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Knowing When to Say Goodbye: A Word on Aging Pets and Lovingly Letting Go

Pet Health and Safety  •   Richard Rowlands  •   Feb 16, 2022

 

It’s never easy to say goodbye, but sometimes it's the right thing to do. This is especially true when it comes to our beloved pets. As they age, our furry friends can become increasingly uncomfortable and suffer from a range of health problems. It's up to us to do everything we can to make sure they're comfortable in their final days, and have the courage to let them go when the time is right.

If you're in the difficult position of having to say goodbye to an aging pet, know that you're not alone. Millions of pet owners face this same decision every year. Making the decision to humanely euthanize your pet is never easy. But there are a few things you can do to make the process a little less difficult – both for you and your pet. Keep reading for some practical tips on how to let go and say goodbye with grace and dignity.

5 Signs That It May Be Time to Say Goodbye to a Pet

First, it's important to be aware of the signs that may indicate it's time to say goodbye. Here are some of the most common warning signs that your pet may be nearing the end of their life:

1. Chronic Pain

If your pet is suffering from chronic pain, it may be time to say goodbye. This is especially true if they have a terminal illness and are not responding to treatment. In these cases, euthanasia is often the kindest thing you can do for your pet.

2. Loss of Appetite & Weight Loss

Loss of appetite and weight loss are common in elderly pets that are nearing the end of their life. These symptoms often occur in pets with serious health issues and may be accompanied by other warning signs like gastrointestinal issues, weakness, or lethargy.

3. Decline in Mobility

Mobility problems are common in aging pets, but a sharp decline in mobility can be a sign of severe pain and illness. If your pet can no longer move around easily or is having trouble getting up and down, it may be an indication that they're in their final days.

4. Lack of Interest in Activities

Pets that are nearing the end of their life often lose interest in their usual activities. This may include things like interacting with family members, playing with toys, or going for walks. If your pet is no longer interested in the things they used to love, it's possible they may be ready to say goodbye.

5. Loss of House Training

In some cases, pets may lose their house training as they near the end of their life. This can happen as a result of severe pain that prevents them from getting up to go outside and use the bathroom. Chronic illness can also cause this problem, as can the onset of cognitive dysfunction.

How to Say Goodbye When the Time Is Right

If you notice any of the warning signs we've highlighted above, make sure to consult with your veterinarian immediately. They will assess your aging pet and help you decide if euthanasia is the best course of action. In some cases, these symptoms may be caused by a treatable condition and your pet may have a few more months or years to live. But in other cases, euthanasia may be the kindest thing you can do for them.

If you've decided that euthanasia is the best course of action, there are a few things you can do to ensure your pet's final days are as comfortable and dignified as possible.

Here are a few simple tips:

Make Sure They're Comfortable

The most important thing you can do in the days leading up to your pet's euthanasia is to make sure they're as comfortable as possible. This means providing them with a soft place to rest, plenty of water, and regular access to an area where they can relieve themselves. If possible, try to keep them in a familiar environment surrounded by their family members.

Make End-of-Life Arrangements

If you haven't already, now is the time to make end-of-life arrangements for your pet. This may include things like contacting your veterinarian to arrange for euthanasia or organizing a pet burial or cremation. Many pet owners like to memorialize their pet with a special ceremony or tribute. This article from VCA Animal Hospitals lists 10 ways to memorialize your pet and celebrate their life.

Say Goodbye with Love

When the time comes, say your final goodbye to your pet with love and compassion. They may not fully understand what's happening, but they'll appreciate the kindness and gentleness you show them in their final moments. Talk out loud to your pet so they can hear the soothing sound of your voice and let them know how much you love them.

Final Respects Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance

Losing a pet is one of the most difficult things any loving pet owner can go through in life. At AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company), we understand the pain and heartache that comes with saying goodbye to a furry friend. That's why we offer Final Respects Coverage, which can help you in this difficult time by providing coverage for cremation, burial expenses, and memorials.

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