Pets are more than just animals; they’re family. They provide us with comfort, love, and loyalty. So when our furry friends are diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can be overwhelming and heartbreaking. It's never easy to accept the reality that your pet is terminally ill. As a pet owner, it's crucial to provide your pet with the care, comfort, and support they need during these difficult times. By following these tips, we hope your pet will have a peaceful and dignified end-of-life journey.
Understand the Diagnosis
Once your pet is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it's essential to understand the diagnosis. Create an appointment to speak with your veterinarian to get a thorough understanding of your pet's condition, and don't be afraid to ask any questions or express any doubts you might have. You can also research online or join pet forums for additional information and support from other pet owners.
Keep Your Pet Comfortable
It’s crucial to make sure that your pet is as comfortable as possible by providing them with a comfortable and peaceful environment. For example, it might be time to buy a new cat bed or dog bed. A cat or dog blanket will add some extra comfort your pet will appreciate too. Creating a space with their favourite toys and reducing unnecessary noise and stressors in their environment will also make your pet more relaxed at home.
You can also proof your house with yoga mats and anti-slip stair treads to prevent slips and falls. Additionally, incorporating a cat or dog ramp and dog steps in key areas around your home can make navigation easier for pets with limited mobility, allowing them to move freely and safely. We recommend a scratch ramp for cats! By implementing these measures, you'll create a nurturing environment that caters to your pet's needs, supporting their recovery process.
If your pet is having a hard time eating you can incorporate peanut balls to help them feel balanced and more comfortable. Peanut balls are peanut-shaped stability balls which are typically used for core strengthening but you can utilise them to help your older pet balance.
You can also provide pain relief medication prescribed by your veterinarian or other alternative therapies, like acupuncture or a cat or dog massage, to ease any discomfort your animal may be feeling.
Nutrition is an essential aspect of caring for a terminally ill pet. A proper dog or cat diet is an essential aspect of maintaining your pet's health. You might need to adjust your pet's diet to manage the symptoms associated with their illness. For instance, if your pet is nauseous, it may be necessary to feed them smaller, more frequent meals or give them anti-nausea medication or an appetite stimulant prescribed by your vet. If you decide on putting your pet on a home-cooked diet, make the diet nutritionally balanced. For cats, slightly warmed food can encourage them to eat as the smell is stronger which they enjoy. Cats are also sensitive to texture so this may be another reason why they are not enjoying their food.
We recommend UK Pet Food for more information on pet food nutrition.
It’s also important to keep an eye on your pet’s hydration, especially if they have a reduced appetite. You can offer them water or food mixed with water to ensure they are getting sufficient hydration. Some cats find a cat water fountain more appealing to drink out of. Raising water and food bowls can help reduce strain on your pet's joints. This is particularly useful if your pet has arthritis or mobility issues.
Work through a bucket list
Spending quality time with your terminally ill pet shows them love and affection. We recommend creating a bucket list of activities to do with your pet to create meaningful memories during their remaining time with you. It can help provide your pet with new experiences and adventures that they may not have had the opportunity to enjoy otherwise. This is a chance for you to relax with your pet. We know how challenging it can be to care for a terminally ill pet so make sure you enjoy these activities as much as your pet does.
Take a walk, cuddle up, and watch a movie together, a cat or dog massage, take a trip to the beach, or do anything that your pet loves or you might enjoy doing together. Just be sure to search for dog friendly beaches before you set off on your adventure!
Know When It's Time to Say Goodbye
Deciding to euthanise your pet is never easy, but it's often necessary to ease your pet's suffering. Speak with your veterinarian about your options and consider your pet's quality of life. Ask yourself if your pet is still enjoying the things they used to love, eating and drinking without difficulty, or experiencing severe pain.
Caring for terminally ill pets can be heartbreaking, but it's also an opportunity to do everything possible to show them love and comfort. By understanding your animals' diagnosis, providing comfort, managing nutritional needs, and spending quality time with them, you can make them feel loved and supported throughout their final journey. Remember, our pets are family, and losing them is tough. Be kind to yourself while giving your pet the best possible end-of-life care.
Discover simple and effective ways to improve your pet's comfort at home in one of our recent blog posts! Click here to read the full article and give your furry friend the love and care they deserve. We have included specific product recommendations including the best dog beds for arthritic dogs.
If you are struggling to complete a quality-of-life assessment for your pet, give us a call at 0800 0495944. We can offer telehealth appointments online wherever you are in the UK even if we do not cover your area in person.