How do you know when it’s time?
This is a very sensitive topic and a difficult one to address. We all hope that our pet will grow to an extremely old age and pass away in its sleep, but that is not something that is in our control. What is in our control is making sure that our pet is comfortable and has a good quality of life while it is under our care.
You want to look at the big picture – is your pet having more good day or bad? Is your pet having more good parts to the day than bad? Compare your pet today to your pet at their best.
Here are some questions to ask when measuring your pets quality of life:
1) Is he mobile? Can your dog get outside to urinate and defecate and go for walks? Can your cat posture in the litter box? Do you need to carry your pet?
2) Does she have an appetite? Do you have to coax it with lots of different temptations? Are they eating enough calories to maintain a healthy body weight?
3) Is he happy to see you? Is he interactive or do they prefer to hide? Is he grumpy or disoriented?
4) Is she vomiting? Do they have diarrhea or difficulty eating?
5) Is he sore? This is a challenging one to answer correctly because cats and dogs hide their pain, a survival technique that their ancestors use in the wild. Here are some signs to look for:
- Limping, stiffness, reluctance to be handled
- Bad odour – from the breath or skin or genital region
- Lack of grooming (dull, oily or flaky coat)
- Vocalizing – crying, whimpering or hissing or panting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Open wounds or trauma
The questions above are meant to provide a checklist that can help you assess your pet’s current quality of life. The next question then becomes – what are the options available to control my pet’s pain and what can be done to improve its quality of life? After consulting with a veterinarian, pain management can be instituted if appropriate. Sometimes humane euthanasia is an appropriate option.
Many people experience a sense of grief when their companion animal’s health has declined and they are faced with the overwhelming task of considering medically-assisted death for their pet. The Mitchell Veterinary Services team can help you assess your pet’s comfort and offer recommendations, as well as support during this difficult time. We are pet owners ourselves and want to listen to your concerns regarding your pet’s welfare.