When It’s Time

black and white image of German Shepard looking out over the snow

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Welcome, Dr. Donny Consla

Dr. Consla on a hiking trip overlooking green mountains at the White Mountains in New Hampshire

Dr. Consla at the White Mountains in New Hampshire

[00:01:06] Dr. Lancellotti Welcome everyone to today’s episode of Your Vet Wants You to Know. I have a very special episode today and I have a very special friend of mine, Dr. Donny Consla, here with me, who is the lead veterinarian of Wellness and General Practice at Animal Friends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Consla and I went to veterinary school together. We were just talking about how we actually have known each other for almost a decade now, which is crazy because it makes us feel much older than we actually are.  Donny is here to talk about a very emotional topic.  So I’m very happy to have him on, to talk about this difficult subject. I’m thankful that he was willing to come on and share a story with us that I think many pet owners will be able to relate to. I will start off by just saying that this is going to be a tough topic for me to talk about too. Donny, you know that my dog, Molly, who you’ve known for many years , she is almost 15 years old now and she’s been slowing down. She’s been having a hard time with some mobility and I think my husband and I have been getting closer to having that conversation about when it’s going to be time to say goodbye to her. So I’m looking forward to having this discussion with you to help to provide some clarity for my own personal experience and what we’re going through as a family here. So thank you very much for taking the time to come on and talk to me and talk to the pet owners who are out there listening about when it’s time to say goodbye to your pet.

[00:02:43] Dr. Consla: You’re welcome.  I’m really happy to be on the podcast. I’ve been listening to the episodes you’ve made so far. Very educational and it’s great to have a tool out there for our pet owners to resource and look to from our perspective to help them make decisions for their pets, regardless of the subject.

[00:03:04] Dr. Lancellotti: Thank you. I’m very excited that you’re listening to it. That makes me really happy. I appreciate that. 

[00:03:09] Dr. Consla: Absolutely. 

Avett, the intuitive German Shepard

[00:03:10] Dr. Lancellotti: So Donny, I know this is a personal subject for you as well. I remember a few years ago you lost one of your pets, Avett, who I just adored. I really did. He was such a remarkable dog and I was hoping maybe you could tell us a little bit about Avett and what you and your family went through with him to help pet owners when we have this conversation.

[00:03:35] Dr. Consla: Certainly. So I’ll give a little history about Avett and what we went through with him and that can guide our conversation as far as  what we’re looking for, what defines quality of life, how do we know when that’s changing and how can we use that information to help us make decisions before we’re forced into that heavy situation. My wife and I, or fiance at the time, rescued Avett here at home in Meadville. I was a technician at the time and I did a lot of pet sitting work I was staying in a house and mother-in-law of the people I was staying with came over and she’s like, “You gotta come help. There’s this dog running around the park that was down the street.” And I was like, “Oh, okay, sure.” Cassandra and I were having dinner and so we go down to the park and there’s this German shepherd. He was a big dog, but he had to be 25, 30 pounds underweight. I remember he was carrying around just this giant tree branch happy as can be like sprinting around. There’s like neighborhood kids running around with them, but nobody could really get him to come with them. So they could see if he had a microchip or a collar or anything like that. So somehow we were able to get close enough to him and Casandra got a leash on him and we took him back to the house that I was staying at and those people were big animal rescuers. So they were like, “Put him in the spare room, get him whenever he needs.” Good to go.  Took him down to the vet hospital, got him looked over.  Aside from being underweight and having some parasites, he was okay. I reached out to all the local shelters. I put an ad in the paper, called the different police departments, all those places where you would think of somebody calling to say, “Hey, I have a lost dog” and nobody ever claimed him.  We adopted him as part of our family and got him back up to full weight and he was a big dog. At a healthy weight he was over a hundred pounds and just so intelligent both with commands and tricks, but also emotionally. I mean, there’s just stuff he picked up on that really highlights why they say dogs are man’s best friend.  We ended up moving to California, to Los Angeles for veterinary school and of course he came with us. He was a blessing there. We’re both two little country kids going to the big city for the first time. It was great having him with us, just a sense of security and fantastic family member. 

[00:06:14]Dr. Lancellotti: I remember Cassandra taking him out on walks and there was no way that anyone was going to mess with her with this hundred pound German shepherd, right by her side.

[00:06:23]Dr. Consla: New friends that we made out there, or like people from church, she’d be like, “Oh, I’m going to head home and go for a walk,” and they’d be like, “Oh, you can’t go for a walk now,” and she’s like, “I don’t think you understand. Nobody’s going to give me any trouble.” I don’t know, he just had a sense about him. You could bump into anybody and if he was okay, if he was in a relaxed posture and his tail was wagging, like you knew it was okay. If he perked his ears up and puffed out his chest, you were like, “Okay, he’s picking up on a vibe here. Something’s not right.”  Just a blessing to have that reassurance. So we graduated vet school, moved back home to Pennsylvania. We had two more dogs in addition to Avett in tow that we had rescued out there. So three dogs in our little car on the way back. 

[00:07:14] Dr. Lancellotti: I feel like everybody in vet school picked up at least one additional animal throughout vet school. 

[00:07:19] Dr. Consla: At least. He was happy being back in the country and, chasing deer and squirrels and all that good stuff.  One day I was over at a friend’s house with him and we were working on a project and we were in a barn and the barn had an elevated area with wood flooring and he was walking around and I heard his toe nails scuffing. When you’ve gone through all this medical training and stuff, there’s certain little things that you just hone in on that you can link with a certain situation. And just from having studied different neurological conditions and breed conditions and stuff, my mind immediately went to dragging his back foot and this is probably degenerative myelopathy, which is like ALS in people. At the time, I was doing an externship in Akron, Ohio at a specialty practice there. I reached out to the neurologist and told them what was going on. He guided me to some genetic testing. And along with the clinical signs, the genetic test confirmed that he had both of the mutations for degenerative myelopathy and with what I was noticing that’s probably what it was. We could have done an MRI, but it probably wasn’t going to really change anything for us, so we decided not to do that. This disease in German Shepherds, we know that typically we’ve got about six months from the onset of early clinical signs, which is going to be dragging those toes a little bit until they become completely paralyzed in the back end. 

[00:09:01] Dr. Lancellotti: I know for you as a veterinarian, you understood what that meant, but can you talk to me a little bit about that conversation that you had with Cassandra and maybe how she reacted a little bit. 

[00:09:14]Dr. Consla: Going over things with Cassandra, explaining the condition, what it means, that it’s not a painful condition, but it is slowly going to affect his mobility. Obviously some heavy news to sit with. You probably have six months left, this finite period of time with one of our best friends really. That’s difficult news to deal with. It’s shocking, of course. You hope it’s maybe like a sprain or a strain or something. But then to have to deliver this heavy news hurts. We used this news in a way to say, “Okay, obviously this is awful, but for this condition, we know we have these six months. What can we do to make these six months as fantastic as they can be?” Because for all  the amazing things that Avett did for us and all the gifts that he gave to us, we want to make sure that we didn’t leave anything out for him. 

[00:10:12] Dr. Lancellotti: You wanted to make every day count. 

[00:10:13] Dr. Consla: Exactly. For this condition, there’s no real treatments that have been proven to make a difference, but there’s some things that, maybe would help.  We started doing some acupuncture, some antioxidant supplementation. We started physical therapy, exercise and massage regimen with him . Whether these things made a difference or not, or if it was just his particular form of the condition, it ended up being about 10 months until the paralysis got bad enough where he couldn’t really get around anymore. 

[00:10:49]We’re not always afforded that gift of knowing exactly how long we have left. We can talk more when we get into the specifics of assessing quality of life, but in our particular situation, we did have that. That gave us a chance to formulate at what point are we going to decide that it’s time for him. We came up with some guidelines that would define his quality of life and help us to make that decision because it wasn’t going to be six months on the nose, it could have been a little bit longer, a little bit less. We ended up getting 10 months total.  That was fantastic.  We still wanted to have a plan in place.  So we looked to, what were his favorite things were. We made a list of those things and we saw as the months grew on, one by one, some of those items would tick off the list. We had said when he got the diagnosis, that one of the factors would be if he couldn’t go to the bathroom on his own, not because we didn’t want to clean up a mess or anything, we didn’t care about that at all.  He was just so well trained and had such a sense of pride about him almost that you could tell if he had an accident it was almost like it was humiliating to him. I remember one time he ate something in the woods, probably some deer treats or something, if you know what I’m saying. He just had a bad bout of diarrhea and had an accident in the house.  We never yelled at him or anything, but he was just whimpering in the corner, like it was the worst thing in the world. So we knew that was, for him, a bigger issue. I remember like it was yesterday. I was in between rotations. I let them out. We had a little sling that we used to help them get around. He could still walk, but it wasn’t graceful by any means. He was having a bowel movement and he just couldn’t hold himself and he tipped over and fell.  I just remember him looking at me. It was gut wrenching to see that look in his eyes like,  “Hey dad, it’s time.” Factoring that in with the list that we had made, I called Cassandra and I said, “Hey, here’s what happened. We’ve gotten to less than half of our list. He just fell. We said months and months ago that this was our plan and it’s important for us to stick to that for his dignity.”

 

Happy German Shepard lying in green grass holding a blue ball with trees in the background

[00:13:25] We picked a day that weekend. We got a steak for him. We hung out outside under his favorite tree. He took his blanket outside, laid in the sun. All the extra treats and special things that you could think of. This dog had a network of family and friends so we had different friends that we had made over the years come and visit and say goodbye in the few days beforehand. When it was time to put him to sleep, there was probably nine or 10 of our family members there with us to do that.  I did the the injection myself. My outlook was that of all the gifts that he had given to me over the years, putting him at rest and to peace was a gift that I could give to him.

[00:14:19] Dr. Lancellotti: Donny, that’s beautiful, and it sounds like the perfect day for him too. 

[00:14:23] Dr. Consla: Yeah. It was definitely the right call at the right time. I think some of the planning that we went through is what I advise the pet owners that I deal with to think about. I don’t want to make it a cold or a scientific process, but I think in some situations, if you can analyze some of these factors before you’re faced with the decision, it doesn’t make it easier, but it can make it a little more objective. You can say, “When I wasn’t in this difficult emotional moment, I laid some groundwork for how I was going to proceed and when I was going to proceed,” and that can, I think help foster a feeling of “I’m doing the right thing, I’m doing right by my pet,” and at least helping make the decision so you can better handle all the other emotions that are going on a little bit better.

What is Quality of Life?

[00:15:27] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah. I think that’s one of the gifts that we have in veterinary medicine is that once we start to see quality of life is diminishing, we have the ability to say, “Okay, I don’t want you to suffer anymore. I think it’s time for us to say goodbye.” I know you and I understand what we mean when we say quality of life for an animal, but when veterinarians talk about that quality of life for a pet, can you tell our pet owners that are listening, what is that, that we’re referring to? What does quality of life mean?

[00:16:02]  Dr. Consla: It’s a tough thing to define, right?  What dictates that you or your pet has good quality of life?  I would say the activities, reactions, and items that define your pet’s happiness or comfort.

[00:16:18] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah. I think that’s perfect.

[00:16:19] Dr. Consla: Some animals it’s very obvious what brings them joy. For other pets, whether it’s a species difference or just the attitude of that pet, sometimes it’s a little trickier to notice. So that’s why I think it’s important to look at the comfort factor as well.

The 5 Favorite Things

[00:16:38]Dr. Lancellotti: How do you think a pet owner can determine what gives their individual pet its quality of life? 

[00:16:45] Dr. Consla: So when we were dealing with Avett, that’s when I formulated this idea of coming up with a list of your pet’s five favorite things, because there’s a lot of different things that can make them happy. For our current dog, Barley, I could pick five different treats that make him happy, right? But it’s finding those five things that if you had to distill down your pet’s happiness into just five objects, what would it be? Let’s use Barley as an example. He loves to go hiking. He would spend literally all day just running back and forth as you walk through the woods. He loves to chew on chew toys. He loves to nurse on his blanket. Nearly everybody, they come over to our house, they’re like, “What is he doing?” I’m like, “He likes to suck on this blanket. It’s his thing.” Every month we go to the store, we get another little fleece blanket. He gets a new one. He’s happy as can be. He loves treats and peanut butter in a Kong. He loves hanging out with our son Everett. So those are the things that make him happy. It could be playing fetch. It could be going for a walk. It could be greeting you at the door when you get home. It could be snuggling under the covers in bed. Those are all kind of dog things. Let’s talk about cats. There might be some food motivation there too, but it could be a little more subtle laying in the window sill or on top of a bookcase or in a cat tree. It could be waking you up at 5:00 AM to get breakfast. It could be, playing with a feather toy, even if it’s for a brief period of time. I see exotic animals too and I think there’s a stigma out there that many of our exotic species, a lot of people say, “How can they be a pet? How can they be a family member? They really don’t do anything.” I will say that these exotic species, which would be birds, reptiles, small mammals, like Guinea pigs, chinchillas, ferrets, etc, they can be trained just as much as a dog or a cat. For a bird, maybe it’s foraging for a Nutraberry and an enrichment toy. Maybe it’s a undoing knots in a rope. Maybe it’s doing flapping exercises, to get in some physical activity. Maybe your bearded dragon loves to sunbathe in it’s hammock. Maybe it loves to chase crickets around instead of you just setting it in front of it. For your ferret, maybe it loves to crawl through little tubes  there’s so many different things   

[00:19:31]Dr. Lancellotti:  You’re saying all these things, they’re like bringing a big smile to my face because it’s a true representation of a joyful animal, a happy animal,  and that’s what we’re looking for in quality of life. What is it that brings joy to your animal’s day to day routine? 

Including Everyone in the Conversation

[00:19:48] Dr. Consla:  When you’re making that list, I think if you have more than just yourself as the person who interacts with that pet from day to day, a significant other, a child, another family member that lives with you, a friend that’s over often, whatever it may be. I think it’s important to ask those people as well, because sometimes they’ll pick up on some different things too. Maybe you’ve got a cat who, when you get home greets you at the door, you play with the little ball toy, happy as can be, but every night it goes and sleeps in your daughter’s bed or something. If that were to change, your daughter might come out and be like, “Hey Missy’s not sleeping in bed with me anymore. I can’t find her. Other people who are in that pet’s life can pick up on some different things, too. 

[00:20:41] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah. Just like every person’s unique hobbies and values are different, the pets are the same way. I know Donny, you love rock climbing and you could spend all weekend doing that, whereas my husband, Stephen prefers to spend his weekend experimenting with homemade pizza. Both are excellent hobbies that provide the two of you with quality of life. But if I asked Stephen to go rock climbing, his quality of life would suffer significantly.

[00:21:08] Whereas you, I know your quality of life would not suffer if I asked you to eat homemade pizza. It’s just a matter of finding out what that individual animal likes and what makes them unique and special.  You know, If you were to tell somebody about your pet,  what makes them who they are and those, five things are really going to be some of the first few things that you tell to another person when you’re telling them about your pet and what you love about them.

[00:21:39] Dr. Consla: Absolutely.

Watching for Changes to Your List

[00:21:40] Dr. Lancellotti: Donny, can you talk a little bit about how a pet owner might recognize that there’s a change to the pet’s quality of life? How do they know that change is occurring and that it’s starting to look like the right time to say goodbye?

[00:21:54] Dr. Consla: Right? The first thing would be, I think, consulting that list you’ve made of those five favorite things. I usually tell my pet owners that once we start to get less than half of that list, then I start to wonder if quality of life is being affected. Just because I can’t, take my dog on a five mile hike anymore, technically that’s an alteration of one of those list items, but maybe we can still go for a half mile walk. Even if you haven’t made a list beforehand, often when I’m talking to pet owners and I start going through that process, they can still look back and say, “You know what,  she used to do A, B, C, D E, and I don’t think she’s doing any of those things anymore.” They turn to their significant other and they say, “Nah, she hasn’t done that in months.”  The other thing that I look for is maybe more subtle signs that something is changing. These can be little things like a change in appetite, weight loss, maybe a decrease in activity level. These aren’t always in your face. If you’ve got a hyperactive old lab, it might be more obvious, but a lot of times when I’m talking with cat owners or something, we talk about these kind of subtle signs, because depending on the species, some species like to hide signs that they’re not feeling well. Maybe that cat still does get up to his cat tree every day, but it’s not coming down as often to eat its food and we’re getting some weight loss Or, maybe the rabbit who used to hop around just seems to be laying around a little bit more often in it’s little nesting corner.  Maybe we’re not seeing obvious signs of pain or discomfort, but there might be some other little signs going on that aren’t always so in your face and obvious, and those are the other things that I look for and try and combine with the favorite things list.

Discussions and Decisions with Your Veterinarian

[00:24:03] Dr. Lancellotti: Once a pet owner has decided that many of the things on the list that their pet used to love aren’t happening and it is time for them to say goodbye. Can you talk a little bit about what they can expect from the process? Are there options that they have to help to honor their pet and, make it really special.

[00:24:23] Dr. Consla: Yeah, absolutely. Before we even get to that point, I would encourage pet owners if they’re starting to notice some changes in quality of life to consult their family veterinarian because it could be something where maybe we could offer a treatment or identify a process that might give us some information about what we’re dealing with and what type of time we have left or what to expect moving forward. It might be something as simple as starting a joint supplement and an as needed pain medicine, or maybe it’s more serious news, like we identify a cancerous mass, but it can still give us some notion of what to expect and to help us make educated decisions for our pet.   Sometimes for one reason or another, maybe we can’t do the most aggressive treatment or some radical surgery. I just always like to remind people that just because we can do something, doesn’t always mean that we should. What I mean by that is, let’s say we found a bad mass in the chest or something. We certainly could refer to a specialty surgeon and do a radical surgery. But what if that dog with that mass in its chest also has really bad arthritis in his hips and is really stressed out when it’s away from home. Is it the best decision to pursue, that aggressive therapy? Yes, that’s going to get rid of the mass, but is that recovery period at the hospital going to be very stressful and affect that pet’s quality of life? Is it going to make the hips worse? Because maybe that won’t be able to be as mobile for a long period of time during the recovery time and so I think about those things as well. Some people get concerned or feel bad that, I can’t afford that radical thing or that aggressive procedure and I just always like to remind people that, maybe that’s not the best option anyway. Maybe there’s other things that we can do to maintain comfort that will make sure there’s no suffering happening for the pet and also make it so that you, as the pet owner don’t feel guilty about not pursuing something. And there are certainly conditions where, maybe the best option is to do something more aggressive, but I just want to put that out there that just because there is something that can be done, doesn’t always mean that it’s the best option or the right thing to do.

[00:26:59] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point to bring up because we have the opportunity to discuss, are we prolonging quantity of life or are we prolonging quality of life? I think that’s a good conversation to have with a family veterinarian. 

[00:27:14]Dr. Consla: So getting into what happens when we’ve decided to say goodbye, that’s where those conversations are helpful. You can come and say, “Hey I’ve noticed these changes,” and your family veterinarian or if you’re in a specialty situation, they might find some things on their exam or some tests to say, “You know what? It is time. Based on what I’m seeing as the doctor, what you are telling me, and the options that we have, I think it would be reasonable at this point to say goodbye.”

[00:27:45] When we decide to do that, typically the pet owner will make an appointment. Many places will offer house calls as well. I think that’s been limited a little bit by the pandemic. I know there are still some doctors who are doing that. That’s what they do exclusively and so they’re taking extra precautions and finding a way to make that work.  But either way, an appointment is made and I think it’s important that the family veterinarian does an exam first and talks with you about the changes that are happening because we want to make sure that we’re not missing something that could be remedied easily in one way or another. This gives us a time to confer, put those pieces of the puzzle together, and it’s a good chance for the pet owner to ask questions.  Questions about what’s going to happen next with the euthanasia process, just questions about maybe the diagnosis in general, or “Am I assessing quality of life correctly?”, those different things. This is a big decision to make and, while it’s never easy to make it, I always want my pet owners to feel comfortable making it and feel like they’re doing what’s best for pet, their family member.

[00:29:03]Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah, it certainly is a hard conversation to have, but I think the more answers that people can get, the more at peace they’ll feel afterwards, knowing that they made the right decision.

The Process of Euthanasia

[00:29:16]Dr. Consla: Absolutely. The next thing that I do and I think most veterinarians do this as well is I like to give an injection of sedation. I typically use a combination of medications that both cause a level of drowsiness and also have some pain medicine in them. Now I say pain medicine, but I want people to know that the euthanasia process is not painful. Usually if we’re saying goodbye, it’s because there’s some degree of discomfort that’s starting to happen. It sets my mind at ease and I think it sets the pet owner’s mind at ease that the pet is not going to feel anything that’s been bothering them.  The sedation, the goal is just to provide a calming effect because we, as the pet owner, are going to be emotional and our pets pick up on that emotion. I want them to be relaxed and calm and for it to be as peaceful as possible. That usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes to kick in. Like I said, they’re not going to be totally out of it, but they’re probably going to lay down, they’ll still be able to see you and hear you and respond, but they’re going to be relaxed and calm and not anxious about what’s going on or that, they’re at the vet or any of those factors. I like to caution people that as that sedation kicks in depending on the breed or if the animals may be a little overweight, sometimes we’ll hear some snoring and that’s not a sign that there’s any difficulty breathing going on. It’s just that the tissues in the back of the mouth are relaxed and that tone is less than so it’d be just like if they were sleeping at home. Once the owner is ready and once the pet is in a good plane of sedation and clearly comfortable and relaxed, then we go over the rest of the process.

[00:31:18] The second injection that we give goes in the vein and depending on the health status of the animal, sometimes we will put an IV catheter in if the animal is dehydrated or sometimes in our geriatric patients, it can be tricky to find the vein. Having a catheter in can help. We just want to have one poke, we don’t want to have to try multiple different sites. So sometimes we’ll do that once they’re sedated as well. I will also note that in light of the pandemic, I think some veterinarians are using catheters more often just to help maintain social distancing in some of these situations. So once the owner is ready and once the pet is ready we give a second injection in the vein and this second injection is an overdose of an anesthetic. Because it’s an anesthetic, by its design, it means that the pet is going to fall asleep first, before anything stops working in its body. The pet will fall into a plane of anesthesia and then the heart and the lungs will stop working. So I also want people to know that their pet is not going to be aware of any of those changes that’s happening in their body. The injection because we’re giving it in the vein is typically pretty quick to take effect. I would say 30 to 60 seconds is usually how long it takes the heart and the lungs to stop working. At that point, I will listen with a stethoscope to confirm that the pet has passed away. In addition to checking some other reflexes. Sometimes we can see some reflexes after they have passed. That might look like a twitch, a breath, very rarely a vocalization. And I always just, warn people that that is not their pet doing those things. It’s just the nervous system, sending some random signals after the pet has passed. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict if those things are gonna happen. I just like people to be aware of it. I have found that in some of the exotic species like Guinea, pigs or birds, some of those reflexes seem to be a little bit more common, but again, it’s not the pet doing those things. At that point, we express our condolences and I offer the pet owners a chance to spend some more time with their pet and they can have as much time as they want. Nothing is more important than them. Having a chance to say goodbye and being comfortable when they leave that they made the right decision and they got to say goodbye in the right way. From there, then we follow up with the wishes of the pet owner for whatever aftercare options they have elected for. There’s a lot of different options out there.  We can place the pet in a coffin so that the pet owner can take them home to bury them. That’s not always an option for pet owners that live in the city, but in the country, most jurisdictions will allow that. Cremation is a very popular option and you can get the ashes back or not get the ashes back. There are many pet cemeteries. If there’s one in your area, your family veterinarian will likely have a link with them to make sure everything goes smoothly and to get your pet’s remains to the pet cemetery. Those are all different options that we have.

How Pet Owners Can Prepare

[00:34:57]Dr. Lancellotti:  For the pet owners who are thinking about when it’s time for their pet and who are in the process of having these conversations with their family and trying to figure out the best thing for their animal for this beloved family member. What can they do to help prepare themselves for this time in their pet’s life? 

[00:35:20] Dr. Consla: Sure.  I think the first thing is to identify those quality of life parameters, make that list of your pet’s five favorite things and be on the lookout for those to change. Have a good relationship with your family veterinarian, so that when you start to notice those changes, you can have a discussion about what that means and if there’s anything that you can do about it as far as a diagnostic or a treatment to make sure that we’re not missing anything. When it does come time to make the decision to say goodbye, one of the things that people always say to me, I feel like at the end of every euthanasia is, “I don’t know how you can do this every day.” I always say, it, it certainly,  it’s not fun, but I always remind myself that we have the privilege to be able to offer this gift to our pets. I think of it as a gift for all the amazing things that our pets give to us in the time that they have with us, this is something that we can give back to make sure that they’re not suffering, they’re not in pain and that they leave this world comfortable and with dignity so that their spirit can pass on. If you make that list, if you look at the test results, you don’t have wonder, “Did I miss something?” So trust in the relationship that you have with your pet and on those things that you’ve identified. It’s not going to make the decision any easier, but I think you can make it with the confidence knowing that things truly were changing you didn’t jump to any conclusions and you also made the decision before things progressed to the point where maybe there was some more discomfort.

For More Support

[00:37:14] Dr. Lancellotti: Yeah. I think those are really good points and I’m so glad that you took the time to come on and share them with pet owners so that they can help to. Wrap their heads around this really challenging decision. It’s certainly something that you shouldn’t come to lightly or quickly, especially in older dogs who have maybe these chronic issues where it’s this slow decline, being able to identify that point at which that decline has reached a tipping point, where there are more days that are challenging then days that are good. I’m very, very thankful for you coming on and taking the time to talk to people about this. Thank you, Donny. 

[00:37:51] Dr. Consla: You’re welcome. I’m happy to be able to pass this information on and I hope that it helps people. And I know that it will help their pets as well. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. 

[00:38:05] Dr. Lancellotti: Oh, of course. I know that many family veterinarians are comfortable helping pet owners say goodbye to their pet, but there are also services that will come to your home Dr. Consla mentioned for euthanasia, if your family veterinarian does not provide that service.

[00:38:26]I would encourage people to join the Facebook group and tell us about special pets that they have said goodbye to and what you did to help your family heal. Because there may be some other pet owners who are struggling with that decision and hearing stories from people who have gone through that before them may be really helpful in making that decision less painful for them.

Scratching the Itch

Dr. Consla standing on a rock looking out over a cliff with green vegetation below while wearing a hiking backpack

Linville Gorge in North Carolina

[00:38:50]Now that we’ve taken this time to talk about some really difficult topics. I still want to end the episode with the Scratching the Itch segment because it is something that is designed to provide relief or make you feel good. Dr. Consla, I was hoping that maybe you had something that “scratched the itch” for our listeners today.

[00:39:14]Dr. Consla:  Yeah, for me there is just something about going outside that just gives me point to reset. So I noticed like every couple of months, if I haven’t gone on a little overnight camping trip, I start to get a little twitchy and just being out there it’s a chance to slow down. It’s a chance to disconnect, it can be unnerving sometimes not having cell phone service, but in another way. It’s nice,  there’s not notifications going off. There’s something about just focusing on the simple, whether it’s, “Hey, I got to go filter water to have something to drink,” or just, “Man, look at the sun shining through these leaves or the way the snow is falling.” It’s kinda just like some sort of primal relaxation that I think just gives me pause and a moment to reset. So I would encourage to spend a little time outdoors. One other thing I’ve discovered as our son is growing, he’s a toddler. Go on YouTube and just search silly kitten videos. I don’t know, it keeps him entertained and it keeps me entertained. We’ve had some good chuckles. 

Dr. Consla sitting on the edge of a hanging rock, overlooking green mountains with puffy white clouds allowing sunlight to peak through

Linville Gorge in North Carolina

[00:40:33] Dr. Lancellotti: So your “Scratching the Itch” is a twofold for us today. It’s enjoying the outdoors and silly kitten videos. So we will have a picture of Donny Consla doing one of his favorite hikes and he is going to provide us with a link for a silly kitten video that his son really enjoys so you guys can get some enjoyment out of that as well.  If you have something that you would like to be featured on the “Scratching the Itch” segment, something that provides relief or makes you feel good, please get in contact with me through Facebook or Instagram or through the website so that we can highlight something in the future. Thank you again, Donny, for coming on the show and for sharing this wealth of information and helpful tips for pet owners who are in a really difficult position. I really appreciate it. 

[00:41:29] Dr. Consla: You’re welcome. Thank you again for having me.

[00:41:31] Dr. Lancellotti: I look forward to your next visit with Your Vet Wants You to Know.

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