Dr. Kaleigh McVety talks about compassionate end of life pet care.
In Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the word "pet" is defined as "a domesticated animal used for pleasure rather than utility". However, to the vast majority of my clients, our pets are way more than this to us. They are family members that serve a purpose, even if it is just to snuggle with us at night or wag their tails frantically when we come home; because no one in the world is more special to them than us.
We spend years taking care of our special furry children: keeping them up to date on vaccines, nourishing their bellies with foods that have adequate vitamin and mineral content, and even ensuring their bed has adequate fluff so they sleep comfortably at night (if they don’t already sleep in our bed!). They really are our best friends. And over the years, the grey hairs start getting noticed and joints start getting stiff. Inevitably, we reach a point where our special friends are nearing the end. It’s their only flaw, that they can’t outlive us.
Some people may feel that the geriatric stage in a pet’s life is their least favorite. But I take a different view on this. It’s the one time that we can unilaterally give to them what they have been supplying to us all along - unconditional and unwavering love. We dote on them, tell them they are the most special friend anyone could have, and we help them through the time in their lives when they need us most. As a veterinarian, this is the time when I feel especially close with my clients. It is my job to offer clients these specific things: medication to keep their loved ones comfortable, information on what is happening with their pet’s health, what to expect as their life, or disease, progresses, how to judge when "it’s time", and compassion and sympathy when the time does come for them to say goodbye.