Services to support your pet’s quality of life as time marches on
Parting with our four-legged friends can be unthinkable; however, often, the most difficult conversations in life are the most important ones. At San Marco Animal Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, we appreciate that our clients often feel a level of companionship and closeness with their pets that they don’t have, even with some of their closest human friends and family members.
Age itself is not a “disease.” But we acknowledge this cycle of life in everything that we do. Just as you have different needs with advancing age, the needs of your dog or cat also evolve. “End of life” does not mean a specific set of options or a procedure within a specified timeframe. Your pet, and your circumstances, are unique and special. As such, the recommendations that we make for your pet and family are one of a kind. They all, though, are recommended with the comfort and wellbeing of your buddy at heart and center.
Your pet’s journey
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that senior pets visit the vet at least once every six months for their “well” exams. For adult dogs, all our in-house wellness plans include a bi-annual comprehensive physical exam. These visits may go into greater depth as your pet ages due, partly, to the age-related conditions that can arise. And the interventions that we suggest can address these problems. So, your pet remains happier and healthier longer. A few of the conditions that tend to develop over time include:
- Heart disease
- Kidney problems
- Urinary tract dysfunction
- Arthritis, especially among bigger dogs
- Liver disease
- Senility, cognitive dysfunction, and behavioral changes
“Warning” signs associated with common heart, kidney, and urinary tract conditions include a lack of appetite, increased thirst, little to no urination, frequent “accidents” in the house, vomiting, coughing, poor exercise tolerance, a lackluster coat, oral sores, and respiratory issues. Some of these symptoms are also associated with cancer, the risk of which increases as your pet ages. There may also be lumps or sores that never seem to heal and unexplained swelling or lameness.
A range of conditions can also present as behavioral changes; for instance, a formerly silent cat that suddenly “talks” all the time, or a highly social dog that suddenly retreats to a quiet corner and no longer desires to react with its fellow animal or human companions. Due to access to advanced veterinary care, many of these problems can be managed or even resolved. For the utmost comfort of your pet with comorbidities, we may recommend:
- Diets and supplements prescribed to meet your buddy’s caloric and health needs may be easier for an older pet with a pre-existing condition to digest.
- Exercise suggestions to stimulate their physical bodies and minds. Appropriate exercises can help to keep your pet mentally active as well as mobile.
- Lifestyle and home modifications, for instance, products to help your pet safely navigate areas with steps or that are otherwise challenging to traverse.
- Over-the-counter products and anti-inflammatory drugs can ease pain caused by conditions such as joint damage and arthritis.
End-of-life decisions are highly personal. Your pet’s quality of life comes down to factors like the presence of pain, the ability to eat enough and stay hydrated, expressions of joy or interest, and mobility. Moreover, your pet may be telling you the time has come to start to say goodbye if your answer to the following question is “yes.”: “Does your pet have more bad days than good ones?” If the bad outweighs the good, your bestie’s quality of life may be compromised.
Know that San Marco Animal Hospital’s highly skilled veterinarians and compassionate team are on your family’s side as you go through these challenging times. We partner with other professional services providers, such as a qualified and trusted pet crematory, to make the process of saying “goodbye” to your pet easier. And, no matter what is on the horizon, we encourage you to always harness the wisdom of Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”