By CHERYL ROSPLOCK, LVT and REBEKAH R. FROST, DVM
Special to the OBSERVER
At the Dunkirk Animal Clinic, we know that the decision regarding the euthanasia of a beloved pet is one of the most difficult parts of pet ownership. It can be a very emotional struggle for many owners and often times we hear the question, "How do I know when it's the right time?"
Saying goodbye to a beloved pet can be a difficult, emotional struggle.
Sometimes the answer is obvious, for example, when the pet has been badly injured and has little hope of recovery, euthanasia may be the kindest choice. Other times, as in the case of an ailing older pet whose medical issues are becoming more and more debilitating, the decision of when to euthanize is not quite as clear. You want to be sure that the choice you make is what is best for the pet and you feel confident that you will not regret your decision. Many people worry about feeling guilty that they ended the pet's life prematurely, or on the other hand, that they waited too long.
So, how do you know when the time is right?
The best answer to this question involves determining the quality of the life your pet is living. The following questions can help you to evaluate your pet's condition which in turn may help in the decision-making process:
1. Is your pet experiencing pain? Does he suffer with aches and pains or are you able to minimize the level of pain and discomfort with medications or therapies? Is he able to get around on his own? Can he get outside to relieve himself?
2. Does your pet still have the desire to eat his food? Your pet's quality of life can partly be measured by his interest in food. A pet that is still enjoying his meals most likely still has the will to live.
3. Is your pet able to hold his urine? If not, does he seem uncomfortable or ashamed that he is having accidents in the house? The level of your pet's emotional distress needs to be taken into consideration. Are you able to keep your pet's skin, coat and sleeping area clean and free of urine and feces? Are you willing to commit to the level of nursing care your pet needs?
4. Does your pet seem to sleep comfortably and enjoy some of his favorite activities? It is understandable if the older pet is no longer interested in a long walk in the woods, but does he still enjoy a scratch on the belly, a favorite treat, or quietly spending quality time with you?
5. Are your pet's "bad days" out-numbering his "good days?"
The doctors at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic may be your best resource in helping you determine if and when the time is right to euthanize your pet. In many cases the doctor has known the pet for most, if not all of its life, has access to the pet's medical history, and can evaluate the pet's current condition to give you a medical opinion that will help you decide the best course of action. Sometimes, what may seem like an insurmountable problem, may actually be a treatable, if not curable, condition. When in doubt, please call us for a consultation appointment or bring the pet in for an exam. The more information you have regarding your pet's condition, the better equipped you will be to make this decision.
Once you have made that decision, we can discuss the process with you to better prepare you for the euthanasia of your pet. The entire staff here at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic are all animal lovers and each of us has gone through the very painful process of losing a pet that is very dear to us ... our own as well as many of our patients. In most cases, our pets have become an integral part of our family and it is only natural that we go through the process of mourning their loss. Please do not feel embarrassed or ashamed about grieving for your beloved pet whether it be in our exam room during euthanasia or in the privacy of your home. We know firsthand that losing a beloved pet is never easy and it takes time to adjust.
For more information on what to expect when you bring your pet to us and resources available to help you through the grieving process, please visit our website at dunkirkanimalclinic.com and find the article on euthanasia on the pet link page. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope it has helped answer some of your questions regarding the most difficult decision a pet owner must face. We continually strive to better serve our client's needs and welcome questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 366-7440.
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