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Dealing with a Terminal Illness in Your Pet

May 7, 2018

Discovering that your pet has a terminal condition can be overwhelming. Even though this isn’t an ideal situation, not all terminal diagnoses mean that you are faced with a quickly approaching loss. Working with a veterinarian, you can discover options that will help you provide the care that your pet needs and continue to enjoy quality time together.

Linwood Pet Hospital’s team of veterinarians is here to help you make informed decisions and work through the grief associated with a terminal diagnosis in your pet.

Getting a Terminal Diagnosis

When your pet gets a terminal diagnosis, it is easy to jump to thoughts of the worst possible outcome, but not all terminal illnesses will give your pet a shortened life expectancy. In some cases, pets can live with terminal conditions for months and even years.

After receiving the diagnosis, it is a good idea to learn as much as you can about your pet’s condition and the treatment options. Ask the veterinarian any questions you have about treatments, life expectancy, quality of life, and anything else you are concerned about. If there is any home care that your pet will need, it is important that you understand exactly what needs to be done.

Day-to-Day Care for a Terminally Ill Pet

Day-to-day care for terminally ill pets will look different depending on the diagnosis, treatments, and the pet’s individual needs. Some animals may require very little additional care, while others may need daily medications, assistance getting around, a special diet, or a variety of other treatments.

The best thing you can do for your pet is to do what is best for him or her. In some cases, pets can live a long time with a terminal illness without pain or adverse side effects. If you notice your pet’s quality of life being affected, ask your veterinarian for guidance. Euthanasia and whether euthanasia is an option, and sometimes the most humane way to deal with terminal illnesses, and it gives the opportunity to help your pet pass on peacefully.

Hospice care may be an option that y If your cat or dog has a terminal illness, hospice, also called palliative care, can help make the final days more comfortable. Palliative care involves using pain medications, diet, and human interaction during the final days to keep your pet comfortable and happy. The goal of palliative care isn’t to prolong life, but to make the remainder of your pet’s life more comfortable.

Dealing with the Death of a Pet

When it comes to dealing with the loss of a pet, everyone will grieve differently, and that is normal. Many people view their pets as best friends and members of the family, and it isn’t easy to say goodbye. Allow yourself to grieve at your own pace. Give yourself time to reflect and achieve closure. Respect that the death of a pet is a true loss. Care for yourself as gently as you cared for your pet.

Linwood Pet Hospital recommends that people coping with the loss of a pet join a pet loss support group or find a message board online. If you feel like the loss of your pet is affecting your mental health, it is important that you reach out to a professional that can help you work through your feelings.

Helping Children Cope with the loss of a Pet

For many children, the death of a pet is their first experience with loss. Take this opportunity to teach your children about the grieving process and how to handle the pain associated with losing someone you love.

Since children don’t have the same understanding of death as adults, this can be a traumatic time for them. This can lead to feelings of anger and guilt. Your child may blame themselves for the loss, and they may even blame you. The loss of a pet can also lead to the fear that other loved ones will leave them.

Children watch adults in everything they do. It is likely that your children are watching how you react to the death of the family pet. It is important that you are honest and let your children see how you deal with grief. You can also reassure your child that they aren’t at fault and that it is okay to feel sad. You can even get your children involved in the process of saying goodbye to your pet.

If your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, Linwood Pet Hospital recommends that you get in contact with Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. RBVH offers a pet loss support group that can help provide additional resources. For end-of-life care in Linwood, New Jersey, contact Linwood Pet Hospital at 609-926-5300.