Regardless of the reasons behind it the decision to euthanase a pet is never an easy one. Even in the face of sound medical evidence that euthanasia is the kindest option, making that decision is often overwhelmingly difficult for pet owners. Often the pet has been part of the family for a long time, and even if they haven’t, they are almost always valued members of the family. Unfortunately the majority of pets don’t just die quietly in their sleep without suffering, which means a lot of pet owners face the decision to euthanase their pet at some point – often towards the end of their pet’s life.
When trying to make a decision whether or not to euthanase a pet or how to time that decision owners often ask us whether their animal is in any pain. The clinical signs of pain in an animal can be variable depending on the source and the severity of pain, and may include: reduced appetite – or not wanting to eat at all, reluctance to move if movement causes pain, which can lead to toileting in inappropriate places such as bedding, and personality changes such as depression in a usually boisterous pet. Of course the presence of debilitating pain is an important factor to consider when deciding if euthanasia is an appropriate course of action. However, it is not the only thing we take into account when monitoring a pet’s quality of life. As vets we usually consider several parameters to assess an animal’s quality of life including, but not limited to: their interest in food, which can be reduced by symptoms such as nausea – even if there is no overt pain, their ability to toilet independently, their ability to show interest in activities they have always enjoyed – such as going for a walk or being stroked, and perhaps most importantly your – the owner’s – perception of your pet’s quality of life. Even though we can advise and support you, because you know your pet and their personality best and have often lived closely with them for a long time, you are also often the best judge of their quality of life.
Pet owners are sometimes reluctant to broach the subject of euthanasia with their veterinarian, but it is important to discuss any questions or concerns you have about euthanasia with us. We are here to offer advice without judging, and help you make an informed choice about whether or not it is time to make this most difficult decision. Talking through it with us if it is on your mind and addressing any concerns you have beforehand unfortunately may not make the decision to euthanase your pet any less painful, but it can mean the decision making process is easier than if you were tackling it on your own.
If you wish to pursue professional bereavement counselling over the loss of your pet please contact – Dr David Foote www.davidfoote.com.au ph- 0425 281 424