Many Questions Surround Euthanasia Decision

Pet owners faced with an older, sick cat or dog have to wrestle with a tough question: when is it time to euthanize my pet? Unfortunately this is not a question with a clear-cut answer.

“When considering euthanasia pet owners ask themselves many questions. What is the right decision? How do I know when is the right time? Will I just know one day?

“A good place to start is by asking ‘What is my pet’s quality of life?’ We want every animal to have a great quality of life.”

One approach to assessing an animal’s quality of life is to pick five things your pet enjoys doing. These activities can be as simple as snuggling on the couch, eating, going for car rides, or even looking up at you when you enter the room. As your pet loses interest in these things, then you know its quality of life is changing.

Most people decide to euthanize their pet when the bad days start outweighing the good days. Every situation is different, and each owner is unique in drawing the line. If there’s time, it’s important to say goodbye. Take a few days or weeks with your pet. Spoil him rotten and cherish those times.

Chronic illness opens the door to anticipatory grief. This is when people begin thinking about the loss of a pet and what it will mean to them. Experts encourage owners to write down their thoughts about the decisions ahead. Answer the tough questions, then put the answers away until it’s time. This helps keep owners from dwelling on it.

For those who have never owned a pet, grieving over an animal may sound silly. It’s not. There are people that think of pets as just animals. They will tell you to “get over it” or “it’s a dog, get a new one.” But it is completely normal to feel grief over loss of a pet; it is not something to be ashamed of, I still grieve for my Sucki.

Lots of pet owners view their animals as their four-legged children. These animals sleep on our beds, go on family holidays, and are full-fledged members of the family. It is normal to grieve for them as we do for people. Grief is expected and is going to happen.

After the loss of a pet people wonder when it’s appropriate to get another pet. I tell them, ‘When you want a new pet, then that is the time to go get one.’ There is no time limit, no period of grief where you shouldn’t own a pet. Bringing a new pet into your home does not mean that you didn’t love the one you just lost.

Resources are available for pet owners who feel alone during this difficult time. Talking to your veterinarian is a good place to start. He or she can lend an ear and also point you in the direction of help. Friends and relatives are there for support too.

There are books on the subject offer comfort. 

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