*Warning: You will need tissues.
When it’s time to say good-bye
Saying good-bye to your best friend is one of the hardest moments of being a dog owner. Everybody wants their dog to live forever. I know their time on earth is never long enough.
There are many factors that need to be thought over to make sure your dog is not suffering. (Too bad they can’t make out little Doggy Wills!)
As our dog ages, they start getting grey muzzles, not wanting to go out as much, or stops enjoying things that they once loved. Older dogs can get arthritis and their joints may start to hurt. You might notice your dog is having a harder time getting up from laying down and having you help them on the couch or bed. It is important to see a vet if you notice your dog in pain as to control pain. Many dog may start to have incontinence also.
Many types of dog breeds are prone to health problems in their lives. Golden retrievers may be prone to having cancer along with many other breeds. Boxers are known to be prone to heart problems like Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) which has been named “Boxer Cardiomyopathy”. Veterinarians pay close to the boxer’s heart to make sure they catch any irregular heart functions.
A startling statistic is that more than 55% of America’s household pets are obese. Obesity is a leading cause of illness and death among dogs and is a risk factor for heart disease, kidney and liver disease, and diabetes. Pet owners should control the weight of their dogs by monitoring the dog’s caloric intake in conjunction with the animal’s energy expenditure.
Another health problem is kidney disease which occurs when a dog’s kidneys no longer properly filter waste products from the blood or maintain necessary hydration. A telltale symptom of kidney disease in dogs is drastically increased water consumption – a sign that can be easy to missed.
Due to the enormous uptick in canine obesity in recent years, dogs are developing diabetes at alarming rates. A diabetic dog will struggle to regulate his or her blood sugar, leading to potentially fatal reactions to food. Like kidney disease, an early warning sign of diabetes is a significant increase in water consumption. (My baby Frankie had diabetes for 9 years with constant monitoring with insulin shots.) So if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, it can be controlled with insulin.
Dogs can live with the tick-borne illness Lyme Disease for years without displaying any symptoms. However, Lyme Disease can cause serious health problems for your pet. Hard-to-detect symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, and pain. For dogs that are frequently outdoors, early detection of Lyme Disease is crucial.
Hit by a car or attacked by another animal can cause many problems for the dog to survive. You should always take your dog to the emergency clinic if this ever happens. (Be sure to keep yourself safe when transporting as the dog will be in pain and bite you. I suggest making a muzzle out of anything that’s handy.)
Quality of Life
When the inevitable time comes when they can’t stand by themselves, won’t eat or drink, or they don’t want to move at all, it’s time to take them to the vet for a quality of life (QOL) exam. There may be some medications that may help with making your dog comfortable, but if there’s nothing they can do, they might suggest putting your dog to sleep (euthanizing).
That’s the one word that dog owners hate to hear. Even when you know it’s their time, it’s hard to come to terms with doing it. It’s a very humane way of stopping the suffering for the dog. It’s a simple process that the veterinarian can do. The veterinarian will put in a vein catheter in one of the legs and inject a sedative to release pain and calm the dog down. (This is usually the same type of sedative they use before surgeries.) This will relax the dog and you’ll notice a more blissful look to them. The dog can still hear and feel you so give them all the kisses, hugs, and last good-byes. Then when you are done saying your final good-bye, the veterinarian will inject the euthanasia solution in the catheter. It doesn’t take long for the solution to go to the heart and stop it. The veterinarian will then make sure the dog has passed away. Many clinics will do an ink paw print for you.
But you can always let them pass at home doing things that they love (or new things) like eating human foods, playing with the whole family, being on the furniture when before they weren’t allowed, sleep in bed with you, have a toy/ball party, and be sure to give them all cuddles.
Now you have to make a choice for care after your dog has passed away. You can have them buried either in your backyard or cemetery, cremated where you can get their ashes back, or cremated without getting their ashes back. Many places that do cremations can do a clay paw print for you.
Saying Good-bye to Frankie
(My personal story)
It’s been a whole year since I have said good-bye to my Frankie. He was 14 years old when my family and I had him put him down by the veterinarian.
My parents got custody of Frankie when I moved out and got married. (I still made sure Frankie knew I was his mommy. My parents were mamaw and papaw to him.) I always checked in on him and visited a lot. I was there when he was diagnosed with diabetes, cushings disease, pancreatitis, and the love of wanting to eat anything that would fit into his mouth (luckily we always got what was in his mouth or it came out his other end without any blockage!).
Then I get the call that he wasn’t eating, vomiting every time he tried, and he was weak. I booked a plane trip to see him (and my family). Of coarse that was a couple days out. My mom called again saying they took him to the vet and the veterinarian suggested putting him to sleep. IT WAS ONLY 2 DAYS BEFORE I COULD GET THERE. I was heartbroken, but knew he was suffering and I didn’t want to prolong his situation. I told my parents to go ahead and do it. That was the hardest good-bye.
“Over the Rainbow Bridge Until We Meet Again.”