Putting your beloved pet to sleep is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make, and we want to be here to make that decision and process just a little bit easier. We want to make sure you have all the information and resources you need, so when the time comes, you’ll know what to expect.

How to Determine your Pet’s Quality of Life

Just like humans, every pet will experience and react to changes in their body differently. This is also dependent on the disease your pet is suffering from, which is why a thorough discussion with your veterinarian is so important. Below is a list of some of the most common factors that are taken into consideration when determining and evaluating the quality of life of your pet and what roles they play in the difficult decision for euthanasia.

  • Pain: Common signs of pain in cats and dogs: Pacing, excessive panting, hiding in unique areas, not seeking interaction with family, growling, snarling, snapping, immobility, whining, not eating, flinching when touched.
  • Lack of appetite
  • Incontinence: Many pet owners feel terribly guilty over the natural annoyance they feel when their pet becomes incontinent. Keep in mind pets do not like to soil their space and as a result may experience anxiety which may be visible by increased panting or appearing uncomfortable. If left unclean, incontinence can lead to bed sores and eventually systemic infection in severe cases.
  • Mobility: Arthritis and mobility issues are common as our pets age. Usually, these signs first become evident at night when the pet begins to pace around the house. It may progress to falling, unable to stand, unable to urinate/defecate, and panting heavily. During the later stages you may find your pet very anxious. As they begin to understand that they cannot get up and down on their own. They can no longer protect their family as they once did. When anti-inflammatories and other medications cease to work, quality of life should be a concern.
  • Happiness: If you have been an earnest observer of your pet’s behavior and attitude during his or her lifetime, you will be the best at determining when they no longer seem “happy.” You’ll know when they no longer enjoy food, toys, or the environment around them. Most of all, they no longer enjoy or seek out contact with you and the rest of its family. Most pets are tremendously easy to please, so when it no longer becomes possible to raise a purr or a tail-wag, you should be considering what kind of quality of life your pet is experiencing.

How will you know when it is time to put your pet to sleep?

  • Pain & anxiety: When pain starts to affect their everyday quality of life, it’s time to start the discussion with your veterinarian. When discussing the decision to euthanize, we should be just as concerned about anxiety in our pet as we are about pain. In most cases, anxiety is worse than pain in animals.
  • Waiting too long: Owners experiencing the decline of a pet for the first time will generally wait until the very end to make that difficult decision. They are fearful of doing it too soon and giving up without a good fight. However, afterwards, most of these owners regret waiting too long. They reflect back on the past days, weeks, or months, and feel guilty for putting their pet through those numerous trips to the vet or uncomfortable medical procedures that did not improve their pet’s quality of life. The next time they witness the decline of a pet, they are much more likely to make the decision at the beginning of the decline instead of the end.
  • Natural death: Yes, there are those pets that peacefully fall asleep and pass naturally on their own, but just as in humans, this type of peaceful death is rare. A natural death can be difficult to watch, especially for people who like to go the non-medicinal route. Most people can watch a human family member in pain much more easily than they can their pet. To an extent, we can talk other humans through physical pain or discomfort, but there is no comforting a pet that is suffering. Families take this guilt difficultly and we do our very best to not only readily suggest euthanasia when appropriate, but prepare families for a worst-case scenario should they chose to wait.

St. Matthews Animal Clinic Euthanasia Options:

  • We do offer house call euthanasia so that your pet passes in the comfort of their own home.
    • Depending on your choice of aftercare, we can bring your pet with us to clinic afterwards for cremation, or you may keep them for burial.
  • Cremation: All cremations are sent to Pet Angel Memorial Center.
    • Communal: With communal cremation, your pet is gently placed into the crematory together with other pets. Because no cremated remains are returned to you when you choose a communal cremation, you may wish to consider one of our personalized memorial paw prints as a timeless remembrance.
    • Private: Private cremation provides you with the opportunity to keep your pet’s cremated remains as a permanent and personal keepsake. When you choose private cremation, your treasured pet will be the only pet in the cremation chamber during the cremation process. This also includes a paw print.
    • If you wish to purchase a special memorial urn, keepsake or casket, please see their website here.
  • What to expect: When you have made that hard decision to put your pet to sleep, we try to make the process as smooth as possible. We can accommodate you at any time or we can make an appointment. Upon arrival we will have a room set up already with a cozy blanket for your pet to relax. A veterinarian will speak with you regarding your pet’s quality of life, just to make sure this is the best route at this time. We then prep a front leg with a intravenous catheter; this is so we have quick access to a vein, making the injection process a little bit easier for us and your pet. We will flush the catheter with a saline solution just to make sure it has proper positioning. The veterinarian will then inject a sedative that puts your pet into a comfortable, calm state. Next will be the euthanasia solution, this is a pain free, quick process that is simply putting your pet into a deep sleep until the heart has stopped beating. Our staff will leave the room and give you any time you need to say your last goodbye to your beloved friend.

If you are having a hard time with the loss of your pet, please reach out to the pet loss & bereavement support hotline (855) 352-LOVE (5683). Hotline Hours: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm EST 7 days a week.