Considering end of life care and humane euthanasia for our beloved pets comes with a whirlwind of mixed emotions.
-The thought of living without them is borderline unbearable.
-You worry about being selfish and holding on to them for yourself.
-You’re still hoping for a miracle to give them a few more good months or years.
-Everything came on suddenly and you’ve had no time to mentally process and prepare.
When our pets reach a certain age or are diagnosed with a terminal condition, it can be overwhelming to consider what the best options are for them. There may be tests and treatments and medications and specialists and surgeries available – all of which can be hard to get your head around. There are certain tests and treatments that may or not be practical or reasonable. Some owners will give fluids to their elderly cat with kidney disease every day, some won’t. Others can’t bear the thought of putting their dog through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments for an aggressive cancer, others might. For some, the cost of a seeing a specialist is too much for the budget. When it comes to end of life care, we want to help you make a decision for you and your companion that is both realistic and dignifying in their final days to weeks to months, even if that means forgoing the surgeries and treatments and spoiling them rotten for as long as possible. The important thing to remember is that any decision you make for them is the right decision so they have quality end of life care.
Eventually, we will get to a point where all we can do is make them as comfortable as possible because their age or condition is progressing faster than our treatments can keep up. We consider these patients on hospice care until it’s time to make the ultimate decision for them and say goodbye. Hospice care looks different for everyone and it all depends on the goals you have for your pet and your family moving forward. Your goals and options for hospice care are also discussed with your family veterinarian so that you can make the most informed decision possible.
The most common question we get is when the right time to finally say goodbye is and consider humane euthanasia. It’s the hardest decision to make for them, and yet, it’s one of the best. In veterinary medicine, we have the ability to take away the imminent pain and suffering a terminal disease will carry. They don’t have to experience the distress while nature is allowed to take its course. There are several ways to guide an owner to when the time is right. Some will keep track of how many good days and bad days their pet experiences. If the bad days are far outweighing the good, it could be time to seriously consider euthanasia. Others make a list of their pet’s favorite things to do and when they no longer find happiness in those things, it’s time to think about saying goodbye. However, both of these options are subjective and small changes in a pet’s behavior can easily be missed. A more objective approach involves a quality of life survey that families can take together. Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center has one available. It is ultimately up to the family to decide when the time is right, but when they’re ready, we can help make the transition over the Rainbow Bridge as smooth and dignifying as possible.