Every profession comes with special joys. Although I’ve worn numerous hats as a veterinarian, my favorite role of all is being the family vet. Sometimes it involves the worst kind of heartache, such as when we say goodbye to an old friend who can’t get around anymore or has more bad days than good days. Some days, like today, it means welcoming a new puppy into a family who recently lost their last trusted companion. I feel such pride when I’m the first stop after a family picks up a new pet. The celebration and fun of meeting a new friend/patient brings happiness to my soul.
Last week one of my clients had me come to her home for euthanasia. Her dog was riddled with arthritis. She had a few other conditions, but it was her arthritis that was the overwhelming problem. This sweet old Wheaton didn’t have a mean bone in her body, but according to her owner just being picked up would cause her to cry or bite. She was on numerous arthritis medications and just couldn’t get comfortable. It was anything but her personality to be grouchy and nip at her family, but that was her state. It was even difficult for her to go outside to go potty. Her human opted to say goodbye.
A discussion of signs of deteriorating quality of life is a good topic for an ADW newsletter. Many of you would do anything for your diabetic pets. I know! I get smart emails from you all of the time. Sometimes, I think ADW readers could pass medical board examinations for all the knowledge you’ve accumulated. As pets get older, diabetes may just be one of numerous ailments a pet may have. So what are some clues one might see when it might be time to let go of a beloved pet? How does one come to such a serious and difficult conclusion?
If your pet is “grouchy” it may be in pain, particularly if this is not your pet’s usual demeanor. Don’t get me wrong… Certainly I’ve met some perfectly healthy pets who were grouchy! I’m talking about a true change in general demeanor from normal to grumpy or chronically subdued. We never wish for our pets to be in discomfort. Of course short-term discomfort after a procedure is one thing, but if we have exhausted all options and a pet is still uncomfortable in the long-term, it starts a niggling concern.
If your pet no longer does his or her typical activities such as meeting you at the door and getting excited about food, you may yet again wonder if there is quality of life. If the activities that have brought your pet joy for years no longer phase your pet, you might again start to wonder if the end is nearing. These are questions only you can answer. Asking your veterinarian is a valid step, but you are in your home with your pet, bearing witness.
Are there more good days than bad? This idea takes some real contemplation. What is a good day? Who are we to make such judgments we wonder.
When you are at a crossroad, wondering what to do, call your veterinarian. Schedule an appointment! A thorough examination and possibly even lab work may reveal an unnoticed ailment that could improve the quality of life! Recently a new client brought in a 14-year old dog to my clinic for evaluation for euthanasia. Other than significant dental disease, which surely caused him pain, he was a very healthy little senior. His lab work was nearly perfect. We cleaned his teeth, extracted a few bad teeth, and today he looks and feels fantastic!
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NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.