When It’s Time to Let Go Of Your Pet

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.


4 thoughts on “When It’s Time to Let Go Of Your Pet

  1. I am still mourning as we had to make this terrible decision a few days ago…..was the right choice but miss her so much….sweetest dog …we loved her so much!

  2. My 16 year old Maltese is the best little dog in the world – she now has bathroom lapses – I will clean up – she has less of an appetite – I will bribe her – she is my little love and I will keep her as long as I can – I will take care of her and she will sleep in my bed –
    As long as she is not in pain I will take care of her and love her.

  3. Kathy,
    I would like to add that some breeds are pretty tough, and they may have a problem and not be able to show if they are sick or in pain. I have Scottish terriers and also work with a rescue group for that breed, and they are very tough. If they are whimpering it is very serious.

    Also, having recently lost one of my young Scotties to an unknown liver ailment, I find it so disheartening that many cannot afford to treat their pets as a result of the extreme high cost of vet services.

    So, my suggestion like yours , is to keep those preventive appointments– and most important make sure you feed them with high quality food. Investigate the best foods out there and they are not the big sponsored ones on TV.

  4. Yes, i totally agree with Susan, especially on the food subject. I feed my cat Weruva as wet food and Artemis as dry food. They’re not advertised on TV but they are some of the best foods out there,grain free. I wish people would research more and stop buying the big name brands which are not necesarilly great for their pets.
    And also, i’d recommend buy health insurance for pets early on so when people are faced with hard decissions, at least it will give them a little bit more peace of mind and keep their pets longer. Believe me, it helps a lot. I know so many that gave their pet away to some shelter when they couldn’t care for them any longer or they are faced with the hardest decission of it all when the vet bills become sky rocketing and shelters don’t/can’t take the pet in at that point in their life.
    I will never have a pet without health insurance. I wish they could live forever but the reality is we outlive our pets. Let’s provide them a long, healthy, happy life. They reward us in so many ways that humans never can.

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