Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy, even when it has four legs and a tail. But pet parents with ill, injured, or aged pets can find themselves facing difficult decisions about their pet's condition and overall chances of recovery. If the prognosis for the dog or cat is poor, their veterinarian or animal health care provider may even broach the subject of euthanasia. 

After the initial discussion about euthanasia, even pet parents who understand the hopelessness of their pet's condition may find themselves struggling with questions about the timing of euthanization. Many can benefit from additional information about euthanasia and the factors that should be considered when making this type of decision for a pet. If you are struggling with a difficult decision about euthanizing your beloved pet, the following information can help you know when the time is right to say goodbye. 

Pain and discomfort

When considering euthanasia, the first consideration must always be about your animal's comfort level. Animals with a poor prognosis who are suffering from severe pain that cannot be easily managed with pain medication should be considered for euthanasia as soon as possible. Dogs and cats who are suffering from severe pain may pant, pace, attempt to hide, become uncharacteristically aggressive, and stop eating and drinking. 

Dehydration and failure to eat

When pain or discomfort interferes with the animal's ability or desire to eat or drink, pet owners may have to consider hospitalizing the animal so that nutrients and water can be administered intravenously. If the pet has little chance of survival, it is often kinder to consider euthanization instead of prolonging their discomfort through hospitalization. 

Quality of life

Cats and dogs can quickly become depressed when an illness or injury is so severe that it permanently impairs their mobility. While it is possible to care for an immobile pet in the home for a short time, it can be difficult and uncomfortable for both the pet and their caretaker. 

Your veterinarian or animal health care provider can speak to you about a system for measuring your pet's quality of life based on common factors like pain, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, and mobility. Using these factors, your animal health care professional can help you determine your pet's overall quality of life in terms of the number of good days versus bad days your pet is experiencing due to their health so that you can better understand when the time is right to consider euthanization. Contact a veterinarian if you have more questions regarding when to schedule a pet euthanasia appointment.