Blue Cross blog
When is it time to say goodbye?Posted on 19 Sep 2012
Facing the prospect of having a much loved pet put to sleep is horrible but it’s a decision that many pet owners have to make at some point. Blue Cross chief vet Caroline Reay urges people to remember quality of life when considering whether it’s time to say goodbye…
It’s hard to appreciate the things that make life worth living until you lose them. Caught up in the craze for the latest electronic gadget or fashion accessory, healthy individuals take basics like easy movement, effortless breathing or a healthy appetite for granted.
Yet they are what you long for when you’re ill.
Putting your pet first
Pet owners can find it difficult to let go of the concept that “more is better”. We love our pets and it pains us to think that they may be feeling bad.
We fear losing them. But, if we want the best for them, we have to put ourselves in their place and consider their feelings.
Society tends to see pets as little furry humans who think and feel like us. We forget that they do not look forward to events like Christmas and birthdays as we do.
They want different things – running in the fields or chasing a toy. Animals can’t just ask to be left alone, instead they have to hide away in a corner of the house.
Changes in behaviour put down to old age often reflect a real problem, such as sore joints or a flagging circulation that can’t cope with exercise.
It’s true that older pets and people do eat less but there has to be a reason for complete absence of appetite.
Although there are some obvious causes such as bad teeth, finding the reason can be very difficult. Some types of cancer produce chemicals that suppress appetite but even in people these can be very difficult to find.
But questions certainly need to be asked about quality of life if an animal has eaten nothing for a few days.
Pain is the thing we fear most but there are other things which are important. Struggling to breathe may not be painful but it’s certainly unpleasant and frightening.
No one enjoys feeling poorly or nauseous, especially if prolonged. We choose to have pets and have a responsibility to give them the best possible life.
- If life has become a daily struggle then we have to question whether it’s right and fair to allow it to go on. It’s a hard decision and it can’t be put off, but you will feel better afterwards.
- If you’re struggling with the decision about whether to let a much loved pet go, the Pet Bereavement Support Service can help you talk things through. Co-run by Blue Cross, its helpline is open 365 days of the year.
- Find out more about Pet Bereavement Support Service.