Choosing Euthanasia for your Pet

The Hardest Decision a Pet Owner may ever Face - Choosing Euthanasia for your Pet

By Brent O'Connor

Pet euthanasia is a difficult issue for many people to come to grips with. For most of us, confronting this issue as a responsible pet owner is clouded with emotions, invoking fear, grief and guilt. Inadvertently, we sign up for the possibility of having to make this decision the moment we make the lifelong commitment of having a pet as a companion.

Being informed. Talk to your veterinarian about pet euthanasia long before you are potentially faced with the issue. Find out your options, while making important decisions ahead of time. Then be sure to ask your vet to add this information to your pet's chart.

Some key points to consider are:

• Under what circumstances should you and your vet consider pet euthanasia?
• What will your deciding criteria be if and when the time comes?
• What method(s) and/or drug(s) does your veterinarian use for pet euthanasia?
• Do you or other family members want to be present if your pet is euthanized?
• Would you prefer a home pet euthanasia? Is your veterinarian willing to come to your home to euthanize your pet? If not, can s/he refer you to a vet who makes house calls?
• In the event of an emergency, is there a mobile vet who would be available to make a house call after hours ?
• How do you prefer to deal with your pet's remains - burial, cremation, other?

Don't put off asking these questions until you are in the middle of a crisis. This will leave you forced to make decisions under distraught conditions. Waiting won't serve you or your pet.

Knowing when it's time to let go. Emotionally speaking, all the preparation in the world is not going to make the decision any easier if or when the time comes.

The decision to euthanize is one of the most personal, and perhaps most difficult decisions a caregiver can make. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to suggest a "correct" way to make such a decision. This is a choice that each individual must make while consulting the advice of a professional.

I referred to Dr. Goldie Rosen on the subject. Dr. Goldie, as her clients call her, operates Halton Veterinary House Call Services, serving Milton, Burlington, Oakville, Halton Hills, Campbellville, Peel Region and the surrounding areas. During this time, she has encountered almost every imaginable scenario while assisting responsible pet owners in making palliative care decisions.

There may come a point, when a pet is fighting a terminal disease, that the cost of treatment can become greater than its benefit. Dr. Goldie elaborates, "In the advanced stages of diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, or neurological disorders, sometimes treatments can actually cause your pet's pain to increase without any hope of curing their disease ... at this point, caring owners need to make a decision about which is more important for their pet: quality of life or quantity of life."

Dr. Goldie points out that pet owners have the option of stopping aggressive treatments, letting their pets' lives end comfortably in the intimate, caring surroundings of their own home through mobile hospice care services.

Growing demand. As Ontario's demographics expand and pet owners become increasingly empathetic towards their pets' needs, there has been a growing demand for reliable mobile vet practices. However, this increasing demand may make it more difficult for pet owners to get the service they require, exactly when they require it.

Hospice care services - euthanasia at home. Some pet owners may not feel home service is right for them. Some may feel it isn't suitable for them or their family members to be present. For example, having young children attend may not be advisable. However, increasingly, pet owners and family members insist on being there for the final goodbye.

Although unforeseen occurrences may arise, an experienced veterinarian will complete the procedure as quickly as possible.

Dr. Goldie has performed home pet euthanasia for loving pet owners in her many years of practice and states that each case is as unique as the pet and the individual who cares for it.

Many factors are involved which consider the animal, owner, and environment. It takes more than just a skilled veterinarian to master all three components while putting the owner and patient at ease. Dr. Goldie emphasizes the importance that respect plays in the final moment of a pet's life. She advocates other animal companions being present to allow closure and peace.

Having the flexibility of a home euthanasia has allowed Dr. Goldie to perform the procedure in a variety of environments, for example, outdoors in the backyard, under a favorite tree, in a favorite spot on the couch or an owner's bed, in front of the family room fireplace, or downstairs in a cool basement.

Being prepared. More and more educated pet owners are realizing that long waits in crowded clinics while being surrounded by misbehaving pets tends to add to their own pet's nervousness ... while not exactly offering the preferred environment in which to say final goodbyes.

I suggest not waiting for an emergency before you take the time to contact and familiarize yourself with a good mobile vet practice. Find a reliable local mobile service and keep their phone number available, just as you would a local hospital or ambulance service. In the event of an emergency, the less time a pet has to suffer, the better.

Take the time to perform your due diligence on the veterinarian, comparing pricing, while checking references. You will not have time to do this in the event of an emergency. And remember, strictly mobile services do not have the overhead most large clinics with a secondary business in mobile services have to consider in their pricing.

Finding closure. Making the choice to put your cat, dog, or rabbit to sleep will never be an easy decision for any loving pet owner. Whether you choose a home euthanasia or clinic euthanasia, the ultimate goal is to offer your pet the most humane and stress-free option, while knowing you made the best possible decision on its behalf. Your pet deserves it!

About the author. Brent O'Connor is an independent freelance writer, business consultant and entrepreneur with a strong commitment to social and environmental change. He helps convey the "message" while influencing progress through a number of online portals, printed publications and videos.