December 28, 2022
Euthanasia is one of the hardest decisions to make as a pet owner. We all wish our pets could live longer, but unfortunately end of life care is something we will go through.
I often get asked how an owner can know if it is time for euthanasia. This is a complex question and is not the same for all families and animals. I recommend owners think of their pets’ quality of life. Consider these questions:
- Does your pet experience pain?
- Does your pet experience stress or anxiety because of chronic disease?
- Does your pet have more days that are bad than good?
- Is your pet eating & drinking readily? Or do you have to entice them?
- Can your pet move around freely & comfortably to go to the bathroom, get food and water, and interact with the family?
- Is your pet able to lay down comfortably and sleep?
These are concerns to consult with a veterinarian about. Sometimes, there are medications that can be administered to improve your pets’ quality of life.
There are some obvious signs of pain in our pets which include lack of appetite, yelping, not putting weight on a limb or inability to get up. However, there are some subtle behavior changes to watch for that may mean your pet is in pain. These can include hiding, spending less time with the family, shying away from being pet or receiving attention, and not wanting to go for walks.
One thing that may help determine your pets quality of life is to consider some of the activities they enjoyed about 6 months ago. This may include things like spending time with the family, going for a short walk, eating, playing with toys, getting pets or attention, etc. Eating or being interested in food/treats is often one of the last things a pet will give up, so it is helpful to look at the smaller activities to determine your pet’s quality of life. If your pet is uninterested in most of the activities they once enjoyed or if they have more bad days than good, then their quality of life is declining. Lap of Love also has resources for pet owners to help evaluate their pets quality of life.
The decision for euthanasia is very difficult. Please consult with a veterinarian to help address your concerns for your pet as they age. Every animal is different in how they cope with pain and stress, so consider what is normal for your individual pet. Seeking help early may help ease some of your pets pain as well as help you learn what to watch out for in your pet.