Quality of Life (QOL) and Euthanasia
Most pet owners want the best life possible for their pets for as long as possible. In late geriatric pets, our focus often falls on maintaining good Quality of Life.
Priorities shift, and through open discussion, we help you determine what actions make sense to take and what may not be as important in helping you achieve that main goal. We can evaluate your pet’s physical, cognitive, and behavioral status to provide an honest assessment of their quality of life. We can guide you in your decision by focusing on key factors that identify whether your aging pet is still enjoying life.
- Hurt – Is there adequate pain control?
- Hungry – Is your pet eating enough? Do you need to hand feed him/her?
- Hydration – Is your pet dehydrated? Does he/she need subcutaneous fluids?
- Hygiene – Does your pet need to be cleaned, especially after elimination?
- Happiness – Does your pet express joy? Does he/she show signs of boredom/loneliness/anxiety/fear?
- Mobility – Can your pet get up without assistance? Does he/she want to go for a walk?
- Good days vs bad days – When bad days outnumber good days, the quality of life becomes comprised and euthanasia needs to be considered. Keeping a daily journal or simple assessment at the end of the day can help you keep track of trends. We encourage each family member with an investment in the pet to keep their own journals, and to compare notes on a weekly basis.
How will I know it’s time?
The death of a loving pet is never easy. It’s natural to hope your companion will pass peacefully in their sleep but often it involves a decision about euthanasia. Making that decision and knowing when the time is right can be incredibly difficult. Our veterinary team is here to help you through the process. We will work together with you to determine if euthanasia is the best decision for your pet and discuss the procedure so you know what to expect when it’s time to say goodbye. Ultimately, this is a deeply personal choice and the end point may be different for different people, different pets and even different stages of life for the same person. That’s OK! It’s not reasonable to expect that a working mother of 3 kids will have the same concerns as when she’s a retired empty nester. An 80 pound high anxiety dog with mobility issues will have different health management needs, and therefore quality of life issues, than an arthritic 18 year old lap cat with kidney disease.