Pet euthanasia: How do I make the decision?

Deciding to euthanize your companion animal may be one of the most difficult decisions you ever have to make. The choice to euthanize a pet is very complicated and personal.

As a pet owner, you feel morally responsible for protecting and supporting your pet’s life. Thinking about euthanasia can elicit feelings of confusion, guilt, sadness, and even anger. For many people, it feels like an overwhelming responsibility. These feelings are a normal part of knowing the right time to say goodbye. Euthanasia is a compassionate, ethical, and humanitarian way to end a pet’s suffering.

How do I know when it is time?

Consult your regular veterinarian. If your pet is beginning to suffer physically or mentally, or they are unable to do many of the same things they used to be able to do, discuss your options with your veterinarian.

Assess their quality of life. An animal’s quality of life consists of their physical and mental well-being. Considering all aspects of your pet’s life is essential. It is important to recognise that all pets are different. Quality of life will be different for every animal and can change from day to day.

Here are some helpful assessment tools:

1. Quality of Life Scale – HHHHHMM Scale
: This Quality of Life Scale by Pawspice explains how to assess your pet in 7 categories on a scale of 0-10: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, and More Good Days Than Bad. 

2. Grey Muzzle Quality of Life Calendar App for iPhones & IPads: If you are unsure if bad days outnumber good days, download this free Grey Muzzle iPhone App. By rating whether your pet is having a good day, bad day or neutral day, this calendar app helps owners bettre understand their pet’s quality of life. 

The Difficult Decision

Euthanasia is one of the most heartbreaking choices one can make for their beloved pet. However, it is also an act of love to provide a compassionate, humane ending to a wonderful life. After you have seen your pet’s health decline over a period of time, the next step is to make an appointment. Consider the day(s) of the week that you and our family will be available. You may need some time before or after your appointment to work through your emotions. You need to take care of yourself because you are important. 

Choose the Right Environment

Putting down a terminally ill or aged pet at home, in their familiar surroundings, can lessen your pet’s stress. It also allows you to say goodbye to your beloved pet in the comfort of your home, outside of the clinical environment. The presence of family members and other pets contributes to a sense of calmness. Dr. Rosen’s primary goal is to honour the bond between humans and animals and to make sure the process is as peaceful as possible. 

Seek Support

Seeking support throughout this process is important. A skilled clinical counsellor, a pet loss support group, and family and friends are each good examples of people who can help. We have a list of resources on this website. The University of Guelph’s Ontario Vet College Pet Trust also provides excellent support resources.

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Dr. Goldie Rosen, DVM

Dr. Goldie Rosen, DVM

Dr. Goldie Rosen is a veterinarian and founder of Halton Veterinary House Call Services, providing compassionate pet euthanasia for dogs and cats at homes in Acton, Ancaster, Brampton, Burlington, Dundas, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Stoney Creek and Waterdown.

About Me

Dr. Goldie Rosen, DVM is a veterinarian and founder of Halton Veterinary House Call Services, providing pet euthanasia for dogs and cats at homes in Acton, Ancaster, Burlington, Dundas, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Stoney Creek and Waterdown.

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