How Will I Know When?

Having a companion animal is a privilege, and we are fortunate to have shared time with these amazing creatures, each special in its own way, and each very dear to our hearts.

When we first bring our companions home, we welcome them in anticipation of the life ahead, eager to take on the new responsibility. Years later we’re faced with new responsibilities as they age, and we make adjustments to take care of our old friends.

We struggle with letting go, and we try to reason with ourselves. It’s only natural. In our hearts, we know when it’s time to let them go.

Are they in pain?

Sometimes the changes happen so gradually, the signs can be difficult to detect. Just like us, they modify their behavior to make themselves more comfortable. Some of those changes can be written off to advanced years, but some subtle signals that your pet is in pain include:

Restlessness or the inability to get comfortable

Apathy

Dilated pupils

Panting without overheating or exercise

Poor appetite

Shivering

Finding your pet in unusual places

Your veterinarian can prescribe effective medications for pain relief, but eventually these may no longer offer relief. You know your pet better than anyone, and you’ll know when the pain is no longer under control.

Illness

Our pets often succumb to the very same health issues that we face. Advances in medical care for both humans and animals have given rise to successful treatments for diseases such as cancer. Like people, some of our pets respond to treatment very well and go on to enjoy a long life. And like some of us, after a while medical conditions can deteriorate. Our pets can suffer from nausea, organ failure and dementia.

When we can no longer offer our friends the quality of life they deserve, it’s time to think about letting them go. As heartbreaking as this decision can be, it is the greatest act of love and friendship you can offer. To alleviate suffering while providing a comfortable passage is a gift. 

I’m Still Not Sure

It’s perfectly understandable. Some of our families have found comfort in utilizing a Quality of Life Scale developed by California animal oncologist Dr. Alice Villalobos. Designed to be used at home, this tool can help you better evaluate your pet’s condition, and make the best decision at the right time. During this time, we suggest you consult the scale regularly to keep track of your pet over time.