My Pet Has a Terminal Disease – What Do I Do Now?

January 28th 2019

Learning that your pet has a condition that is terminal is the hardest thing to hear for a pet parent. After the shock that comes with a terrible diagnosis, the next question is usually ‘what’s next’.
There are several treatment paths that can happen following a terminal diagnosis. You can work with your vet to create a plan that manages and monitors your pet’s condition and helps you know when it is time to say goodbye. 

How long does my pet have to live?

Your pet’s prognosis is dependent on many things, such as how far their disease or illness has progressed, their age and many other factors.
We provide a palliative care appointment that discusses the diagnosis, what you can expect over the coming weeks and treatment options.

The most important thing is the relationship between yourself and your beloved pet, so we allow you to steer what palliative care for your pet will look like.

Is my pet suffering? 

We can generate an idea of your pet’s quality of life by looking at their level of appetite, whether he/she is generally happy, what their mobility is like, whether they keep themselves clean and whether they are in any pain.
There is a scale for quality of life we can use to evaluate your pet’s quality of life.
This scale can empower you to keep track of your pets quality of life in a numeric value and more importantly to judge whether there is a decline in his/hers quality of life. We can discuss the use of this tool with you during our palliative care appointment. Additionally, you can track your pets “good” and “bad” days on your calendar. We can combine the calendar information with the quality of life evaluation to optimize palliative care.
If your pet has a score of 20 or higher the quality of life is compromised. Changes in the current treatment plan should be made to improve your pet’s quality of life or euthanasia should be considered.

What is palliative veterinary care?

Hospice palliative care is for pets that have been diagnosed with a terminal disease such as kidney failure, cancer, end stage arthritis, or congestive heart failure and focuses on management of symptoms and providing comfort until the time of passing. Palliative care provides emotional support for you and your pet with a main goal to sustain the human animal bond.

We provide this care in the comfort of your own home. Veterinary hospice is about living fully until the end of life with dignity and in comfort.

Veterinary palliative care helps make a difficult life passage manageable and meaningful for both you and your pet while maintaining the bond between both of you.

How will I know it is time to put my pet to sleep?

As veterinarians, we can guide you through this decision making process. It is important for you to weigh the options. Waiting too long might result in a last minute, stressful and painful situation for your pet. Making the decision before this stage is more difficult, but makes it possible to have a peaceful, in-home euthanasia with family and loved ones present.

Prevention of suffering and pain is the main important factor in making the end-of life decision.

If you are concerned your pet has a serious illness, or they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have questions, you can call us to make an appointment with one of our vets at (403) 615-8016.

Read these blogs for more information about end of life care for your pet:

Pet Euthanasia at Home – What to Consider
Pet Euthansia – How to Decide and Cope

What Happens During Pet Euthanasia

Grieving a Pet

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