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 having to decide this causes difficult emotions of confusion, guilt, sadness, even anger. For many people, it is an overwhelming responsibility. There are circumstances when it is time to say goodbye and euthanasia is a compassionate, ethical and humanitarian way to end a pet’s suffering.
How do I know when it is time?
Talk to your 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, talk to your veterinarian to see if they may be able to help.
Assess their quality of life. Their overall physical and mental well-being defines the quality of animals’ lives. Considering all aspects of your pet’s life is essential. Also, keep in mind that all pets are different, and reduced quality of life for one may be ok for another.
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: Download this free Grey Muzzle iPhone App app to keep track of whether your pet is having a good day, bad day or neutral day. This calendar app will give you a good idea if the bad days are beginning to outnumber the good days.
The difficult decision.
Pet euthanasia is one of the most heartbreaking choices one can make for a beloved pet. However, it is also an act of love to provide a compassionate, humane way to say goodbye. After you have talked to your veterinarian and assessed your pet over a period of time, the next step is to make an appointment. Consider the time of day and the day of the week if you can. You may need some time before or after 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 lessens stress on the animal. It also allows you to say goodbye to your beloved pet with family members in the comfort of your home, outside of a clinical environment. It is essential for other animals to be there to allow closure and peace. 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.
Seeking support throughout this process is important. A skilled clinical counsellor, a pet loss support group, or family and friends are good examples of people who may be able to help. We have a list of resources and the University of Guelph, Ontario Vet College Pet Trust provides excellent support resources.