Our most important responsibility as caring pet owners is to ensure that our beloved pets never experience unnecessary suffering. With all of the wonderful advancements in animal nutrition and medicine, our pets live longer, healthier, and happier lives these days. Still, there are times when technology cannot defeat time, and there is no treatment option left to bring comfort to our animals. In that case, we are left with the difficult task of saying good-bye. Humane euthanasia is a way to avoid unnecessary agony and allow our pets to keep some dignity in their time of passing.
This is never an easy decision to make, but it cannot be said enough that we do not want our pets to suffer. Keeping a dog or cat alive for our own selfishness – because we cannot bring ourselves to let go – doesn’t do the animal any favors. Since they cannot express their feelings, we must measure their quality of life by assessing other indicators. As illness becomes intractable, normal desires diminish. Appetite and attitude may be depressed. A pet that no longer gets excited about treats, or stops greeting you at the door after work, may be telling you that they are feeling miserable. They may lose interest in their toys as well. All of the things they live for have become too much trouble or may even cause them pain. The smell of food may only nauseate a very ill pet.
Other indicators of a poor quality of life include incontinence and immobility. Pets may be in so much pain that they urinate or defecate where they lie. This causes shame and worry to a potty trained animal as it would any person. It is unhealthy and unfair to the pet, and the burden that it causes on the household must be considered. Stress on the family is also felt by the animal, and it is not unreasonable to factor this into the assessment of quality of life.
When it is time, euthanasia should be absolutely humane and painless. Discuss euthanasia with your veterinarian until you fully understand and are comfortable with the procedure. Ask if there are any other treatment options available for your pet’s condition. Admit your concerns; the doctor is there to address them. Veterinarians schedule extra appointment time for these difficult times. There are slight variances in the specific procedure and drugs used for euthanasia, but the goal is to avoid any pain and suffering. Anesthetic agents will be given to ensure that the animal is completely unconscious. Then a drug is given intravenously to stop heart and brain function. The entire procedure is very rapid and completely painless.
During this emotional time, you can take comfort in the fact that you have provided your pet with a happy and healthy lifetime. We’ve always known that one day we would have to say good-bye, but our pets provide many cherished memories that remain with us long after they have left our sides.