We love our pets and wish that they could be around forever, but unfortunately all pet parents must come to terms with the fact that the time will come to make difficult end of life decisions for their pets. How do you know when it’s time to start thinking about end of life care for your pet? The Grey Muzzle Organization, a non-profit dedicated to helping homeless senior dogs, has some valuable advice for dog owners faced with some very hard decisions.
Quality of Life: Have you heard of the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale? This is a valuable tool for dog owners seeking guidance on making informed end of life decisions. HHHHHMM stands for Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, and More Good Days than Bad Days. You can download the scale HERE to learn more.
Hospitalization vs. Home Care: Experts agree that home is the best place for a terminally ill or dying pet. You can talk to your vet about home hospice care for your dog’s final days.
Pain Assessment: Our pets are champs at hiding how much pain they are in. Respiratory distress in particular needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Nutrition and Appetite: Lack of appetite and weight loss are common in pets with serious illnesses, such as cancer. If your dog is losing weight quickly, talk to your vet about feeding tubes and hydration with IV fluids during end of life care.
Mental Well-Being: Is your dog able to experience happiness, even from simple things like being petted and talked to? Monitor your dog’s mental state to ensure that he or she is still able to experience some pleasure during this time.
For much more on this important issue, check out the Grey Muzzle Organization’s excellent article on end of life care for dogs. The International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) also has a lot of great information for people interested in learning more about pet hospice care.
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