Thinking about euthanasia is something that no pet owner likes to dwell on, but sadly it is a decision that many dog owners eventually have to face. Taking responsibility for a pain-free, peaceful death with the company of loved ones is the kindest act an owner can do for a much-loved pet.
Talk it over with your veterinary surgeon and your family and friends. Questions to think about include:
Persistent and incurable inability to eat, vomiting, signs of pain, distress or discomfort, or difficulty in breathing are all indications that euthanasia should be considered. You and your family know your dog better than anyone else, so try to make a reasoned judgement on his or her quality of life. If you are hoping for an improvement in your dog’s condition, setting a time limit may be a sensible option. Sadly, few dogs die peacefully in their sleep at home. Most reach a point when their quality of life is unsatisfactory, and a decision for euthanasia has to be made.
Living with a chronically ill dog can be emotionally (and financially) draining. Often there is a substantial time commitment involved in care. Not every owner is able to cope and, if there is no chance of a recovery and you are unable to give your dog the degree of care needed for a comfortable life, it may be better to opt for euthanasia. With some invalid dogs there is the possibility of a sudden and unpredictable deterioration. If you are unable to make arrangements for your dog to receive emergency care, euthanasia may be a better option.
Once you have made this very difficult decision, you will also need to decide how and where you and your family will say the final goodbye. It is an individual decision whether or not you and your family want to be present during the euthanasia procedure. For some pet owners, the emotion may be too overwhelming, but for many, it is a comfort to be with their pet during the final moments. It may be inappropriate for young children to witness the procedure since they are not yet able to understand death and may also not understand that they need to remain still and quiet.