When Your Pet has Terminal Illness

Your pet has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and it is something all the advanced medicine cannot help. If there is an available treatment, it doesn't guarantee success. You feel numb as if you are in a bad dream, you couldn't believe what you just heard. Unfortunately, you know you don't have much time left with your beloved pet what can you do?


 Be informed of your pet's condition.  What are the treatment options available? What are the success rates of these treatments? Do they have side effects? How long will it prolong his life? You should also consider your pet's age, quality of life, personal time with him and your financial situation.

Speak with your veterinarian and  begin to understand what exactly physiologically is happening with your pet.  Remember and understand the symptoms he is experiencing or will experience in the future.  Inquire what to expect as the condition progresses. You may also go to another vet for second opinion if you're in doubt.  Take note this is your pet and if you feel your vet does not accommodate your needs or feel is pushing you in a certain direction it is alright to seek a second opinion. Most veterinarians will respect your decision on this. Going for a second opinion will also give you a feeling you did everything you could for your pet.  It also helps you confirm from multiple sources the real diagnosis and to avoid the feeling that you could have done more.

Terminal illnesses such as cancer often have various treatments that can be explored. Discuss this with your vet and decide what is best for you and your pet. It is alright to change your mind, but it is better to have fully thought of something to avoid having to make a difficult decision that was not explored during the midst of an emergency.
Quality of Life for Your Pet

It is vital you look at your pet's best interest.  You do not want to lose him but you do not want him to suffer either. Define a good quality of life for him. If it is a puppy, then perhaps playing with his favorite toy or with children is quality of life for him.  If it is an older dog, a good quality of life maybe is that he is able to continue to be mobile, or still has an appetite.

But if he feels any discomfort, difficulty breathing, poor appetite, incontinence, does he still look happy? You may write down a list of the things your pet loves to do. From getting all excited at dinner time, to going for walks in the park. Continue to check the list, does it seem like the things they seem to enjoy is getting shorter and shorter as the disease progresses?  

Spend Extra Time with Your Pet

If he only has a limited time he will be active, take him to his favorite places like the dog park or whatever he enjoys doing. Give him his favorite toy, play with him. Give him his favorite food If it will not interfere with his medication. Some foods can make a condition such as kidney failure worse so you should consult your vet before giving him additional treats.
The anticipation and knowing your pet has a limited amount of time can be really difficult.  Allow yourself to feel these emotions. You may find yourself becoming distant from your pet.  Your pet will not understand this and you may later regret it because of the guilt at not making the best of the time left with your pet.  
Some owners deny their pet is terminally ill, later on after the pet's passing the owner feels as if they wasted precious time with their pet. Take a lot of pictures, write about your favorite memories together, make more happy memories with your pet with the time left. Cuddle him, brush him if he likes it, talk to him. 

Start Saying Goodbye

Decide how you would like the euthanasia performed. Some vets offer home services and will come to your house to perform the euthanasia. Remember when performing it at home, that spot where the euthanasia was performed may become a constant reminder of the loss of your pet. Find ways to soften the environment with your pet's picture, or a flower pot.

If you decide to have it done at your vet’s clinic and you would like to be the only one with your pet, ask a friend to drive you for you will be very emotional following euthanasia and it is not safe to drive during this time.

Decide what you want done with his remains, some vets can have your pet cremated and either give the ashes back or have them spread it somewhere.  You can also have your pet remains buried in your back yard.  Pet cemeteries are also an option in some areas.  If you do not want the remains back your veterinarian can also dispose of the body. 

While you may have been grieving at the knowledge your pet will die soon, your grief may be more profound following the loss of your pet.

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