For many, the grief of losing a beloved pet is akin to the loss of a close family member.
In days gone by, pet owners would leave it to their vet to dispose of their animal, perform a family funeral in the backyard for their pet or more recently, express their desire to have their pet cremated in a dignified fashion that is similar to humans.
Regardless of how you choose to farewell your beloved furry friends, the difficult decision of knowing when to make that final call is just as hard across the board. Whether your pet is reaching old age or struggling with health issues, assessing their quality of life is something that you, as their owner, can often understand better than anyone.
Quality of Life
The truth is, if the quality of life for your pet is low, that is a great indication that you need to make a decision. You know your pet better than anyone else, so although you can base the decision largely on facts, there are also a number of gut feelings that you have to be in tune with when making the final choice.
Common signs of poor quality of life include loss of appetite, lack of interest in toys, playmates or people, obvious pain due to illness or severe injury, and reclusive behaviour. If there are other ways to improve the quality of your pet’s life, euthanasia is not usually considered, however it is a serious discussion that needs to take place with your vet and family if there is nothing else that can be done.
A common way to keep track of your pet’s quality of life is to keep a journal of their general behaviour, including appetite and energy levels. When you begin to notice more bad days than good, it might be time to start considering euthanasia.
If you are noticing that your pet’s mobility is limited for whatever reason, think about the effects of their inability to move. Are they struggling or unable to remove themselves from their own messes, and lie in their waste developing sores? Do they lay down all day, rather than play with their toys like they used to? Mobility plays a large part in your pet’s quality of life and if they have a lack of movement, it can quite possibly mean that they would benefit from peaceful euthanasia.
The Final Decision
It is important to make your decision out of love for your pet. If your choice to say goodbye is going to be ultimately better for them, they would most likely thank you. As hard as it can be for you to come to terms with the decision, keeping them around only because you cannot bear to be without them is only making things harder for your pet and yourself in the long run. It is likely that you will never feel quite ready to say goodbye – but listen to your gut feelings and listen to your pet.
There can be nothing more upsetting than watching your pet go through pain, and if you know there is a way to ease that, it will help you make the final decision in saying goodbye.
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