The joy of pet ownership is always tempered by one thing – our beloved pets don’t live as long as we do. Eventually, most pet owners are faced with the life and death decision of euthanasia.
But how do we make that painful, fatal, and irreversible decision?
We’ve all heard the obliging terms like “put to sleep,” “put down,” “let him go,” or the merciless, “destroy.” Euthanasia literally means “gentle death” or “good death.” For most, the dreadful decision to end a beloved pet’s life is neither.
The bond between pet and owner is a very special one, and we must find the courage to assume this last duty for a pet that has given us unconditional love and companionship.
What is quality of life?
We have to do our best to consider life from their point of view. What matters to dogs and cats is quality of life, not the length of it, since they have little concept of future time, and there might eventually come a time when it’s obvious that life as they know it is simply something they no longer enjoy.
The decision almost always causes much soul searching. It is easy to become emotionally caught up in keeping your pet alive when you know that there is no hope of him regaining his health. But consider: euthanasia is an act of love towards a pet that is no longer able to enjoy life.
With recent advancements in dog care and medical knowledge, most pets enjoy long and healthy lives. But when a pet reaches the point when life is no longer enjoyable, the owner must decide whether it would be kinder to prevent further suffering rather than prolong it. Ideally, he will die peacefully in his sleep, like many do. But if not, we hope he’ll let us know when it’s time to let go.
Will it be painless?
Euthanasia is almost always accomplished by injection of a death-inducing drug. Your veterinarian may administer a tranquilizer first to relax your pet. Following the injection, your pet will immediately go into a quiet and irreversible deep unconsciousness. Death will come quickly and painlessly.