Recognizing Pet Suffering and When to Say Goodbye
At some point, every pet begins the necessary journey toward end of life. For most pet owners, we have watched our beloved companion grow from precocious youngster into golden-years snuggler. Because of our love for our furry friend, we may want to hold on, despite signs of growing weakness or suffering.
There will be days when that old spark or a glimmer of light in the eyes gives us a bit of hope that we have more time with our pet. Yet, we are tasked with an enormous decision and responsibility–recognizing the signs that quality of life has eroded too far, or that end of life is near–and making the decision to say goodbye to our four-legged family member.
Every pet family will tread this transition in their own way. Yes, it is a journey of loss, but also one of compassion and love for our faithful companion.
Signs of Pet Suffering
For some families, the decision to say goodbye becomes obvious when more days are spent seeing their pets suffer than not.
Some of the signs that a pet’s quality of life has drastically declined include:
- Inability to walk or stand
- No interest or response to affection, petting, or interaction
- Labored breathing
- Noticeable physical pain
- Loss of alertness
- Not eating or drinking water
These conditions may indicate that your pet is in his or her final stages of life. It is also when many pets owners make the final gesture of love to ease their pet’s suffering.
Although your focus and attention may rightfully be on your pet companion, it’s important to take care of yourself and seek support. Not only will you feel less alone but you will also have others to help provide comfort through the last days or weeks of care, and through the process of saying goodbye.
Some ways you can give yourself the needed emotional and practical supports include:
- Ask for input and observations from family members about your pet’s quality of life to make a decision as a family
- Speak with your veterinarian and maintain frequent wellness examinations at your local Austin ZippiVet Animal Hospital, to determine your pet’s health status and level of pain
- Ask friends for pragmatic help, such as running errands or preparing meals, or helping with caring for your pet as they need more care
- Commemorate your pet in a way that is meaningful for you and that eases your pain. There are many options for creating a lasting memorial.
Pets leave an indelible imprint on our hearts. The tears will come and the final moments will be hard, but you can be comforted by knowing you are making the most humane choice for your pet.
For more information on end of life services and pet loss support, please contact your friends at ZippiVet, who are here to help guide you through this (and every) phase of your pet’s life.