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End Of Life Issues - Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer research, treatment and diagnosis discussion

End Of Life Issues - Liver Cancer

Postby Ayrwode » Thu May 12, 2016 9:29 am

Sadly, just found out that our darling Daisy is experiencing liver failure. The doctor has her taking Hepato Support and she may have as little as 2 wks or maybe 2 months. How can we best care for her in the days ahead and how will we know when its time to say good-bye? I'm a 43 year old oilfield worker and I can't believe how attached both my wife and I are to our Daisy... this is very difficult for all of us, any advice??

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Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:21 am

End Of Life Issues - Liver Cancer

Postby frang44 » Thu May 12, 2016 9:50 am

Sadly, just found out that our darling Daisy is experiencing liver failure. The doctor has her taking Hepato Support and she may have as little as 2 wks or maybe 2 months. How can we best care for her in the days ahead and how will we know when its time to say good-bye? I'm a 43 year old oilfield worker and I can't believe how attached both my wife and I are to our Daisy... this is very difficult for all of us, any advice??

Posts: 181
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:52 am

End Of Life Issues - Liver Cancer

Postby Darrell » Fri May 13, 2016 6:44 am

I'm so sorry to hear about your precious little Daisy. It sounds like your vet is on top of the situation and is doing all that can be done at this point.  Now, the best thing you can do is to help make Daisy's last days as pleasant as possible.  There are lots of ways to do this....

Ferrets are very "smell" oriented.  If she is healthy enough and enjoys going outside the house, don't hesitate to take her outside in a harness and leash and let her smell everything her little nose leads her to - let her dig in the dirt and investigate every little thing with her nose(hopefully you're not where it's snowy!). Ferrets enjoy the outdoors, but there are many things inside the house they enjoy also - things like allowing them to sleep in the t-shirt you take off at night - put a new 'used' one into the cage every day or two. This will help her smell 'your smell' and feel closer to you. A nightgown or t-shirt, socks, they enjoy all these smells.

My kids love to explore empty cereal boxes, any packaging that comes from outside the house, especially mail, packages, etc.  Fresh flowers are a wonderful little way to give her nose a treat - just lay a flower or two in or next to her bed(make sure it's not a poison plant or flower) to enjoy....grass from the yard is a treat if you have any alive this time of year! If she's too sick to go outside and enjoy it, take IT to her!   A trip to Petco or PetsMart is an olfactory party!! So many things to smell there and pets are welcome! All ferrets LOVE this! If she is strong enough, put her harness and leash on and let her wander thru the store; if she is weak, wrap her in a little flannel receiving blanket and carry her thru the store, letting her smell all kinds of things!

If she is too weak to walk around and find things to investigate, you may want to consider using a baby sling(or you can even make a homemade one, just so it holds her close to your body - hopefully over your heart if it is adjusted right for a ferret) in a way where she feels secure). Talk to her a LOT, using her name a lot will help her feel 'connected' and know you're talking to her.  She will probably enjoy being with you(or your wife, since she probably can't go to work with you :-) throughout the day rather than spending her last days alone in her cage without you. These final days are to be treasured - take lots of pictures and make this a happy time. If you are depressed, Daisy will pick up on that, so try to stay 'up' for her sake.

As she becomes weaker, she MAY enjoy sleeping on your(or your wife's) chest at night.  Keep some food and water and a litterbox(and a kleenex for a quick wipe afterwards) near the bed and don't forget to offer them to her regularly. She may also enjoy some warm chicken or turkey baby food, Ferretone, a few raisins chopped in small pieces, some things that ferrets love that we don't usually recommend giving them. She could have a lick of peanut butter(not chunky), a few small bites of almost any kind of fruit(they LOVE it even tho they really get no nutrition from it - but we're really not concerned with that at this point), other than citrus - a lick of your mashed potatoes and gravy off your plate at dinnertime would be an incredible treat. Just keep her near you; hold her a lot; carry her along with you in the sling or wrapped in a flannel blankie(she may need to be kept a bit warmer than usual because her system is slowing down), and offer her sniffs and/or tastes of anything she would like to try. At this point, we aren't worrying about proper nutrition(but don't give anything that would cause an intestinal blockage tho, such as dehydrated fruits, vegetables, etc), or vomiting and diarrhea such as milk products and ice cream.   I had one ferret who LOVED tiny bits of cucumbers! I know of another one who loves tiny pieces of tomato! These are things we don't usually recommend, but at this point, we aren't going to worry about making sure she has top nutrition - we are going to concentrate on simply letting Daisy smell and taste everything she wants. A few licks from a wet lollipop(yum!), a VERY few licks of ice cream(can cause diarrhea and you don't need her feeling sicker) or a bit of a popsicle may taste good to her, especially if she gets feverish. An ice cube in her water bowl would be a nice touch and be sure her food bowl is kept fresh, as her sense of smell will probably be even more sensitive as she deteriorates and you want to be sure her food and water bowls are clean and inviting.

Although it's not pleasant to talk about, NOW is the time to start planning for the end.  Hopefully you will watch her closely enough that you will notice when she starts losing interest in anything...she may even prefer to just be alone in her cage and not want to be handled - she won't look at you as she has before. These are the indications that she is telling you she is ready to go.  you will *know* when that time comes if you pay close attention to her.   

BEFORE THAT TIME COMES - hopefully you have talked quite frankly to your vet and asked EXACTLY HOW he handles putting ferrets to sleep.  There is an OLD way they call a 'Heartstick', where they actually give the ferret a shot of a solution directly INTO the heart.  This is CRUEL, PAINFUL and quite unnecessary, but some vets just don't know better.  There IS a better way.  ASK YOUR VET specifically what he does and if he says he does a shot in the heart, tell him that is NOT acceptable to you.  If you will write to me again, I will give you DETAILED INFORMATION for your vet(from my vet) on how to allow you to just hold your little one gently in your arms while she receives one little shot in the butt that they don't usually even feel. She then gets sleepy and drifts off to sleep in your arms. The second shot - an overdose of an anesthetic - is then given into her butt again, and within maybe a minute or less, her heart will simply stop from the overdose of anesthesia medication. Your vet will verify this by stethoscope and the process is over. IMPORTANT:  PLEASE make sure you know how to contact your vet after hours and on weekends, or WHO you can call, what 24-hour vet hospital is nearby and always open - and then ask THEM also how they do euthanasia on ferrets.  Again, let them know you do NOT want her to have a 'heart stick'. It is painful, cruel and unnecessary!! Make sure she gets ONLY the overdose of anesthesia medication by injections into her butt while YOU or YOUR WIFE hold her and comfort her. It takes a strong person to do this, but if you think of all the love she has brought to you, I hope sincerely that you will find the strength to hold and comfort your little friend in her last moments. If you are properly prepared ahead of time, it shouldn't be that traumatic for you. She is being released from her little body that is no longer working - she is being released from her pain.

You need to start thinking about whether you want to bury Daisy or have her cremated(which means you will leave her at the vets, then go back several days later and pick up a sealed urn with her ashes).  THIS TIME, after she has passed, is YOUR TIME WITH HER.   If you want to take her home and bathe her, have a ceremony of some kind - whatever you want to do, you should NOT feel pressured. There is NO "one way" to do this - do whatever feels right to you and your wife. Some people just choose to leave the body with the vet for disposal. Some want to bury their baby; others want to have them cremated so they always have them with them. These are very personal choices and no one can tell you which is best for you.

There is a great website at:  http://www.petloss.com  that is a wonderful place to go for comfort.  They have a weekly MONDAY NIGHT CANDLE LIGHTING CEREMONY honoring all pets who have died that week.  Be ready to submit a cute picture of Daisy and a few words for a tribute that will forever be on the website for you and others to read and remember your little girl and know she was very very loved.

Enjoy these last days/weeks/months. Make the most of every single day - enrich her days by giving her things to smell and taste and give her lots and lots of kisses, keep her close to you - using a sling if possible, so she is right with you(or your wife) for the majority of the day. There is nothing sadder than a ferret spending his/her last days alone in their cage just waiting to pass.  These days/weeks/months can be a beautiful, memorable time you will think back on and have happy memories.  

Feed her senses of smell, taste(give her a little taste of those mashed potatoes and gravy on your dinner plate :-) and take her with you when you leave for short trips around town if she is up to it.  If she is not, make sure she has an extra comfy, soft bed to curl up in - hopefully lined with your wife's nightgown(after she wears it so it has her smell on it) or your t-shirt.  Feed her senses and love her as much as you can.  Make sure YOU have done your homework and made those plans for the final vet visit.  If you know what to expect, it makes it SO much easier.  It can be a beautiful and peaceful time if handled right and your attitude is right.  

PLEASE don't cry before or while she is receiving that last shot.....it's been proven that if a pet feels our upset or hears us cry, they will actually struggle to stay alive to comfort us....so make this time a peaceful one FOR DAISY.......and you are allowed to completely fall apart afterwards...but you have to be the strong one *during*.   And I sincerely hope that you will be there, holding her, as she peacefully falls asleep in  your arms.  It's the last, best gift we can give to those precious little ones who have given so much to us.  

My thoughts and prayers are with you, your wife, and your precious little Daisy during this difficult time. I hope you will make this a time you will always remember - take lots of pictures. Remember the good times. Write a beautiful tribute and choose the best picture of her to put on http://www.petloss.com and I hope you will check out the website(in advance, if you wish - it's a beautiful place and you can just feel all the love that is there in the tributes and the precious pictures of beloved babies who have gone from this world)  'attend' the Monday Night Candle Lighting Service, if not before you lose her, then certainly afterwards and submit her picture and a tribute to her.   She sounds like a precious, very very loved little girl.  

If there is anything at all I can do to make this time easier for you, or any further questions I can answer, information I can give, etc - please don't hesitate to contact me.  I will be here for you. Be strong.......God bless.


Jacquie Rodgers

Ferret Guru, All Experts.com  
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:42 pm

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