To put your pet down, or to not put your pet down, that is the extremely difficult question many of us pet owners are faced with at some time or another. Some questions to ask yourself are: Is my pet suffering or in pain in any way? How has his/her quality of life changed? Is my pet exhibiting severe or dangerous behavior? Ask yourself these questions and I feel you might have an answer to our first question.
Everyone has their own role in a household, including your pet. Both you and your pet know what role they are there to fulfill. Dr. Nancy Kay, author of “Speaking for Spot” suggests these questions: “Does my pet still respond enthusiastically to the things that would normally excite him/her? Do the good days still seem to outnumber the bad? When you get down on the ground and go eyeball-to-eyeball with your dear companion, do you still see that familiar spark in his/her eyes that let you know that he/she wants to keep on going? Do you sense your pet is ‘hanging in there’ and putting on his/her game face in order to take care of you? Your always-loyal best friend may feel that he/she doesn’t have ‘permission to pass away’ because you, his/her most beloved human, aren’t quite ready to let go.”
A lot of times your pet will know when it’s time to go. They might even start distancing themselves from the family. Such as if your pet sleeps with you at night, he/she might start sleeping in another part of the room or house. Pack animals are known to separate themselves from the pack if they’ve become injured or weak to help prevent the stronger pack leaders from being hurt by protecting them.
The decision to put a pet to sleep is always difficult and intensely personal. In most cases you will probably have some time to weigh your options and to speak with family and friends, unless there is some urgency, such as an untreatable injury or illness. It’s a heart breaking experience for all pet owners, but surrounding yourself with people who knew and also loved your pet can bring a sense of closure. Remembering your pet in a positive way and all the loving moments you shared together can be a comforting exercise to do with your family, especially with younger children. Let them know that Buddy isn’t suffering anymore, that he’s no longer in distress, and encourage them to think of all the fun/happy times. Celebrate the times your family shared with Buddy and always remember the unconditional love you and your family experienced during Buddy’s life. If you have loved and lost a pet, I wish you serenity and acceptance over the sadness of your pet’s passing.