Senior Pet and Hospice Care
At Arrowhead Veterinary Centre, we believe that the senior years with your pet are some of the most special times you will have. We will partner with you to make sure your pet is as healthy as possible in their later years.
What considerations are specific to my senior pet?
Our senior pets require specialized care. They are more likely to deal with chronic medical problems than younger pets and they have a higher incidence of issues such as arthritis and dental disease.
We recommend that our elderly pets come in for senior consultations twice a year. At these appointments, your pet will be evaluated for any changes to their health including weight loss, mobility concerns, dental disease, and new/changing lumps. Your veterinarian will discuss their physical exam findings with you as well as any concerns you have with your pet. Your veterinarian may also make diet, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations for your senior pet.
We recommend that our senior patients have bloodwork annually to evaluate for any abnormalities. Cats and dogs are notoriously good at hiding underlying issues from us, so bloodwork can often give us an early indicator if there are any underlying problems. When we find diseases early, the treatment is often easier and more successful.
Due to advances in medical care and the movement of pets indoors, dogs and cats are forming closer bonds with their owners and living longer lives than they ever have before. We feel privileged to help you give your pet a long, healthy life.
with pain medications, symptom management, or by giving you the support and information you need. We feel honored to be a part of the final chapter in your pet’s life and to be there for your family.
Please contact the clinic to make an appointment to discuss your pet’s hospice care.
See the links below for some resources for assessing your pet’s quality of life.
The toughest decision we will ever make for our pets is deciding about euthanasia. Euthanasia literally means “good death” and is intended to relieve pain and suffering. Some pets will be quite elderly when we are considering euthanasia while unfortunately others are younger. It is ultimately your decision when it is time for euthanasia and this is often a very difficult choice. Our veterinary team is always available to discuss this choice with you and to offer support.
I have decided to euthanize my pet, now what?
When you have decided to euthanize your pet, please call or email the clinic to discuss the best timing for your family. Sometimes euthanasia will be scheduled well in advance, other times you have to make a quick decision if your pet is deteriorating. We will do everything we can to consider your pet’s unique needs and accommodate your family.
What happens on the day of euthanasia?
On the day of the euthanasia, your pet and family will be taken to our comfort room. This is a special room with soft lighting and armchairs to provide a less “clinical” experience. A bed or soft blanket will be provided for your pet. Any family members that wish to be present are welcome. One of our veterinarians will come in to discuss the procedure and answer any questions. You are welcome to stay for the entire procedure or you may leave at any point, depending on your comfort level.
Most pets are initially given an injection of pain medication and sedation to allow them to relax and feel sleepy. An IV catheter will be placed in the front or back leg. When you are ready, your pet will be given 2 medications through this IV. One is an anesthetic that will make your pet fall asleep and the other is the euthanasia agent that will stop their heart. Both of these medications are completely painless. After your pet has passed away, you are welcome to stay with them to say your final goodbye. We will take care of them once you are ready to leave.
What happens to my pet’s body once they pass away?
Once your pet has passed away, our veterinary team will care for them with the utmost respect and dignity. Most pets are cremated, although some owners do choose to take the body with them and bury their pet at home. We offer the option of private cremation, which allows your pet’s ashes to be returned to you. Alternatively, your pet has a general cremation, in which they are cremated with other pets and you do not receive their ashes back. We also offer the option to make clay impressions of your pet’s paw in different colors and designs.
At Arrowhead Veterinary Centre, we strive to make this process as stress and pain-free as possible for you and your pet. Please feel free to call or email the clinic if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s euthanasia.