Putting your beloved pet to sleep is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make, and we want to be here to make that decision and process just a little bit easier. We want to make sure you have all the information and resources you need, so when the time comes, you’ll know what to expect.
How to Determine your Pet’s Quality of Life
Just like humans, every pet will experience and react to changes in their body differently. This is also dependent on the disease your pet is suffering from, which is why a thorough discussion with your veterinarian is so important. Below is a list of some of the most common factors that are taken into consideration when determining and evaluating the quality of life of your pet and what roles they play in the difficult decision for euthanasia.
- Pain: Common signs of pain in cats and dogs: Pacing, excessive panting, hiding in unique areas, not seeking interaction with family, growling, snarling, snapping, immobility, whining, not eating, flinching when touched.
- Lack of appetite
- Incontinence: Many pet owners feel terribly guilty over the natural annoyance they feel when their pet becomes incontinent. Keep in mind pets do not like to soil their space and as a result may experience anxiety which may be visible by increased panting or appearing uncomfortable. If left unclean, incontinence can lead to bed sores and eventually systemic infection in severe cases.
- Mobility: Arthritis and mobility issues are common as our pets age. Usually, these signs first become evident at night when the pet begins to pace around the house. It may progress to falling, unable to stand, unable to urinate/defecate, and panting heavily. During the later stages you may find your pet very anxious. As they begin to understand that they cannot get up and down on their own. They can no longer protect their family as they once did. When anti-inflammatories and other medications cease to work, quality of life should be a concern.
- Happiness: If you have been an earnest observer of your pet’s behavior and attitude during his or her lifetime, you will be the best at determining when they no longer seem “happy.” You’ll know when they no longer enjoy food, toys, or the environment around them. Most of all, they no longer enjoy or seek out contact with you and the rest of its family. Most pets are tremendously easy to please, so when it no longer becomes possible to raise a purr or a tail-wag, you should be considering what kind of quality of life your pet is experiencing.
How will you know when it is time to put your pet to sleep?
- Pain & anxiety: When pain starts to affect their everyday quality of life, it’s time to start the discussion with your veterinarian. When discussing the decision to euthanize, we should be just as concerned about anxiety in our pet as we are about pain. In most cases, anxiety is worse than pain in animals.
- Waiting too long: Owners experiencing the decline of a pet for the first time will generally wait until the very end to make that difficult decision. They are fearful of doing it too soon and giving up without a good fight. However, afterwards, most of these owners regret waiting too long. They reflect back on the past days, weeks, or months, and feel guilty for putting their pet through those numerous trips to the vet or uncomfortable medical procedures that did not improve their pet’s quality of life. The next time they witness the decline of a pet, they are much more likely to make the decision at the beginning of the decline instead of the end.
- Natural death: Yes, there are those pets that peacefully fall asleep and pass naturally on their own, but just as in humans, this type of peaceful death is rare. A natural death can be difficult to watch, especially for people who like to go the non-medicinal route. Most people can watch a human family member in pain much more easily than they can their pet. To an extent, we can talk other humans through physical pain or discomfort, but there is no comforting a pet that is suffering. Families take this guilt difficultly and we do our very best to not only readily suggest euthanasia when appropriate, but prepare families for a worst-case scenario should they chose to wait.
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. We will take the time to make sure you are comfortable and informed with the decision you decide to make.
You can also visit Pet Angel Memorial Center for more information on the services they provide.