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How Will I Know It's Time?

The timing of death isn’t something that we, as people, usually get to decide. So grappling with that decision when it comes to our cats and dogs is agonizing. You wonder: Should I choose euthanasia? When is it time to put a pet down? Will my cat or dog show signs that it’s time?

It’s natural to have all these thoughts and more when your pet takes a turn for the worst, whether due to age or a medical diagnosis. We’re often asked by pet parents how to know when to put a pet down. Only you can decide what’s best for your four-legged friend and family. But to help you know when it’s time to let your pet go, we recommend taking the following steps:

1. Consult With Your Veterinarian

It’s essential to discuss your pet’s condition with your veterinarian. Your vet may be able to provide a simple solution to the issues going on with your pet. For instance, if your dog has arthritis and is stiff and in pain, medication and acupuncture can make a huge difference. Your dog may have years of good living ahead with treatment that eases pain and inflammation.

It’s also important to understand your pet’s medical diagnosis. For example, if you found out that your cat or dog has cancer, ask your veterinarian what lies ahead with and without treatment. Knowing the details will help you weigh the options. Questions to ask include:

  • How long do most pets live with this condition?

  • As the illness progresses, what symptoms could my pet experience?

  • How likely is it that the treatment will help?

  • How will my pet be different after treatment? Will my pet still have the same quality of life?

2. Assess Your Pet's Quality of Life

The biggest factor most people rely on to know when it’s time to put a pet down is quality of life. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Does my cat or dog have more good days than bad days?

  • Does my pet still seem to enjoy life?

  • Can I provide the care my pet needs to maintain a good quality of life?

Key indicators that it’s time to consider euthanasia are when pets are suffering more often than not and happy moments are few and far between.

3. Explore End-of-Life-Care Options

Many people are unaware of all the options available for pet end-of-life care. Of course, there are emergency pet hospitals to handle worsening symptoms and on-the-spot euthanasia. However, you should know that running to the ER when something happens isn’t the only answer. There are less stressful, more peaceful ways to provide care for pets nearing the end of their time with us.

In-home Pet Euthanasia

Most pet euthanasia takes place at veterinary clinics or emergency pet hospitals. But those aren’t the only options. We provide gentle and loving in-home euthanasia services. Our compassionate veterinarians come to your home to perform the procedure and support you and your family during the process.

Final moments with pets are so important and the memory often lingers with people. Your home is the most comforting setting for your pet, and it can be where your pet spends his final moments—surrounded by the people, animals and things that your cat or dog has spent his whole life with. You can take your time saying goodbye in the serenity of your home and express your grief in private.

We do our best to accommodate same-day appointments, but it’s not always possible. If you wait until the situation becomes urgent, you may have to rush to an emergency veterinary hospital for euthanasia services. Having a plan in place to follow will help you know when it’s time for euthanasia before it’s too late to do it in the way you’d like.

4. Make a Plan

Come up with a plan for when euthanasia will be the right choice for your pet. It can act as a guidepost that you stick by throughout the journey, even when emotions are high. Many pet parents feel a lot of guilt when they put their pets down. They think they did too much, didn’t do enough, did it too soon or not in the most ideal way. To regret-proof your decision, think about:

1. What signs will indicate that it’s your pet’s time to say goodbye?

We typically recommend euthanasia to prevent suffering and/or when your pet can no longer enjoy any aspect of life (for example: eating, drinking, cuddling, playing, walking). In your plan, determine what signs you need to see to know that it’s time to put your pet down.

2. What you would like the euthanasia procedure to be like?

If you’d like in-home euthanasia, you’ll typically have to schedule that before it becomes an emergency situation. Some people put it off hoping that their pet will pass in their sleep. Like with people, for most pets this won't be the case. Usually, there is much discomfort that leads up to natural death.

Sometimes people wait to do euthanasia until their pets' suffering is undeniable. If that’s the case for you, just know that the procedure will likely need to be done at a clinic or emergency veterinary hospital rather than at home.

Learn About Pet End-of-Life Care Near You

Luna Veterinary Care provides in-home euthanasia and pet cremation services in the Phoenix area. Call or text us at 602-960-2501 for more details. Our care coordinators are available to answer questions and discuss options to help you make the best decision for you and your pet.

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