101 Guide to Caring for a Pet Toward the End of Their Life
by Taylor Evans February 18, 2022 4 min read
Pet cremation jewelry and urns are very popular in the United States. An estimated 70% of US households have pets. Pet cremation jewelry and pet cremation urns offer a way to remember and honor these adored companions.
When your loyal companion is reaching the end of their life and ready to cross the rainbow bridge, you'll be filled with a world of emotions.
Sadness, grief and even heartbreak are common when your animal's last days are near.
However, you need to be strong for your pet and provide them with the best final days that are possible. Before you start thinking about pet cremation urns and ways to say goodbye, follow the guide below to make the last days of your pet's life the best possible.
Bring Your Pet to the Vet
Is your pet really reaching the end of their life? Is something else going on with your pet that you don't know about? Pets have "average" lifespans, and while many dogs are lucky to live until 8– 14, Bluey, an Australian cattle dog, lived to the ripe old age of 29. Crème Puff, a cat, lived 38 years.
Most animals will not live this long.
But you're not given an instruction manual with your pet that tells you exactly how long they'll live.
If you notice that something isn't right with your animal, bring them to the vet to find out what's wrong. Unfortunately, many pet owners neglect their animal's health when they're older because they think it's just the natural time for them to pass.
Your vet can:
- Verify whether your animal's days are running out
- Explain ways to make your pet comfortable
- Discuss any concerns with you
If your pet does have a medical issue and is nearing the end of their life, the vet may also recommend medications that can ease pain or issues that your pet is experiencing.
Manage Pain and Make Them Comfortable
First and foremost, if your pet is in pain, be sure to make them as comfortable as possible. Many pets will hide their pain well, but you'll notice times when they yelp, get up slowly or don't seem like themselves.
If this is your pet, it may be time to look towards some form of pain management.
Your veterinarian is your best source of information to ensure that your animal receives the right pain medication. Oftentimes, over-the-counter options are recommended to help relieve achy joints and pain.
Additionally, you'll want to be sure that your pet is comfortable, which may mean pampering them a bit. You can do this by:
- Purchasing a pet bed that they can sleep in
- Putting out blankets and pillows
If certain activities cause your pet pain or discomfort, reduce them as best you can. For example, if your dog has trouble walking upstairs, you may want to consider placing their bed at the bottom of the stairs or carrying them upstairs if they're smaller and easy to carry.
Focus on Mobility-Friendly Adaptations
When walking becomes difficult, you'll find a lot of pet-friendly adaptations that can help improve mobility. For example, you can purchase:
- Stairs or ramps to help your pet reach the couch or bed
- Place ramps on outdoor stairs
Additionally, you may want to raise the food bowl for an animal with a bad back or purchase a cat litter box with a lower lip that doesn't require your cat to jump. For animals that have eyesight loss, it may be time to enhance your lighting, too.
Increasing lighting can make it easier for your pet to get around and live a happy, fulfilled end of life.
Make Any Necessary Diet Changes
Diet is always important, and while your pet may love a particular type of food over another, it's crucial for you to decide what's best for your pet at this time. For example, your older dog or cat may need to switch to wet food because it's easier to eat and they're already experiencing some form of tooth pain.
Additionally, if your animal is struggling to eat or even get up, you may need to hand feed them to make their life a little easier.
You may also want to consider the following:
- Giving your pet some type of appetite stimulant if they're having trouble eating
- Nausea medication may be required for some animals
- Warming food up may be best
- Adding plain pumpkin puree to their diet to aid digestion (cats and dogs)
Senior animal foods are often formulated with the extra vitamins and supplements animals need at different stages of life.
Pet Cremation and Remembrance
Thinking of the death of an animal is hard. Strong emotional attachment and love for our pets make their death almost as difficult as a human's. However, you still need to make the final arrangements for your pet.
You can bury your companion underneath his or her favorite tree, or you can opt to remember your pet in a different way.
Many pet owners want to remember their pets forever, and one way to do this is through cremation. You can choose to scatter your pet's ashes in the yard or at their favorite park. Additionally, you can keep your pet close to your heart with:
Coping With Loss as a Family
In today's society, animals have become an intrinsic part of life. You and any family members that are touched by your pet will need to find ways to cope with the loss. A few of the ways to deal with losing a pet are:
- Acknowledging the loss and the new life that exists without your pet
- Allowing yourself and loved ones to embrace the emotion of losing a pet
- Being upfront with your children and loved ones
- Seeking out support groups for pet loss – they exist
If your pet's end of days is near, do your best to comfort them and be with them. Saying "goodbye" is impossibly difficult, but your pet deserves the best sendoff possible. The tips above can help you overcome this difficult time and send your pet off in the best way possible.
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