Empathetic End-of-Life Care for Pets
Knowing When It's Time
When comfort and enjoyment are no longer possible for your pet, or when your burden as a care-giver is too great, it may be time to consider euthanasia for your pet. For many, saying good-bye to a pet at home can be life-affirming and healing, while reducing their pet’s stress and pain.
Knowing when it’s time to say good-bye may be the most difficult part of caring for your pet.
Peace Wings is here to help.
Call to talk it through. (720-347-9613)
Partnering with a veterinarian can help you make compassionate decisions about your pet’s end-of-life care that are kind, loving, and which carefully consider the needs of your pet and your family.
Does your pet still enjoy life?
Think about a time when your pet was healthy, vivacious and doing well: what were the five things that brought him or her the greatest joy in life? When your pet can no longer do 3 of those 5 things, or when your pet no longer has interest in doing 3 of those 5 things – it’s time to think about saying good-bye.
Together, we can prevent suffering.
The decision of when to euthanize is intensely personal,
and what is right for your pet and your family is specific to YOU.
However, it is important to consider:
Often, it’s better to say good-bye a few days or even a few weeks too soon, rather than even one minute too late. This depends on your family’s beliefs and values, and on the medical concerns your pet is facing. It’s important to talk with a veterinarian if you don’t want your pet to have more bad days than good.
Your ultimate decision will be respected. All veterinarians have the right to refuse to euthanize a pet if euthanasia is not medically appropriate. However, in most cases there is no wrong answer.
You can expect to...
have your concerns heard without judgment,
receive an honest opinion from your veterinarian, and
have your final decision respected and supported.
Care-giver burden is real, and it is normal for this to be part of your decision. If your pet requires such intense care that you are putting your life on hold, or if you yourself are suffering, be honest about it.
If your pet’s care needs are that intense, chances are your pet is suffering, too. It is not selfish to consider the needs of all family members in deciding when to euthanize.
Sometimes there’s more to suffering than just pain. No one wants their pet to suffer, but many people forget that pain is not the only feeling that causes suffering. Your pet may be suffering if she or he has...
An inability to nourish him/herself
Anxiety that comes from cognitive decline or physical discomfort
Uncontrollable nausea or dehydration
Weakness due to medical conditions
Loss of interest in interacting with family members
...or if you, yourself, are suffering from care-giver burden.
Here are some resources to help you assess your pet’s level of pain and suffering:
While it is always best to discuss you and your pet’s individual situation with a veterinarian (call anytime),
here are some resources to help you start your own assessment at home.
Colorado State University’s pain scale diagrams for cats and dogs
Quality of Life Assessment – CALL 720-347-9613 to discuss.