When Is The Time Right?
When to euthanize a dog is a heart-wrenching and very personal decision. There is no magical answer to “when is the right time?” Some dogs slowly decline over a long period of time, while others rapidly lose interest in life because of pain, illness or the onset of old age. Most owners put the health, welfare and quality of life of their animals above their own sorrow and grief as they go through the process of making the difficult and painful decision about whether and when to put their pet to sleep. Thinking about pets and other family members is also extremely important.
Some Things To Think About…
Here are some things for owners to think about when considering whether to humanely end the life of a beloved pet:
- Is the dog free from uncontrollable pain, distress or discomfort? Is it comfortable in its current condition?
- Can the dog stand, walk and balance itself reasonably well?
- Does it have more good days than bad ones?
- Is it interested in eating? Can it eat and drink enough to maintain good body weight and condition without difficulty and without persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea?
- Does the dog have inoperable tumors or other medical conditions that cause pain or discomfort?
- Can it breathe easily and well?
- Can it go to the bathroom on its own without serious problems? Is it having accidents in the house (is it incontinent)?
- Can the dog still do most of the things that it loves to do best?
- Has the animal lost dignity? Is it sleeping it is own urine or feces? Does it need help to even stand or move?
- Is the dog lethargic, weak, depressed or disinterested?
- Can the owner physically, emotionally and financially handle any and all nursing and supportive care that the dog may need?
The answers to these questions should at least start a family and veterinary dialogue about whether and when the time may be right to let a pet go. In the final analysis, euthanasia is justified when it becomes clear that the animal is no longer comfortable. It saves the dog from ongoing pain and prevents the indignity and distress that often accompany terminal illnesses. A dog’s unhappy or uncomfortable life should not be prolonged just because its owner can’t bear to let it go. The dog’s veterinarian may be the best one to give advice about this most important decision. Ultimately, however, the decision is between the owner and the dog. The dog will let you know.