In this world of uncertainties, we cannot escape the fact that we may lose someone we love. Keeping this in mind, while our pets are different from us, it does not mean they are any less familiar with death. But how should you spend the last days with a dying dog?
All of us are blessed with the gift of life, but we are also aware that life is temporary. It is entirely normal to feel grief. Therefore, grief should be allowed to occur. However bittersweet they may seem, these things happen to any pet owner, not only in films but also in the real world as well. You will always treasure the last moments you spent with your dearly loved pet before they pass away.
In particular, if your dog or cat is an important part of your life due to their irreplaceable presence, it may be challenging to part with them. So, here are the ways to handle your pet’s final days with care:
9 Ways to Spend the Last Days with a Dying Dog
It is not easy to lose a pet, but the end of life must always be celebrated with joy since your beloved pet would not wish to leave this world in sadness. The following are nine suggestions on how to spend your time well and appropriately commemorate the passing of your pet.
1. Estimate the Cost of Medical Interventions and Tests
It’s impossible to measure a dog’s love, but the cost of treating an animal that’s ill or old cannot be underestimated. Several treatments or tests might be available, but they may not be worth the price and effort. This is not merely a matter of money, but the emotional and physical costs your dog and you are going to face. While you may be able to get more time or more knowledge, if it does not enhance your relationship, you may regret it in the future.
2. Complete the Quality of Life Check-List for your Pet
The “When to Put Down Your Dog Checklist” refers to the Quality of Life Scale for dying dogs. Your pet may be barking excessively due to many reasons, including separation anxiety. Bark collars can be of great use for your pet to stop barking rather than spend his final days living well. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how you can address your dog’s health issues. Some of the questions you should ask include:
- What is the level of pain your dog is experiencing?
- Is the dog breathing normally?
- Does the dog have normal vision and hearing?
- Do hygiene and grooming requirements appear to be met?
- Is it possible for the dog to perform the activities it enjoys?
- Does the dog have much control over her body and movement?
- Does the dog seem to be eating and drinking normally?
- Is the dog content and appears comfortable?
3. Take Time to Deal with your Feelings of Shock, Disbelief, and Loss
As you say goodbye to your beloved pet, you are likely to experience a variety of emotions, all of which are understandable and natural. The grief process begins as soon as your dog is diagnosed with a terminal illness, not just after his death. It is completely normal to feel pain, grief, and anger after the loss of someone close. There is a possibility that you may start bargaining and look for ways to get the situation under control.
4. Be Careful when Explaining Things to Young Children
Young children are particularly affected by the impending death of their beloved pets. However, it is best to explain to them honestly what happened and let them say their final goodbyes in their way. Simply describe the scenario in an age-appropriate manner. This is because young children frequently lack a complete understanding of death. They will ask numerous questions, which you will almost certainly have to explain repeatedly.
5. Engage Older Children in the Process
Elderly children often have a greater understanding of illness, aging, and death. You can give older children a sense of closure if you allow them to participate more thoroughly. They can speak to the veterinarian and inquire about the animal’s medical condition.
If you intend to decide to treat, test or euthanize your dog, you should be honest and open about your decision. Unfortunately, life is filled with sadness and challenging situations like this, but growing up requires a certain amount of maturity to handle them.
6. Commemorate Special Occasions
Do not look back and lament the lack of photographs or recordings of key moments. Capture photographs of your pet and use them to build a scrapbook or photo album, or frame and hang the photographs to provide cherished memories. If your pet will be buried or cremated, let your children help you choose a memorial stone or urn.
7. Spend Time with Family
Spend your pet’s final days either with close family or with friends and family members, depending on his personality. To ensure that your pet does not become tired or stressed, watch her carefully and allow plenty of time for her to rest.
8. Embrace Forbidden Foods
If your veterinarian grants you the approval, sharing previously off-limits foods with your pet is acceptable. So, if you’re not having trouble getting him to eat, then you may be able to tempt him with some baby food or deli meat, as long as they will not upset his stomach.
Many pet owners like to give their pets their last meal of dessert, French fries, hamburgers, or other treats which they usually can only dream about receiving.
9. Find out about Euthanasia
Dog owners have to make some of the most challenging decisions of their lives during the final days of their pets. As a result, there are more choices available in many locations than there were before. When faced with a pet’s passing, it is easy to pray that it will pass away peacefully so that we do not have to do anything.
However, there are times when the only thing we can do is relieve our pets’ suffering and ease their passing. If you choose the final act of love, let everyone know that this is your last act of love. The veterinarian may offer a low-cost euthanasia option, so your pet can die naturally without experiencing pain.
As a last resort, you might want to schedule a time that’s after hours or at the end of the day, so you won’t have to wait around with other people. By doing so, you can spend some private time dealing with your emotions.
The Verdict On Handling Your Pet’s Final Days with Care
Even though it may be difficult, taking your pet home to be with you during its last few days of life can be comforting. Before your pet passes away, you can use the opportunity to calm them and ensure that they feel loved and appreciated. During his last days, your dog can spend time with the family he loves.
Overall, grieving the loss of your pet is a perfectly normal thing to do. Leaving a memorial for your pet and sharing their memories with those who care about them can be a nice way to honor them. Don’t be afraid to ask for support and encouragement from your friends and family.
There may also be counseling services available to you at your local college or university of veterinary medicine. More importantly, talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to deal with severe or persistent symptoms of grief and loss.
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.