Compassion and Care for Your Beloved Pets

Decision: How to know when the time is right

Tucson Vetcalls - making the decision for at home euthanasiaHow will I know when it is time to say goodbye?

This is a difficult question involving not just medical information, but moral judgment. Consider not only what is best for your pet, but also what is best for you and your family. Quality of life is important for pets and people alike.

Veterinarians, as medical scientists, may inform you the owner about the following:

  • The current condition of your pet
  • What the pet is likely to experience in the near future and long term
  • In what ways the most advanced medicine can intervene to maximize the quality of your pet’s life

sensibility for at home pet euthanasiaWith every client, I am dedicated to educating you the client on what the most up to date information is regarding these three areas of knowledge. As I offer you information, I strive to act as a sensitive medical informant who is aware that any decisions you make have to do not just with information, but with profound feelings. My practice revolves around the idea that good doctoring is in part based on a healer’s ability to play the role of a professional listener.

I do not have the authority to tell you if it is time to say goodbye. Rather, a decision to euthanize must be the product of your careful reflections. The best decisions often are generated out of a balancing of medical data and the personal feelings of those bonded to your pet.

Relationships with pets, like relationships between humans, can be profound. We have all heard the saying, “A dog is a man’s best friend”. There are examples of the profound depth of this bond. For example, it is not uncommon to hear of a pet dying just after their life- long owner dies. There are also stories of pets saving their owners’ lives or the lives of people they have never met. Given these realities, thinking about putting our pet to sleep brings up powerful feelings. Emotions like guilt and anger are not uncommon in people who are faced with the possibility of losing their loyal animal companion.

I try to act as a neutral professional who creates room for you to think about the full range of options available to you. I try to walk clients down each option, and let them make the decision that they feel is right for them and their family. Often, with the proper information, followed by personal reflections, people come to make a decision they are then happy with for the rest of their lives.

As a veterinarian, one question I pose to owners is to ask themselves if their pet’s bad days outnumber the good days. Some owners agree that it is probably “time” when the bad days begin to outnumber the good ones and pet owners usually have some idea of what a “good day” and “bad day” looks like in terms of their pet friend.
People often wrangle with this issue, and they should; it is a “morally heavy” situation. And it is difficult to know what choice is in the best interest of their pet. I have gone to people’s houses to conduct a euthanasia after they have agreed it is the best option, and whenI arrive at the owner’s front door, and they tell me “Today is not the day”. I respectfully tell them to call me when they feel they are ready, and they do.

This is a long answer to a short question. But, the decision to put ones pet to sleep is complex. Nothing important in life is easy or quick, and you should not rush this decision. But this decision does not have to be overwhelmingly complex if an experienced and caring professional is at your side, with you and having your pet’s best interests at heart.

tucson pet euthanasiaCan I call Vet Calls for medical advice regarding my decision?

Yes, you can. This is all part of the personalized care model I practice. I will spend as much time as you wish in discussing this decision. During our private one-on-one conversations, we can review your pet’s life history, their current pattern of symptomatology, and the full range of options from which you have the control to choose. One of my deepest ethical beliefs is that you the owner must be fully informed of your full range of options, from the most minimal treatment, to the fullest.

What are the advantages of having my pet put to sleep in my home versus bringing them to the clinic?

You are the best judge of this. What I can impart to you are some reasons my clients have written thank-you notes to me praising me for compassionately performing this service in their home.

Some clients tell me that their pet always hated going to the vet, and they hated feeling like they had to take their pet into a stressful environment during their last moments. They thank me for minimizing the stress both their pet and they felt during this already difficult procedure.

Other clients have thanked me for coming to their homes, and allowing them to have their last moments with their pet in an intimate, peaceful atmosphere where they could be themselves, and not feel ashamed to express any emotion they felt. Many clients did not anticipate how emotional they would become.

Still other clients have appreciated the ability to personally tailor the process of the euthanization to where they could verbally include their own personal beliefs through the reading of certain passages or through the performance of rituals of personal significance.

Finally, many people find they can involve others who also loved the pet, more easily if the process takes place at their home rather than asking people to all meet at the veterinary clinic.

making touch decisions for pet careOnce a decision has been made, how should family and friends be informed?

There is no one right answer to this question. Obviously, before you go and tell others, you might want to try and foresee how those you inform will react.

Especially in the case of children this is a critical question to reflect on. As you know, children tend to be more emotional, and for some children their furry friend may be one of their best friends. Thus, great care should be taken in how you deliver the sad news. There are many children’s books out on the subject of how to talk about death with a child. Please see the list of books I have provided in response to a later question. Even if you choose not to seek written information, you should consider your child’s temperament. You know your child best. Use this knowledge as you wonder how you might frame your discussion.

One possible idea you might use when discussing the idea with a child is to buy some children’s books which involve the theme of death, and read those books to the children. Then, as you are explaining this decision, you can relate it to the story they have already heard. This may provide a way to protect them from suddenly feeling too anxious about the loss of their pet. Your challenge is to strike a balance where you expose the child to a new experience, but in such a way that they can understandtheir experience and grow stronger from it.

Overall, a great general principle of communication to follow is to encourage family members to express their thoughts and feelings.