Hospice or home care for dogs has come to the forefront
in recent years. It can be an option when your dog has a terminal illness and
you don’t want to pursue more aggressive medical care, but would like to
provide comfort care for as long as possible. The goals of hospice are to
control pain, keep the dog comfortable, and provide a decent quality of life
for as long as possible.
Committing a dog to hospice care can be a very involved step. Your
veterinarian will draw up a care plan for the dog, but you will be
administering virtually all of the care. Some training may be required for
safely giving medications and for detecting signs of problems.
Submissive urination is normal canine communication. Dogs do
it to show social appeasement. When a dog submissively urinates, he’s trying to
convey that he’s not a threat. Not all dogs submissively urinate. However, some
will urinate when they’re exceptionally excited or feeling submissive or
intimidated. Dogs who submissively urinate usually do so when greeting people
or animals (especially unfamiliar ones), during exciting events, while playing,
during physical contact, such as petting,...
Some hospice programs involve occasional home visits by a veterinarian or a
veterinary technician to assist with care and evaluations. A few sites provide
hospice care on site, with owners visiting or staying for the duration.
Talk to your veterinarian about possible home care that will ease this final
transition for your dog.
The time may come when you are faced with the prospect of having to end your
pet’s life. This is a difficult decision to make-both for you and for your
veterinarian. Many old and infirm dogs can be made quite comfortable with just
a little more thoughtfulness and tender loving care than the average healthy
dog needs. Old dogs can still enjoy months or years of happiness in the company
of loved ones.
But when life ceases to be a joy and a pleasure, when the dog suffers from a
painful and progressive condition for which there is no hope of betterment,
then perhaps at this time we owe the dog the final kindness of helping him to
die easily and painlessly. Quality-of-life issues are always difficult, but
questions to ask yourself include:
Is he having more good days than bad days?
Can he still do the things he loves to do best?
Is he in pain or discomfort that can’t be relieved?
Is he eating and drinking?
When it is clear that comfort is no longer possible, it is time for
euthanasia. This is accomplished by an intravenous injection of an anesthetic
agent in a sufficient amount to cause immediate loss of consciousness and
cardiac arrest. Some dogs will vocalize at the last instant or appear to take a
deep breath after death; this is normal, as is the loss of urine and/or stool.
While adults must make the final decisions, children often handle all of this
better than adults suspect, and should be involved in the decisions following
the death of the dog.
How involved children will be in this process will depend on their age and
emotional maturity. Euthanasia should not be referred to as “putting to sleep,”
as this may frighten children at bedtime and/or lead to expectations that the
dog will “wake up” and return.