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We all know our pets won’t live forever, but it’s not really something we think about on a regular basis. It’s definitely not something anyone likes to think about, at least. When I was 10 years old, Max the White Poodle joined our family, and even as an adult, I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He was always there during milestones and heartaches, and his playfulness and endless hugs gave me more joy than I thought at the time. But Max got old and soon I can’t remember the last time he and I played one of our hide and seek games. He lost his sight and hearing, spent most of his time sleeping, and was clearly not doing well. It was time to say goodbye to Max and my heart was completely broken.
Making the decision to put our dog down was one of the hardest we’ve ever had to make, but just because it was difficult doesn’t mean I regret it or think it was the wrong one. . We knew it was Max’s time and he shouldn’t be in pain anymore. Knowing when it’s time to slaughter your pet can be stressful and confusing, but we asked two vets to help you frame the thinking.
What are the physical signs that it may be time to put your pet on the ground?
While there may be some common physical signs that your pet is in pain, it’s important to remember that every animal is different. “When I talk to pet owners about euthanasia, the big sign people usually notice is [their pet] stop eating and don’t get up and move. It’s a sign they may be in pain, ”said Tierra Price, DVM, veterinarian and founder of BlackDVM Network. However, she also added that many animals are very stoic, so they can still get up and eat despite the pain. “Pet owners need to ask themselves if this is the same animal that they have known in the past 10 to 14 years,” said Dr Price.
If you notice a change in his behavior and activity, it may be a sign that something is wrong with your pet, especially if it is a quick change. You know your pet better than anyone, so if something is wrong, trust yourself. Many times it can be difficult to determine if your pet is in pain or is simply going through a temporary health issue, which is why it is so important to discuss your pet’s health with a veterinarian.
It’s important to keep in mind that age is not a disease, says Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, veterinarian, author, and speaker. “Your pet can be very old and still have a great quality of life.” This is why it is essential to communicate with your pet’s veterinarian and not to make assumptions about his health. “People often tell pet owners that they’ll know when it’s time to drop off their pet, and I don’t agree,” said Dr Vogelsang. “Sometimes you just don’t know, which is why it’s important to educate yourself and talk to your vet.” Having a conversation with your vet about what the end-of-life process will look like specifically for your pet, whether or not they are sick, can better prepare you for this time.
What does the euthanasia process look like?
When it was time to take Max down, I was very reassured to know exactly what the process involved. I knew he wouldn’t feel any pain and my family was able to be there with him during his last moments, which we wanted. “An IV catheter is first used for sedation,” explains Dr. Price. This allows the animal to feel completely relaxed. After that, the IV containing the euthanasia solution is used. It takes two to three minutes to take effect. Max’s vet gave me and my family all the time we needed to say goodbye, which we were very grateful for. The process may seem very quick and easy, but it can be as long as you want. It’s about you and your pet, and you have the right to make this as private as you want. Dr Price said she often recommends pet owners choose home euthanasia so that the animal is in their home surrounded by things they are familiar with.
What should pet owners consider if they’re not sure it’s time to drop a pet?
“It’s very important to me that pet owners know it’s their decision and that they have time to think about it,” Dr Price said. You should ask the vet what your options are, but the decision is ultimately up to you. Dr Price also mentioned that it is very rare for a pet to have to be slaughtered immediately. So there is no rush and it’s good to take the time to think about it. “Even if you are not yet ready to euthanize your pet, talk to your vet so we can help ease your pet’s pain while you take the time,” added Dr. Vogelsang.
It also allows you to make your last days at home with your special pet. If you’re worried that your pet actually shouldn’t be euthanized, no vet will euthanize an animal just because you ask, Dr Price and Dr Vogelsang agree. “We don’t end a life lightly. We also want what’s best for you and your pet, ”says Dr Vogelsang. Additionally, it is good to keep in mind that this is not easy for most vets either. Veterinary medicine is the only area of medicine that practices euthanasia. Your vet will most likely be sympathetic to you and support your decision as he also doesn’t want your pet to be in pain.
The final decision is yours. There will be those who do not understand, but there will also be those who fully understand. Dr Vogelsang left us this last piece of advice: “If you make this decision with connection and respect for your pet in your mind, you are doing the right thing and your pet trusts you.”
Image source: Jacqueline Delgadillo