Some pets die of old age in the comfort of their own home, but many others become seriously ill or get injured in a way or experience that significantly diminishes their quality of life as they grow very old. In these situations, owners are often forced to consider the hard choice of whether to have your pet euthanized in order to spare your pet from pain and suffering.
To know when it is time, it is important to talk with your veterinarian. They are the best-qualified person to help guide you through this difficult process. In some cases, your veterinarian may be able to tell you definitively that it is time to euthanize your pet, but in other cases, you may ultimately need to make the decision based on your observances of your pet’s behavior and attitude.
Some signs that your pet is suffering and no longer enjoying a good quality of life include chronic pain being experienced that cannot be controlled with medication, frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing dehydration and/or weight loss, they stop eating, incontinence, lost interest in favorite activities, cannot stand on their own, and/or chronic labored breathing. It is a very difficult decision, but one must consider your pet’s quality of life.
Once you have made the very difficult decision, you also need to decide how and where you and your family will say the final goodbye. Before the procedure is scheduled to take place, make sure that all members of your family have had time with the pet to say a private goodbye. If you have children, make sure that you explain the decision to them and prepare them for the loss of the pet in advance. This may be your child’s first experience with death, and it is very important for you to help her or him through the grieving process. Books that address the subject, such as When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers or Remembering My Pet by Machama Liss-Levinson and Molly Phinney Baskette, may be very beneficial in helping your child to deal with this loss. It is an individual decision whether or not you and your family want to be present during the euthanasia procedure. For some pet owners, the emotion may be too overwhelming, but for many, it is a comfort to be with their pet during the final moments. It may be inappropriate for young children to witness the procedure since they are not yet able to understand death and may also not understand that they need to remain still and quiet.
Deciding when it is time to say goodbye to your pet is never easy. Owners are put into the difficult decision of deciding when it is their time. While it is never easy, the staff at Olsen Veterinary Clinic are always here to answer whatever questions you may have. Feel free to reach out at 618-656-5868 with any questions or concerns you may have!