In my many years as a veterinarian and especially now that I work exclusively with elderly pets, there are three phrases, and one, two or all three of them enter into nearly every conversation I have involving end of life. I finally realized that pet caretakers, as well as veterinarians, use these phrases to give themselves permission to end an animal’s life.
In general terms, the geriatric period for dogs starts around 7 to 9 years of age, and for cats at around 10 years, but these parameters vary depending on species and size. The time frames listed here are certainly not exact and are only used as reference points for discussion.
Feline Injection Site Sarcomas (FISS) are extremely aggressive cancers that may be related to an injection or vaccination. The specific cause is unknown. They can develop from 3 months to 4 years post vaccination, or injection, and some don’t show up for five or more years.
Check-ups are important as the dog or cat ages and signs of heart disease can often be diagnosed or suggested when the veterinarian listens to the heart via a stethoscope. If a murmur or heart beat arrhythmia is auscultated (heard), the doctor may recommend a visit to a veterinary cardiologist for a more detailed and complete diagnosis to see if treatment is necessary.
Litter boxes are not made for cats, they are made to make things easier for people. The same is true of litters. In most situations, the younger cat will adapt to both the litter used as well as the box, but the older, or elderly, cat may have problems that can result in them soiling outside the box.
It’s also a truism that the general consensus on the internet is that it’s “not humane” to allow a pet to die naturally. This is frustrating to me because it’s based on incorrect information.
List compiled by Belinda McLeod for Cake Blog
Some of these books offer suggestions on how to grieve the loss of a pet. Others are stories that celebrate animals. Choose the book carefully, especially if you are using it as a gift. You don’t want to open old wounds in your attempt to offer solace.
Even if you are purchasing a book for adults, it is encouraged that you check out the second part of the list. Children’s books can be more accessible, and easier to manage, in a difficult period.
I receive many phone calls in regard to pet “suffering” and “quality of life” issues. In my opinion, these specific terms are related to our “human” viewpoint and not the pet’s.
Unfortunately, this one of the most common problems seen in geriatric and older cats. The average age of onset is 13. It’s an insidious disease that results in many other related afflictions due to the increased level of thyroid hormone, T4, released from the paired glands located in the laryngeal area of the neck.
Taking cats to the veterinary office can be a frustrating and traumatic ordeal, as many owners have experienced. Because of the perceived emotional “trauma,” it seems like a much better alternative to have a veterinarian come into the home for the examination. In fact, this may not be the best approach after all.