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Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM

End-of-Life Decisions and Questions

By March 4, 2013

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Herman Roosevelt Quinn - October 2007  Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVMThanks to advances in veterinary medicine and nutrition, pets are enjoying healthier, longer lives. Most of us have had to face at least one "difficult decision" for our pet, most of us several times over.

Common questions include: are they suffering? Is it "time" to consider end of life choices? People also seek help dealing with overwhelming grief after losing a pet.

I had approximately one year to say goodbye to my beloved Herman Roosevelt Quinn, and it was hard. I wrote "The Twilight Time" detailing that journey of watching his health decline. This topic is one that comes up often on this site, in many forms. Here are a couple examples from the VetMed Forum.

A VetMed Forum Guest writes:

"I have a very old dog, 18 years old already (her breed's average lifespan is 12-14 years). I am pretty much caring for her at home on my own. My vet has been telling me for 3 years that she is a very old dog and I should probably put her down. I am tired of hearing that lecture, and I know that the next time I take her to the vet it will be to put her down.

I know she will not live forever. I know if I take her back to the vet it will be that final last trip.I'm just wondering if there are things I can try at home to make her more comfortable and less stressed until I make that final decision."

Forum host Jaime Glasser DVM is also in the process of saying goodbye to her beloved 23-year old cat, Sparky:

"Tonight I think my 23 year old kitty Sparky may be beginning the active dying process. I am much more aware now of the stages of dying that we and our animal companions move through as we near death. It is a kind of backwards dance with life; a graceful exit.

For the first time I am wholly committed to this experience. I am not attempting to control or change or "fix" it. I hope I can accept it, not fear or avoid it, not postpone or hasten this precious death. I think I can do this because he is not suffering and I am not as ignorant as I was!" Read full post: Saying Goodbye To Sparky

Have you faced a difficult end-of-life decision with your pet?
Read what others have to say, and please consider sharing your story about saying goodbye to your pet with dignity.

Pet Grief Resources

Photo: Herman Roosevelt Quinn - October 2007 Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM

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March 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm
(1) LavenderLace says:

Hi, I just volunteered to foster/adopt a 5 year old dog. When the dog arrived, he was clearly elderly, blind and deaf. Definitely older than “9″ as stated on his paperwork. OK, no problem, but he is acting senile by crying, barking incessantly all throughout the day and night. He cannot be consoled by human companionship. He seems to be around 16 ? I have a 14 y.o. dog who is in superb condition and vets don’t believe her age. I understand the New Dog wasn’t cared for properly at all, and may appear even older than he is. Anyway, obviously I will have to deal with his end of life issues eventually….Hopefully, that won’t be for years. What I am seriously wondering about is when do you know it’s the right time to end a dogs life? A local vet I never met before sad I should consider PTS this dog due to his poor health status. I disagree. I think he’s mostly enjoying his time. Second opinion needed. But how does one “know” when the time is right, if one did not raise and doesn’t know all the dogs past habits and normal behavior??? Thanks

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