There’s nothing worse than the possibility of losing your best friend. Although we wouldn’t give up the years of fun and love for anything, when the time comes to say goodbye it can make you wonder if the pain of owning a pet is worth it. Of course it is, because you’ve given them such a wonderful life.
Although some people lose their pet suddenly, for many it’s a long and drawn-out process. Still, the inevitable decline caused by aging doesn’t have to be an entirely sad experience.
Here’s how to make the most of the time you and your beloved dog have left, and how to ensure their bittersweet last days are happy ones.
Make sure they’re given the treatment they need
Unless you’re Dr Doolittle, the odds are you can’t talk to animals (or at least, they can’t talk back). So, you need to figure out other signals that your dog is suffering. There are up to 60 different signs of pain in pets.
Some are physical, such as panting or moaning, whereas others include losing interest in their favourite activities or a lack of appetite. Find a vet you trust, who can help you come up with a pain management plan for your pet, or any other treatments they may need in their final days. They can also tell you when your dog’s quality of life has declined to the point where it is better to let them go, however hard that may be to hear.
Keep Them Comfy
Older dogs are often grumpy, and understandably so. After all, they’re likely to be dealing with muscle and joint pain and can become frustrated by the difficulties this brings. Provide what comfort you can, such as soft bedding, as elderly dogs are prone to pressure sores. Also keeps blankets and a heater nearby for if your pet looks cold, as older dogs can also have issues regulating their body temperature. This means you shouldn’t leave them outside for too long either, whatever the weather – no one wants a hot dog!
Moderate Their Diet and Exercise
Although all dogs love a good walk, vets recommend that exercise is moderated for older dogs, as their heart and lungs are not as strong as a younger pup’s. You may also need to cut down their food. Your dog may have the same appetite, but it can’t burn calories as easily due to a slower metabolism and being overweight can exacerbate any age-related health problems they already have.
If your dog seems like they’re ignoring you, they’re not – they just can’t hear as well as they used too. Same goes for missing that ball you threw, or if they jump when you approach them, their eye sight just isn’t what it once was. They may also have more difficulty handling stress, and often react in one of two ways, either becoming incredibly clingy or suddenly aloof. Although these behaviour changes may be hard to deal with, be patient. They can’t help it, and they still love you as much as they ever did.
Remind Them They’re a Good Girl/Boy
Don’t forgot to tell them how much you love them and what a good dog they are while you still can. We’re sure they already know, but we bet they’d still like to hear it.