Saying Goodbye To A Pet: How To Know When It’s The Right Time

If your beloved pet is elderly or dealing with serious health issues, you may be worried about the quality of life they’re living.

Considering euthanasia for your cat or dog is always a difficult decision. There are no rules as to when is the right time. Your veterinarian will offer their professional advice but they can’t make the decision for you.

Some people want their pets to be in as little discomfort as possible. When the animal loses their appetite, they may determine that they’re not particularly interested in life anymore.

Others wait until there’s absolutely no doubt that the animal has reached the end of its life. If you’re looking for signs that it’s time to say goodbye, we have some suggestions and tips to help guide you through this difficult decision.

Signs That Your Pet’s Quality Of Life Has Declined

putting my dog down tomorrow how do i say goodbye

Severe injury or illness negatively impacts a pet’s quality of life.

Signs that your animal isn’t doing well include: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in playing with toys, other animals, or people
  • Increased pain
  • Depression
  • Reclusive behavior

If you notice these signs, you need to talk to your veterinarian and other members of your family about whether euthanasia is the best option.

The loss of a pet will always be hard, but sometimes it’s the necessary thing to do.

Situations Which May Warrant Euthanasia

A number of conditions may make it difficult for pets to live happy, carefree lives.

1. Serious Illness

If your dog or cat has a chronic or terminal illness such as cancer, kidney failure, or heart failure, talk to your veterinarian about how the condition can be managed.

Animals may respond to treatment for a while but then eventually stop responding to treatment. Sometimes, the side effects of treatment make them even worse rather than better.

It’s a good idea to keep a daily diary of your dog or cat’s symptoms and behavior. Note their energy levels and appetite. If they’re having more bad days than good days, you may need to let them pass peacefully.

2. Old Age

Even if your pet isn’t ill, old age can result in a deterioration of their quality of life.

Geriatric cats and dogs start to slow down and struggle with daily activities. They may experience decreased mobility, appetite changes, and weight loss all as a natural result of aging.

If the vet is unable to diagnose the animal with a curable condition, you may simply need to make them as comfortable as possible.

However, if you notice a dramatic worsening of symptoms, it’s likely time to accept that the pet is nearing its end because of old age.

3. Pain and Poor Mobility

Pain and compromised mobility can also have a significant impact on an animal’s life.

Some pets, especially large dogs, are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. This is a painful and progressive condition that can make it difficult for pets to walk, run, climb, and jump.

In cats, some signs of arthritis may not seem like they’re related to joint pain. They may stop using their litter box, become aggressive when you touch certain areas, or stop grooming themselves.

Animals with osteoarthritis are usually otherwise healthy and this can make it difficult for their owners to let go.

However, if your dog or cat can’t move without experiencing lots of pain or discomfort and medication is no longer working, it may be time to do what’s best for them.

4. Bowel or Urinary Incontinence

Some animals become unable to control their bowels or bladder. This can be secondary to old age or illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Incontinence is messy and unsanitary and it can create problems for everyone in the household. Pets who are both incontinent and struggling with mobility can go on to develop bedsores.

If your pet has urinary or fecal incontinence that is unmanageable or co-occurring with a terminal illness, saying goodbye may be the most loving thing you can do for them.

If it’s in the case of a bunny, a rabbit peeing on you isn’t always unusual but just a sign that they’re growing up.

5. Serious Behavioral Problems

Sometimes, it’s necessary to put down a pet who is neither ill, elderly, nor in pain.

Some cats and dogs have behavioral problems that make them a danger to themselves, other animals, and even people.

Behavioral problems on their own aren’t enough to justify euthanasia but if you’ve tried everything to correct the animal’s challenges, including professional help, your veterinarian may recommend that humane euthanasia is the best option.

These types of situations can be especially difficult so take your time and get as much information as possible before you make a decision.

Coping With The Ultimate Choice

goodbye message to my dog

You may be surprised by the depth of emotion you feel after your pet dies.

However, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s normal to feel sad or guilty when you’ve decided to put down a pet. Your dog or cat was an important part of your life and you shared many special memories with them.

After you’ve made your decision, you’ll find it helpful to memorialize your feline or canine companion. Whether you choose to bury or cremate the pet, there are several meaningful ways in which you can pay tribute.

Those who opt for cremation often invest in customized dog or cat urns. These come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and you’re guaranteed to find something that reflects both your preferences and your pet’s personality.

Saying Goodbye To A Pet

Some pet owners frame photos of their pets, plant trees in their honor, visit their favorite park, or even carry a small portion of their pet’s ashes in cremation jewelry.

Others erect a headstone or donate to an animal charity in the pet’s name on a specific day each year.

Whether you invest in pet urns for cats or dogs, hold a memorial service, or do something else entirely, commemorating your furry pal can help with processing your grief.

It is also important to take care of yourself as you navigate life without your pet. Choosing to end your pet’s suffering is difficult but you can and will get through this heartbreaking time.

Saying goodbye to a pet will be difficult, but there are good ways to get through it.

Some people may not understand what you’re feeling so you may need to talk to fellow animal lovers or others who have lost pets. You can also seek professional help in coping with your grief.

If you want to support a friend that has recently lost their dog, check out these dog death gift ideas.

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