When is the right time to say goodbye?

The Human Animal Bond

Over the years I have seen the human animal bond grow stronger. Pets have become such an important part of our lives.  They are not just a pet, but a much loved member of the family.  They give us unconditional love, we tell them our secrets and our worries.  They are our best friend. This all makes saying goodbye to them even harder.

We never want to say goodbye to our beloved pet, but like us all, death is inevitable. We can however make the decision for when it is the right time for them to die. We can give them a peaceful death; we can try our best to prevent suffering and pain.

When is the right time?

One of the hardest things for us all is to know when the right time to euthanise our pet is. The right time for one person is not for another.

For example, some people may decide that the moment the dog loses the use of their back legs, it’s quality of life has gone and so then is the right time for them. For others, they are happy or able to use a hoist of some form, or carry their pet outside to toilet, or carry them on walks either in a bag or a pet buggy.

Another example is with cats and kidney failure. Some people will choose to say goodbye when their cat is drinking excessively and losing weight, other owners will give their cats fluid under the skin daily.

The key thing is recognising when your pet is starting to struggle, and their quality of life is decreasing. Have they stopped wanting to play with toys, stopped wanting to go on walks, unable to get up unaided, can’t jump on the sofa or bed, stopped eating and started becoming incontinent?

This is the time you should take them to the vets. Maybe they need some anti-inflammatory medication or other types of pain relief, maybe they have stopped eating as they have bad teeth and need a dental. It doesn’t always mean it is time to euthanasia’s them

What do I do when the treatment isn’t working anymore?

The hard part comes when treatments seem to have stopped helping, or not helped at all. This is when we are faced with the difficult decision of when to say goodbye. Do we say goodbye when the dog has completely collapsed, or do we pre-empt this and make the decision before they get to this stage?

I find that when animals are coming near to the end of their life, they have some good days and some bad days. This can make it such an emotional roller coaster. I always work on the theory of more bad days than good days. When you are finding your pets has mostly bad days with the odd good day or good part of the day, this is the time to say goodbye.

I do not want them to be in pain or suffer anymore

We do not want to leave our pets in paid or suffering.  I believe it is better to say goodbye a day early, rather than leaving it a day too late.  We should never feel guilt for making the decision to have them put to sleep.  I believe it is the last kind thing that we can do for them.

Our wishes for our pets is to have a ‘good death’ and this is rarely achieved with allowing them to pass naturally with no intervention. Of course, there is the odd animal that does pass away naturally and peacefully in their sleep, but in my experience, it doesn’t happen very often. This is why we make the difficult decision to have the vet put them to sleep, to help them to pass away peacefully.