As our furry, four-legged friends age, unresolved imbalances move into tissue changes, forming conditions such as arthritis, spondylosis, heart disease, kidney disease and other forms of chronic disease. Many of the tissue changes are not reversible. During this phase of their lives, nutritional, physical and emotional support is paramount. It is critical to make the golden years as comfortable as possible, while minimizing new issues and delaying progression of the existing conditions.
By providing the body with nutrients from a balanced, whole food diet, the individual cells will function more effectively. The body will then respond more vigorously to the individual holistic modalities. In essence, the nutrition sets the foundation for the various modalities to move each patient toward a more comfortable, balanced state.
The emotional well-being of our aging pets is also vital. As we age, we find ourselves growing aware of some of the physical limitations we have. For humans this can be frustrating and discouraging at times. Our pets are no different. Certainly, providing holistic care to minimize pain and maximize movement is helpful in supporting their emotional state. In addition, encouragement and emotional support from us can make all the difference. Though our pets may not be as active as they once were, the time we spend with them at this stage is even more important. What changes is the activities we choose to do with them. "Quality of life" not only refers to the physical quality, but the quality of time spent together as well.
Honoring the decision to let your beloved friend go…..
The greatest gift our pets give to us is unconditional love. Each day they love us despite our stressors, our moods and our physical limitations. For them, their world revolves around us. During the final days of their lives, however, the focus must be drawn away from our needs to theirs. The focus must be on what can be done to make the remaining time they have with us loving, joyful, and precious.
Grieving is for the living and it is true that we must allow ourselves to grieve the loss of such wonderful, caring friends. Animals, however, live in the present. They do not lament the past, nor do they fear the future. We must not take away from the joy we can have with our pet today because we are worrying about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
When we see the signs from our beloved pets that it is time to go, focus on making their departure peaceful and gentle. Some of the signs we may see are:
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic lethargy
- Extreme restlessness from pain
- Overall decreased quality of life
Remember the unconditional love that they gifted us during their lives and give them the gift of peace.
As the time approaches, making arrangements for their departure can make the transition easier and more peaceful. If you choose to assist your pet in crossing over have your veterinarian give a sedative and allow your pet to fall asleep in your arms or by your side. The last thing they will remember is a peaceful moment with you. During this time quiet your mind and reflect on all the happy memories of your lives together. Your pet will sense your state of mind….share the joy of your lives one last time. Once your pet is asleep, the euthanasia can be completed with you present or you may step out of the room. I have often found that, for some clients, the last moments stay with them forever. Those last moments are yours to design. In the moment of their passing celebrate their lives, as that is how they would wish it to be.
We all grieve differently and as I mentioned before, grieving is for the living. Grieving the loss of our pets is a part of letting go. A far greater memorial to one that we have loved is to hold thoughts of joy and love with their memories. Guilt has no place in grieving. Some owners like to donate a memorial to a local shelter or rescue group in their pet’s name. For some, planting a living memorial for our pets, such as a rosebush or a tree, helps the healing. When a life ends, another begins. We can divert some of the grief we feel into nurturing a living monument. As it grows and blooms we can imagine the spirit of our pets growing and blooming within. And on some level, we will know that they never really left.