When is the right time to put my dog down?
Is it too soon?
Did I wait too long?
Making the choice to euthanize a beloved pet is one of the most difficult things we'll ever have to do. Relieving their suffering by helping them pass peacefully is a great gift, but one that may come wrapped in doubt, confusion, and guilt. Sometimes we "just know" when it's time, or there's a very clear point of decline that makes the decision for you.
For pets with slowly-progressing illnesses, or are very old without a specific ailment, it can be much harder to make that call. Taking a holistic approach to determining your pet's quality of life helps you evaluate physical, emotional, and behavioral changes. Always consult with your veterinarian to diagnose issues, evaluate your pet's needs, and create a plan of action. Understanding how a certain disease progresses will help you know what to look for, and you'll be better equipped to determine your pet's quality of life.
You're the one who's with your pet every day, you know their daily routine, and can best determine what's "normal" or not.
Armed with data, professional help, and your own intuition, you can be better equipped to make the best decisions for your pet.
Think about your pet's favorite activities, favorite foods or treats, and what a typical day looked like when he was healthy. How does that compare with today?
Some important questions to help evaluate your dog or cat's quality of life include:
- Does he seem to enjoy his life, or does he appear depressed?
- Is he interested in playing or interacting with you like he used to?
- Has he been eating and drinking normally, or is he refusing food?
- Can he walk or stand without assistance?
- Is he able to get himself to the potty area and eliminate comfortably?
- Is he trembling or panting, even when resting?
- Does he seem anxious or afraid?
- Is he showing signs of pain?
- Do current treatments cause undue stress?
- Does he seem to be breathing ok, or is it more labored?
- Has anything changed abruptly, or has he been declining over time?
- Is he having more good days than bad?
And how are YOU doing?
- Are you able to meet your pet's needs?
- How well are you coping with the impending loss?
- Can you realistically afford continual treatments or medications?
It's our responsibility to do what's best for them, from the moment we bring them home, to the moment we say goodbye. Delaying the inevitable because you don't want to let them go may be causing unnecessary suffering.
Enlisting some help
Animal communication is a nice option to gain some guidance and peace of mind. By learning what your pet may be feeling, or whether they're ready to pass on, you can feel more confident in your decision.
Things may change day by day, so carry a small notebook or use a smartphone app to quickly jot down anything that seems out of the ordinary. Look at a week or two worth of data to get an idea of whether he's improving, declining, or staying the same.
Free Quality of Life Scales you can use: