Caring for a Terminally Ill Pet

When your pet is ill, you want to do everything possible to make your pet comfortable without facing the sad loss. A terminally ill pet is especially hard because you understand your ill pet will die, but you have no idea how long he has left. With all terminal pet illnesses, it could be days or months. Make the most of this time to spoil your pet and allow yourself to come to terms with his impending death.

Making Difficult Choices

The hardest part of pet ownership is knowing when it is time to have your pet, ill and dying, euthanized. No veterinarian can give a date and time when your pet will die. They can only advise you to watch for key signs that your animal is suffering. Once an animal is suffering and in severe pain, it is best to let them go.

The process of euthanasia involves an IV of medication containing an overdose of a drug that slows breathing and stops the heart. The only pain an animal feels is the sting of the IV needle. In essence, the ill dog or cat falls into a deep sleep and never wakes up.

All veterinarians allow pet owners to be present while the pet is put to sleep. It is painful to watch your pet die, but it's best for the animal to be with someone he loves when the process occurs. The IV process is stressful and pets feel reassured if their owner is with them.

Consider the Stress on Your Pet

One of the hardest decisions for animal owners is taking a pet that is ill to the vet to be put down. If your animal is terrified of car rides, it might be better to see if a veterinarian will come to your home. If you live in an area where veterinarians simply will not make house calls, it may be best to allow the animal to die naturally at home in a safe, comfortable environment.

Soothing a Dying Pet

When a pet is ill, it is natural to want him to last forever. You must stop and think about your pet, however. Are you keeping your pet that is ill alive for your own needs or because you truly see signs of life from within him?

No one wants to see his pet suffering. If you simply cannot have your pet put to sleep at a vet's office, you must be supportive while he dies. Remember that the death process is equally scary to your pet. The best thing you can do is to offer a reassuring voice telling him that it is okay to go to sleep and move on.

Place your ill dog or cat on a towel or blanket, a precaution for when the bladder lets go when the heart stops, and sit or lay with him. Some animals want to be left completely alone and will try their hardest to get away from you. If this is the case, place your animal in a quiet room and check in every now and then. Other pets simply want you to keep petting them and offering a reassuring voice.