How Do You Know When It’s Time To Say Goodbye?

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CPC Garden of Remembrance - Euthanasia

As you can imagine our bereavement advisers deal with customers who have experienced pet loss in many ways. Some stories are of unexpected pet loss with short quick illnesses and some where both the owner and pet have been through a roller coaster of good news and bad news. Euthanasia is a term that’s often hard for pet owners to come to terms with.

So, how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye?

Euthanaisa is a process of a concentrated dose of anesthetic administered intravenously. Other terms you may be more familiar with are ‘put to sleep’ or ‘put down’.  Euthanasia is often a blessing for suffering animals, but that still doesn’t make it any easier for a pet owner to handle.

Depending on the circumstances of the pet, some owners are able to have the euthanasia take place at home but in most cases they take place at the vet’s practice. As part of our pet cremation services pet owners are able to attend the cremation at one of our crematoria. This allows owners who had had their pet laid to rest at their vet’s practice one more chance to say goodbye and gives a different lasting memory.

Having trouble arriving at the decision to euthanise your pet?

The best thing you can do is talk it over with your friends and family and most importantly your veterinary surgeon.

If you’re still unsure, ask yourself…

  • Why do I think it might be time to euthanise?
  • Whose interest, besides those of my pet am I considering?
  • Am I making this decision because it is ultimately the best decision for my pet?
  • Is he in pain?

Measure their current quality of life. Are they still able to do the things they once did?

Well, there isn’t ONE definitive way for anyone to decide. Every pet, illness and situation is different. It’s not a one rule fits all when it comes to you helping your best friend lay to rest.

Kamira’s euthanasia story:

Kamira is the blogger and website owner of Impurrfectlife, which is created as a coping mechanism after the loss of her second cat Dusty. You may recognise her website as a regular feature on our blog feed.  She was kind enough to share her personal experience with us and offered advice for others.

Dusty had cancer

At the time I found out Dusty had cancer, I had discovered a lump under her jawline on her throat. When the vet checked it out they did a blood asper (tiny sample) and saw abnormalities. The doctor suspected cancer and told me it was inoperable since it was next to the jugular vein. Due to the high risk they didn’t want to risk it. However to stabilize her red blood count, they gave her a regimen of steroid medication to keep her numbers up.

I did seek a second opinion of another well respected long term vet that specialized in cats. I visited him and just after seeing Dusty 5 minutes he could tell she had thyroid cancer. In his opinion, he thought he could remove the lump, however then told the cost in the thousands. Plus he wanted to start a regime of chemotherapy and possible radiation on top of that too. Aside from cost, my heart sank because I knew Dusty was almost 14 years old and I thought that would be just too overwhelming to handle.

I didn’t have fears over euthanasia process itself however I had a challenging time in the decision process in making the final decision to use euthanasia. I had to weigh the pros and cons and what I came to realise was that to really love Dusty I had to let her go. I put myself in her shoes. If I was in my 80’s and told I could have quality life at home with my family and enjoy my last days comfortable or surgery and chemo, painful recovery and less quality of life, I would choose the former.

We knew it was time

We got confirmation of Dusty’s cancer from the second opinion first week of December. We said goodbye January 10, 2015. We realised it was time to say goodbye when Dusty physically started to sound wheezy in her breathing two days before she died. She looked like it was taking a lot of labor to breath. She would spend most her day on her kitty condo resting. Towards the end, the day before she didn’t drink or eat. She would try to use the bathroom and would either soil herself or couldn’t go. The defining moment when I knew it was time was when my husband went to pick her up and she went into convulsions/spasms. Instinctively I just knew her spirit was leaving. She was dying. We rushed her to the vet 20 minutes later where the doctor confirmed her veins had collapsed and her organs were shutting down. The urgent care vet was caring and compassionate and honest. He told us he could try and keep Dusty alive on tubes but that would only drag out her suffering a few days at most. I expressed my desire for her to have quality of life over everything else, and he recommended the most humane thing to do would be to end her suffering. We were there in the room with her to say our goodbyes that evening.

Family Support

I did have a support system in my family, particularly my husband and close friends. The best support came from those who were pet parents who had been through the same thing. My husband was amazing. He was right there with me the whole time during this journey.

The advice I’d give to another pet parent dealing with this is to look at all your options first and get a second opinion. Try anything, including holistic alternatives. Then consider what you value the most. Quality of life was the deciding factor for me. Do what’s for the best interest of your pet. Go with your gut instinct. Remember sometimes to love is to let go. Surround yourself with a good support system. They can also read about my personal experience in my blog post on this very issue here.

Other Support:

There is so much support out there if you’re struggling with the loss of a pet or coming to terms with the decision you have just made. We’ve listed a couple below:

The Ralph Site

The Blue Cross