Bone Cancer in Dogs
Preparing to Say Goodbye
There is never an easy time for euthanasia. There are some things to consider during the decision-making process. Is your dog’s condition getting worse? No longer responding to treatment? Does your dog seem to be in pain or otherwise physically suffering despite all your best efforts to provide comfort?
No matter how much time we are granted, there is never enough time to spend with a loved one. There is a fine line between rationally seeing that no more can be done, and emotionally accepting it as fact. Along with all the emotions that accompany this twilight comes the doubt that possibly more could have been done. These are all perfectly human emotions.
As difficult as it may seem, making these arrangements with some clarity before the final decision is made can actually decrease the anxiety and stress of actually seeing it through.
Create special memories. We treasure many dear memories of our beloved pet throughout his/her lifetime but there are some things that might help preserve those memories over time. Making a family video, taking special pictures, going on a car ride to a special place or out for some ice cream, casting a paw print in clay, clipping some fur – these are some ways of preserving special memories. They give us something palpable to cherish forever and help bridge the gap between the physical loss and the emotional connection that never ends.
Where will this take place? For many, the comfort of home surrounded by friends, family and familiar surroundings is extremely important. Contacting your vet in advance and arranging for a final home visit will eliminate the stress of traveling to the vet clinic. This is particularly important to do in advance if there are logistic issues about traveling with the pet, such as the dog’s weight, ability to move independently, the need for assistance to place the dog in a vehicle, etc.
When will this take place? For some people, a specific time can be chosen, depending on very personal and individual issues. Although it may be difficult to schedule the last “appointment,” many people consider it to be the final gift … a time when the dog will be set free.
What if there is an emergent need for euthanasia? There are times when unforeseen emergencies happen, when the dog
suddenly and inexplicably takes a turn for the worse, or a complication develops without warning. In these circumstances, struggling to find an emergency facility can be devastating and extremely stressful. Knowing in advance where the nearest emergency facility is and having those contact phone numbers can be extremely helpful during this difficult time.
After the fact. Deciding the next steps after the actual euthanasia has taken place is difficult and emotionally draining. Planning in advance helps to decrease the emotional burden of making a quick decision. Some people prefer home burials, if their local laws permit. Some choose cremation, so it is helpful to have those details in advance. Others choose not to keep the remains. These are very personal decisions.
In some cases, an autopsy may be possible, especially if the pet was cared for at a veterinary teaching hospital. This is also a very personal decision and plans should be made in advance. If the pet was participating in a clinical trial, autopsy may be decided upon in advance, as part of the learning experience and to help veterinarians understand more about the cancer and pool their resources towards finding a cure.