How do you know when it’s time to euthanize?
Most people who are faced with the difficult decision to euthanize have a pet that is suffering from severe and chronic pain with no possibility for recovery. They share in their fears and concerns. Whatever reservations you have on the subject, know that you are not alone.
Your veterinary professional will suggest treatment options if any exist and will only recommend euthanasia as a last resort. While you may be wondering if you are rushing into the decision or if postponing the matter makes you selfish, your veterinarian is basing her recommendation solely on your pet.
Quality of life is often the decisive factor. But how can you determine your pet’s current life and how would you go about measuring quality of life? While it may appear difficult at first, there is a method that many use to evaluate how good or bad their pet’s life is before making their decision to euthanize.
It is called “The Rule of Five Good Things.”
Pick the top five things that your pet loves to do. Write them down. When he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been impacted to a level of concern. It is important that you pay close attention to your pet’s signs and demeanor. Animals may not be able to speak but they can make their wishes known.
Unfortunately, the matter is complicated by “good days.” It may skew the data or provide false hope to loved ones. When animals have both “good days” and “bad days,” it can be difficult to see how their condition progresses over time. For this reason, it is a good idea to track the days when your pet is feeling good as well as the days when they are feeling bad.
Mark each calendar day with either a check mark for a good day or an X for a bad day. The idea behind this process is to eliminate guess work and wishful thinking. You may also want to keep a journal of your pet’s behavior, appetite, agility, energy, and bodily changes. Most animals at this level will be incontinent, refuse food, drink very little, stop barking, have difficulty getting up to greet you, be unable to get on the bed or couch, and appear sad. Some may even whimper or show signs of pain and suffering. While these are common signs, be sure to track as much of your pet’s day to day as possible. The journal can be extremely valuable in evaluating quality of life over time and helping you feel at peace with whatever decision you make.
When you can’t stand watching your pet suffer anymore and you’ve tried everything you can to help improve or manage your pet’s health, when you’ve tried everything and when your veterinarian has tried everything, when you have no more options and your pet is still suffering, it is time.
Rainbow Bridge Poem
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….