By Dr. Jeannine Berger, SF SPCA Veterinarian & Behavior Specialist
After giving us a lifetime of unconditional love, devotion, and loyalty, dogs carry only one fault. And that one fault is that they just don’t live as long as we often hope. So, after receiving a lifetime of beauty and selflessness, how do we honor them in their darkest hour? In fact, one of the most compassionate actions we can take is knowing how and when to give them a kind, gentle death. And as bittersweet as the choice may be, planning ahead and being prepared for a pet’s euthanasia often helps make it a very compassionate decision.
One of the most common questions I get is: “When do I know it’s time?” The answer is subtle and unique to every individual and each family. However, there are a few major factors that I find help to make the decision, including: evaluating the pet’s normal appetite, energy levels, ability to enjoy daily activities, and pain levels, especially in light of any major ongoing diseases. Work with your trusted veterinarian to help you evaluate what is normal, what is a deviation, and when major abnormalities are negatively impacting your pup’s quality of life.
The second question that follows is: “How?” If you have an established relationship with your local clinic, euthanasia can be a very comforting process with your dog’s longtime veterinarian. Also, many veterinarians now offer mobile euthanasia services, allowing you to say Good-Bye to your beloved pup in the comfort of your own home. Ask your veterinarian for options and make sure you are comfortable with their process – whether at the clinic or in your home. For all the joy that they give us, it’s indeed a privilege to help end our faithful friends’ lives with dignity and comfort.