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One of the toughest responsibilities of owning a pet is deciding if circumstances warrant euthanizing your pet. There are many factors to consider, but analyzing your pet’s quality of life will help you in making the decision.
I’ve had several requests from readers for an article on this topic. Personally, I must admit to finding the topic a very emotional one to even contemplate, so I was pleased to get someone else to write this one for me. …
So here is a step by step guide to assist you if you are considering the ultimate decision for your pet.
If you and your family have found yourselves in the difficult position of wondering whether or not to euthanize your pet, follow these steps:
Step 1: If you suspect that your animal’s life is nearing its end, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get a professional opinion on the prognosis of your pet. The veterinarian will be able to talk with you about pain management options and ways you can make your pet more comfortable, but ultimately the decision to euthanize will be in your hands.
Step 2: If your pet is ill, consider the factors that will contribute to his care and attention. Do you have the time, resources and finances to care for your ailing pet? If you’re unable to spend quality time with your pet through his illness, or if you are unable to afford the medications required to keep him comfortable, you will need to keep those considerations in mind.
Step 3: If your pet is in pain, you need to consider how comfortable you can make your pet during the time he or she has left. If the vet is unable to provide pain management, or if your pet is nonresponsive to the pain management, you may need to consider euthanasia sooner than later.
Step 4: If your dog is not in pain but you fear he is no longer getting enough enjoyment out of his life due to his age or other health factors, begin journaling his activities. Make a commitment to journal his activities for a week, making note of his appetite, sleeping habits and exercise or activity level.
Step 5: Before you analyze the journal, determine with other family members what criteria you need to see in order to determine if it’s time to euthanize. For instance, if your pet slept for 20 or more hours a day, would you consider that sufficient evidence that he is not experiencing a high quality of life? Or, if he is excited to greet you at the door but remains inactive throughout the rest of the day, is that enough activity to warrant that he is enjoying his life? Only you and your family members can create and answer questions such as these.
Step 6: Gather decision making family members to analyze the journal and come to a consensus as to whether or not it’s time to euthanize your pet. Allow the opportunity for all involved family members to share their thoughts and feelings, however try to keep emotions out of the final decision and instead focus on what is best for your beloved pet.
Step 7: If you make the decision to euthanize your pet, decide whether he or she will be cremated or buried. Begin collecting special memories of your pet, perhaps a paw print or a few final photos.
Above all else, spend as much time with your best friend as possible, making him as comfortable as possible until the time comes to mourn his life. Also, although you will be heartbroken, don’t forget to spend time celebrating the life of your beloved pet and the special memories you’ve shared together.
And remember, if your dog could write a Will, this is probably what your dog would bequeath to you.