Knowing When To Say Goodbye

Knowing When To Say Goodbye

Pet ownership is a big responsibility.  When we make the choice to acquire a pet, we know ahead of time that we must provide shelter, food and water. Ideally, we are also prepared to provide adequate exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and undesirable behaviors. Veterinary care is part of the obligation too. From routine wellness check-ups and disease prevention to the unexpected accident or illness, we know that having a pet means we will need a veterinarian. It’s all part of the package; but the love our pets give us far exceeds the weight of the responsibility. Pets enrich our lives in so many ways but they are totally dependent on us for their every need, up to the very end.

Few of us enter into the pet ownership process thinking about the harsh reality that our pets don’t live as long as we do. Instead, we go in enamored with the cute, cuddly bundle of joy we’ve just delighted our children with; or we form an instant bond at the shelter with a stray who will be our best friend. We forget about the one last and perhaps biggest responsibility of all….the decision to say goodbye.  Unfortunately, most pets don’t pass away in their sleep as we all wish. Pets that die unassisted at home have often gone through needless suffering. Of course there are exceptions to this but generally speaking it is incumbent upon us to decide when to end a pet’s life. We all want to do the right thing for our pets but it can be difficult when the end is near, to be objective about our pets’ quality of life.  Following are several points to consider during the decision making process:

  • Does my pet eat and drink willingly without vomiting?
  • Is my pet able to eliminate in an appropriate area, on his or her own, without soiling him/herself?
  • Does my pet still greet me? Does he/she seek out my attention or interact with family members?
  • Is my pet in pain? If so, are medications adequately managing his/her level of discomfort?
  • Can my pet get up, walk and move freely without help?
  • Does my pet still like to be touched, brushed, petted or held?
  • Is my pet engaging in normal grooming behavior?
  • Has my pet been diagnosed with a terminal condition?
  • Is my pet aware of and responding appropriately to his/her surroundings?
  • Am I able to provide/manage/afford the necessary level of care for my pet?
  • Does providing the necessary level of care for my pet diminish my own quality of life or create resentment toward my pet?
  • Does my pet accept treatment or medication without struggle or undue stress?
  • What is my veterinarian’s professional opinion on my pet’s quality of life?
  • If you were your pet, would you be happy living the way he or she is currently living?

Your honest answers to the above questions are extremely important and highly indicative of your pet’s current quality of life. We owe it to our pets to assist them in passing away when their quality of life has disappeared. Trust your instincts and what you feel in your heart, and you will make the right decision. Peaceful euthanasia, wherever your pet is most comfortable, is the kindest and best option once you have determined it is time to say goodbye.