Elderly pets are prone to many illnesses, with cancer being one of the more common illnesses an elderly pet may get. While there are many treatments available for an elderly pet diagnosed with cancer, in some cases, the condition is terminal with no treatment options due to the age and overall health of the pet. One such cancer is hemangiosarcoma, an often fatal type of cancer with a life expectancy of 1-3 months without treatment. In some cases, treatment is not possible due to the location of the mass or the overall health of the elderly pet.
Common Signs of Cancer in Pets
- Abdominal swelling
- Bleeding from the mouth, nose or other body openings
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty eating
- Lumps, bumps or discolored skin
- Non-healing wounds
- Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
- Sudden changes in weight
- Unexplained swelling, heat, pain or lameness
- Visible mass/tumor
A diagnosis of cancer is often devastating to pet parents. The reality of limited time with a beloved pet is very sad for most pet owners. Pet parents don’t typically know what to expect from a terminally ill elderly pet, but providing the best quality of life possible will often help the pet live as comfortably for as long as possible.
Spending quality time with your pet and going at his pace, and understanding that they are ill will help your pet enjoy whatever time he has left. You may need to adapt to a shorter walk schedule or keep the house cooler or warmer than normal, depending on your pets comfort level.
It is important to keep your pet as comfortable as possible, watching him closely for changes in behavior, eating or peeing and pooping, and giving him whatever medication your vet prescribes. Medication can be challenging to give any pet, but elderly pets often have a loss of appetite making administration of medication quite difficult.
There are specially designed pill treats, cheese, bread or meat options that make the medication go down more easily. Use what works for your pet to help them take their medication. While it may not be best to give a pet cheese or meat, if this is the only means of taking the medication, it may have to suffice.
Be patient with your pet and provide lots of love and hugs and try to enjoy every moment you have during this difficult time.
If the time comes when you are questioning your pets quality of life, you may need to consider euthanasia. Visit that page to learn more if you are concerned for your pet’s well being and quality of life.
Should you need help paying for your pet’s medical treatment and care, we are not accepting applications at this time, but you may contact The Pet Fund at 916-443-6007 to inquire about funding for non basic, non emergency care. If you qualify, payment would be made directly to your veterinarian.
We highly recommend pet insurance for parents of elderly pets. Visit our pet insurance facts page for more information about pet insurance and other products that have helped our elderly pets live longer, better lives.