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Published On: Thu, Aug 15th, 2019

Helping Keep Your Pet Happy, Healthy and Comfortable in its Final Days

Individuals who have lost a family pet due to illness or advanced age know that the final days, and especially the final hours of a pet’s life, can be extremely stressful, for the animal and its owner.

Public domain dog drawing

Public domain dog drawing

“Pet owners are sometimes haunted for years by the thought of how their pet died; being held down on a stainless steel table in a veterinary office with a terrified look in their eyes,” said veterinarian Dr. Annie Forslund, of California. “Being able to say ‘good-bye’ at home and seeing that your pet was peaceful, calm, and felt love and compassion at the end is an incredible gift, not only for the pet, but for the family too.”

To assist pets and owners through the difficult time, Forslund established a mobile in-home hospice and euthanasia service to remove much of the stress and ensure that the pet’s last hours are spent peacefully and comfortably with family, in familiar loving surroundings.

Forslund was one of the first in the nation to have a practice strictly dedicated to pet end-of-life care in-home and the first in Orange County.

Before the final euthanasia visit is warranted, Forslund offers hospice visits, during which she focuses on improving the pet’s quality of life, modifying the home environment accordingly, and adjusting pain management appropriately so the pet experiences as little pain and stress as possible during the final phase of life.

“We sometimes find animals with severe arthritis living in homes with slippery tile or hardwood floors, causing the pet considerable agony when it tries to stand or walk,” said Forslund. “In those cases we’ll cover the floors with an inexpensive mat, which greatly reduces the pet’s discomfort when getting up or walking.”

How does a pet owner know when it is the right time to put his or her pet to sleep?

According to Forslund, there are many end-of-life symptoms to be aware of, but the main signs to look for are:

· loss of appetite

· loss of mobility

· dehydration

· unhygienic appearance

· increasing pain level

“Animals don’t display their pain very well,” said Forslund. “So we have to be alert for their pain symptoms, which include such things as panting when it’s not hot, drooping ears, guarding a certain area and disinterest in playing favorite games.”

Forslund emphasizes that it is important for caring pet owners to recognize their pets’ distress signals early and not wait until they are crying, howling, or moaning with pain before calling for end-of-life assistance.”

“There are about 60 pet pain signals, which are posted on the clinic Web site,” said Forslund. “But we have to look at these signals in relationship to other symptoms they may or may not be displaying.”

AUTHOR: DR. ANNIE FORSLUND (homepeteuthanasia.com)

Dr. Annie Forslund graduated from the University of Montreal in 1990. She moved to California in 1996, and while practicing veterinary medicine she trained as a grief counselor and acquired 14 years of experience in the field.

Seeking to combine her two major passions and utilizing her special connection with animals, she created Home Pet Euthanasia of Southern California and dedicated her practice to helping families faced with the very difficult time that the loss of a pet brings.

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