Letting Go: A humane guide to knowing when its time to put down your petBy Sam Weeks | August 24, 2021
Putting your pet to sleep is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make. But sometimes, to ease your pet’s suffering and to help them go over the rainbow bridge peacefully, it becomes absolutely necessary. That, however, doesn’t mean that you will not be wracked by guilt every time you think about it, or wonder if you let go too soon. It can be devastating losing a beloved pet, one who has comforted us and been with us through many major milestones in our lives. But in certain cases, pet euthanasia is the best option, both for you and for your pet.
For many, it can be almost blasphemous to even think of putting their pet down. The feelings associated with making this decision are often described as gut-wrenching, immoral and downright murderous. However, you need to remember that quality of life often matters more than quantity, and if your pet is merely surviving and not living, it’s not much of a life at all.
If you’re on the fence about whether it is the right time to put your pet down, or wondering how you would know if it’s time to let go, here are a few clear-cut answers to your questions:
Your pet is critically injured
It could have been a fall from a height, or a door banged at the wrong time, or even a car accident. If the extent of the damage is too great and your pet is unlikely to survive without very painful surgery, or if it does survive, is likely to be living in extreme pain for the rest of its life, it is often a better idea to let them go instead of prolonging their suffering.
Your pet is in severe, chronic pain that can’t be relieved
If your dog or cat is in such severe chronic pain that not even medication can help, has chronic laboured breathing or coughing and is finding it hard to move around even after you and your vet have tried all treatment methods, your pet would find more relief in a controlled death.
Your pet’s quality of life has deteriorated or will deteriorate with time
Talk to your vet about any diagnosis that has been made about your pet and what you can expect. If your pet has been diagnosed with an untreatable condition that will only make their health deteriorate with time and put them through very painful, traumatic times, it might be a better idea to prevent their suffering by helping them get eternal rest.
Your pet is merely existing
If they have lost all interest in things they used to love, have stopped eating and drinking, cannot stand on their own and spend most of their time lying down, and have more bad days than good, your pet may be waiting for their time. Talk to your vet about their quality of life and if there are any ways to improve it. If your pet’s suffering has reached a point where they are no longer responding to any treatment, it’s time to let go.
Too soon or too late?
Many pet owners choose to put their pets down as soon as they learn of cancer or kidney failure diagnosis, even though the pet may still have a few good weeks or months of life left. Part of this decision comes from an inability to financially afford the treatment and part of it comes from an inability to see their beloved pet physically deteriorate and suffer.
On the other hand, people experiencing a critical diagnosis for the very first time often take the opposite route and will hold off on euthanising their pet too soon. They are fearful of giving the pet up without putting up a good fight, almost as if they might be letting the pet down by giving up.
Both of these individuals may find that they regret their decision for different reasons. An owner who waits too long may look back and realise that they didn’t have to put their pet through all the vet visits, uncomfortable procedures and medications that did nothing to improve their quality of life and only prolonged their suffering. Whereas, a person who took the step too soon may regret not doing more to save their pet’s life. Knowing the right time is difficult, but often, a conversation with your vet about your pet’s future condition can help you make a better choice.
Many pets and pet owners find it easier to let go in the comfort of their own home, where both the pet and the owner feel comfortable, eliminating the stress of the car ride and vet visit. Vets on Call’s at-home pet euthanasia services also allow you the space, time and privacy to grieve the loss of your best friend and give your pet a final chance at saying goodbye in a place he or she loves and feels at home in. Servicing several suburbs across Melbourne and Brisbane, including Brunswick, Fitzroy, Richmond and Bundoora, our vets are registered, fully licensed and highly trained to ensure your beloved fur baby has a painless journey to the afterlife.