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Deciding When to Euthanize Your Best Friend?

 

In our profession, we frequently get asked “is it time?” or “am I doing the right thing?”. It’s such a difficult question to answer as every pet and every family is unique. We can see one dog with Stage 4 kidney failure that is happy and active, and another in Stage 3 that has given up the will to carry on. So when we are assessing the quality of life, it is a very personal and variable thing.

What we discuss with every family when that time comes falls into 3 categories:

 

  • Pet Health:

 

    1. Is the illness my pet is experiencing terminal, or can it get better? Sometimes we must do extra testing to find and answer on prognosis (the average amount of time we have left with our pet). Getting the “complete picture” can help make an informed decision.
    2. How old is my pet? We need to take into account a realistic life expectancy: A 13-year-old Labrador is much older in reality than a cat at 13 years. Life expectancy averages for Labrador dogs is around 12, cats is 16 years.

 

 

  • Pet Personality:

 

    1. Appetite: Most pets (just like most people), have favourite snacks. Determining how much your pet loved food in his/her “prime” and comparing it on a daily basis to your current situation can give you insight on how well your pet is feeling. Most animals stop eating when they are declining.
    2. Behaviour: Every pet has a unique personality – a favourite toy, a traditional behaviour, a favourite nap location. As they become ill, these behaviours change. They tend to become more listless and are unable to play or interact the way they did before.
    3. Cleanliness: The ability to distinguish between “bathroom” locations and sleeping/playing areas is well trained into our domesticated pets. The lack of this distinction, the inability to wait/make it to their regular area or the inability to clean themselves is not a healthy or normal condition.

 

  1. Nursing Care/Family Concerns: Unfortunately, Medicare does not extend to our pets. This is a reality we must factor into our decision-making process. It is not something we should feel guilty about, as it is critical in deciding what is best for our pet. The goal is to prevent suffering and not “suffer through it” and this goes for all members of the family, be them human or furry.
    1. Finances: Have a frank discussion about how much you can realistically afford. This is an unfortunate reality, but knowing before going in can help make some hard decisions.
    2. Nursing Care: There are no retirement communities for our fur family, so that leaves you to perform some tasks that in the human world are reserved for nurses and trained caregivers. Our staff can help train and provide education for your pet’s particular condition, but deciding how much time and energy you can invest in your pet’s day-to-day care is variable. Having both you and your pet unhappy, sleep-deprived and ill is NOT a healthy way to survive, emotionally or physically.

There are two Quality of Life Scales that are frequently used to help decide when to end your pet’s suffering.

http://www.vetsocialwork.utk.edu/docs/Quality%20of%20Life.pdf

http://www.pawsacuvet.com/uploads/6/1/1/5/61158589/quality_of_life_evaluation.pdf

 

When you do make the decision to help your pet end his/her suffering, there are a few final decisions to make.

  • Do I want to be present when my pet passes?
    • Your pet will not be alone; we are here for them every step of the way. It is up to you if you would also like to be there.
    • We always give a sedative beforehand. This decreases the stress on your pet and alleviates any pain they may be in.
    • They can have muscle twitching, vocalization, the release of bowels and abnormal posture as they pass. it is just their system shutting down and is a normal body function, but it can be quite scary. They do not feel any pain.
  • What do I want to do with my pet’s remains?
    • If you have a location for burial outside of city limits, we can release your pet’s body to you.
    • We can take care of your pet’s remains or
    • You can request a private cremation and have your pet’s ashes returned to you. These services are provided by Forget Me Not Aftercare, whom we have selected as they are compassionate, respectful, timely and reputable. 

There are also a large number of support groups for those that are mourning the loss of their furry family member. Please let us know if you need any help!

Written by Moncton Animal Clinic 

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Last updated: August 26, 2021

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we have made some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

3. CANCELLATION POLICY

Clients must confirm their appointments 24 hours before their scheduled time slot at the latest. We will cancel appointments of clients who do not confirm and give them to waitlisted patients.

4. ZERO TOLERANCE AGAINST ABUSE

We reserve the right to refuse service to clients who verbally, emotionally, or physically harm any of our teammates.

5. OPERATING HOURS

We are OPEN with the following hours:

Monday, Tuesday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wednesday, Thursday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Sunday: CLOSED

 

NEW PET OWNERS

Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Moncton Animal Hospital