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Humane Society of
Wayne County, New York

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This page was last modified on Sunday November 18, 2012

When it is Time to Say Goodbye

There is no doubt that pets enrich our lives in so many ways. However, one major disadvantage to a pet is that they have a substantially shorter life span than a human does. Therefore, there is a good chance, barring an accidental death, you as a pet owner will be faced with the decision of euthanizing your pet.


Euthanizing your pet is a heartbreaking experience as I can attest. There was no hope for my dog, Casey, she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It came to the point where Casey's days were filled with constant pain, which always seemed worse during the night. The quality of her life deteriorated rapidly. Life was not only hard on Casey but it was hard on all of us watching her physical body and spunky spirit deteriorate. I knew what had to be done and I made the appointment with our veterinarian. On the day before this dreaded appointment, I decided that Casey's last day with us was going to be one of the best days of her life. I took her for long a ride in the car and let stick her head out of the window. She loved to stick her head out of the car window and feel the wind in her face. We drove to Wegman's where I bought her a half-pound of Virginia Baked Ham at the deli counter. She loved deli ham and would steal it at every opportunity she had when she was well. Although she did not eat her ham with the same zest she did when she was well, she did seem to enjoy it. Then we went in sat in the living room on the "good" couch. She was never allowed in the living room on the "good" couch but would sneak in there when no one was home. Later in the day, we went for a short walk and I bought Casey a cup of vanilla ice cream. Even after our fun day together of breaking all the rules, the following morning in the veterinarian's office was dreadful. As our veterinarian gave her the injections, I buried my face in Casey's neck and tearfully told her how very much I love her. My heart just broke and I still miss her.


Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer as to when it is time to euthanize an ailing pet. Start with assessing your pet's quality of life and ask yourself if the bad days are outweighing the good days. Consult with your veterinarian about the illness, symptoms, prognosis, and degree of pain your pet may be feeling. Each situation is different and every pet and owner are unique. Talk with your veterinarian about euthanizia. Ask your veterinarian to come to your home when it is time to euthanize your pet, if you prefer. Take the time to say goodbye to your pet. Spoil and cherish your pet during the time you have left together.


Although intellectually you know that euthanizing your pet is the only option left, it is still extremely hard if almost not next to impossible to prepare yourself emotionally for it. During this time you may feel a number of conflicting thoughts and emotions, from feeling like to a traitor to feeling a sense of relief that the suffering is finally over. These feeling are entirely normal and quite common.


In conclusion, euthanizing your pet is the one, last, truly unselfish gift of love that you give to your elderly, ailing pet. This love allows you to unselfishly shoulder the grief and pain of this loss in order spare your pet's continued suffering. Now, that is true love! Isn't this the same kind of love your pet gave you?