Deciding When it’s Time

End of Life Decisions

One of the hardest parts about owning a senior pet is knowing when it is time to let them go. Because we see them everyday, it can be hard for pet parents to recognize when their pet is suffering, and some pet parents may even be in denial. When our pets are younger we may set certain guidelines of when we will euthanize, such as when they start going to the bathroom in the house, or when they can’t walk as well, but then when we get to that stage we may want to hold on a little longer. This is one of the many reasons it is important to have a close relationship with your veterinarian so that you can work together to decide when it is best to consider euthanasia. Veterinarians will be able to give you a more objective opinion about your pet’s quality of life, and help you see if your pet is suffering. You could also have a close friend or family member agree to tell you when they think it is time.

The following quality of life scale is used by many veterinarians to help pet owners monitor their pets as they age. Your veterinarian might even have his or her own scale or may be able to recommend a local hospice veterinarian to help you make the decision. We all struggle with this decision with our own pets and it is a hard decision to make, so do not be afraid to ask for help from others.