Oct 16

When Is The Right Time To Euthanise My Pet?

Saying goodbye is never easy. These beautiful words from a client brought tears to my eyes, and I think it sums up the incredibly tough decision to euthanise perfectly.

“I’ll take comfort in knowing that

If I couldn’t give her anymore good days,

At least I didn’t let her have one more bad one.”

This customer reached out to Vetchat for guidance and support at a time that can often feel sudden and overwhelming. She had recently had her pet euthanased and she found coping with the experience really difficult. She felt guilt over whether she’d acted in haste, whether she’d done enough or whether other options could’ve been explored.

Ultimately, she and her vet had done everything possible. Her dog’s chronic disease had become acutely bad, and despite the best veterinary care, showed no improvement, only deterioration.

What she needed in these moments was just to speak with her vet for a little longer. Not only during the initial haze of decision-making, but in the hours and days afterwards when reality hits home. She needed to triple-check her pet’s condition, to properly understand it, to rule out every single option. Which is exactly why we created Vetchat: to stay by your side.

What is euthanasia?

Euthanasia translates to “good death”. It gently and swiftly ends the agony of watching a pet slowly and painfully die, and in turn, ends the agony and pain they’re experiencing. It’s not a decision that is ever made lightly: it needs proper time and the utmost consideration. And even with all the facts laid out, it’s never, ever easy.

How will I know what’s right?

Your vet is the most trusted advisor for your pet and is your go-to when grappling with these decisions. It all centres around quality of life.

How do we measure quality of life?

Quality of life can be very subjective and the conversation does depend on each situation. There’s no exact formula and there are many questions to ask. It centres on whether your pet experiences pain or discomfort; the presence of involuntary toileting or vomiting; their activity levels, appetite, social interactions and behaviour

Signs of illness vs. “old age”

The early signs of illness in older pets are all too often explained away as ‘getting old’. Drinking more, panting more, reduced energy levels, reduced appetite––these are all signs that could indicate your pet is sick and not just a natural part of the ageing process.

Commonly, pets can compensate early signs of disease and appear to get through life pretty well, but eventually, their bodies can’t withhold it. For a pet parent, the onset might appear sudden and fast, but it’s likely there have been subtle warning signs (like those mentioned above) along the way. It’s always best to talk with your vet at length as your pet gets older about what’s changing.

Talking openly about death

In truth, we simply don’t talk enough about the deterioration or death of our pets. It’s hard enough to think about, let alone talk about. The emotion and stress involved when they’re unwell makes it increasingly hard to make an informed decision and utilise all the data available.

But the more open we are with these conversations––in terms of options for euthanasia, home care, referral and what to expect––the more transparency there is, which is better for all involved.

About The Author

Claire is a QLD graduate with 19 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of VetChat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.