Anyone who has a pet knows the reality that at some point it will be time to say goodbye. Hopefully, many of us will have a pet leave us due to old age, natural causes, and feel prepared. Yet, it’s never easy to feel “prepared” because the pain, sadness, and loss is there no matter how realistic we try to remain. Sometimes it’s just best to take it one day at a time, do what we can to show our pets we care, and enjoy the days we have with them and not worry about the future.
When our pets are suffering it can be hard to figure out if it is time to say goodbye or do what we can medically to have them around for a few more days, weeks, months. We accept the truth but aren’t always ready to face it. This can sometimes be tougher on the pet who is suffering.
Here are a few ways to help determine when it is the right time to let nature take its course:
1: Is your pet suffering? Animals can’t talk. They can’t tell us where it hurts or how much it hurts. Whimpering, whining, loss of appetite, unkempt coats, lethargy, and eye changes can be signs that your pet is in extremely poor health. Some may refuse food, water, and not want to exercise at all or use the letterbox or go outside. A trip to the vet can determine how badly the pet is suffering and determine what the next steps should be.
2: What’s the life expectancy of your pet? Some cats live to be well over 17 years old and some dogs make it to 20 years old. There’s always those who tend to just keep living but some breeds of dogs and cats may average shorter life spans. Keep an eye out for signs of aging and sickness. Maybe more frequent checkups at the vet are in order; maybe a medication that needs to be given daily will help; or maybe adjusting the level of exercise and food may be needed. If those are doable, then great! You may have a few more years with your buddy. But if your pet seems to be showing signs of age and it looks like it’s beyond controlling with diet, medication, and changing a few things in the house, then value the time you have left together. Appreciate that your pet has been lucky to live a full life and has shared love, devotion, and affection with you.
3: Is the illness treatable without affecting overall health? Medication can be stressful to animals. They don’t understand why they are being forced to swallow a pill or liquid that tastes bad to them. They also won’t understand why they are being poked with a needle. When talking to your vet about medication to help the illness, take into account your pet’s stress level, tolerance, and possible side effects. Sometimes it can be more painful for your pet than helpful.
While we will do what we can for our pets to keep them happy, healthy, and with us for a long time there does come that time when it is time to say goodbye. Sometimes financially we just can’t do what is needed to keep our pets around and sometimes when it is at that point our pet is suffering and unhappy. That’s when it can be tough to find ways to make our pets comfortable and let go. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t worry about what you could do differently or could have done differently. Honor your pet, love your pet, and remember the fun times.