Our pets are beloved members of our family and it can be heartbreaking to see them unwell. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain or suffering, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However there are also some signs and symptoms that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life, and if you notice these then it would be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action. These signs include:
Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing
Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)
Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss
Inability to stand or move around
Disinterest in food or eating
Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves
No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity
Zest for life is non-existent
Euthanasia has the small benefit of allowing family members the time to say their final goodbyes to your pet. This is an emotional time and giving them the opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pet will help ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.
Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter their final journey. This is a personal decision, but it is recommended that young children are not present during this time.