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How to Talk to Your Veterinarian About End of Life Issues

Talk honestly with your veterinarian at the end of your dog’s life.

No one wants to think about it too much, let alone talk about it. The end of your dog's life can be a stressful subject for you, and that's understandable.

It can be even more stressful for some people to broach issues surrounding the end of their dog's life with their veterinarian. Some people have fears that the doctor won't approve of their choices on how to handle this sensitive time, or they might be worried about associated costs.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Your Veterinarian Is Your Dog's Advocate

Your vet is trained to communicate with you about what's best for your dog. He or she understands when a dog is showing signs of pain or anxiety and can help you sort out the signals that your dog is giving you, which might not be obvious to you.

You must tell your veterinarian everything that your dog is doing and all concerns that you have in order to maximize his or her ability to determine your dog's status.

Your Veterinarian Is Your Advocate

Veterinarians also wish to serve your best interests with regards to your dog. Each relationship between a dog and person is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. Your vet can help you navigate difficult areas such as your ability to give your dog medications or financial concerns.

Again, the more information your vet has about your feelings, concerns, and questions, the more he or she can provide you with answers that will work out to be the best for you.

Don't Ignore Signs of Distress in Your Dog

It's easy for us to overlook signs that our dog is in pain or unhappy. Sometimes this happens because we don't understand the signals the dog is giving us. Other times, it happens because it is so painful for us to think about losing our beloved dog.

Allowing your veterinarian to examine your dog and answering questions honestly will enable the doctor to evaluate your dog's quality of life and help you maintain or improve it.

Don't assume there is nothing that can be done for certain issues your dog is having; ask your veterinarian, so you have all of the information you need to make decisions.

You, Your Dog, and Your Veterinarian Are a Team

The best way to serve your dog as he approaches the end of his life is to view him, yourself, and your veterinarian as a care team, dedicated to keeping your dog comfortable and happy.

The more attention that is given to this team effort, the better the outcome for all involved.

A Word About Euthanasia

This can be the most difficult subject for a dog owner to broach with their veterinarian. However, it's another area where you need to be sure you have all of the information you need.

When your dog first becomes ill, injured, or ages to the point where you believe that you might soon need to consider euthanasia, begin talking with your veterinarian about it. Your vet can tell you the signs to look for that indicate that it might be time to consider euthanasia and tell you about the process and what to expect. Making as many decisions as you can before it's time can ease the process a little bit for you.

You can learn more here: "In-Home Euthanasia for Dogs."

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