Care of a Terminally Ill Pet

Because we know our pets so well, there are times when we suspect something is not quite right with them. Most pets are very good at hiding illness as in the wild, any show of weakness can make them vulnerable to predators. A visit to the vet may bring us devastating news – our pet has a terminal illness.

After the initial shock wear off, we feel guilt – how could we not have known our pet was ill, what did we do wrong. But take heart, the diagnosis is not your fault. Now is the time to advocate for your pet and research all the data available about your pet’s illness.

Begin with your vet, discuss treatments and options. Use the Internet as a tool, but beware of false information. There are some wonderful groups online that you can join and network with people who’s pets in the same or similar circumstances. These groups offer lots of support as well as valuable tips on what has or hasn’t worked for their pet.

When my precious dog Timo was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, I joined two Yahoo groups – Canine Cancer and Bone Cancer Dogs. Besides the wealth of information that was so helpful, the empathy, understanding and support was priceless. Although Timo lost her battle with cancer almost 7 years ago, I continue as a member of these groups to pass on my experiences and support. We may have met in sadness, but I’ve been very fortunate to have made lasting friendships with wonderful people from around the world.

Please remember that animals are extremely sensitive to our emotions. It’s important, especially at this time, to try and keep your spirits high and not allow your pet to feel your sadness. When you are feeling very stressed and want to cry or rage at the world, try not to do so in front of your pet. Let your emotions out where your pet can’t hear or sense them. It’s fine to cuddle with them and shower them with love and special treats as you would if everything was fine.

You’ll find in your research that there are many different approaches to caring for your pet. You know your pet and your situation best and your decisions will be the right ones for you and your pet. At Bone Cancer Dogs, we know there are no wrong decisions. Until then, do the best you can for your pet, treasure each day you have together. And accept the blessing of having the privilege of sharing your life with one whose unconditional love lasts for all eternity.

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