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How Will I Know When It's Time?

If you are struggling with the euthanasia decision, go no further until you discuss your pet's situation with your hospice veterinarian.  What are your pet's chances of recovery from this illness and having a reasonably good quality of life?  Understanding your pet's medical prognosis can help you sort out your feelings.  As the days pass, you may feel that your pet is suffering so much that you must consider euthanasia.  
Pain and suffering are really two different things.  Pain can be managed, whereas suffering is a level of ongoing discomfort or distress that goes beyond what pain-management strategies can do to help.  This can be the hardest and most painful time you've experienced up to this point, and seeing your pet suffering may prompt you to make your decision.

Also, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have the time that would be necessary to continue taking care of my pet properly while he or she is ill?  (This may include feeding the pet by hand, for example, and going outside with the pet when he or she needs to go to the bathroom.)

  • What will I do if my pet becomes gravely ill at a time when I cannot reach my hospice or regular veterinarian?

  • What final acts of love for my pet are important to me?

We encourage families to inquire about the euthanasia process itself.  Make sure you fully understand what to expect before you make this important decision.

When you are grieving, it's completely normal to want to delay euthanasia, but remember, a delay can translate into extended pain and suffering for your pet.  In fact, most of the people who feel guilty about their pet's death after it occurs are those who think they waited too long and allowed their pet to suffer needlessly.

Ultimately, most people report that they just know when the time is right for euthanasia.  Trust your instincts and have faith in your love for your pet.  As long as you are considering your pet's well-being, you will make a decision that is right for both of you.


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