When is the “Right Time” to have your dog or cat put to sleep?

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When is the “Right Time” to have your dog or cat put to sleep? Part I


Today we are going to talk about the biggest question we pet owners have:  when is the right time?

It’s so hard making this decision. The worst.

Families fall out over it. People have sleepless nights. They can experience guilt, have arguments and misunderstandings.

- Not to mention the question of whether we should even be considering euthanasia at all.

 Assuming you recognize that euthanasia is a privilege that we have been given - so that we can improve our pet’s welfare towards the end of their days - then

the biggest risk as far as I am concerned is – leaving it too late:

Once it’s too late, then it’s impossible to turn back time. It’s too late. And you and your pet are going to feel awful.

So, we need to work out when is the right time?

If a dog or cat’s welfare is reduced – for any reason - then I think people have a responsibility to try and improve it. That’s why you take your pet to the vets and why you give them the best food and care.

But when your pet has an illness that cannot be improved. When there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Or when they are failing due to age.

Then I think it’s important to think about death and how death should be:-

Grim and Dreadful – or Reassuring and Positive?

Death is part of life. It really is. Our pets don’t live their lives putting off death for as long as possible. They want to have joy and satisfaction – every waking minute of every day.

  • Collies want to have a job to do.
  • Jack Russels want to bark at something.
  • Labradors want to eat.
  • Cats want to tell you what to do.

But when it all goes wrong, and we no longer recognize our pets for what they once were – then if our pets HAVE to die, many of us may prefer them to die ‘in their sleep’. Whatever that means. ‘In their sleep’ probably means we would rather not be there when they die. We’d rather not know and rather not watch them as they die.

The truth of the matter is there is often a bunch of suffering before a ‘natural death’ – suffering that we often choose to ignore…

  • “Oh he’s still eating. He wagged his tail today. He still barks at the postman. She purred in my lap last night. She still loves her ears being stroked. She has a sparkle in her eye.”

I call that cherry picking. We grab what looks good to us to reassure us that we are doing the right thing.

But we might be ignoring the bad stuff.

  • A cat that sleeps 22 hours a day is not feeling normal.
  • A dog that can no longer walk to the shops and back. Who limps and can’t climb the stairs any more. A dog that coughs for minutes whenever they move.
  • A cat that has lost half their body weight and can’t stop eating and drinking.

These are all things that show your pet is experiencing reduced welfare.

We call it Quality of Life and we are going to talk about it in the next article: When is the “Right Time” to have your dog or cat put to sleep? Part II

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