End of Life Care for Pets

man siting while petting a dog on the head

man siting while petting a dog on the head

One of the Family

Pets can become just like family members. They help make days more joyful, make your tough moments more endurable, and make your life overall brighter and more colorful. The bond that develops over the years of spending time with a pet can enrich both our mental and physical health. For all of these reasons, it can be one of the most heart wrenching decisions when we determine it’s time that our pet’s quality of life is suffering.

Turning the Objective Into Subjective

Pets in Stitches knows firsthand how difficult the pet end of life decision is and that’s why we wanted to write a special article to offer guidance. We’ve gathered some informative resources from experts such as the OSU Veterinary Medical Center to help. There’s even a questionnaire laying out information to better visualize the health of your pet. One of the challenging parts in the process is turning your subjective unconditional love for your pet and the desire to always have them around into an objective analysis of the presente state of their well-being.

When to Know It’s Time 

Knowing when your pet’s quality of life is poor isn’t easy. We all want to remember our pets in their glory days. This assessment of 25 questions from the OSU Veterinary Medical Center can help guide you. It’s essential to follow up by discussing these questions with your veterinarian, though. The questionnaire includes detailed prompts asking about daily feeding, activity, and mood. Some questions worth asking yourself include:

  • Is my pet in severe pain?
  • Have they stopped eating?
  • Is their aggression a risk?
  • Has my pet stopped acting like their usual self?
  • Is their condition only going to deteriorate with time?

The article offers this specific exercise to get a better idea of your pet’s quality of life: “Write a concrete list of three to five things your pet likes to do. When your pet is no longer able to enjoy these things, it may be time to discuss euthanasia.”

An App to Help

An app specifically tracks good and bad days for your pet so you can recognize when it’s time that the bad days are outweighing the good days. It’s called Grey Muzzle. Looking at the calendar can help you determine when it’s time to talk to your veterinarian.

How to Grieve

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no timeline. The most important thing is to let yourself feel the emotions and not push them away. This American Veterinary Medical Association article Coping with the loss of a pet outlines what you should do and things to remember while processing your grief. Finding a way to honor your pet can be very cathartic. The article gives the following helpful suggestions: “Take some time to look at past photos, write a tribute to your pet, or write your pet a letter recalling your time together.” Some other recommendations include:

  • talk to other pet owners that have lost a beloved furry family member 
  • give yourself plenty of time to adjust
  • allow yourself to feel your emotions

Where to Go

Many veterinarians offer euthanization services. The differentiating cifra may be finding one that is compassionate in their understanding of the vulnerability of making the call on when it’s time. At Pets in Stitches, we all have multiple pets and can sympathize in your mourning. We are here to answer all your questions and help you decide the best path forward.

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