This is an extremely difficult topic to ponder. You have been with your beloved pooch for years, and now maybe he has been diagnosed with a chronic illness and is getting progressively worse, or maybe he is growing old and unhealthy, but how do you determine if or when you should put him down?
As hard as this subject is to write about it, it is important to address. Oftentimes, this is a decision that many pet owners have to face at some point during their lives, and it is an excruciatingly difficult decision.
At the end of the day, each pet owner must determine for himself what the right choice is and what is in the best interest of your pet. Veterinarians can certainly be of help in the decision-making process.
To help you consider this further, we thought we would share some useful suggestions we came across in order to help you make the decision, “Is it time to let go?”
Talk to Your Vet
Veterinarians can be the objective voice of reason that help give an indication of how much your pet is suffering. Because your vet is not as emotionally tied to your cat or dog as you are, he or she can more easily present the facts in an objective manner.
Once given a more comprehensive picture of your pet’s overall health and his level of suffering, you can consider all your options and determine whether it would be best to seek out appropriate treatment. Relieving your pet’s discomfort and keeping him healthy, pain-free and happy is crucial.
Determine Quality of Life
Dr. Alice Villalobos came up with the acronym HHHHHMM to help you determine your pet’s quality of life. The letters of HHHHHMM stand for Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More Good Days Than Bad. In each category, you rate your pet’s overall wellness on a scale of 1 to 10. Ratings above five are a good indication of general wellness.
Some people even suggest having both you and your vet rate your pet on the HHHHHMM scale separately to help determine where you both stand in regards to your pet’s overall health.
Try to Put Yourself in Your Pet’s Shoes
How is your pet responding to everyday activities? Is he still eating and drinking? Is he having accidents all the time? Does he fall often and need assistance getting back up? Is he still enjoying old routines? What kind of suffering is he experiencing? Is he extremely thirsty all the time because of kidney failure, or does he constantly have pain in his joints from arthritis?
These can be difficult questions to confront and address, but answering them might help further determine your furry friend’s quality of life. Remember that pets live in the moment, according to Dr. Andy Roark. Therefore, they don’t think back on fond memories in the midst of suffering. They focus on the here and now, and if suffering is their daily life, they may be experiencing great pain.
Five Good Things
Many vets use the “Five Good Things” rule. While your pet is active and healthy, document five things he really enjoys. Running? Playing fetch? Walks around the block? Treats?
If you are questioning whether or not it is time to euthanize your precious pooch, consider how many activities he still partakes in or gets excited about. Only one of his five favorite things? None? Two or three?
Some people suggest that if your dog or cat is still able to accomplish and enjoy over three activities, continue trying to manage his pain to the best of your ability. However, if three or more activities have been compromised by your dog’s health, his quality of life has diminished.
Every Situation Is Different
Keep in mind that every situation is different, and many people have opinions. Just because your great Aunt Susie’s second cousin put down her pet and is telling you to do the same doesn’t necessarily mean you should, and vice versa.
At the end of the day, you must determine what is in the best interest of your pet. After all, you’re his best friend and you want what’s best for him. You’ve loved him and cared for him all these years and he trusts that you will make the right decision for him during this time as well.
We know how difficult of a process this is, and we hope you were able to glean some information from this article.
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