Euthanasia for Your Pet
The Decision to Euthanize
and Quality-of-Life Assessment
The stress of making a decision concerning euthanasia
is frequently compounded by the choice of possible treatments and their associated risks‚ benefits‚ and costs. One should never feel guilty if treatment options are unaffordable. It doesn't make a person a “bad” owner or diminish your love for your pet.
Euthanasia for your pet is a deeply personal and emotional decision.
This decision frequently involves many factors‚ chief among them being your pet’s quality of life. You are in the best position to assess your pet’s quality of life; however‚ even the pet’s closest caregiver(s) can have difficulty judging the discomfort experienced by their pet. Though some clinical signs are quite obvious–not eating, difficulty walking, difficulty breathing–other signs are more subtle. Both apparent and non-apparent considerations are often referred to as a “quality of life” assessment.
Some questions to consider in helping you assess quality of life:
Is your pet experiencing more good days than bad, or vice versa?
What is your pet’s comfort level on a day-to-day basis?
Is you pet eating normally?
Is your pet communicating and interacting with you as he or she normally does?
Are there significant changes in your pet's behavior?
Is your pet hiding?
Does your pet not want to go outside (if he/she normally does so)?
Is your pet seeking unusual places to rest or spend the day?
Please remember that concealment of pain is an important survival trait developed through evolution. Because of most animals’ nature, we must assume that the discomfort that we see is much less than the discomfort they really feel. Your pets's final days are often filled with ups and downs as their quality of life slowly diminishes. All of us desire a peaceful ending to life for our loved ones, but with the gradual progression of many medical conditions, very few pets die peacefully on their own, without assistance.
It may be helpful to establish a definitive point at which you will make the decision to euthanize. For example, a pet that loved to eat is no longer eating despite your best efforts. By defining a parameter in advance, you place boundaries on the suffering your pet is likely to endure.