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When It’s Time

As medicine advances for humans, it does for our pets as well. They’re living longer and are more a part of our lives and our families than ever before. Chemotherapy, heart surgeries and even prosthetic limbs have been developed for them. Fifty years ago, that would not have been a likely thing to spend so much money on. Now, it’s not so unheard of. There are even health insurance options, as well as credit cards specifically with veterinary care in mind. As a result, pet parents and pet families want to give the best care possible even when they have to say goodbye.

There are many veterinarians’ offices that have a special “Rainbow Bridge” room where the family can sit with their pet before, during and after euthanasia. It is a separate room away from the rest of the office where they can peacefully spend their last moments together. Unfortunately, this can still be very stressful for your dog. Most of them don’t like going to the vet in the first place, but possibly even more-so when they’re sick.

Changes in a Senior Dog’s Health
It may start with a little gray hair along their muzzle, a change in their gait or just a loss of pep. Dogs, much like their human aging counterparts, begin to lose their hearing, lose some teeth or their sight is diminished. They can develop arthritis or other joint problems and pain, may become diabetic, develop cancer, heart problems or even have a stroke. Some may have trouble with incontinence, which sadly, is the last straw for some owners and they end up in shelters. More and more geriatric dogs are being abandoned when they need their people the most.

How Do You Know When it’s Time?
If you speak to anyone who’s had to put their dog to sleep, they’ll often say their dog “told them” it was time. Their dog obviously didn’t tell them anything verbally, but they absolutely did communicate that they were tired and that their quality of life was not what it should have been. Typically, small dogs live the longest 15-16 years, medium/large dogs live about 10-13 years and giant breeds, such as the Great Dane, only get about 7-8 years. While the old thought of seven dog years to one human year has been proven inaccurate due to developmental markers, there is not an agreed upon human equivalency. That’s not to say that you are guaranteed that many years with your loved one, but it also doesn’t mean you won’t be lucky enough to have more time.

One of the biggest signs is a lack of appetite. If your dog isn’t eating even when favorite foods or treats are offered, that’s a problem. Obvious signs of pain and weakness should be checked by a vet for any other underlying causes. If nothing else can be done for your dear family member, it no longer needs to be such a clinical-feeling goodbye.

Peacefully at Home
There are now several veterinarians who will make house calls to euthanize your dear dog in their favorite place, where they (and you) can be comfortable and spend their last moments with those they love the most. While the cost of an at-home euthanasia is more than double the price of one done in an office, being able to express your grief at home and being able to take as much time as needed without feeling rushed is well worth any cost to most pet parents.

After the procedure is completed, if you choose, there are services available to have your pet cremated and have their remains either returned to you or scattered at sea. Memorial paw prints can be cast in plaster as a physical reminder of your loving canine as well.