How to decide when it's time to euthanise your ill or injured pet

Putting your dog or cat down: how to know when it's time

Pets enrich our lives in so many ways, which is why it is devastating when they become ill or injured. To see your dog or cat in pain is heartbreaking and eventually, pet owners are faced with making life or death decisions for their unwell animal. To put your pet down or not.. this is a gigantic decision to make!

Once the veterinarian has informed you that there's nothing more they can do for your fur baby, you need to consider what's best for your pet, what's best for you and what's best for your family. This can be a time of intense emotional trauma and you may not be thinking clearly. Most people feel immense pressure while trying to decide what the right thing to do is!

The reality is that nobody can make the euthanasia decision for you, not even the vet! Although your mind might be in an overwhelmed whirlwind, it's important that you fully understand your pet's condition, do your own research and weigh your options. Rarely will the situation require an immediate decision, so take your time in coming to a conclusion!

Once your pet is euthanised, there's no turning back. There will no longer be an eager, fluffy face waiting for you to wake up in the morning, and no more sloppy kisses. Soon all the fur scattered around the house will be cleaned up and will never return. After your pet has been put down, your home will have an eerie silence, reminding you that something is painfully missing.. Any pet parent would naturally dread this! However, this is something you may unfortunately have to deal with.

If you're struggling to decide whether or not to put your pet down, read through this article to gain some clarity. Certainly everybody who has a sick or injured pet wishes that nature will take their beloved pet peacefully in their sleep instead of having to make the awful decision themselves, but it doesn't always work like that.

How to know that it's NOT time to euthanise

If you make a decision too quickly and decide to euthanise too soon, you may miss valuable time with your pet. If you do it too late, you may put your pet through unnecessary suffering. This is one of the major components that makes the whole process so difficult.  

As previously mentioned, research your pet's condition as much as you can. Chat to your vet about possible treatment plans, and even get a second opinion just to be sure! Some typically terminal diseases or injuries can be treated and even cured with the right medical care. The great thing is that technology, science and medicine is improving at an exponential rate, and what used to be considered incurable is now not such a daunting diagnoses. 

There are also various natural remedies on the market which help ill or injured animals manage pain and discomfort until they naturally pass away, or until they are cured. Two of our top recommendations, depending on your pet’s needs, are USDA Certified Organic CBD Oil formulated for pets and C-Caps.

How to know when it IS time to euthanise

In certain circumstances, you won't have much of a choice. Perhaps the kindest thing a pet parent can do for their pet who is severely sick or irrecoverably injured, is to euthanise. In many cases, the animal may never recover to normal health and the most humane thing to do is put your pet down to end their suffering. But how can you tell when it's the end of your pet's journey? 

Animal specialists encourage pet owners to make the decision of euthanasia based on the animal's quality of life. We obviously can't ask animals if they're suffering or not, so going according to the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale is a well-recommended method of establishing your pet's condition.

The HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale explained:

A quality of life scale may help everyone, especially those who are in denial, to assess the severity of their pet's condition. Most pet parents don't want to accept that their pet's condition may be progressive or fatal, or that putting their pet down might be the best option for the animal. The scale is not 100% perfect but it's a great way for pet parents to objectively and sensitively determine whether their pet's quality of life justifies euthanasia or not. 

The “HHHHHMM” acronym represents: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More good days than bad days. 

Download the canine HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale PDF >

Download the feline HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale PDF >

It's recommended that both the pet owner and the vet look at the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale independently. Once the pet owner and the vet have completed their separate assessments, a joint discussion and planning is then required. If your dog or cat can no longer do the things they used to, if they can't respond to you in their usual ways, or if they're in more pain than not, you may need to consider euthanasia. Additionally, sometimes your pet's condition may be treatable but the financial cost is beyond your means, making euthanasia a valid option.

Saying your final goodbyes

If putting your pet down was the best option, you'll want to say final goodbyes before they go for the procedure. This will be a comforting memory for the upcoming grieving period.

Pay for the euthanasia beforehand

During the emotional experience of losing a pet, the last thing anyone wants to think about is the cost. You may feel guilty or triggered when the bill arrives after your pet was euthanised, so make sure you pay in advance. 

Have a 'naughty' day with your pet

The day before taking your pet to the vet for euthanasia, treat them to a well-deserved 'cheat' day! Allow them to do all the things that were restricted such as eating delicious scraps, sleeping on the bed, digging holes, or whatever you deem suitable and fits their health profile. Please first consult with your vet about dietary restrictions before the procedure. Invite your loved ones to say their final goodbyes and don't forget to take lots of photos! Give your pet their favourite treats and spoil them with as much love and fun as possible. 

Decide whether you want to be there during the procedure

Some pet parents feel that they won't be able to emotionally deal with being in the room during the procedure. It is a completely personal choice. Other pet parents would prefer to be in the room to comfort them while they take their last breath. Again, nobody can make this decision for you.

If you have any questions, please contact our team or leave a comment below for FREE health advice. We always love hearing from you!

Saskia Michele natural holistic pet health blog

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