to find out if your sanitation department picks up animal remains.
Dealing with Pet Loss
There are many forms of grief that are completely normal in the wake of the loss of a beloved pet. For support dealing with the loss of a pet, call the Blue Cross for pets, bereavement support service every day from 8.30am to 8.30pm on 0800 096 6606 or email them email@example.com.