Navigating your pet’s end of life transition can be one of the most difficult stages to manage in your pet’s life. There are so many issues to consider and you may find yourself second-guessing your thoughts and feelings. It is important to calmly guide both your beloved pet and his family through this tough time. Although there are many options available in pain control, hospice-type palliative care, and comfort care in end of life circumstances, at some point these alternatives may no longer viable. At this time, euthanasia is the most humane option and can be a very peaceful way to end suffering.
How do you know when it is time? The first question to focus on is quality of life. How is your pet’s daily living? Often, animals will not display pain with whining and whimpering. Look a little closer and take note of behavioral changes in eating, drinking and playing. Think of some activities that your pet clearly enjoyed and see if there is any interest remaining. In can be helpful to make a calendar and mark off the days as good or bad. Once you start seeing more bad days than good it’s time to think about the next steps.
Consulting with a veterinary professional and discussing your pet’s daily life and symptoms can be helpful, but ultimately you know your furry friend the best. Have these same conversations with your family and discuss their observations and feelings. There may not ever be a single defining moment when the decision is clear, but communication and sharing of feelings will help everyone involved.
Coming to the decision to end your furry friend’s suffering is one thing, but how to move forward? Make an appointment with your veterinarian office or hospital and explain the purpose of the appointment. Request a quiet time, which can often be at the end of the day. Decide which family members (if any) will be in the room at the time. There is no right or wrong answer here; you need to choose what feels right for you and your family.
Coping with the loss of your best friend impacts pet owners in different ways. There are no correct ways to grieve. Talking to people close to you can be helpful as well as reading resources. Creating a time to ceremonially mourn (e.g. memorial ceremony) can be therapeutic as well. Many pet owners who have faced loss keep cherished items within daily view for comfort. Most of all, take care of yourself, acknowledge what you are going through and recognize that time does heal.
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