Thanks to advances in veterinary disease prevention and treatment, pets are living longer, healthier lives now than ever before. The average lifespan for dogs is 10 to 15 years, and the average for cats is 14 to 18 years. While that may seem like a long time when your puppy is slow to pick up on housetraining, it’s really not much time when compared to a human lifespan. Pets pack all their life experiences into those brief 10 to 18 years. They turn from playful, clumsy puppies and kittens into graceful and athletic adults and from mature adults into senior and geriatric pets. They pack a lifetime of health and disease into those few years.
As a pet patient ages, Timpanogos Animal Hospital’s veterinarians look at overall health to see where we can have the biggest impact on quality of life. For large breed dogs, that may be alleviating pain and mobility issues associated with arthritis. For cats, it may be helping reduce the symptoms of chronic kidney disease. For small dogs, it may be reducing the pain associated with severe dental disease. Many older pets have conditions that cannot be cured but can be effectively managed so they can live the rest of their days in comfort.
The veterinarians and staff at Timpanogos Animal Hospital can help you evaluate what conditions may be affecting your aging pet and discuss a variety of treatments and management options with you. Some conditions affecting older pets that we can help manage include:
- Mobility issues, including difficulty rising from a lying position, going up and down stairs and accessing preferred places to rest such as windowsills
- Decreased appetite from chronic conditions such as kidney or liver disease
- Memory loss and decreased cognitive ability
- Pain and infection associated with dental disease
- Pain and infection associated with tumors or cancer
- Chronic respiratory conditions such as a repetitive cough
When is it time to say goodbye?
Dogs and cats are different from people in many ways, most of them good. They don’t care much for appearances. They are never embarrassed by the behavior or socioeconomic status of their owners. They have a knack for making the most of anything, and their wants and needs are basic and easy for us to meet. They need food to eat and somebody to love them, and they need to be free from crippling pain and nausea. If those requirements are met, then dogs and cats are happy. Their quality of life may improve when we devote more time to them and enrich their environment, and it may decline with medical conditions such as heart disease or arthritis, but as long as they are loved, fed and free from crippling pain and nausea, they are happy.
Timpanogos Animal Hospital’s veterinarians will help you determine with care if the time for euthanasia is getting close. We ask if a pet still has things that brighten her day, things she gets excited about. Does he still enjoy interacting with you and your family? Does she get up and meet you or at least get excited when you come home from work? For most dogs and cats, food is an enjoyable part of life. Does your pet still get excited for treats and/or meals?
If the answer to these questions is yes, quality of life is probably still acceptable. If the answer to these questions is no, quality of life has likely diminished significantly.
We know this is an impossible situation to deal with as a pet owner. We’re here to help every step of the way. Give Timpanogos Animal Hospital a call at 801-406-9443 to schedule an appointment. We’ll make sure your older pet lives the most comfortable life possible.