Euthanasia: The most painful decision

Many people think that mourning begins after death.

However, grief often begins much earlier. It can start the day you realize your pet is nearing the end of its life. This stage of mourning is particularly difficult. You cannot "move on" because the loss itself has not happened and you know things can only get worse.


In this step you have to make difficult and painful decisions:

For how long should you continue the treatment?

When does treatment cause more trauma than relief?

Can you provide the care necessary to sustain your pet's life?

Has your pet reached a point where no cure can save it?

At this point, should you consider euthanasia?

Sometimes circumstances don't give you time to ask yourself such questions. A “quick” illness, accident or injury may leave you only hours, or even minutes, to make a decision. When possible, however, it is best to take the time for reflection by considering three basic questions:


When to consider euthanasia

When your pet is sick, this may be the last question you want to think about. Yet this is the most important question you need to ask yourself. Start by asking your vet:

What types of symptoms can you expect and how will your pet's disease progress?

What will be the stages of the disease?

How long does it take for the disease to reach the kidney and produce incontinence or kidney failure?

How long does it take for tumor cells to invade the lungs or other organs?

How long does it take before the symptoms become unmanageable with the medication?

When will the pain become severe and incurable?

When does your pet become unable to function normally?

When will his suffering become extreme?

This information will help you determine your choice. For example, you may decide to seriously consider euthanasia when your pet cannot breathe easily, eat or drink, or find a comfortable position to sleep. By defining a "decision point" in advance, you set limits on the suffering that your animal is likely to endure.

Will you be there?

Many people think it is important to be present during euthanasia. Many others feel unable to deal with this event. And don't get me wrong: witnessing the euthanasia of your beloved companion can be traumatic. This is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Most believe that the animal's welfare is the most important factor. If you believe your pet will feel more comfortable or secure in your presence, you will probably want to stay, no matter how difficult it is. On the other hand, if you fear your reaction and think the heartache will bother the animal more than the process itself, you may prefer to stay away. If you choose not to attend, don't just leave your pet with the vet. Some clinics may euthanize animals after hours of waiting in the clinic. It just adds trauma to the animal. So make sure your pet is going to be euthanized immediately, while you are waiting in the waiting room or in the car.

What will you do next?

The worst time to decide what to do with your pet's remains is the last minute. It is best to think about the possible options a few weeks in advance. Indeed, even the owner of a perfectly healthy pet can anticipate the answer to this question. Especially if you want to have a funeral, a private cremation, or if you want a particular type of funeral product (like a urn special or coffin). For many, this decision raises both physical and spiritual questions.

How can you distinguish between body and soul?

Do you think that your animal will be "closer" to you spiritually, if its remains are close to you physically (for example, in a cremation urn)?

Do you think your pet's mind will be happier if it's buried in familiar surroundings?

Or do you think your pet's soul and personality are not associated with his physical remains.


There is nothing stupid about such considerations. It is part of the path to healing the owner's spiritual wounds.

Myths about euthanasia

Many people have mixed feelings about euthanasia, for good reason: No matter how well we intend, it looks like murder, and guilt can often haunt us long after the act.

Even when we know intellectually that euthanasia is the “best” or “least worse” choice. We can be at a loss when we are faced with the decision itself. Many pet owners cling to misconceptions that provide an apparent justification for delaying this decision - often to the detriment of the animal itself. The three most common misconceptions are:

Euthanasia is not natural.

Some pet owners reject euthanasia as “unnatural”. Nature, some say, has a schedule for life. By putting an end to life artificially, we are not respecting nature's choice. This belief ignores the fact that by providing treatment, surgery, medication, or any other form of care to a sick (or injured) pet, we are already extending the life of the animal beyond what is required. was going to happen if we had left it in the not-so-tender hands of "nature."

Euthanasia is selfish.

The other source of guilt is the belief that an animal has been euthanized "too soon" for "selfish" reasons. Many say to themselves. “I should be doing more, spending more, getting a second opinion, staying up all night to take care of herself.” Yet a person who worries about not having “done enough” is often a person who has already made superhuman efforts to care for this animal.A much more dangerous form of selfishness is to prolong the suffering of the animal in order to postpone the fateful date of its own suffering.

My pet will tell me when it is "time".

Many of us have heard of pets giving an indication that they are “ready to go to the other side.” We are waiting for this “permission” to end an animal's life. . Such a "signal" would remove the terrible burden of having to make that decision. Unfortunately, for many, the signal never comes. While waiting for our pets to "tell us" when it's time to die, we we risk two dangers: prolonging an animal's suffering while waiting for a sign that never comes, or torturing ourselves with guilt for having acted "too soon".

In conclusion, the sad truth is that if your pet is terminally ill, and especially if suffering makes him unable to "live normally", the decision you must make and how, and that it "discomfort" is ready to allow you. "What choice will bring you the minimum of regret after the animal is gone".

Unfortunately, "no regrets" is often not an option.