We never enter into these relationships thinking about the eventual loss we will suffer of one of the most non-judgemental and supportive companions in our lives.
A loss may be sudden, or it may come after months, or even years, of decline. Quite often, we tailor our life around the care of our pet - getting up in the night or coming home from work early if their bladder won't last long enough, building ramps to aid in mobility, sleeping downstairs if the stairs are now too much of a challenge for a companion that has always slept by our side. Eventually though, quality of life issues arise that often lead us to make the decision for euthanasia.
The term "euthanasia" is translated from the Greek derivation - "eu" referring to "well" or "good" and "thanato" referring to "death"...meaning "painless death." It is the final gift we can give to a pet at the end of its life.
Making the Decision
Quality of Life
Our pets fulfill many different roles in our lives and, for most of us, they truly become a member of the family. Many people struggle with the responsibilty of making the decision to euthanize a pet. Different factors to consider when making this decision include:
COMFORT: What is the pain level of your pet? Can it rest and move in a comfortable manner?
MOBILITY: Can your pet get up and walk without assistance? Does it want to go for walks? Does it stumble or fall?
HUNGER/HYDRATION: Does your pet want to eat? Is it eating enough to maintain its weight and strength? Is your pet drinking enough to maintain its hydration given any medical conditions it has?
HYGIENE: Can you pet eliminate in a normal fashion and maintain proper hygiene? If not, are you able to care for it in such a fashion that it stays clean and dry? Is it immobile to the point that it is getting pressure sores?
HAPPINESS: Is your pet glad to see you? Does it still recognize family members? Does it express interest in its surroundings?
All of these are factors to consider when faced with nearing the end of life for a pet. As caregivers, we must make the decision to euthanize if our pet is suffering. Your veterinarian is a valuable source for discussion about the decision to euthanize your pet. While no one can make the decision for you, frank discussion about your pet's health issues, quality of life, and your ability to financially and emotionally support its needs is essential. Please feel free to call and speak to the doctor that has been involved in your pet's care.