Making the decision for humane euthanasia when there is longer quality of life or any reasonable path to quality of life is agonizing for most pet owners…including me. I deal with this reality just about every day as a veterinary practitioner but I got a call from a good friend a few nights ago that inspired this post. His beloved 12 plus year old dog that was only 3 years younger than his human son was in decline as most large dogs are at that age, but this night she was showing severe weakness, falling over, panting and in distress.
He had an appointment at his regular vet the next day to have her humanely euthanized, planning to try to comfort her and spoil her with steak and love one last night. I told him that the his dog was showing signs of a likely pulmonary thromboembolism (a clot in a lung) and she was agonal because she was in pain, short of breath, and possibly even hemorrhaging internally. I let him know that I admired his intention and love for his dog, but there would be no comfort or spoiling for his beloved dog. He should go to the closest emergency clinic ASAP.
My friend took my advice as hard as it was for him and his wife. As the emergency veterinarian was placing the dog’s catheter in preparation for euthanasia, my suspicions were proven likely correct, as the dog started bleeding out of both nostrils. As hard as it was to say goodbye to their beloved dog, they were grateful that an end to her suffering was near and that they did not wait.
The title of this post is a common saying among veterinarians. There most certainly are circumstances where dogs and cats can remain in a hospice type mode where they have an incurable condition but palliative care can provide them temporary relief to allow for the family to adjust, prepare, spoil, and savor every last moment with their furry family member. But if ever faced with a veterinarian telling you that a pet is suffering with no ability to provide relief and agonizing drawn out death is imminent, take his or her advice and make the tough decision to humanely euthanize.
It will be your final loving decision on behalf of your furry family member.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.