The sad fact of owning a pet is that they simply do not live as long as we do. At some point, the day will come when we have to say goodbye to our 4-legged family member. We are here every step of the way for you if your pet needs help on that final step of its journey.
How To Recognizing Change
Sometimes the change at the end of your pet's life may come on slowly. Routine checkups at home, or with your veterinarian, are a good way to catch problems at the onset.
Answer normal or abnormal to the following:
- Is their attitude normal and up-beat
- Appetite normal - meaning no problems chewing or swallowing
- Are they drinking normal amounts of water
- is their nose moist and without discharge
- Teeth clean, free of tartar, and no bad breath
- Are the gums pink and moist with no redness or growths
- Are their eyes bright, clear, and free of matter
- Ears clean without discharge, odor, or inner swelling
- Can they breathe without difficulty or excessive panting
- Is their coat is shiny with no flaking or hair loss
- Is the skin free from itching or areas of irritation
- No lumps or bumps on the body
- No fleas, ticks, lice, or mites
- Can they walk without stiffness, pain, or difficulty
- Are they able to urinate with the usual frequency
- Do they have regular bowel movements in the usual amount and consistency
- Are their litter box habits and/or house training remain unchanged
The importance of early intervention cannot be overemphasized.
When To Make The Decision
Making the decision to euthanize your pet is the hardest one any pet owner has to face. While no one else can make this difficult decision for you, here are some things that may help you decide if the time is right or not.
When trying to decide if the time is right or not, consider the following:
- Hurt: Adequate pain control, including breathing ability, is first and foremost on the scale. Is your pet's pain successfully manageable? Does your pet need to see a veterinarian for pain control, such as the use of oxygen?
- Hunger: Is your pet eating enough? Does hand feeding help? Or does your pet require the assistance of your veterinarian to ensure they are nourished (ie: feeding tube)?
- Hydration: Is your pet hydrated? If your pet is not drinking enough, they may need subcutaneous fluid once or twice daily to supplement their fluid intake. Your veterinarian can help you determine if this will be needed.
- Hygiene: Your pet should be brushed or cleaned, especially after elimination. Avoid pressure sores and keep all wounds clean.
- Happiness: Does your pet express joy or interest? Are they responsive to things around them (family, toys, etc..)? Is your pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored, or afraid? Can their bed be close to family activities and not isolated?
- Mobility: Can your pet get up without assistance? Do they need human or mechanical help (ie: a cart)? Do they feel like going for a walk? Is your pet having seizures or stumbling? NOTE: Some owners feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, but a pet who has limited mobility but is still alert and responsive can have a good quality of life, as long as the owner is committed to helping them.
- More good days than bad: WHen bad days outnumber the good days, quality of life might be too compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the pet owner must be made aware that the end is near. The decision needs to be made if the pet is suffering. If death comes peacefully and painlessly, that is OK.
You can use the scale above to help determine if your pet is ready. Using a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (best) will help you decide if their quality of life falls into an acceptable or unacceptable range. If your score is 35 or below, please reach out to discuss the next steps needed for the comfort of both you and your pet.
The decision of when to euthanize is individual and personal to both you and your pet. This is a judgment that only you can make, and it involves great personal courage and sacrifice. Many people fear they will not be able to recognize when the time is right. If you are unsure, our compassionate team of veterinary professionals can talk you through this.
It is good to include family members or friends who share a close bond with your pet in the decision-making process. This is a time when you will need the support of those who truly understand.