Rescue Journal

old age, end of life, animals are different than humans... perception barriers to responsible care

Carol  ·  Dec. 29, 2009

i have gotten a few emails lately...old dogs..already in a family...needing a space at saints...pain, health issues, incontinence, anxiety...not enough time, money, energy left in a busy life to deal with it.

so many times i hear...."oh i don't think he/she is in pain." when i start asking about the physical stuff that effects the behavioral stuff which is causing them to lose their homes.

if you want to think about a dog's old body...think of your own body and how it might feel and sometimes let you down at 80, 90 or 100 years old.
the bodies work the same...hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers, muscles, joints, stomach and bowels they do the exact same things.

like humans...animals do have nerve endings...nerve endings sense pain. if you are too stiff and sore to get up from your bed, your bed is before too long, going to be wet because old bladders (animal or human) are not hugely elastic things.

if you hurt all the do get tired of chronic pain..this affects your ability to think clearly, to have fun, to eat, to sleep, to move, what kind of mood you are affects EVERYTHING in your life in a very real negative way.

just because an animal is old or sick does not mean they have to feel like crap. just because an animal is dying of cancer or end stage heart disease does not mean they don't feel added and unnecessary discomfort and unwellness from a bladder infection, arthritis, a gastric upset that is totally unrelated to their cancer or cardiac disease.

old and/or sick bodies are not just one dimensional, single sided problems..they are multi-level complex and simple problems...some are easily fixed and some are not.

so the trick to caring for seniors and palliatives is to understand how their bodies and their minds in response to how their bodies are feeling, really work. to understand that some things are fixable and some things are not and to really understand the difference between the two.
we have to try really hard not only to be realistic in the types of invasive and frightening medical proceedures we put them only bother IF you can FIX what you happen to find. but we also have to ensure that we do not write them off completely because they are old or have some deadly disease over something really simple to fix (like a bladder infection or poorly controlled pain) that can hugely impact the quality of their daily life.

i think the bottom line in caring for a senior or sick animal is this...if you accept that you can have pain...please accept that they can too. of you accept that you could be fighting a terminal disease like cancer and feel crappy on a day that you developed a bladder infection too..then accept that the same thing could be true for them too...if you would like someone to pay attention and give some real thoughtful consideration to the different pain and illness problems that your life could singularly or in multiple handouts force upon you,,then maybe accept that your furry animal would like the same careful and thoughtful consideration of their various big or little or combination of both, problems too.

animal's bodies work like ours, they feel like ours, they can have big things, little things, inbetween things go wrong...and those things can make the difference between feeling of wellness or illness for both of us. treat their bodies like you would like your body treated near the end of your life and you will probably always make the right decision in medical care for them.,,and i am willing to bet that you would like your pain controlled, your bladder infection cleared up even if you are really old or sick and dying of something else.

anyway...i sent off an email on the last one..suggesting some routine simple medical things that might allow the poor dog to stay in her home..happier and more comfortable for both she and her family.



i will not be able to come to saints on new years day until later. maybe someone can let me know what is happening as my computer is wrecked and can not get fixed until the 4th. lana or laura can you call me as to what is going on. i am babysitting me grandkids overnight and will have them in the morning.