Every pet parent would love for their beloved companion to live forever. Unfortunately, the worst part of pet ownership is knowing that they will live much shorter lives than we do. Each animal we bring in to our family only stays with us for a short fraction of our lives, but we are there for our pets’ entire lives. When your puppy turns grey and can no longer run through the house like she used to or your cat starts finding it to difficult to climb the stairs, it is your responsibility to make their remaining time as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. No one wants to imagine their pet suffering due to injury or illness; when an animal is no longer able to live an enjoyable life, euthanasia is the kindest and most selfless gift that we can share with our pets. While it may be the right choice, it is still one that is incredibly difficult for you to make.
Whether your relationship spans decades or just a handful of years, you’ve probably seen one another at your highest and lowest points. Our pets are often the ones who help us through the most difficult parts of our lives – that’s why it is so important to find the right way to say goodbye to them when the time is right.
Every pet, illness and situation is different. There is no single rule that can be followed for when it is time to help your best friend say goodbye. You also may benefit from having a caring friend who is not as emotionally involved in the situation as you are to help you gain perspective and really “see” what is happening with your pet.
Remember that pets live in the moment! When our pets aren’t feeling well, they don’t reflect on all of the great days they have had before, or ponder what the future will bring. All they know is how they feel today.
Trying to measure your pets’ “quality of life” can be difficult, but here are some ways that may help:
Is life a joy or a drag? Our pets may not be able to talk to us and tell us how they are doing, but if we pay close attention, there are clues that can help us answer that question
The Rule of Five Good Things: Pick the top five things that your pet loves to do. Write them down. When he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been impacted.
Good Days vs Bad Days: Tracking the days when your pet is feeling good as well as the days when he or she is not feeling well can be helpful. A check mark for good days and an X for bad days on your calendar can help you determine when a loved one is having more bad days than good.
HHHHHMM: Dr. Alice Villalobos is a well-known veterinary oncologist. Her HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale is another useful tool. The five H’s are: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Happiness, Hygiene (the ability to keep the pet clean from bodily waste); the M’s are Mobility and More (as in, more good days than bad). Dr. Villalobos recommends grading each category on a scale of 1-10; if the majority of categories are ranked 5 or above, continuing with supportive care is okay.
Click the image below to be taken to the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale.
We will sedate your pet so they are able to relax and become a little bit sleepy before proceeding with anything else. An IV catheter will be placed and an injection of a general anesthetic will cause your pet to become unconscious – they will be completely asleep and will not feel anything that follows. An injection of a concentrated anesthetic will then be given (acts as an overdose); it is very quick and very peaceful. Within a few seconds, the heart will stop and any circulation within the body will stop and the pet will pass away peacefully.
If you feel that seeing your pet during any point of the process above would be very upsetting to you, you may elect not to be present during the process but view the body afterwards.
Sometimes the grief of losing a pet can overwhelm us when we come in for the euthanasia appointment – you are welcome to take the time you need before and after the appointment with your beloved pet.
You may want to consider having a friend or family member come with you in case you are unable to drive.
You have several options for the aftercare of your pet
With whichever decision you make, you may choose to take their collar home with you, or send it with your pet for cremation. You may also decide to bring their favourite toy or blanket to have them cremated with.
We also offer ink paw prints and hair clippings at no additional cost.
At Pine Grove Veterinary Hospital (change for to appropriate hospital), we are here to help you and your pets through what we know is a difficult and heartbreaking time in your lives.