When considering the last days of your pets life….
- Make sure you bring some joy into everyday. Home cooked meals, a vanilla cone from Dairy Queen, a massage, a walk (no matter the distance). You know what still makes that tail wag. It’s easy to make hospice about medication schedules and quality of life assessments, but you pet lives in the moment. Make sure they live as fully as possible.
- Try to keep a “happy” face for your pet. Yes, there will be tears and overwhelming emotions and you will need a place to express them. It is not uncommon for pets to experience excessive anxiety over their person’s heightened emotional state. One of their jobs is to comfort you and anticipatory grief can seem inconsolable.
- As the person who loves your pet most, you are the best decision maker. Trust your gut. Just because a treatment or surgery is available doesn’t mean that it is right for your pet and family.
- Pain is not the only kind of suffering. Chronic feelings of nausea, difficulty breathing, insomnia and extreme anxiety are other forms of suffering that occur frequently in pets near the end of their lives. These signs should be addressed just as aggressively as pain.
- Be an advocate for your pet. All too often, families are sent home with a bad diagnosis and the instructions to “take your pet home and keep him comfortable…and let us know when it’s time.” You need to know how to do that! Ask questions. Learn about your pet’s disease. Make sure your pet’s symptoms are being controlled even if the disease isn’t being cured (palliative care).
- Consider a pet hospice veterinarian. Professional pet hospice can make this difficult journey easier. Hospice veterinarians come into your home and take the time to get to know your pet and your family. They can provide a medical assessments and treatments and can guide you through decision making. You don’t have to do this alone.