Over the last several decades, we have made gigantic leaps in providing veterinary care for animals through all stages of life that mirror the quality of care available to us as people. It is interesting to note the parallel directions along which money flows on both sides; the illnesses and diseases that seem to really capture the human imagination and appeal to our deepest rooted sympathies are broadly the same as they are for dogs. The more recognizable maladies, in particular, cancer, owing to their relative prevalence in the human population, receive a disproportionate amount of attention and funding in both people and animals.
Of course, for a human civilization like ours that is constantly spawning new and exotic materials which many of us come into contact with every day, it is inevitable that we will find ourselves surrounded by what some might choose to call toxins. This raises fears about how easily we could become contaminated by previously unknown and deadly chemicals.
For dogs, this problem is exacerbated by their stature, which often puts them at the same level as many of the poisonous materials employed in modern construction. Dogs’ natural behaviors and instincts also give them an occasionally unhealthy curiosity for the taste of lead paint.
Dogs have the potential to live long and rewarding lives, but it is inevitable that as old age takes a hold and a dogs health will suffer and ultimately fail. Pets still occupy an odd position in the perceived hierarchy that exists between humans and other animals; dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend and yet the fact that they are a product which we buy, in many cases for our own benefit and entertainment more than the animals, makes it inevitable that they will be viewed to a certain degree as a replaceable commodity rather than a precious life.
Diagnosing Your Dog
This, among a variety of other factors, has led to a narrowing of options when approaching the most appropriate form of the end-of-life care for dogs. Many owners find that fear begins to creep in as the dog ages and their behaviors sometimes alter. A dog is obviously unable to communicate illness or malaise with their owners and so many either suffer in silence or begin periodic whimpering if and when pain becomes prominent. With vet trips and treatments, which now include dog prosthetic, being rather expensive they are not something that most owners can afford to do on a particularly regular basis, although kudos to the many owners who do try.
The best steps we can take to improve the quality of life of our pets, particularly dogs, towards the end of their lives in a domestic setting, is to invest in both more sophisticated equipment and better training for junior vets to spot progressive diseases early. The end of life is a difficult process for any animal and it is the curse of medical technology that this process can potentially become extremely drawn out. Efforts to educate owners on the signs to look for and best ways to respond are also going to prove crucial as this becomes a bigger issue.