When is the right time?
As animal lovers, planning the last moments with our pets can be a daunting time. I have always felt very privileged to be able to make the decision to end an animal’s suffering, and understand that it is never a choice to be made lightly.
Whenever I’m asked, “How will I know it’s the right time?”, my initial response is always; “As the owner, you know your own pet better than anyone, and you will know when the time is right.”
I’m sure all pet owners are aware that when our pets find themselves in the middle of a health crisis, and all medical and surgical options have been exhausted, letting them go becomes the fairest, kindest and most dignified option.
This is a tough, painful decision for us, but I encourage pet owners to remember that alleviating our pets’ pain and preventing further unnecessary suffering, can be the final parting gift to our four-legged friends.
Having said that, even though we may recognise that putting our pets to sleep is the right decision, there are some guidelines that can assist you in your decision-making process, specifically with regards to their Quality of Life.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
A GUIDE TO QUALITY OF LIFE
How to use this Guide
Making the life-changing decision to put one of our pets to sleep is a very difficult one, and we want to make sure that the correct decision is made at the correct time.
Each pet is unique and so not all the symptoms listed below will necessarily be relevant. This guide is intended to help you to form a picture of the overall Quality of Life of your pet.
Each time you confirm something that applies to your pet, this may provide an indication that their Quality of Life is deteriorating.
- Have you noticed any obvious changes in their behaviour?
- Any signs of confusion or disorientation?
- Do you find them ‘staring into space’ or perhaps staring at the wall?
- Have they started occasionally walking into objects?
- Do they not appear to hear you when you call?
- Are they showing any signs of anxiety?
- Has there been any development of aggression or irritability?
- Do they show signs of being restless and taking longer to settle down and get comfortable?
- Are they getting out of breath during walks?
- Are they showing a new or regular cough when they get up after a sleep?
- Do they start coughing during exercise or when they become excited?
- Have you noticed any wheezing?
- Is there any increase in the effort to breath in and/or out?
- Do they show increased abdominal effort when breathing?
- Are their gums moist and pink (salmon pink is normal), or are they very pale or have a bluish tinge?
- Any signs of regular or progressive stiffness?
- Do they get tired more quickly or refuse to walk?
- Are they stiff when they get up after a sleep?
- Do they start limping during or after a walk?
- Do they have trouble jumping onto the sofa or into/out of the car?
- Any difficulty climbing or descending stairs?
- Any reluctance to get up or stand for any length of time?
- Have you noticed any swelling on the legs?
- Are they getting thinner or weak and wobbly on their legs?
- Are they finding it difficult to groom themselves? (especially cats.)
- Are they eating less than before?
- Are they starting to refuse their favourite foods?
- Do they retch or vomit on a regular basis?
- Are they drinking significantly more or less than before?
- Are they finding it difficult to pick up, chew or swallow their food?
- Are there any signs of losing weight or muscle mass?
- Any recent gains in weight or distending of the abdomen?
- Have they started passing urine on their beds whilst asleep?
- Do they ask to go outside for a wee more frequently than before?
- Do they show any discomfort when passing urine or faeces?
- Have you noticed any blood in the urine?
- Do they seem unaware of passing urine or faeces (incontinence)?
- Have they developed regular bouts of diarrhoea?
- Have you noticed them passing blood or very dark faeces?
Signs of pain can be very different for each animal. Apart from obvious signs, such as yelping or trembling, many of the changes listed above, either in isolation or in combination, may be signs that your pet is in some degree of discomfort.
Signs such as limping, irritability, reduced appetite, lethargy and difficulties in grooming or being unable to settle can all be side-effects of pain.
What about you?
- Do you feel that your pet is less happy than before?
- Are you worried that your pet’s quality of life is not what it should be?
- Are you fearful of losing your pet?
- Do you have any previous bad experiences of having a pet put to sleep?
- Has your wellbeing been affected by that of your pet?
- Has your pet been diagnosed with an illness?
- Is your pet currently receiving medication from your vet?
- What is the long-term prognosis?
- Is there reduced or failing response to treatment?
- Are there any financial implications that are impacting the treatment of your pet?
- Has euthanasia previously been mentioned or discussed?
Hopefully, this brief guide will assist you in evaluating and recognising when your pet is starting to show changes that might impact their Quality of Life. Make a note of your responses and compare these to future answers – this can be very useful in monitoring your pet’s progress.
You might also wish to discuss your thoughts with family members and close friends, or indeed with your veterinary surgeon.
If you have any questions regarding the information we have shared with you, or if you need any further help with making a decision regarding your pet’s welfare, please do not hesitate to give us a call… we are always happy to have a chat.
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
What Our Clients Say
We needed to use Rest Assured recently when our beloved Labrador passed
I just wanted to say thank you for the caring and professional way you put my cat Oscar to sleep in his bed,
at home. He felt no pain and I’m so grateful that he was sedated first.
Thank you to Rest Assured for help in our time of need.