If you've come to our blog, you're certainly someone who's given your animal friend a good life. We hear people like you asking questions like, "what more can I do when it's nearing the time to say goodbye?" When you elect for palliative care for your furry family member and keep them at home in the last days of their life, you'll want to be prepared for the duties and tasks of caregiving. Looking after a sick animal requires patience, time, and commitment but we say, "you can do this!" In this article, guest blogger Joan Collins shares some tips that will help you provide a safe and comfortable home environment for your pet.
AHELP Community Member and freelance writer Jane Sandwood is a new contributor to our "Caregiver Tips and Tails blog. Jane also publishes under the pen name, "Jane Collins." Please show us all that you like this article by adding a comment and/or giving this a "LIKE" or by sharing on Facebook.
Photo: Comfy, dreamy Maple. Courtesy AHELP Project
Make the Home Safe
One of the first things to do once you bring home your pet from the vet clinic is to ensure that it is a safe place for them. Although they will likely have little energy and may be easily tired or have mobility issues, making sure that your home is safe reduces the risk of accidents. Some simple things to do include storing household cleaners out of their reach, reducing "air pollution" in your home, and limiting exposure to toxic fertilizers and mulch in your garden.
Closeness and Comfort
We love the companionship that an animal brings. Even seniors are encouraged to get furry friends as a wonderful source of company. However, during this difficult period, it is the pet parent that must provide that friendship. You will want to stay as close as possible, but at the same time, let your friend be alone if they want. Your animal companion will also tire easily and will need resting places in multiple locations so they can easily seek relief when they are less mobile. Provide bedding with plenty of cushioning, insulation, and even blankets to keep them comfortable. Experiment with locations away from a draft and that may be kept warmer, perhaps in front of a heating vent or a safely-placed space heater. Consider that preferences can change in the warm and sunny months. A favorite toy can provide stimulation and may even soothe and comfort them.
Control Activity, Noise, and Light
Anyone who's sick wants the option to have peace and calm around them, and your furry friend may be no different. They may not have the energy to be playful as often, then at other times, they might act exactly the same as they did before. Be sensitive to behavioral changes in activity and responses to stimuli, searching for answers if you sense something, "is not quite right." Seek creative solutions if you sense they're experiencing stress and aim to be adaptable to their new preferences. Recognize that you might be spending your quality time together where they choose, rather than having them meet you in your formerly preferred shared spaces.
Set up resting spaces away from the center of activity of a busy household, reducing ambient noise to further help keep their stress at bay. In addition to acoustic stress that your pet may experience, excessive light can also become an offender. During the day, allow soft, natural light to filter in and at night, put on a low lamp for comfort, safe movement, and a sense of security.
Caring for a sick or terminally ill animal can come with challenges but will also bring you joy and memories that will last a lifetime. For many, it can be the best way to say, ‘Thank You’ for all the love and happiness your animal family member has given you throughout those years. Your assurance through comfort and a safe space at home will honor the life you have shared with your animal companion.Photo: Lucy in her cozy bed. Courtesy, Amy Sharkey