Pet Loss and Euthanasia

For people who love their pets intensely and passionately, saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things to do.  For most pet owners, making the decision to end a pet’s life is not easy.

There are many questions that do not have clear-cut answers. Are you doing the right thing? Have you tried all the options? Should you perhaps meet another vet? Is this really the end of the road? When is the right time?

The decision to put a pet to sleep is a purely personal one. Nobody can make it for you. At most, your veterinarian can assist by pointing out signs and symptoms that help you decide.

 Once you have taken a decision, there may be no turning back. That is why it is absolutely essential to be sure of what you are doing. Even when you have decided to do it, there are still questions like when and where to get it done. Mind you, it’s a bit like playing God and it is usual for most owners to feel emotionally overwhelmed and confused by how much time they should allow their pets.

Here are some pointers that will help you decide if it’s time yet:

1.    Is your pet eating? An animal’s basic instinct is his love and desire for food. An animal that is hungry has certain remnants of vitality that cannot be denied. If your pet is not eating at all, it is time to let him go.

2.    Is your pet comfortable? An animal that is used to being squeaky clean may feel uncomfortable if he is soiling himself during the day. There are related issues of sanitation and associated skin diseases to be concerned with. Pets can easily pick up rashes and skin infections this way. This will add to their suffering.

3.    Is your pet pain-free? A pet that is suffering from debilitating pains aches or cramps needs to be put out of its pain. Even psychological trauma caused due to incontinence can be excruciating.

4.    Is your pet interacting? Does your pet recognize who you are? Does it still enjoy human interaction? An elderly pet need not chase after frisbees and balls but he should enjoy sleeping comfortably, eating well and interacting with his owner.

5.    Is there nothing you can do? Every veterinarian has a story or two to tell about the pet that was brought in for euthanasia but was treated for a very simple problem. Before you even make a decision, consider visiting one or more vets and getting their expert opinion. Never assume that your pet’s condition is untreatable. If your pet has a reversible problem, it would be a shame to lose him to ignorance.

Even when our faithful companions are at the pinnacle of suffering, we hesitate to think about putting an end to their lives. This is natural. But when suffering, pain, disinterest and lethargy rob your pet of everything there is to live for - that is probably the best moment to end a life that has been the source of great joy. At such a moment, they need you to be strong and make the right decision.

Having known your pet for most of his or her life, the decision to let go – how, where and when - is perhaps an instinctual one. When all the medical facts have been checked out and there is nothing really to keep you hanging on - that is the best time to end your pet’s sufferings as humanely and painlessly as possible. Most people know the end from clear signs. This is a time to trust your instincts and act upon the messages your loving companion is sending out. 


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