“What Now?” A guide for people faced with the illness or loss of a pet

whatnowcover_storyAs a pet parent, it can be difficult to learn that a pet is sick. As you begin treatment, you wonder at what point you might have to make an end-of-life decision.

A new guide called “What Now?” offers pet owners some guidance when faced with a pet’s illness or with the grief of losing a pet afterwards. There’s information on the emotional process of a pet owner’s experience, approaches for decision-making, and ways to talk to family members, especially children, about what’s going on.

There is never a clear-cut answer to pet illness and end of life decisions, so it can be a very difficult process. I have found that veterinarians today often lead you down the path of more treatment options, mostly because they are available today. But this is not always the way to go for an elderly pet.

Last fall, my 14-year-old cat was suddenly unable to walk. I learned through blood work and x-rays that he had thrown a clot and that he had heart disease. The emergency room vet made it sound like there was a chance we could keep Smokey alive, but my gut kept telling me that my cat was trying to die.  I decided to bring him home and didn’t sleep all night because I wanted to be with him when he passed. 

He survived the night though and the next day I took him to my vet. After looking at the x-rays, she said things were much worse than I realized. Smokey had a terribly mishapen heart and a blood-clot in the lungs. I could let him live for a little while longer, but he would throw another clot and apparently these clots are extremely painful.  She recommended euthanasia.

I trust my vet because she has always been honest with me and knows I am willing to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, if there is a chance a pet can survive an illness or injury. Once upon a time, I had a two year old dog that had pancreatitis, colitis, and pneumonia during a six week period. She spent considerable time at the vet’s office and emergency room. There was hope for Maggie and she did pull through and is fine and happy today. 

For some people though, it can be difficult to make such an emotional decision without some guidance.  “What Now?” is designed to help anyone faced with the illness or loss of a pet. The guide is available for $3 per copy plus shipping. To order “What Now?,” contact the Argus Institute at (970) 297-4143 or visit the website at http://www.argusinstitute.colostate.edu/.

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