Americans love their pets, and many treat their animals like their own children. We pay to have them groomed and boarded when we are on vacation (sometimes on par with the costs of our vacation accommodation). Some people take their dogs to doggie day care when they are gone to work so the dog won’t get lonely. Yes trust me its a growing industry as is dog sitting!
We buy dogs coats and accessories and let them sleep in our beds at night. They are our companions, and when they age and grow sick, we are faced with difficult decisions. If your dog has developed a chronic, life altering illness, you like my family may be facing the decision of when to end your animal’s life and put a dog to sleep. This decision is an important life and death call for all family’s to make and a financial one as well.
Before you make the call to put a dog to sleep
However, before you decide to put a dog to sleep or make any decisions, keep in mind that there are often treatments that you can afford that will prolong your animal’s life and make him more comfortable and even able to enjoy life.
- Some problems can be treated with a special diet such as Hills prescription diet dog food. While this food may be a bit more expensive than dog food that you can pick up the at the grocery store, if it helps alleviate your dog’s health condition, it may be worthwhile. (keep an eye out for discounts, coupons and buy 10 get 1 free deals)
- Many pet food stores or even online shopping can recommend a natural or pharmaceutical arthritis treatment for your dog. This can help give back some of the movement to their old elbows, hips and joints that have deteriorated with time.
- Keep your dog lean as they get older. Having a chubby dog isn’t going to help their joints at all. My vet is constantly on me about my Labs weight and I recently found an amusing post over here about exercising your chubby dog.
- Cold weather isn’t going to help any with keeping your pet mobile. Try creating a warmer place for them to sleep. A Laundry, tiled area or perhaps the garage if there is room. Some cold climate dog breeders use a an old school light bulb (not the new energy efficient ones) in their kennel / breeding boxes to keep the puppies warm. Add extra blankets to the bottom layer of their mattress.
Trust your vet to help
Please don’t forget to ask your vet for an opinion before you put a dog to sleep. Your vet will likely have other alternatives beyond food and other pharmaceuticals to help your dog through this transitional period and after all that’s why your vet is there. Deciding when to put a dog down is not an easy decision, but your vet, who has handled many cases like yours, will help guide you.
Think Quality of life before you put a dog to sleep
Being an owner of a dog who has had problems I am keenly aware of the need to balance quality of life VS my desire to keep him in my life. All dog owners need to keep this in their mind and be able to make the right call for their pet. I found a great article detailing older dog care and things to keep in mind. The difficulty here is many dogs are so stolid about pain tolerance that it takes a lot for you to be able to tell their not happy. They don’t show pain as easily as humans we have no way of telling when their mildly sore until its a real big problem. Keep an eye on your pet an watch for changes of behavior your not used too is all I can advise here.
***Photo thanks to Justj0000lie & BPtakoma***