Under any circumstances, saying goodbye to a pet is an extremely difficult thing to go through. So, it only makes sense that the heartache is amplified considerably if you’re in the situation of deciding whether or not euthanasia would be best. Even when all of the end-of-life “signs” are staring you in the face, it’s virtually impossible for a pet owner to choose euthanasia without second-guessing their decision.
If you have found yourself in this terrible position, remember that the doubt you’re experiencing is a very normal part of the process. In many cases, your veterinarian can offer reassurance, but ultimately, you’ll need to make the final call yourself.
Some good indicators that euthanasia may be a good choice for your family include:
- Chronic pain that has a significant negative impact on your pet’s ability to lead a normal and happy life
- Definitive diagnosis and progression of a terminal illness
- Long term inability to eat or chronic gastrointestinal complications that are affecting other systems in the body
- Loss of limb control or inability to walk
- Incontinence to the degree that it is causing severe discomfort for the animal (such as sores on the animal’s skin)
- Sudden acute illness or injury (at any age) that is not easily treated with medication or surgery
Essentially, any symptoms that progress beyond the point of reasonable therapy may cause you to consider the possibility of euthanasia. The “breaking point” is different for every animal and every family, so you shouldn’t judge your own circumstances against what others have gone through.
If your pet’s quality of life has deteriorated so severely that you think euthanasia may be an option for you, speak with your family veterinarian about your options. He or she may be able to suggest other forms of therapy that you may not have considered, or it may end up being the reassurance that you need to make this very difficult decision for your pet.
In the end, the choice to euthanize is one that should be made with your pet’s comfort and happiness in mind. This service is available in veterinary medicine as a means of preventing pain and suffering for pets, and the result is that owners are also spared the heartache of watching their beloved family members endure something that they shouldn’t have to. So, while the choice feels impossibly difficult, remember that it’s simply another way for you to show your pet what a special part of your life he or she has been. This is another opportunity for you to provide love and care for your best friend; it certainly doesn’t negate the lifetime of happiness that you’ve already shared.