Animal Care & Welfare: Saying Goodbye
When living has become a struggle for your pet, how do you decide it’s time to euthanize?
I recently made a trip home to visit family for Christmas and was asked, by my Mother, if I thought her little kitty was ready to be put down. After being diagnosed about 6 months ago with lymphoma, Millicent was now despondent, unable to get up or even eat and occasionally would start paddling while letting out a small howl. It was time. I made the appointment with our Vet (the very first Vet clinic I ever worked at over 25, yes 25, years ago), and when we arrived, there was a candle lit next to a sign that explained ‘someone is saying good-bye to their beloved pet’, and asked for quiet and respect.
This meant everything to me- as a veterinary technician, I’ve had to ask cackling and laughing co-workers to simmer down because a pet was being euthanized on the other side of the door. During these times, compassion is what you need to receive.
And compassion is what you should have for your pet. We’ve all heard the term ‘quality of life’- try to truly put yourself in your pet’s position…. Is this a life you would want to be living?
On top of that, are you able to be an effective nurse to your pet? When my horse was dying of skin cancer, I had to give him IV pain injections every day. Are you able to lift or carry your handicapped pet outside several times a day? Are you able to give your kidney-diseased cat sub-cutaneous fluids twice a week?
Basically, are you able to provide the medications and lifestyle necessary to maintain a decent ‘quality of life’?
Animals, as well as people, will give us the signs that living has just become too difficult. During the last few months of my horse’s life, he would wake me up kicking the water trough as he dunked his head in it to cool the heat and pain from his growing tumors, despite being on IV pain medication twice a day. When he finally gave me a look with the light gone from his eyes and blood dripping from one nostril, I knew he was ready to be relieved of his pain.
Are we doing what’s best for our animals or are we keeping them around because we cannot say good-bye?