How do I know it’s time?

dog face“I wish my pet could just tell me when they’re ready.” We often hear clients say this when struggling to make the decision on whether to help their pet with euthanasia. This can be the hardest decision that we as pet owners make, and having our pets help us with this decision would ease the guilt that is often felt when faced with the question, “Is it time?” While some people wait to make the decision on euthanasia until their pet is quite ill and has a very clear poor quality of life, others are encouraged by the fact that their dog is still eating or wagging their tail or their cat is still purring. We understand that this can be confusing. After all, how can we schedule this appointment if our dog is still happy to see us come                                                                        home, or if our cat is still eating her breakfast?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Pets often do not appear to be in pain because they instinctively don’t show outward signs of distress.  Humans may wince, vocalize, and moan when they are in pain, but dogs and cats very often live in pain but never show it.
  • Some pets continue to eat and drink normally, even as they are nearing the end of their lives.  It is true that one symptom of decline is decreased appetite and thirst, but not all pets stop eating or taking in water, so judging their quality of life based on the fact that they are still eating or drinking on their own can be misleading.
  • Your pet may give you clear signs that they are ready, and some people report that their pet “told” them that it was time.  You can read more about how to communicate with your pet in this way by reading Lisa’s blog post, Waiting for a Sign.
  • We say this often, and we may have even said it to you over the phone, but we believe that it’s best to help our pets a little “too soon” than too late.  While it can feel odd to euthanize a pet that is still experiencing some quality of life and showing their personality, it often leaves us pet owners with a more peaceful feeling than waiting until our pets are clearly suffering to help end their pain.

While we wish that we would have an “Ah-ha!” moment with our pets at the end of their lives, we also understand that it may not happen that way.  Trusting what you’re feeling in your heart, speaking about your options with your veterinarian, and knowing what to expect should you decide that now is not the time for euthanasia are all ways to help you with this most-difficult decision.

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