Pets bring immense joy and happiness into our lives and having to say goodbye can be heartbreaking. As a pet owner having to make the decision to euthanase your beloved pet is one of the hardest things you will have to do.
So how will you know that it is the right time to let them go?
Knowing when it is time to euthanase your pet is something that is often discussed between vets and owners. Unfortunately there really isn’t one rule or single indication that will suit all pets and situations.
The decision to euthanase your pet can come about due to a number of reasons. Some pets suffer from a long term illness that they may have been battling for years, others may fall victim to a terrible accident or disease.
Sometimes the decision is clear cut with really no other choices available but to humanely euthanase your pet. Some pets may suffer a critical, irreparable injury, where there is nothing more that veterinary treatment can do for them except possibly prolong a painful death often the best option for everyone involved is euthanasia.
Unfortunately the cost of treatment and caring for an injured, elderly or sick pet does come into the decision making. The initial and ongoing treatment costs do need to be considered as sometimes it is just not doable or practical to pursue the treatment options.
The decision to euthanase often comes down to looking at the quality of life that your pet may have. A process that may help in the decision making is to write a list, preferably when you are calm and not in the middle of a crisis, of the things that your pet loves the most, like going for a walk, swimming or playing catch. Think of how many things they can live without before their life is no longer the life they enjoy. When you reach that point then perhaps it is time to consider euthanasia.
Quality of life can also be judged by when they are no longer able to manage general life necessities such as eating, drinking or toileting. Situations when pets are in constant unmanageable pain or simply when the good days are out numbered by the bad days are also a good measure.
Sometimes you just receive a “sign”. Call it what you will but occasionally a moment of clarity comes and you just know that it is time.
There is no one “right” time for every pet owner as to when to say goodbye. It is a decision that has to be made to suit your pet and their situation. As daunting as the responsibility is to make that decision, consider it as a final act of love, one last thing that you can do for your pet by letting them be at peace.
And remember no matter when the time comes for your pet to leave your side and cross the rainbow bridge, take solitude in knowing that you can carry their love and memory with you always.
Originally published in My Pet Magazine Issue 12.
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