The moment a pet owner’s worst fears are confirmed is devastating. There is no way to put a happy face on the sorrow that is felt when a test result proves a lump is cancerous. Whether it was suspected or comes as a complete surprise, it is always painful to hear. It also is a moment that begins a period of difficult choices for the family.
A diagnosis of terminal cancer does not mean that there are no happy days ahead. Stay in control and enjoy every moment possible so they can continue to have a full and happy life.
Maintain Your Hope
Some terminal pets have only days to live, but many survive comfortably for months or years. A veterinarian can only relay the average lifespan of dogs in other reported cases. Each dog is an individual, and their own immune system and the actions of the owner do have some effect on the disease.
Get Better Educated
Discuss all treatment options with the vet. Know the side effects of each. Research the type of cancer to know how it progresses and what may help to slow down the progression. Learn about natural options like supplements and special diets and discuss the use of the these with the veterinarian.
Exercise is another important factor in pet health, but the type of cancer the dog has could limit some activities. Strenuous exercise could be dangerous for a dog with cancer that affects their heart or lungs. Activities like running could create too much impact if there is bone cancer. Establish a routine that is safe and comfortable for the dog and look for signs of discomfort.
Weigh the Options
Cancer treatment that does not offer any potential for a cure but could extend their life is a difficult choice to make. People must determine if the added time it offers makes it worth the cost and the risks to the pet. Discuss the issue as a family and know that any carefully thought out decision is the right one.
Record the Journey
Too many people dismiss the heartache and emotionally draining reality of caring for an ill pet. Create a blog and record everything to give yourself the chance to let out the pain without judgment. Record happy moments, include photos of fun events, and talk about their health. Include in the blog all the efforts being made to keep them strong and healthy.
Keep the blog private until the end before deciding to share the entries. The information collected could help others currently on this journey. It is also a record of your efforts. Read it whenever you have a day where you feel like you did not do enough.
Watch Them Closely
Decide in the beginning what would signal the end. For example, an active, athletic dog that now cannot walk to their water dish without pain. The owner must determine what would reduce their pet’s quality of life too much and choose that point as when it is time to say goodbye.
Stay With Them
Watching the life of a pet end is heartbreaking, but it should be done if possible. The pet has the comfort of their most important human standing or kneeling beside them. Staying with them can also help the owner because the process is quick and peaceful, and this is often very reassuring for people to witness.
As animal owners, we at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital understand that nothing is easy about saying goodbye to a great dog. We want to help them have a full and happy life for as long as possible. Contact us to learn more about disease prevention, treatment, and management so you can extend the number of days you get to spend with your best friend.