The sad fact of dog ownership is that dogs don't live as long as us. Sooner or later the day will come when we have to say goodbye. We are here for you if your canine companion needs help on that final step of the journey.
Sometimes the change at the end of your dog's life may come on slowly. Routine checkups at home are a good way to catch problems at their onset. Begin at your dog's head and work your way back running your hands symmetrically along each side of the body.
Answer normal or abnormal to the following:
- Attitude normal and up-beat
- Appetite normal - no problems chewing or swallowing
- Drinks normal amounts of water
- Nose moist and without discharge
- Teeth clean, free of tartar, and no bad breath
- Gums pink and moist with no redness or growths
- Eyes bright, clear and free of matter
- Ears clean without discharge, odor or inner swelling
- Breathes without difficulty or excessive panting
- The coat is shiny with no flaking or hair loss
- Skin is free from itching or areas of irritation
- No lumps or bumps on the body
- No fleas, ticks, lice or mites
- Walks without stiffness, pain or difficulty
- Urinates with the usual frequency
- Has regular bowel movements in the usual amount and consistency
- Litter box habits and/or house training remain unchanged
The importance of early intervention cannot be overemphasized.
Making the Decision
Making the decision to euthanize your dog is the hardest one any dog owner has to face. While no one else can make this difficult decision for you, here are some things that may help you decide if the time is right or not. The decision of when to euthanize is as individual and personal as you and your dog are. This is a judgment that only you can make, and it involves great personal courage and sacrifice. Many people fear they will not be able to recognize when the time is right. Do not hesitate to seek guidance from your veterinarian. It is good to include family members or friends who share a close bond with your dog in the decision-making process. This is a time when you will need the support of those who truly understand.
When trying to decide if the time is right or not, consider the following:
- Does your dog still seem to enjoy life?
- Is your dog in pain?
- Is he/she able to carry out normal body functions normally (eating, walking, eliminating)?
- What is the prognosis for your dog? What are the treatment options? Will they create an uncomfortable quality of life for your dog?
- Are you able to afford the cost of treatment? For some, this must be the overriding consideration.
- It may be helpful to weigh the good days versus the bad days.
Many owners who have euthanized their dog in the past say that there was a day when their dog looked at them in a certain way and they just knew that it was time. Sometimes the time comes when the bad days outnumber the good ones. Other times it is when your dog is in pain that medications are not helping to alleviate. Remember that no one knows your dog better than you do. You have spent a great deal of time learning to communicate with your dog by reading his or her body language. Be attentive to what your dog may be trying to communicate. And trust what your heart tells you.
When the time has come to euthanize your dog the next step is making the appointment. The timing is often critical, and you may need to act quickly. Some people prefer to spend a few final days with their dog. At Veterinary Village we understand all the complexities of this decision, and we try our best to work with whatever decision you have made. Whether that means you need to come in that same day or a day in the near future. Consider the time of day and the day of the week. You will need time before and after to process your emotions. You may need to take time off of work. While you are making a decision based on what is best for your dog do not hesitate to care for yourself. You are important. Make some decisions that are the best for you as well.
The Final Act of Caring
The word Euthanasia comes from the Greek meaning "kind death"
Understanding the appointment:
At Veterinary Village we have a specific room dedicated to euthanasias furnished with couches and chairs to try to make the appointment as comfortable as possible for both you and your dog. We understand that this is an emotional time for you and your family so we like to get you right into the room and not make you wait in the lobby. The technician will come in and go over the options with you and process the payment. To prepare for administering the solution we will take your dog into our treatment area to place the catheter into your dog's vein. No medications or solutions are normally given at this point. Then we bring your dog back to the room and you can spend as much time with them as you and your family need before the doctor comes in to administer the solution. Some owners choose not to be with their dog during the administering of the solution. We understand that everyone has their own way of processing during this painful time. The solution works very quickly and is painless. It is just like falling asleep or being sedated for a surgery.