Peaceful Endings for Pets http://peacefulendings.net At-Home Euthanasia and Hospice for Dogs and Cats Mon, 23 Jul 2018 01:07:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 A Cat’s Journey – A Pet Parent’s Experience and Q & A with Dr. Trotsky http://peacefulendings.net/cats-journey-pet-parents-experience-q-dr-trotsky/ http://peacefulendings.net/cats-journey-pet-parents-experience-q-dr-trotsky/#respond Wed, 13 Sep 2017 05:47:33 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=610 When it comes to the end of your pet’s life… the best you can hope for is peace. by Demetra Karras Not long ago, my husband and I found out that one of our four fabulous cats had terminal cancer. I was completely unprepared for a diagnosis of that severity, finality and impact. After all, […]

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When it comes to the end of your pet’s life… the best you can hope for is peace.

by Demetra Karras

Not long ago, my husband and I found out that one of our four fabulous cats had terminal cancer. I was completely unprepared for a diagnosis of that severity, finality and impact. After all, Neo was our big, beautiful, black cat that even at 12 years old, seemed full of life and vigor. True, he seemed to have lost a bit of weight and was a little less rambunctious than normal, but overall, he was the same precious and precocious boy he always was. Sitting in the examination room at the vet, the news took the wind right out me. I was utterly devastated. Driving home, all I could think was, what would we and our other three cats do without our sweet boy?

Neo was originally given three or four months to live, but sadly he began to deteriorate fairly quickly. He stopped doing some of his normal things and began laying around more than normal… which I’ll admit was already a lot because after all he was a cat. That’s what they do! There were still flashes of the old Neo, but for the most part, he just looked and acted so very tired. It was heartbreaking. Two weeks after being diagnosed, we took him into the vet again because his health seemed to be worsening. It was then that our vet told us that we needed to make some serious decisions… rather quickly. Cue the tears. We knew what had to be done in order to alleviate his suffering.

This is when I went online to investigate vets who would come to our home to put Neo down. I already knew that I was not going to stress him out by taking him back to the vet for his last breaths. I wanted Neo to fall asleep forever in the comfort of his own home and surrounded by those who loved him so deeply. I did a lot of research on various providers of this type of service within the Chicagoland area and I was completely drawn to one in particular… Peaceful Endings. As I read the website, I innately knew that Dr. Kari Trotsky was the only choice for us and for Neo. There was no doubt.

I emailed to set up an appointment and I admit, when I saw that she emailed back, my stomach dropped. The situation was becoming very real. However, Dr. Trotsky’s email back was kind and caring. It only furthered my sentiments that this was a person who genuinely cared about the well-being of both pets and their parents. We set up an evening that week to put Neo down… and we spent every moment we possibly could loving our sweet boy.

At the 11th hour, my cat sitter called us to relay an interesting point. Several of his customers’ cats had been misdiagnosed with cancer and had lived. My husband and I were dumbfounded and a little upset that we never considered getting as second opinion. I mean, if it were a person – we would have done that straight away. While we trust our vet implicitly, we knew that if we didn’t get a second opinion, we would always wonder. I emailed Dr. Trotsky to cancel our next evening’s appointment and her response was so appreciated. She was completely understanding and relayed that this was a huge decision and that we should exhaust all avenues in order to be sure and come to peace. I was so grateful for her compassion. 

We did get a second opinion and I have to say that even though it only confirmed the first – it did give us such peace of mind. We knew unequivocally that we had done everything we could for our boy. Plus, the vet gave Neo some very potent drugs to keep him feeling better until we could reschedule with Dr. Trotsky. The fact that we had our old Neo back for even two days was comforting – despite the fact that we knew we were losing him. He ate like the pig he was, played with his toys and snuggled with us. It was wonderful.

We rescheduled with Dr. Trotsky, who agreed to trek to the city on a Saturday for us.  Our hearts again fell when she arrived, but her presence is so calming and comforting. Everything about her demeanor is exactly right. I don’t know how else to put it – she is exactly what you need her to be, without her even trying, I suspect. You can tell immediately that she is so genuinely sincere. Even our other cats who are not always so welcoming to strangers seemed to be at ease. During one of the most traumatic situations of our lives, she managed to make us feel as though it was going to be all right.

Dr. Trotsky explained the process to us and was patient while we got ourselves ready to say good-bye.  The whole while, she listened to us – letting us say what we needed to say and giving us time to fawn all over Neo one last time. Her presence was not an intrusion in any way. In fact, it was much welcomed. She administered the first shot while my husband cradled Neo in his arms. While I am not sure if Neo knew exactly what was going on, I do know that he did not seem frightened. Soon he fell asleep and we laid him down for the final shot. We petted and kissed Neo as he took his last breaths and all I could think was – how peaceful it felt. I was so sad for us, but so happy that his precious spirit had been set free in such a dignified and love-filled manner. I could not have asked for anything more. I truly would not have wanted anyone else to have laid our Neo to rest. Dr. Trotsky was just perfect in every way – and that is something you can’t teach. I believe you either have that or you don’t.

Because we had such a heartwarming experience, I feel the need to recommend Dr. Trotsky to anyone who finds themselves in the sad predicament of having to put down a beloved pet. I think having the option to release them at home in familiar surroundings can only make the situation easier for all involved. Especially if you have other animals, I think it’s important they also understand that your pet is gone – not just having them all of a sudden disappear from the home. Neo has left a huge void in our lives – he was a big personality and his shoes are hard to fill. We can never replace him, but we are so happy that we honored him the way we did. I continue to be amazed at the depth of love one can have for an animal. Neo taught us so very much and I am so grateful that came into our lives.

Dr. Trotsky offers the option to take your pet to be cremated, which at such an emotional time proved to be a very easy choice we were thankful to have. We also purchased a beautiful urn to keep Neo’s ashes on our mantle. Since her visit, I have emailed Dr. Trotsky to ask questions and seek guidance due to the behavior of the cats left behind. Each time, she has sent a most thoughtful response giving me her heartfelt opinion or advice and offering support and encouragement. She really does go above and beyond… and that’s not all about business. It’s really about her sincere caring. I am eternally grateful that I found Dr. Trotsky and that she provided us all, Neo especially, with a beautiful and very Peaceful Ending.

Q & A with Dr. Kari Trostsky

How/when did you become interested in animals and their care?

This started ever since I could remember. I’ve always had a connection with animals and I’ve always wanted to become a veterinarian. As I grew up and experienced new things, that dream never wavered. Because of the connection with animals, I am now able to understand how they communicate. I use a combination of body language and intuitiveness, which helps me understand what they’re feeling.

Training and experience?

I was one of the lucky ones and was accepted into University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine early, during my 3rd year of undergraduate study at North Central College. They had trimesters there, so I finished up my second trimester and took the summer off before entering veterinary school in the fall of 1994. In 1996, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Veterinary Medicine and in 1998 I received my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. From there I worked at 4 different practices, filled in at different hospitals when doctors needed off, did emergency shifts overnight, was Chief of Staff, mentored and taught doctors, managed a hospital from a financial, employee, and client-building standpoint. I have over 19 years of veterinary medicine experience (not including time spent volunteering at animal hospitals, and moving up as a kennel person to receptionist to veterinary assistant in my teenage years) and I started doing what I now consider my calling, at-home hospice and euthanasia, since the end of 2011.

What should people consider when the end of a pet’s life is near?

When the end of a pet’s life is near, you should consider keeping the pet as comfortable as possible by treating and managing pain or other ailments the pet may be experiencing. Over the years, veterinarians are now specifically trained to identify pain in pets. It is a lot more involved and difficult than one would think. But, people should also think of the fun things still left to do. 

Dedicate time every day to spend with your pet. Take plenty of videos and pictures. Record his or her bark or meow. Spoil your pet. Say no to a few extra work or social commitments to hang out with your pet for the night. Have fun with your pet and try to delay any sadness until after a pet passes. They pick up on our emotions extremely well. Make them feel special every day. And, above all else, when your pet is no longer happy, can no longer improve, and can no longer be pain-free, make the most loving decision for your pet and see him through until the end. By providing your pet with this peace, you will know in your heart that you did good by him. You will look back on his passing with love, not regret. You will give him what he gave you – unconditional love. And, although you may be sad, you will be at peace with how his next journey began.

What advice do you have for homes with additional pets that are left behind?

Whenever possible, they should be allowed to be present during the euthanasia. If they prefer to be in another room, let them make that choice. (Exceptions may be young pets who are too immature to “get it”, and pets who are disruptive to the process, e.g. excessive barkers or pets distrustful of strangers). If a pet cannot be in the immediate vicinity, allow him to be able to smell the deceased pet whenever possible. By instinct, they know what death is and they accept it. The most heartbreaking thing is to have a pet pass without the ability of the other pets in the family to know what happened and have them mourn for the pet to come home, not able to explain that he never will. This type of behavior can go on for months. It’s very difficult to watch a pet go through that mental anguish.

I, also, think pets need to adjust to a new “normal”, just like people need to do. Give them more attention, more play time, new toys, and walks in new locations, especially for the first 2 weeks. Changing up the routine helps pets focus on that instead of the loss of their companion. Some people advocate keeping the routine the same for the pet. If you find this to be better for your pet, then add in new things gradually. Pets may also change their roles in the household. For example, if the deceased pet was considered the protector of the home, another pet may now take on that responsibility.

Tell us about your animal family…

All my pets keep me very busy! My family includes dogs, cats, ferrets and a 220 gallon saltwater aquarium. My two dogs are now certified Champion Trick Dogs, and they participate in Nosework, Agility, and Dock Diving. Getting pets involved in activities after their companion passes helps keep their spirits up by getting to spend time with you and, thereby, strengthening the bond you share.

 

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How Do You Know If Your Pet Is In Pain? http://peacefulendings.net/know-pet-pain/ http://peacefulendings.net/know-pet-pain/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 06:43:18 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=606 (IT’S MORE DIFFICULT THAN YOU THINK) BY DR. KARI TROTSKY During my experience talking to pet owners and helping senior pets, I’ve noticed that veterinarians’ definitions of pain vs the pet owners’ definitions of pain are vastly different. This may be because pet owners are emotionally attached to their pets and don’t want to think […]

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(IT’S MORE DIFFICULT THAN YOU THINK)

BY DR. KARI TROTSKY

During my experience talking to pet owners and helping senior pets, I’ve noticed that veterinarians’ definitions of pain vs the pet owners’ definitions of pain are vastly different. This may be because pet owners are emotionally attached to their pets and don’t want to think about that being a possibility, or it may be because they are not professionally trained to determine if a pet is painful.

Many pet owners only think of pain in animals as being a sharp pain causing the pet to vocalize. This would be if, for instance, you stepped on your pet’s tail accidentally. Your pet would cry out. But, what some people fail to understand is this is not the case with long term pain. Pets with chronic pain often suffer in silence.

If you have a chronic injury, meaning one that lasts more than a day or two, you don’t say “Ow” every time you feel it. You usually just deal with it and go about your day. Maybe you grimace getting up from a sitting position, or you get up very slowly. Maybe you have a limp. But, you don’t vocalize every time you move.

This is the same with pets. They can feel conditions like cancer or arthritis most of the day. They may show it by getting up slowly, being hesitant to lay down, and walking with a stiff gait, especially after exercise. But, they may not yelp or vocalize. They just get on with their lives. I hear many people say their pet is limping but doesn’t seem to be in pain. Well, then why is the pet limping? Aside from a very small number of anatomic defects that could cause limping without pain, most limping is due to pain. Think about it. When you limp, it’s usually because walking normally is painful.

Another way to determine pain is to think about how you would feel if you had the pet’s injury or illness. For instance, if you break your leg and it hurts, you can extrapolate and determine if a pet breaks his leg, it will hurt. Also, if you were to fall down a few steps and take a tumble, you would feel sore for a couple days. The same happens with pets. I find that thinking about how I would feel with the pet’s condition really helps determine if I need to prescribe pain medication or not.

In addition, as veterinarians, any time we think the pet is in discomfort, we consider that pain. So, if a pet has been vomiting all day, the nausea they must feel, in our minds, amounts to them feeling pain. If they haven’t been eating for a few days, they must not feel well. To us, this is also pain. Another example is if the pet has a heart or lung disease and is breathing abnormally. It may be that the pet is breathing faster than normal or is taking more of an effort to breathe. Think about if this were happening to you. This would be painful. Every breath would be an effort and you would be unable to sleep well. You would feel exhausted. Eventually, you would be unable to sustain that level of breathing and you would go into respiratory failure, where you couldn’t breathe at all. That would be a very painful process to undergo. Respiratory failure can happen at any point a pet is having difficulty breathing, but is more likely the longer it goes on. To avoid a difficult and painful passing in those situations, it is best not to wait long before considering euthanasia.

Determining if your pet is in pain can be difficult. Veterinarians go through whole courses in school and attend continuing education to learn more about this and how to handle it. So, if you are unsure if your pet is in pain, you can schedule a hospice consultation where a veterinarian can examine your pet, discuss the medical history, and observe your pet in his natural environment. If the veterinarian determines your pet is in pain, she will discuss ways to alleviate or allay it until the time for euthanasia arrives.

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When Do I Euthanize My Pet With Cancer? http://peacefulendings.net/when-do-i-euthanize-my-pet-with-cancer/ http://peacefulendings.net/when-do-i-euthanize-my-pet-with-cancer/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 01:43:32 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=560 When Do I Euthanize My Pet With Cancer? by Dr. Kari Trotsky Peaceful Endings for Pets When your pet is diagnosed with cancer, it can be devastating news. Not only does cancer come in all different shapes and forms affecting different areas such as skin, organs, bones, or nerves, some can be aggressive either spread […]

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When Do I Euthanize My Pet With Cancer?

by Dr. Kari Trotsky
Peaceful Endings for Pets

When your pet is diagnosed with cancer, it can be devastating news. Not only does cancer come in all different shapes and forms affecting different areas such as skin, organs, bones, or nerves, some can be aggressive either spread throughout the body (metastasis), or remain locally, causing its own destructive tissue damage. The main questions that need to be answered are:MassBelly

  • Where is it?
  • What is it (biopsy often needed)?
  • Is there any evidence of spread (metastasis) throughout the body?
  • What are the treatment options (whether you pursue them or not)?
  • What is the prognosis?

Once these questions are answered, only then you can make informed decisions.

If your pet is really old, you may not want to even pursue getting a biopsy, and that’s understandable. Those decisions are personal, and as long as you don’t plan on treating it (meaning trying to get rid of the cancerous cells whether it be through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation), and know that future outcomes can be unpredictable since we won’t know how the cancer will act (will it be aggressive, will it travel to the lungs, will it cause anemia, etc) then going forward with hospice care is fine. Hospice in this situation would mean treating every symptom within reason (especially pain control) to make the pet as comfortable as possible until the time to euthanize comes.

So, whether you decide not to pursue a biopsy, or if you have pursued full treatment options, but now the end is near anyway, there are a few things that may help you know when it’s time to euthanize your pet.

First, are the symptoms. If your pet has rapid weight loss, is weak, starts to eat less, has vomiting or diarrhea, then it may be time to euthanize. At the first start of, say, vomiting, it’s ok if you get an anti-emetic injection and subcutaneous fluids from your vet to see if it’s an ailment unrelated to the current cancer and will respond to conservative treatment. But barring that, if it’s now going on 2-3 days, waiting any longer will only prolong your pet’s suffering. If your pet is wasting away, feeling so ill that he or she doesn’t want to eat or drink, feels nauseous, or is too weak to go outside or to the litter box to eliminate, then you need to make that ultimate decision.

Next, your pet may have location specific problems, but any issue with the heart and lungs should not be prolonged! If your pet has labored breathing, or an increased respiratory rate at rest, or fluid build-up in the lungs, these conditions all feel horrible and the pet can go downhill very rapidly. With these conditions, the pet either feels like he is suffocating, or that he is drowning in his own fluids. Your pet cannot keep this up for very long. The body will get tired, your pet won’t get much sleep because of the positions he has to maintain in order to breathe, and delaying euthanasia is not advisable.  These pets can also be a little tricky to euthanize because as the sedative (before the final euthanasia injection) starts to take effect, it will depress the respiratory and cardiac centers causing the breathing and heart rate to slow. When this happens, the pet can have trouble breathing. I’ve dealt with this situation many times, and if the pet’s breathing is hampered in any way, it is best to step in sooner than expected and euthanize the pet instead of waiting for the full effect of the sedative to take place.

Another consideration beyond the heart and lungs are other locations in the body. If your pet has a brain tumor, he may not know where he is or who you are. He may act uncharacteristically aggressive and the risk of biting a human could be high. He may go blind or walk into walls. If your pet has an abdominal mass, there may be a risk of that tumor rupturing and bleeding and, thereby, causing internal hemorrhage. This can happen at any time and can be rapid. Or, maybe your pet has a large external tumor. These can start to decay on the inside, progress to an open wound, and cause infection, bleeding and pain. Also, another location could be bone cancer. Often these progress to pathologic fractures (the destruction and lysis of the bone causes the bone to fracture) which cause a lot of pain. These can often spread to the lungs where your pet can have labored breathing (see above), or require so much pain medicine for the pet to be comfortable, that high doses are needed and heavy sedation can occur. Pets shouldn’t be maintained on medications that constantly keep them sedated, so euthanasia will be needed, even though, mentally, your pet may still be very sharp.

This was just a brief overview of the many different sequelae cancer in pets can cause. I’ve dealt with all of these over the course of my 17 years in practice, so if you have any questions, I can certainly help.

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Only You Can Decide When Euthanasia Is Right http://peacefulendings.net/only-you-can-decide-when-euthanasia-is-right/ http://peacefulendings.net/only-you-can-decide-when-euthanasia-is-right/#respond Fri, 22 Jan 2016 02:18:33 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=557 Only You Can Decide When Euthanasia Is Right by Dr. Kari Trotsky Peaceful Endings for Pets Previously, I’ve blogged about how nobody should be judged or told by well-meaning people that they should euthanize their pet. People who don’t understand the circumstances around the care of an older pet, shouldn’t step in and make you […]

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Only You Can Decide When Euthanasia Is Right

by Dr. Kari Trotsky
Peaceful Endings for Pets

Previously, I’ve blogged about how nobody should be judged or told by well-meaning people that they should euthanize their pet. People who don’t understand the circumstances around the care of an older pet, shouldn’t step in and make you feel guilty or pressured to do something you don’t want to do. With the proper care, many older pets can have a good quality of life, even if they do have diseases or disorders.

But, I’ve also encountered the opposite, when a pet parent decides to euthanize a pet, and other people, often those who don’t live with the pet or have all the information, weigh in against that person. Aside from convenience euthanasias (ones in which the pet is not ill but the pet parent wants the pet euthanized for convenience purposes, such as they are moving and can’t bring the pet with, or they no longer want to care for the pet), I do not judge a pet parent’s decision to euthanize. The reasons are that I know a lot of thought has gone into this very difficult decision, I don’t know how much time or money is available to provide the proper care, and I wasn’t involved in the conversations between the veterinarian and the pet parent.

It’s not fair when the pet sitter/walker, or the groomer tells you they dislike your decision. People already feel guilty when they make this decision, they don’t need more piled on. And, it’s not fair for family members who don’t live with the pet, or for those who live there but don’t take care of the pet, or even adult children who grew up with the pet and have significant attachments, to make anyone feel guilty. I’ve also seen situations where a veterinarian may disagree with your reasons to euthanize without fully knowing your predicament. And, this is wrong, too.

Sick Old Dog

Sick Old Dog

So, I won’t judge you for feeling that the best thing for your pet is euthanasia. I try to understand what each person and pet is going through. And, even if it’s a situation that I wouldn’t euthanize my pet for, I know that it’s different for me because I am a veterinarian. I don’t need to pay for constant treatment or advice. I often can get treatments or medications free, or at a very low discount. And, I know what to watch for as a pet continues treatment. So, feel comfortable discussing your pet’s case with me. Unless it’s a convenience euthanasia, I will understand.

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YOUR PET, YOUR DECISION TO EUTHANIZE http://peacefulendings.net/your-pet-your-decision/ http://peacefulendings.net/your-pet-your-decision/#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2016 02:18:23 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=550 YOUR PET, YOUR DECISION TO EUTHANIZE BY KARI TROTSKY, D.V.M. PEACEFUL ENDINGS FOR PETS Can you believe that even I have been on the receiving end of a family member and later, a friend, telling me that it was time to euthanize my pet? I felt angry and hurt that they would imply that I’m […]

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YOUR PET, YOUR DECISION TO EUTHANIZE

BY KARI TROTSKY, D.V.M.
PEACEFUL ENDINGS FOR PETS

Can you believe that even I have been on the receiving end of a family member and later, a friend, telling me that it was time to euthanize my pet? I felt angry and hurt that they would imply that I’m holding onto my pet too long and allowing her to suffer. I believe they meant it in a caring way, but I still remember it to this day. Three years ago, a friend who also happens to be a veterinarian, came over while I was at work to let my dogs out while I was away. My arthritic senior dog was walking in her normal, yet stiff, gait in the morning, but had somehow injured her leg by the time my friend stopped by. She was limping pretty badly, and my friend told me I needed to consider euthanasia. But, she didn’t have the whole story. She didn’t see my dog walking relatively well that morning, she didn’t know what medications my dog was taking, and she didn’t take care of my dog day in and day out.  That dog is still alive today, and if I had listened to my friend’s advice, I would’ve made a terribly wrong decision. This is what prompted me to write about this. If I wasn’t a veterinarian, would I have taken her advice? 

Sick Old Dog

I find that many people with an elderly or sick pet are given unwanted advice about when to euthanize. I believe these people have good intentions and are trying to help, but they haven’t been with that pet when it was just a couple months old. They haven’t tended to every need of the pet, ranging from medical care to nutrition to playtime, every day of its life. They may mean well, fully believing that everybody, when facing their pet’s death, will not make good decisions because they are too emotionally attached. And, while this may be true for some, I believe that the majority of pet owners will not let their pet suffer needlessly because they have a difficult time accepting the loss of the pet.

There are some pet owners that cannot see past their grief to make good decisions, and gentle discussions can help that person know that their inaction is causing more harm than good. And, there are pet owners who feel they are not looking at their pet objectively and seek advice from family, friends, or veterinary professionals. But, for the people who fully understand their pet’s situation, being on the receiving end of unsolicited advice can be very hurtful.

You may be judged by neighbors who see your dog being supported by a harness when outside. You may be judged by friends and family. You may even be judged by your veterinarian. But, only you can make that ultimate decision, and if it’s not the right time for your pet, you have to rise above other people’s judgement. They don’t take care of, nor spend time with your pet. They don’t know what treatments are being given or how happy your pet is, despite its medical condition. Only you know and only you should make that decision. If someone does suggest you  euthanize your pet, you should thank them for their genuine concern, but let them know you will make that decision when you feel it’s right and that there are a lot of factors they don’t know about. Never feel pressured by anyone if you know it isn’t the right time. Check in with yourself from time to time and take a step back to make sure you are still being objective about the situation. But, ultimately, just remember it’s your pet, and your decision to euthanize.

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There’s Acupuncture for Pets? Yes, and it Works! http://peacefulendings.net/theres-acupuncture-for-pets-yes-and-it-works/ http://peacefulendings.net/theres-acupuncture-for-pets-yes-and-it-works/#respond Sat, 19 Dec 2015 05:05:14 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=545 There’s Acupuncture for Pets? Yes, and it works! by Dr. Kari Trotsky Peaceful Endings for Pets So far, I discussed laser therapy, swimming, the Help ‘Em Up Harness, and medication for arthritic pets with decreased mobility, in order to delay euthanasia. Now we move on to another modality in our arsenal – acupuncture. Acupuncture in […]

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There’s Acupuncture for Pets? Yes, and it works!

by Dr. Kari Trotsky
Peaceful Endings for Pets

So far, I discussed laser therapy, swimming, the Help ‘Em Up Harness, and medication for arthritic pets with decreased mobility, in order to delay euthanasia. Now we move on to another modality in our arsenal – acupuncture. Acupuncture in humans has beneficial effects proven by research and the results are similar in dogs (and cats).acudog2

A veterinarian certified in acupuncture is the only person who can perform the procedure. It takes special training to achieve this certification. My older, arthritic dog gets acupuncture weekly with herbs in between sessions, and it helps her tremendously.

If considering acupuncture, you need to be realistic about the outcome. For instance, a dog with degenerative myelopathy will gradually lose function in the rear legs and will eventually become unable to stand or walk, and no treatment available can prevent this. But, if your goal is to have your dog walk better with less pain and inflammation for as long as possible, then acupuncture definitely will help. Acupuncture can treat numerous conditions, including allergies and anxiety, but for this purpose, we will focus on arthritis.

Some acupuncturists have an office you can bring your pet to, but many will go to your home, where your pet is most relaxed. You want to get your pet settled in an area of the home where she is most comfortable, and while the needles are going in, soothing music is played. It is not painful, although a pet may feel a pin prick or two in the superficial layer of the skin. It’s best to get through it without the use of treats, but if it helps your dog to give her tiny morsels throughout this phase, then go with whatever works best.

Once all the needles are in, your dog must remain lying down for 15-30 minutes, as directed by the veterinarian. It is advisable to be there with your dog the whole time. If she tries to get up, needles may become loose and fall out. The vet may also use electroacupuncture for some areas. With this, wires are connected to special needles in the skin and an electrical current is introduced, and gradually increased over the next few minutes. This can help get better results in less time.

Afterwards, the needles are removed, the pet gets a treat, and that’s it! It’s a relatively easy procedure on the pet and you can see a huge difference in how well your dog can walk with pain and inflammation minimized. Using multiple modalities such as laser, acupuncture, a harness, swimming, etc, will all affect your pet a little differently and will improve your pet’s quality of life and, hopefully, delay the onset of worsening symptoms.

The acupuncturist I use and respect is Dr. Bethany Meno, owner of Da Chi Wellness: E-mail- drmeno@dachiwellness / 630-243-5371. She is knowledgeable, caring, has a desire to help pets and pet parents however she can. Reach out to her for a consultation if you think acupuncture may be right for your pet.

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YOU WILL KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME…OR MAYBE NOT http://peacefulendings.net/you-will-know-when-its-time-or-maybe-not/ http://peacefulendings.net/you-will-know-when-its-time-or-maybe-not/#respond Wed, 02 Dec 2015 04:08:02 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=540 YOU WILL KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME …OR MAYBE NOT by Kari Trotsky DVM Peaceful Endings for Pets If you’ve ever faced the difficult decision of when to euthanize your pet, you’ve probably heard well-meaning people say, “You will just know,” or, “Your pet will tell you.” But, I meet people every day who agonize over […]

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YOU WILL KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME
…OR MAYBE NOT

by Kari Trotsky DVM
Peaceful Endings for Pets

If you’ve ever faced the difficult decision of when to euthanize your pet, you’ve probably heard well-meaning people say, “You will just know,” or, “Your pet will tell you.” But, I meet people every day who agonize over the decision because they don’t know when it’s time. They never received the message from the knowing eyes of their pet. They don’t know if their pet’s expression means yes or no. They just can’t tell.

Not knowing makes accepting the decision even worse. People may feel they missed a cue and waited too long. Or, maybe they misinterpreted it and are making the decision prematurely. People can suffer and feel guilty about the whole process. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you don’t know when it’s time.

Sick Old Dog

I do know what people mean when they say you’ll know when it’s time. Or, that your pet will tell you. I know it because I’m a veterinarian and can recognize, medically, when things have gotten much worse for the pet and it’s time to say goodbye. I can recognize when animals are in pain (subtle hints can be hard to read). And, I just happen to be able to read animals extremely well and I often know what they want or are feeling.

But, not everybody can do this. You will find pet owners of all spectrums from never owned a pet before this one, to worked with pets their whole life. And, different people are just more intuitive than others, whether it’s animals or people. Some can read obvious signs of pain, but need help when an animal is trying to hide their pain. And, some are just too wrapped up in their own emotions of grief that it’s impossible to be subjective.

With all of these factors coming into play, you can see where it’s easy to get wires crossed and feel like you aren’t being a good pet parent if you can’t tell when the time is right. When others are asked by pet parents about how they will know, some people, for lack of any other good answer, will tell you that you will just know. They don’t mean to be vague. Maybe they, themselves, have been able to tell with their own pets and extrapolate that experience to others. Or, they just don’t know what to say when faced with a grieving owner. I’ve even heard veterinarians say it to clients.

I think that by simply recognizing how all these factors come into play, you can feel better about yourself when feeling confused about when to make the decision to euthanize. The best answer is to have a hospice consultation done by an experienced at-home euthanasia and hospice veterinarian. I’ve had situations where I’ve gone to a home to give my opinion, and after hearing it, people call me a day or two later for euthanasia. They heard the message, took time to say goodbye to their pet, and although they feel sad about losing them, at least they don’t harbor the guilt of missing what their pet is telling them. That, alone, is relief in itself.

Please share this post if you know somebody who might be facing this soon or anyone second guessing themselves after the fact.

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Hospice or Heaven? http://peacefulendings.net/hospice-or-heaven/ http://peacefulendings.net/hospice-or-heaven/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2015 06:21:17 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=536 Let’s face it, your pet is as much a part of your family as every person under the roof. They grow old and get sick, just like you and me. After years and years of love, you want to make comforting end-of-life decisions.  Hospice care is a unique approach to your pet’s end-of-life needs.  This […]

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Let’s face it, your pet is as much a part of your family as every person under the roof. They grow old and get sick, just like you and me. After years and years of love, you want to make comforting end-of-life decisions. bb396523-2694-4a1f-b4ca-e01e66c92291

Hospice care is a unique approach to your pet’s end-of-life needs. 

This specific type of veterinary care is focused on the comfort of your pet, not at finding a cure for their disease. It is fitting if your pet has been diagnosed with an incurable illness or if further therapy options have been declined in lieu of comfort-oriented care. The goal is to manage the symptoms, focusing on comfort and maintaining the pet and family bond.
 
Hospice care requires a passionate client-patient-doctor relationship. Education about your pet’s medical condition and what you can do to help are the most important aspects of hospice care.  
 
You need to know what to expect in those last few weeks, days, and hours in order to make the best decision for you, your pet, and your family. Although we cannot know with 100% certainty, we use our medical knowledge to help you make those decisions. We assist you in implementing a plan that will meet your pet’s needs and respect your family’s wishes.

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  • Education about the end-stage process
  • Diagnosis and prognosis
  • Pain management
  • Developing a comfortable environment
  • Nutritional needs
  • Management of non-life threatening conditions
  • Bandage and wound care

Before you prepare yourself to send your pet to heaven, consider continuing the relationship with hospice care. We would love to spend our time helping you extend your time with your pet.

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GUILTY – My Epiphany on Guilt and Pet Euthanasia http://peacefulendings.net/524-2/ http://peacefulendings.net/524-2/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:07:27 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=524 GUILTY My Epiphany on Guilt and Pet Euthanasia by Dr. Kari Trotsky Peaceful Endings for Pets One of the main components that goes into end of life care is guilt. Guilt can invade almost any thought process we have about the subject and I’m here to tell you that it’s normal and necessary. No one […]

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GUILTY
My Epiphany on Guilt and Pet Euthanasia

by Dr. Kari Trotsky
Peaceful Endings for Pets

One of the main components that goes into end of life care is guilt. Guilt can invade almost any thought process we have about the subject and I’m here to tell you that it’s normal and necessary. No one can avoid it, but once you recognize it, you can let it go.LabBoyGrief

Why do people have guilt? Let me count the ways! First, once you decide on euthanasia and set up an appointment to have it done, guilt can start to set in. Some people feel that they are almost acting like God when they set a time for a pet’s death. Others feel that they failed their pet by getting to the point of euthanasia. If only they did one more thing, or if they did something differently, there would be a better outcome. Another reason can be financial. If people don’t have the financial means to run tests and provide treatment (even if those tests end up showing that there’s nothing that can be done anyway), they feel guilty by letting money get in the way of caring for their pet. And, a big one is deciding when is the right time. If they have euthanasia done too soon, are they cutting their pet’s life short? Or, have they waited too long and their pet is needlessly suffering? And to make matters worse, people can have several of these issues going on in their head simultaneously, leading to even more guilt.

My answer to this is to recognize guilt’s presence, feel it, realize it’s normal and necessary, then let it go. Easier said than done. But, if you are feeling any guilt at all, it’s only because you love your pet so much that you want everything to be black and white and perfect in your decision making. But, it’s never black in white. In fact, the whole thing is gray. There’s no right or wrong time to set up a euthanasia appointment, it is a gray area. For many pets, there is a window of when euthanasia is not wrong. Some people choose euthanasia at the outset of this window, which isn’t wrong, and some people decide to hang on a little longer, and that is not wrong either. It depends on a multitude of factors such as your beliefs, your financial situation, your ability to provide home care for your pet, your pet’s condition, your pet’s comfort, etc.

In addition, it’s okay not to be able to pay $3,000 for an MRI, or $6,000 for surgery. Not everyone has the means to do everything and that’s just a fact of life. Sometimes, there are things that CAN be done medically, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your pet. Veterinarians went to school to heal and cure pets. So, it’s in our nature to want to fight and do everything medically possible for your pet. But, ultimately, it’s your decision to let your veterinarian know when you decide not to go further with diagnostics or treatment.

But, the real reason why I say guilt is normal, is because I felt it, too! I know better because I counsel people on it. I tell people when nothing more, medically, can be done. I let them know they did everything they could. I mention that we all must go at some point. But when it came time to euthanize my own pets, I found myself telling them, “I’m sorry.” That was an epiphany to me!  And, after much thought, I believe that I said I was sorry simply because it was time for them to leave me. And, if there was anything I could have done, or didn’t do, I just wanted them to know I was sorry. But, deep down I knew that my pets loved me unconditionally and knew I would do anything possible for them, so there was no need to say sorry.  But, our emotions are not always rational. Guilt does nothing but eat away at us and cloud our great memories of a lifetime of love shared together. But, as long as you made the decision to euthanize with love in your heart for them, then the decision was right. You can release the guilt and move through to the next part of grief – missing them so much that it hurts.

If you find that you are having a really hard time moving through your grief, reach out to a support group, whether it’s in person or online, read a book on the subject, have a memorial ceremony with friends and family, or find a therapist that specializes in pet grief specifically (not all therapists do). I have information on my website under Pet Grief Resources. Pet grief is real and it is okay to seek help. Other animal lovers get it and understand it.

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Laser Therapy for Arthritic Cats and Dogs http://peacefulendings.net/laser-therapy-for-arthritic-cats-and-dogs/ http://peacefulendings.net/laser-therapy-for-arthritic-cats-and-dogs/#respond Sat, 14 Nov 2015 01:27:57 +0000 http://peacefulendings.net/?p=515 Laser Therapy for Arthritic Cats and Dogs by Kari Trotsky, D.V.M.   So far, I’ve written about the Help ‘Em Up Harness and Swim Therapy as integrative treatments that can be used for arthritic dogs, in addition to medications. This time, I’d like to discuss laser therapy which can be used for arthritic cats, as well. […]

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Laser Therapy for Arthritic Cats and Dogs

by Kari Trotsky, D.V.M.

 

So far, I’ve written about the Help ‘Em Up Harness and Swim Therapy as integrative treatments that can be used for arthritic dogs, in addition to medications. This time, I’d like to discuss laser therapy which can be used for arthritic cats, as well.

First, we need to talk about the technical stuff so you understand how laser therapy can help your pet. LASER is actually an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation, and it is used to treat painful and debilitating conditions through the use of specific wavelengths of light. Basically, photons (light energy) are sent deep into the cells of the tissue without damaging them. The photons are then absorbed within the mitochondria of the cells and cause a chemical change called photobiostimulation. This causes the production of ATP in the cell which is the fuel, or energy, cells need for repair and healing. When the fuel (or energy) is increased, it can lead to healthier cells and tissues. Basically, laser therapy can help alleviate pain, inflammation, and swelling, and can stimulate nerve regeneration and cells involved in tissue repair.

Because it stimulates healing and decreases pain and inflammatory cells, lasers can be used to treat many different pet ailments. Lasers can treat muscle and joint pain, and the associated stiffness. In addition, tendonitis, wounds, ear infections, inflamed sinus cavities, lick granulomas, and post-surgical swelling, to name a few, can all benefit from laser therapy.

A laser therapy session consists of a technician applying, and continually moving, the laser probe over the affected area for a designated amount of time and laser strength, while the technician, and the pet alike, wear protective eye goggles. Laser therapy does not hurt, and many times pets feel relaxed as their pain starts to ease.

Arthritic pets usually have 2-3 sessions per week for 2 weeks, then 1-2 sessions per week for 1-3 weeks, then 1 session every 2-4 weeks, as directed by a veterinarian, for maintenance. You can sometimes see improvement after just 1 session, or more commonly, after the first week or two.

Arthritic pets don’t have to suffer needlessly! There are many options now that can be tailored to each pet and pet parent. Let your veterinarian know that you’d like to know all of your options, and then decide how to proceed from there.

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