When To Say Goodbye – Written By Dr. Patricia Ainsworth

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When To Say Goodbye – Written By Dr. Patricia Ainsworth

Part 1 of 2

         Sooner or later, this is a subject that arises between most pet owners and their vets. After eighteen years in practice, I’ve had the euthanasia discussion countless times. While I can’t guarantee you will agree with my opinion, I hope by addressing this issue here to provide some guidance and comfort during a difficult time.

          You might hope that your pet will simply pass away in his sleep. While this does happen occasionally, more often an animal experiences a slow decline, perhaps suffering along the way.  We hope to reach a compromise between giving you as much time with your pet while preserving a good quality of life for them. However, at some point the quality of life declines below a critical level.  This is when euthanasia becomes the most humane decision. The biggest problem can be deciding what defines a reasonable quality of life.

          Several years ago, I read a wonderful article in a veterinary magazine that addressed this very issue.  The author advised her clients to make a list of all the things which gave their pet pleasure during their lifetime. For example, if your dog has always enjoyed an hour long walk with the family, that should go on the list.  Does he have a favorite food? Favorite place to sleep? By generating a list of ten or so things which your pet enjoys, you can periodically reassess your pet’s quality of life in an objective way.

          So, if your beloved Lab can no longer even get up to go outside to the bathroom, refuses it’s favorite treats and fails to meet you at the door, it begs the question of how much pleasure he’s getting out of life these days.

          Once you and your family are in agreement that it is time to say goodbye, you’ll need to call and make an appointment for euthanasia. I’ll address the subject of the euthanasia procedure next month, in the article “How to Say Goodbye”.

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