How Can We Help Our Aging Pets?

I have an older Shepherd dog who’s really having a hard time walking. What do you suggest, or should I be thinking it’s soon time to say goodbye?

I have an older Shepherd dog who’s really having a hard time walking. What do you suggest, or should I be thinking it’s soon time to say goodbye?

ASK DR STACEY OF SUNRISE VETS COMOX

I understand how heart wrenching this is for you. Our senior pets have been with us a long time and they are our friends and family. They are our heroes. The question of “when is it time to euthanize” is not clear for every pet.

I think if your pet is still having fun and wanting to be with you and they can get around then it’s not time yet. If they are in trouble past this the question becomes “can I get my pet to enjoy life again and have some quality”. To me this means less arthritis pain and not feeling nausea or sick more than feeling well.

The question of arthritis in older pets is not “does my pet have it”  it’s “how much does she feel it? Remember we humans are the ones who have to “see the signs”. They won’t tell us. And we can miss this for months. A simple 1 week trial treating pain can reveal any pain they have been in. 

Hand in hand with arthritis, is making sure other diseases easily treated are not making the pain look worse.  A good history and exam for me tells a lot about where to go - always keeping in mind quality of life over simply extending life that’s not being enjoyed.

I think keeping treatment as simple as possible is important. This may mean fewer medications which is easier for us to give (a must with busy lives). Also, finding ways to make medicines a daily treat and not a struggle is important for your relationship with your aging pet. 

If you’ve been thinking “something’s up but there’s nothing that can be done” this is probably not the case. There likely is something that can be done to improve quality of life.

These questions are best answered in the exam room face to face. Find out what you can do for your senior pet.

Get 30% OFF your senior pet exam (over 8 years or age) at our clinic in November.

We’re here to help.
All the best,
Dr. Stacey