While there is a great deal of personal and spiritual philosophy that will vary in each household, I give my clients three basic questions to consider.
Is the pet eating and drinking?
Are they going to the bathroom with dignity?
Do they know and love their people still?
Now there will be days we all know that we as humans just don’t meet these criteria (think of the stomach flu), but I like to think about the past two weeks and if the pet has not met the above criteria for more than half of the days then it may be time to start thinking about euthanasia.
Now, there are some pets who were always picky eaters and there were some that were not always great at going pee outside so I try to look at these questions in the context of the pet’s life.
Also, I like to think about where was the pet 6 months ago and has there been a big change. When I reflect on the troubles the pet may be having medically I like to think – Is this the best day this pet will have for the rest of its life? If yes, is this a crummy day?
There is one other factor that may change things. The pet may be perfectly happy, eating, going to the bathroom outside but have a big thing going on medically that is a problem they don’t understand.
Large bleeding tumors of the mouth or anywhere else can be a problem logistically for both the owner and the pet. Cancer that has invaded everywhere where the pet is only mildly ill but will soon become very ill may be another consideration.
Neurologic problems can also fall into this category.
Usually, the owner just knows when the time is right if euthanasia is in their philosophical reality. Occasionally people will tell me they let things go too long, but rarely do they say they did it too early.
Some folks believe in letting the pet pass on their own. This is a perfectly fine way to handle it as long as there is appropriate nursing care and you have a fairly strong stomach for potentially watching your pet not be comfortable during parts of the process. You will know what is right for you and your pet. Trust your instincts.