When to say goodbye

There sometimes comes a time in a pet’s life where you as their owner have to make the heart-wrenching decision to say goodbye and elect for euthanasia. It may be due to accident, behaviour or an age-related disease. Vets are able to give advice but ultimately it is up to you, as the pet’s caregiver, to make the decision to end their life humanely. Some age related diseases give us time, but in other circumstances an urgent decision is required to prevent further suffering. Your pet’s quality of life is most important, but how do we measure that?

We know our own pets better than anyone, but it can be difficult to be objective about their quality of life when there is any sort of question around it. Here are some signs that may indicate your pet is suffering or no longer enjoying a good quality of life:

  • Chronic pain that cannot be controlled with medication (your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is in pain).
  • No longer eating or will only eat if you force feed them.
  • Frequent vomiting or diarrhoea causing dehydration and/or significant weight loss. Incontinence to the degree that they frequently soil themselves.
  • Loss of interest in all or most of their favourite activities — walks, playing with toys or other pets, eating treats.
  • Withdrawing from family.
  • Unable to stand on their own or falls down when trying to walk.
  • Chronic laboured breathing or coughing.

If you recognise any of these signs in your pet, it is certainly time to have the discussion with your vet.

As difficult as it is, it pays to think about these things before you are called on the make the final decision. Discussing options with other family members may also be a good idea.