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Elderly Pets: Making the Tough Decisions

Choose your vets as you would your family doctors

Animal lovers and pet owners for the most part go into these relationships knowing full well that one day you may be required to make a very tough decision when it comes to your pets.

For a lot of pet owners, we go all-in when deciding to bring home our chosen fur baby hoping that your pet will live a long, healthy and happy life as your companion.

However, pets, like people, do not live forever. If you're a lucky you will get many years of companionship and love with your pets. The normal life expectancy for dogs and cats ranges between 10-14 years on an average.

Keeping your pet happy and healthy and living to an elderly pet age varies from pet to pet. If your pet makes it to those golden animal years, consider yourself lucky.

However, some will be forced much as I was this past week in making that tough decision to let our aging pets cross that rainbow bridge to keep them from any pain and suffering.

It was a hard call to make, but Monday I looked at my 14-year-old full-blooded Yorkie who had been in rapid decline for the past few days and called the vet.

My furry pal had given up wanting to eat and drink and was not wanting to move about, and when he did, he was so weak he was unable to stay on his feet.

So, painful as it was, I called the vet and carefully loaded up my dog and drove him for his last ride. I cried uncontrollably all the way there. My hands shook badly as I signed the paper final paperwork.

I said my goodbyes, and as I did I felt as if someone had punched me in the heart. Deep down I know it was the best move, and the vet ensured me it that it needed to be done as his poor little organs were beginning to fail.

I had this dog for 14 years, bringing him home as a tiny puppy. He grew up with all of my children and my grandson. It is truly as if I lost one of my kids.

The sadness continues and old habits are hard to break. Every time I walk through the door, I automatically scan the living room in search of him. I catch myself wanting to call his name to take him out for his walks.

Last night I even could have sworn I heard the sound of his tiny paws and toenails outside my bedroom door on the wooden floors. I no longer have my faithful pal to alert me when someone is at our door, or a car pulls into the driveway.

Now, my grown children say Mom, you need to get another dog. But my answer is no, not now, maybe not ever. Pets are like the people in your life and they cannot be replaced by another.

However, the wound is too new and maybe one day far into the future I may decide to once again bring a new pet into my life. But, for now, I will continue to mourn my loss and move forward.

My advice to anyone with an elderly pet is to mentally prepare yourself for the day that sadly comes for all pet owners. Make sure you have a kind, caring and reliable vet for your animals that also have compassion for you.

Also, be prepared for all the options that will follow your pet's demise. Most vets around my area offer options of cremation and an official service to send your pet out in style.

Be aware that while these options are nice, they often come with a hefty price tag. Whichever way you go with your decisions, make sure you are fully aware that in the end, the only thing that matters is your pet lived a long and happy life which has left you with a sense of love, companionship, and memories.

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