As a pet owner, the most difficult decision you will make is the one concerning your pet’s end of life care. While some pets will pass naturally and peacefully at the end of a life well lived, this is often the exception and, sadly, not rule, when it comes to our pet’s passing.

The decision to euthanize a pet is rarely easy, even if it is “for the best”. It is also a deeply personal decision for you and your family, as you are your pet’s voice and care advocate. Our reasons for having our beloved friend and family member cross the Rainbow Bridge are as personal and varied as our relationships with our pets are.

For some it may, heartbreakingly, be a matter of money, and not being able to afford the intensive treatments needed to extend our pet’s life. For others, it may be that our pet’s battle against a life-threatening condition has become too much to bear. While for others, it may simply be time – the quality of our pet’s life has deteriorated to a point that they can no longer enjoy a quality of life worth living, and that the time has truly come.

Whatever your reasons, we know that the decision can feel impossibly hard. But if it offers you some small comfort, know that you are not alone.

Your veterinary team can offer you the support and guidance you need through this difficult time. While we do encourage you to seek the support of your vet in person, we can offer the following guidance…

Signs it May be Time to Say Goodbye

If your pet is experiencing the following, it may be time to let your pet pass:

  • Chronic pain that cannot be controlled with medication

  • Frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing dehydration and significant weight loss

  • Your pet has stopped eating or will only eat if forced

  • Incontinence to the point that he is frequently soiling himself

  • Loss of interest in favorite activities, people, treats, attention, and family interaction

  • Cannot stand on his own, or falls when trying to walk

  • Labored breathing or coughing

While there may be other signs, these symptoms are usually a good indication that it is time to talk with your family and veterinarian about planning for your pet’s passing.

Planning for Your Pet’s Passing

Oakland Veterinary Referral Service has recently published Katherine Dobbs’, RVT, CVPM, PHR, eBook Your Pet’s Passing: A Resource for Coping and Creating Lasting Memories, which is available free via the link.

Dobbs’ book will help you know what to expect, coach you through the decision making process, and help you know what to expect as you and your family celebrate your pet’s life, and grieve your loss. We hope you will take the time to explore this short book, and consider its wisdom.

We also encourage you to come to us with your questions about end of life care, your pet’s circumstances, and your questions about euthanasia. We are here to help, and vow to respect you and the decisions you make during this difficult time.