Euthanasia – The Incredibly Difficult Decision of When to Put Your Pet to Sleep
Euthanasia, the technical term for "putting your pet to sleep," is one of the hardest decisions you will ever make as a pet owner. This is one decision that never gets easier, no matter how many times over the years you have to face it. Your veterinarian and friends can offer you advice and support, but no one can make the decision for you. If you have an elderly or terminally ill pet, you look at him every morning and wonder if this is the day.
Although pet owners say it is impossible to know exactly when it is time to euthanize your pet, they actually do know when it is time, and those around them should respect that decision. Asking guidance from friends, family, and veterinarians is very appropriate, but only you can make that final decision.
Some pet owners do not wait until their pet's discomfort becomes pain, and they will choose euthanasia much sooner than many other people would. They reason that if an older or ill animal is no longer interested in eating, then he is not interested in anything at all. Some owners will use that appetite as their guide in making the decision.
Other owners wait until there is no doubt remaining that the time to euthanize is now. Each guideline is the right one for each owner, and for each pet, at that time. You do the best you can, and then try to put the decision behind you, and then deal with the grief.
With the great advances in veterinary medicine over the years, the decision of when to euthanize has become even more difficult for pet owners. In the past, the best you could do for a seriously ill pet was to make him as comfortable as possible, up to the point that it was not possible any more. These days, nearly every advantage that exists in human medicine is available to our pets.
If you are able to afford such care, and have realistic expectations that it will improve your pet's life, and not just prolong it, then advanced medical treatment is an option you should consider. But you should let nothing push you into a decision that is based on guilt or wishful thinking.