Judging an older pet’s quality of life | VailDaily.com

Judging an older pet’s quality of life

Nadine Lober

My dog is getting older and can’t get around as well. How do I know if he is suffering? And what can I do for him?Unfortunately, our pets do not live as long as we do. Consequently, if you are a pet lover, as myself, and can’t think of living without a dog or cat, you adopt a new pet every time your old one dies. As your senior pet ages, he will exhibit various symptoms of old age, such as trouble getting up and walking. If he has heart problems, he may be coughing a lot or have breathing problems. If he has kidney disease, he may feel nauseated or dehydrated, Pain in a dog can be hard to detect, but here are a few symptoms that you can look for. First of all, some dogs when in pain will not want to eat or move around. But some Labradors will eat no matter what so we need to look for other signs. Another common sign is shaking or shivering. If your dog stands there and shakes or is laying down and shaking without a reason, then he may be in pain. Panting is another common sign of pain. Make sure that your dog isn’t panting for other reasons – older dogs tend to have some lung problems that will cause excessive panting. Once you have treated these possible problems associated with pain and your dog is still not improving or is still in pain, there is the inevitable question “When is it time to put my dog to sleep. This is not an easy question, but I will try to help in the decision making. You are the owner, who has spent the dog’s life loving him and caring for him. The most important thing to ask yourself at this point is “What is the quality of my pet’s life right now?” and “Am I keeping him alive because I can’t say goodbye?” Here are a few points that might help you determine if your pet’s quality of life is deteriorating: when your pet can’t get up and goes to the bathroom where he is laying down; when he doesn’t get up to go eat his meals; when he doesn’t seem happy to see you and can’t get up to greet you; when he is losing weight and strength; or when a treatment fails to help him anymore. I have had to put many animals to sleep and it is the hardest thing to do, but remember that you are ending the suffering state of a loved one. How often in life we see our family or friends suffering in the hospital because in our society, we have to do everything to keep them alive.Another common question is “Should I get a new puppy while my older pet is still alive? Or should I wait?” If your senior dog is still able to get around and a new puppy won’t make the last few weeks or months of your senior pet miserable then by all means, get a puppy. Sometimes it even gives some renewed life to your older pet. Vail, Colorado

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