On Thursday September 3rd, on the 5 year anniversary of adopting our dog from a shelter, we discovered that he has two tumours. The large one at his abdomen doesn’t necessarily seal his fate like the other one does. A prostate tumor is always a very serious thing. Prostate cancer in a dog is a death sentence. Prostate cancer spreads so quickly through out the body that the life expectancy is 6 weeks – 1 year. Not knowing what will happen, our vet suggested for us to take it week by week. That’s exactly what we are doing. I’m less than a week into finding out that our dog is dying and its been hard. The following is the advice that I’d give to others going through something similar:
- The most important thing you can do is be educated on what the warning signs are that your dog’s quality of life has diminished. Lethargy, lack of appetite, no longer interested in their favourite things are typical signs. In our case, we are also on the look out for blood in his urine or stool as well as any digestive problems like diarrhea or vomiting. Dogs have a way of hiding that they are in pain. It’s so important for owners to be on the look out for changes in their dogs health or behaviour so they don’t unnecessarily suffer at the end.
- Make it a priority to do the things that your dog enjoys the most. For our boy, that’s walks, belly rubs and chewing a bone. And just being in the same room as us.
- Take photos. I hate the fact that our 5 month old baby will have no memory of our boy so I’ve made sure to snap some photos of them together. I’ve also attempted a few selfies of my dog and me 🙂
4. Say your good-byes. When you have advance warning that you dog is dying, you are given a unique opportunity to start the grieving process early. Even though your dog doesn’t understand what you are saying, say what you need to say. You’ll feel better having done this.
5. Plan for when you need to bring your dog in to be euthanized. Have the after hours vet clinic saved in your phone. Determine who will bring your dog in. Do you want to be there? If so, you may want to do some research ahead of time with regards to what the experience will be like.
Taking it week by week with your dying dog is very difficult. You have no idea what the timeframe may end up being. Our boy could surprise us and live a year or more. Or he could go tomorrow. It’s an unsettling thing to live with. But I also agree with our vet that it’s better to know. Regardless of being given a heads up, I’m afraid that when the time comes it’s going to hit me harder than I’m imagining. I’m hoping that doing the 5 things mentioned above will help. Is there anything you’d add to this list?