Signs of a Dying Dog, Pet Hospice Care & Euthanasia, Crematoriums & Burial Services in India
Knowing the impending death of your pet and preparing for it is one of the toughest phases of being a pet parent. Watching the light of your life grow into their twilight years is overwhelming. But whether it is old age or terminal illness, we’re sure you’d want to do all you can to give them the best days.
As years have passed pets have become more like family, than only a companion animal. The mere thought of their life’s end is petrifying. Things don’t get any easier when your decision may impact their life or its end. There’s always a perpetual sense of guilt or of not doing enough for your child. If you are going through this phase, we hope this article makes it slightly easier.
Caring for an Elderly Pet
Depending on their size, your dawgie will turn elderly at anywhere above 6-7 years of age. As they grow older, they may start experiencing health problems. There are many factors related to the kind of life they lead that influence the issues they face. Diet, lifestyle, and genetics all have a role to play. Some of the most common old-age issues are arthritis, vision loss, hearing loss, dental issues, cancer or kidney disease.
ALSO READ: Dog Aging Chart, Life-Expectancy and Age-Related Problems in Dogs
Here are some tips to care for your senior dog better.
Look out for:
- Behavioral Changes: Your dog’s behavior is the best communicator of what’s going on with his body. While an older dog will naturally be less active, it is unusual behavior that you need to look out for. Increased agitation, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, urinary incontinence are some signs that if observed can help nab upcoming problems at their root.
- Signs of Arthritis: Difficulty in climbing stairs, sitting or standing, sore or stiff joints and decreased activity are some symptoms of arthritis. Arthritis is extremely common in older pets and one should be on the look for its symptoms at all times.
- Signs of Cognitive Dysfunction: Anxiety and confusion are common signs of Cognitive Dysfunction in senior dogs. Other signs include fear of loud noises, wandering, loss of interest in play and incontinence. A strict schedule and anti-anxiety medicines help in these cases.
NOTE: Never give your dog over-the-counter human medication of any kind. They can be fatal to your pet. Always consult your vet about medication.
- Vet Visits: Your veterinarian will give you the right schedule for visits as per your pet’s health condition. Regular vet visits can help identify any health issue while it’s still minor. During these visits, you should also communicate with your vet about any unusual observations you’ve had and clear doubts.
- Diet Plan: Excess weight can make the quality of life for your senior pet worse. While it is important to keep their weight in check throughout, pay special consideration to their diet in their golden years. Older pets are less active and need fewer calories. If your pet feeds on a diet like DawgieBowl, coordinate with your service provider. You can also speak with your vet to help you chalk down a diet plan.
- Exercise: Your pet will not be as active as they were in their younger years. They may not jump as high or chase frisbees, but you still need to ensure they are moving. Movement helps keep the joints healthy, the mind stimulated, and the weight in check.
Help them with:
- A Comfortable Space: As your dog grows older they will not be able to move around the house as easily. Help them by making the space more senior-dog friendly. Have water accessible, bring them an orthopedic bed, ensure they are warm always. Avoid loud noises and stress in the house so they can have a peaceful time. A toy once in a while will brighten up their day too.
- Hygiene: A lot of dogs lose bladder control with age. Check at intervals if your pet has soiled themselves and help them clean up. Brush their teeth regularly, brush their coat too. These activities will also give you some time to bond with each other and make memories.
- Quality Time: You know what your dawgie appreciates most. Help them with what they like. Spend some extra cuddle time. Buy their favorite treats and toys. Talk to them more often. The quality of life your pet has in their end days will depend a lot on how much quality time you spend with them. And we’re sure you don’t want to be missing out either. So make the best of the time you have together.
Remember that this phase may be tiring and stressful for you as a parent, but your pet is going through worse. Be patient with them. They may have difficulty seeing, hearing and moving. Let them take their time around things and keep your cool.
Pet Hospice Care at Home
When a pet is terminally ill or in the end days, aggressive treatment may not seem like the most appropriate choice. A lot of families want to maximize the length of life for their loved one. This is where pet hospice comes in. Pet hospice is palliative care offered to a pet at home with the supervision of a vet. It aims at providing the best quality of life possible until the pet dies naturally or is euthanized. Hospice provides families with the time to decide if they want to put their pet down, or wait for them to pass away. It also helps them come to terms with the impending death of their companion.
Hospice typically includes a 24×7 vet on-call for urgent care whenever needed. Medication and other therapies help reduce pain, stress, and discomfort. Unlike general veterinary care where the underlying cause or illness is treated, the focus in hospice shifts to providing comfort to the pet. Any form of treatment that could lead to a huge degrade in the quality of life is avoided.
Hospice is ideal if your pet is terminally ill and you are not willing to administer euthanasia at this point. Hospice treatment will generally include nutritional and hydration support, cleanliness and grooming, help with urination and defecation, support for movement, symptom management, mental stimulation and quality time with the family.
Many families choose hospice because they are spiritually, religiously or ethically opposed to euthanasia. In these cases, the pet is cared for until natural death occurs. But if he reaches a point where the palliative care may not do much, putting him down may be the kinder choice.
While hospice may not completely eliminate the grief of losing your pet, it definitely gives you time to prepare. And the peace of giving them the best quality of life for as long as possible.
Important Considerations before opting for Pet Hospice
We can understand if hospice sounds like the best option to you right now, and you want your pet to have it. But there are certain considerations to think upon before you make a decision.
- Is providing hospice to my pet in his interest? Or do I just want to be with him longer?
- Do I have a veterinarian whose expertise include pain management, alternative treatments, oxygen, and hydration?
- Is there a local vet around me, who will be available 24×7 in the case of an emergency?
- Do I have adequate resources or a family member who will be able to provide round the clock care to my pet even when I am not home?
- Will hospice care at home for my ailing pet seriously disrupt my family or work obligations?
- Will I be able to bear the cost for however long the hospice care lasts?
Pet Euthanasia – Deciding if it is the right time
One of the toughest parts of having to put down your pet is deciding when to do it. You don’t want to do it too early and take away their days or do it too late and cause them prolonged suffering. While your vet is the person to trust with making this decision, you could assess your pet on the Quality of Life Scale to understand whether it’s time.
The Quality of Life Scale is a tool developed by Dr. Alice Villalobos, a well-known veterinary oncologist. The scale has 7 aspects that you need to rate your pet on from 1-10 (1 being the poorest, and 10 being the best).
H – Hurt
H – Hunger
H – Hydration
H – Happiness
H – Hygiene (the ability to keep themselves clean from bodily waste)
M – Mobility
M – More (Good Days than Bad Days)
Use your pet’s behavior from when they were fine as a reference for the rating. If your pet is at below 5 in a majority of the categories it may be time you consult your vet about euthanasia.
Once you and your vet decide that putting your pet down is ideal, you should have a conversation with your family to tell them about what is to happen. If you have children, explain to them what is happening in advance to help them cope with the loss of a friend. You may want to give them a spiritual perspective on death, but do not lie to them with words like “they are sleeping”. Children, if explained well will understand why you need to be putting the pet down.
Ensure everyone understands that this a difficult but humane decision. They may have questions like, “will putting them down hurt them?”, “how long will it take?”, “can I be with them when they are being put down?”, and many more. Be patient and understand that these questions come from a place of great concern. Once you all have agreed, start speaking with your vet about when and where you can carry out the procedure.
You can choose where you want it to happen; at your home or your vet’s facility. Not all vets will do it at your place, so it is important to check with your vet first. Before you go to the decided location, make time for every family member to have a final talk and say goodbye. If you’ve chosen to have it done at your vet’s facility bring along their bed, blanket, and a pillow. Vets usually provide you with a blanket but carrying your pet’s blanket may be more soothing to them.
Sit with your furry friend and comfort them. Sing to them if that helps you both. Your vet may give them a sedative before the euthanasia. The sedative does sting and has side effects. If your pet is very sick, and already calm or has trouble breathing, they may not need the sedative. Few vets only administer the sedative to anxious pets.
The euthanasia medicine is given through an IV injection in one of the legs. It is usually seizure medication, that in high dosage makes the pet unconscious and stops their heart and brain function in a few minutes. It is not painful. As your pet crosses the rainbow bridge, their eyes may not completely shut. Urination or defecation may take place. You may see them take their final breath or twitch. It may be startling but you need not worry, they are not in pain.
Pet Passing Away at Home
It can be traumatic to see your pet pass away at home. Before you start making arrangements, ensure you have emotional support. Call a friend or family member over for help. If there are other family members present in the house when your friend has passed, offer them support too.
The first thing you must do is move your pet’s body to the coldest spot in your house. Place a tarp or mat on the floor and cover it with a bedsheet you won’t mind disposing off. Keep your pet’s body over this. If the weather is excessively hot, place another bedsheet on your pet’s body and lay ice packs on top. This will give you time to make arrangements for the funeral.
Burial or Cremation Service for Pets in India
The most common ways to conduct your pet’s last rites in India are burial or electric cremation. There are organizations in the metros of our country offering these services. If you are opting for euthanasia for your pet, you will know the expected time for you to conduct the last rites. To avoid last-minute hassles in this time of distress, communicate with the burial or cremation service near you in advance and inform them. Calling the service before you arrive helps them make arrangements in advance and book a spot for you. Charges for burial services generally depend on the size of the animal. Electric crematoriums charge basis the weight or size of your pet.
Burial involves burying your pet under the ground. It may include having a tombstone on their grave if you opt for it. You can choose the duration for which you want to have the grave reserved. Most burial grounds will let you extend this period for an extra charge.
Electric Cremation is the breaking down of your pet’s body to ashes using an electric device. Same as human electric cremation. The process takes about 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size of the animal. Some crematoriums may offer you your pet’s ashes or remains that you can keep as a memory of their life.
These organizations also help you do acts of service in memory of pet’s life. Like planting a tree, sponsoring food for animals in their shelter or donating to the treatment of ailing animals.
We spoke with Col. Lit. J. C. Khanna, CEO at BSPCA. He told us how people would either bury or burn the body of their pet after they passed away when services like theirs weren’t available. According to him burying pets is a great option for people in rural areas or who do not have access to a crematorium but have space.
BSPCA’s Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital’s Electric Cremation service sees about 15 animals every day. The process of cremation there takes about 20 minutes for a small breed, 30 minutes for a medium sized breed and 45 minutes for a large breed. The charges for the same are Rs. 2000, Rs. 2500 and Rs. 3000 respectively. While the cremation service is available from 8.30 am to 5 pm, they offer an air-conditioned morgue that runs 24×7 where you could store your pet’s body.
If you do not want to opt for a commercial service, you can choose to bury your pet in your household premises; like your garden or backyard. Dig the grave deep enough to have at least 3 feet of mud covering your pet’s body. This will keep any other animals from digging the body up.
You can also get in touch with your local municipality to help dispose of the remains of your animal. They will have the body picked up from your place and disposed at their end.
Grieving the Loss of your Pet
Losing a pet is not easy. If you’ve recently lost a pet we understand the gaping hole you feel in your heart. We also understand that not everyone may relate to your emotions. However, that is no excuse to suppress your grief. The best way to overcome it, is it to feel it entirely. But remember to take care of yourself and channel your grief into something positive. Create something to memorialize the life of your pet, spend some time with pets at a shelter, offer a meal to strays. Channel your feelings into actions more positive, not destructive.
If you have children in the family who dearly miss the pet, offer them a spiritual perspective on death. Avoid being hysterical in front of children. They pick up how they are supposed to feel from their elders. If they see you being positive about the loss, chances are they will gradually adjust too.
While losing your pet may affect your daily activities and you may not feel enthusiastic about doing a lot, your other pets still need caring. Know that they’ve felt the loss of a pack mate too. If you are unable to, assign someone to conduct the routine for your pets as regular. Feed them their meals on time, take them for walks, play with them. Do not ignore or isolate your pets as the stress may result adversely on their behavior and health.
Finally, take care of yourself and your family. Eat your meals and hydrate often. Grieving can be taxing on your body, so have enough energy to keep up. Grief can also be taxing on your mind. Try to have some relaxing activities like playing a board game, cooking together or watching a movie to lighten up the atmosphere.
If your family or friends are unable to understand your grief you can speak with people on online support groups. People who have lost a dear pet can relate with you and help you feel better. At the same time, hold no grudges against those who fail to understand you.
At any point, if you feel you, or a family member is displaying signs of depression or suicidal tendencies reach out for professional help immediately.
We know life feels hopeless when you lose your pet, but know you are among the blessed few who could care for and share their life with an animal who loved them unconditionally. We hope you find the strength to celebrate the memory of your pet’s life and open your heart to caring for more animals in the future.
FOR INFORMATION ONLY – NOT VETERINARY CARE
DawgieBowl operates this online information and opinion blog for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this blog are researched from popular journals & books, online articles, and research papers. DawgieBowl does not claim ownership to the images or videos on the blog unless mentioned. Images or videos are collected from the public domain, and the rights to them lie with the photographer or copyright owner. By reading this blog or using any of the information you expressly acknowledge and understand that there are risks and limitations associated with any advice, recipes, formulas, and/or products suggested or endorsed. DawgieBowl, its parent entities, and stakeholders are not responsible for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage related to your use of this website, or any other site or product linked to this website, whether from errors or omissions in the content of our website or any other linked site, from downtime on the website or from any other use of this blog.
The content of this blog is NOT intended to substitute professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If your pet is sick, injured, or in need of medical attention, please contact your veterinarian or local emergency animal hospital immediately. Never disregard professional veterinary advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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