This is the hardest part for any pet owner. It can hang over you for a long time and cause many sleepless nights. It is perfectly normal to worry about whether you will know when the time is right. Your family, friends and the practice can all help. It may not be so difficult if your pet has been injured or has an incurable disease.
However, for many owners, if your pet has just got older and their quality of life has gradually deteriorated, this final step can be the hardest one.
- How will you know from one day to the next when the time is right?
- How can you justify it one day but not another?
These are questions we can never answer because they are all questions that can only be answered with hindsight.
Talk to your family and try to think about the life your pet once had. Looking back at photos and videos can sometimes help to show you just how much a pet has aged or how infirm or inactive they have become. A good rule of thumb to remember is this: if you are thinking about it and talking about it, then it’s almost certainly the right time to do it.
Talk to the people you know and trust at the practice. They will give you the detached point of view we all so often need. Don’t be surprised if you feel a huge sense of guilt. One of the hardest facts about euthanasia is that it is you who decides to end your pet’s life and this can feel unbearably hard. Virtually all owners feel guilty and this is another reason why using and involving members of the practice team is so important. They can help you shoulder that burden and take the decision and that guilt out of your hands.
The phrase ‘the ultimate kindness’ may sound like a cliché but try to remember that it is true. Allowing your pet a pain-free and dignified end is possibly the kindest thing you will ever do for them. Feeling safe in that knowledge can really help you to come to terms with it.