When is the right time to euthanize my pet?
You may have found my site because you’re looking for guidance about the right time to euthanize your pet. While there’s no single test or set of guidelines that can tell any of us the right time to euthanize a particular dog or cat, I hope the information on this page helps by outlining some factors that each of us should take into account when we’re facing this decision.
First, remember that none of us can predict the future, and therefore the decision we make about when to euthanize a pet is always going to be an educated guess we make in good faith. We have to use what information we have on hand to decide when euthanasia is most likely a kinder decision for us to make for our cat or dog than further medical treatment or no treatment would be.
Here’s a thought exercise that I’ve found useful. When I’m making a decision about whether to euthanize one of my own pets, I consider whether delaying the decision to euthanize them will mean that a greater proportion of their remaining days will be spent in pain or discomfort than in contented happiness. If there’s a significant chance that there will be more bad days than good ones, then I consider euthanasia. While it may mean that some potentially happy and comfortable future days are cut short, more importantly it means that I help my pet avoid the very likely pain and discomfort ahead. To my mind, this is the kinder, more caring decision; and I truly believe that my pet will experience it as the kinder, more comfortable way to spend their last days.
If you’re interested in a more detailed, systematic approach to making your decision, Dr. Alice Villalobos has created a Quality of Life scale for pets that many of my customers have found helpful. The articles available in Dr. Villalobos’s online Library page are thoughtful, thorough tools that may help you through your decision process.
Of course, every euthanasia decision is unique and difficult. I’m always happy to help my clients talk through the details of their particular situations and help them come to the right decisions. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss your own pet’s situation.
See these pages for more information about at-home euthanasia: