THE LAST DANCE
WHEN THE END IS NEAR
The truth is our pets cannot outlive us or even live for as long as we do.
We are already considered fortunate and blessed if they should grant us a good ten years of their dear precious lives. The rest of it should be considered bonuses.
Never the less, many of us get bonded and attached to our furry/ feathery cute little beings, and strive to provide the very best for them.
However, as much as we try to hang on to and protect them so that they can have healthy and long lives, there will come a day when you will realize that they are weaker, slower, somewhat detached and simply slipping away .
The bond you share with your pet will hyper-alert you to some signs exhibited by your pet which can indicate the imminent future, the cruel fact that they maybe approaching their last days.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
As your pets age, they lose their ability to do simple things, like walking up the stairs, eating enough food, passing motion, urinating, hearing you calling them and even sleeping [1,2,3,4,5,7].
Without carefully crafting a management plan, some pets become ill quickly and lose their quality of life due to a lack of lifestyle adjustment or other age related degeneration [4,5,7].
Being ill however does not mean that ‘natural’ death will occur quickly and peacefully [3,6,7].
As Asians, some of us may prefer to allow our pets to 'depart at home naturally', rather than in a medical centre. But it is not a good idea to keep them indefinitely at home without medical assistance and management, hoping that they will eventually 'pass away peacefully in his/her sleep’. [3,4,6,7]
Your pet may be painful, unable to eat or drink resulting in dehydration and malnutrition, incontinent, collapsed or struggling to breathe.
They should never be allowed to suffer in pain, discomfort and degenerate inhumanely, particularly if they have serious health conditions or terminal illnesses [3,4,6,5,7].
Every effort should be made to ensure that their last journey is stress-free and comfortable [3,4].
For example, you should be in touch with a qualified medical team that can help you assess your pet's condition regularly, guide and train you with a unique end-of-life/ hospice/ palliative care and management plan specific to your pet, giving adequate pain management and nutritional assistance [2,4,7].
Undoubtedly a percentage of pets may die peacefully and comfortably at home this way. However, if you can see that whatever the medical team or you do, your beloved furkid or feathered kid is suffering – then it’s up to you to make the right decision [1,3,4,6,7].
It is of utmost importance that you and you family have a proper and thorough discussion, at this point of time, with regards to the management of the ailing pet [3,4,6].
WHEN YOUR PET LETS GO
When your pet decides to depart despite your every prayer and effort, sorrow and grief will set in.
Whatever the circumstances of your loss, everyone responds differently.
Remember that grief is personal to you.
You should not be ashamed about how you feel, or believe that it’s somehow not appropriate to mourn for your animal child. 
But take comfort that your furkid or feathered-kid made the brave decision themselves.
Bawl if you must, scream even... but celebrate and remember their beautiful lives as well, don't dwell on the 'if onlys' and 'what ifs', it will only break your heart further.
Losing a piece of your heart is an inevitable part of pet ownership.
You have to learn to cope with the pain using healthy methods, come to terms with your grief, and when the time is right.. when you have muster enough courage again, open your heart to another furry or feathery fluff in need of your love because they are worth every sorrow and tear .
WHEN YOU LET GO
One of the most sensitive, gut-wrenching and heart-breaking decisions any pet owner has to faced is deciding when to let go [4,6].
A lot of times, putting your ailing furkid's or feathered-kid's medical welfare above your own personal happiness and religion beliefs is one of the most difficult but selfless things you can do for them [4,7].
Euthanasia* is a humane and responsible option when the pet is unable to continue with life, no matter what adjustment is made and medical intervention is given.
Before anyone should spurn this medical option, it’s important to remember, first and foremost, that you, as a Furparent or Parront, love your pet very much. The Furparent's and Parront's obligation to their furkids and feathered-kids is to, by every possible means, "not let them suffer".
This includes, but not limited to, providing the best medical treatment and management as needed, making a medical decision to stop suffering for them and selflessly enduring the pain of losing them, especially when they cannot be cared for medically [4,7].
Here are some realistic (non exhaustive) questions to discuss with your family when you are faced with euthanasia, a life-altering choice [1,2,3,4,7]:
QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS
Is your pet terminally ill?
Ask your attending vet for a frank prognosis.
Are you able to afford and manage the next phase of medical treatment and care?
We definitely cannot put a price on love, but medical management is expensive and real.
Is your pet still eating and drinking normally?
A sharp decline in appetite can indicate the need for medical procedure, e.g. to insert a feeding tube for easier management.
Does your pet have other persisting/chronic issues?
For example: Chronic pain, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Dehydration, Weight loss, Incontinence, Unable to stand, Unable to walk, Labored breathing, Coughing, etc.
Are the medical options to improve the condition or only to maintain his/her current condition?
To improve - Back track to 2.
What is the best option for your pet?
A. Seek medical treatment and management.
*Euthanasia is a deliberate medical intervention carried out to end the life of a pet in order to relieve the pet's pain or other suffering (pain or suffering that cannot be cured or managed adequately).
When the decision has been made, we advise that you spend time talking and explaining to your pet the situation and giving all parties involved time for a proper closure.
Our attending staff will then make a suitable appointment for euthanasia and your preferred cremation package for your pet.
You can chose to have your pet's ashes returned in an urn or be disposed of in a sympathetic way by the crematorium.
There is a charge for all cremations by the crematorium.
If you would like an estimate, please feel free to contact us with your details.
1. Coffey, L.T. (2015). My Old Dog. Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts. California: New World Library
2. Davies, M. (1996). Canine and Feline Geriatrics. UK: Wiley-Blackwell
3. Gardner, M., McVety, D. (2017). Treatment and Care of the Geriatric Veterinary Patient. UK: Wiley-Blackwell
4. Gram, W.D.; Milner, R.J.; Lobetti, R. (2018). Chronic Disease Management for Small Animal. USA: Wiley-Blackwell
5. Landsberg, G.; Madari, A.; Zilka, N. (2017). Canine and Feline Dementia. Molecular Basis, Diagnostics and Therapy. Switzerland: Springer
6. Lagoni, L., Durrance, D. (2011). Connecting with Grieving Clients, 2nd Ed. US: AAHA
7. Shanan, A.; Pierce, J.; Shearer, T. (2017). Hospice and Palliative Care for Companion Animals. Principles and Practice. UK: Wiley-Blackwell
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