By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 1, 2016
Dr. Greenway discusses euthanasia in cats and dogs and gives advice on how to tell when it’s time to say goodbye to your pet. Other topics covered in this video include quality of life vs quantity of life, feelings of guilt, avoiding pain and suffering and celebrating your pet’s life.
There’s one question I get a lot and people tend to call me and ask me when’s the right time to euthanize their pet? Particularly when they’re sick or they’re older and their quality of life is declining. And what’s most important to me is that when people are calling me, it usually means that they think it’s the right time and I actually just listen to them. It’s not the veterinarian’s job to tell you, you live with your pet so you’re the one who’s going to decide ultimately what your pet’s life is like at that time and what you really need to focus on is its quality of life not its quantity of life.
So you want to make a decision at a time when they’re still comfortable. You don’t want to wait to the point that they’re really in pain, that will be an easy decision at that point but you never want to have to wait that long. You should look at every day and decide, a pet that’s happy and has a good quality of life, they interact with you, they eat well, they take enjoyment about going outside.
You look at that day and you say is that a good day or is that a bad day? If they do all those things that’s a good day, even write it in a calendar and if they don’t, that’s a bad day and you take a look at those and you say when the bad days come more often than the good days, that’s where you know that quality of life is waning and that you have to start to really consider that aspect. Hopefully you’re in a position where that dog or cat has lived a very long life and you’ve got to remember that you’ve taken good care of this animal for its life. The most important thing is that you’re going to have to pick the time and the place for something like this to happen. It’s supposed to be a natural event but you’re going to pick the time and the place for it to take place and that means you’re going to be the designer of it. What that does is it will make you feel guilty and it’s very important that you don’t do that. You’ve taken care of this animal for its life and it should be a time where you say goodbye and that evening would be the best time to try to celebrate its life, to not wrap up that decision and make it represent the lifetime of your relationship with your pet.
The other things to consider as well is you definitely want to work with your veterinarian addressing those issues of quality of life as best you can before you come up on that decision. Have a good conversation with your veterinarian about how that final stage or decision is going to take place and how that’s going to go. You’ll find more resources here on healthcareforpets.com.
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