End-of-Life Care: How to Extend Your Dog’s Quality of Life

End-of-Life Care: How to Extend Your Dog’s Quality of Life

End-of-life care can seem overwhelming when it comes to owning a senior dog, as all of us dread the day we have to part with our best friend.

However, being aware of your pet’s current physical state can help prepare you for the transition. With September being National Pain Awareness Month, recognizing the signs of pain in our pets can help owners take the first steps in working to improve their condition.

In seeing that they need help, you can make the most of the time left and provide comfort for your beloved pals. Here are a few tips to help extend the quality of life for your senior dog.

Reducing stress

Stress in our pets can take many forms. While the signs may not be as obvious for senior dogs, it’s important to notice their reaction to their environment and make changes to comfort them.

Panting and shaking are some of the most common indicators of stress in dogs, so if they’re not excited about something they usually enjoy, they may be anxious.

A few ways to keep comfort top of mind is to make a nest in a quiet area of your house or take your dog to their favorite place daily to help combat their anxiety. Sometimes, our home may no longer be the best place for our aging pet, in which case it may be time to consider alternative care.

Alternative care solutions

Considering the needs of your aging pet takes priority when improving their quality of life. As painful as it may be to part with a pet, it's not always possible to:

  • Provide them the care they need, and/or...
  • Give them the quality of life they deserve

Toward the end of their life, some dogs can become distant as they may withdraw or even wander when outside. That distance may make it tough to provide palliative care at home, in which case it may be time to reach out. 

Your best friend deserves a send-off befitting of the amazing life they have lived. This is an all-hands-on-deck life event that may be suddenly overwhelming.

If you are no longer able to take care of an aging dog, Forever Loved may be able to help through our foster or adoption programs. While waiting for a foster, your senior dog is cared for at our facility with volunteers and staff dedicated to providing them with the crucial care they deserve.

Manage pain

The vet is your primary source of insight when it comes to managing pain for senior dogs at home.

You may begin to notice changes in their energy, mobility, and mental health during this time, and it's normal to have questions.

Now may be the time to consider looking into pet insurance and how it works, as juggling emergency vet visits and out-of-pocket medication costs should not be an added point of stress for you during this time.

Your vet can best serve you in making necessary adjustments to your pet’s diet, exercise, and even medications to ease their symptoms. If addressing digestive issues or making changes to their diet, a vet can help narrow down the list of senior dog food options according to your pet's particular diet plan.

As always, comfort is the name of the game, so by noticing our dog’s pain we can better manage it. Sometimes that can be an act as small as meeting them where they are and holding them close.

Dogs have non-verbal cues too, and no matter how much they age, contact and physical touch go a long way in easing any pain they may be experiencing.

Stick to a schedule

Keeping to a schedule can help bring peace of mind when providing quality care for your pet. We start our days early at the sanctuary, but not everyone does, so your day may look different.

Some of us may have gone from having our dog as a reliable personal alarm, and now we are theirs. Your pet may have aged, but they are familiar with their schedules, permitting not much has changed in the years.

Waking up at the same time, going to the same dog park, and even treating them to a mid-afternoon pup cup can help maintain some semblance of normalcy at this time.

A little extra pampering during the day can’t hurt either — if they’ve been going to the groomers for years, stick with it. A good trim can help maintain their coat and reduce excessive shedding. We tend to feel better when we look our best, which is all the more reason to keep the tradition for our furry pals.

Winding down may be different too, but keeping your pet comfortable is all the same. A clean and comfy bed, along with some extra blankets, and maybe sharing a cuddle can help dogs get the needed benefits of rest at their age while staying in sync with their regular habits. 

Focus on quality of life

End-of-life care for a senior dog may be a topic of dread, but with the above considerations in mind, you can focus on spending your time left together stress-free.

Extending your pet’s quality of life is an act of care that requires a bit more attention than usual. Quality of life means thinking about what you can do for your dog, and it also means having the resources available to ensure they can live out the rest of their time with you in peace and comfort.

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