National Feed a Rescue Pet Week

Making the Decision None of Us Want to Even Think About…


One of the worst parts of being a pet parent is deciding when it’s time to put your loving but ailing pet to sleep. It can seem impossible balancing your own love for your pet against your pet’s mental and physical well-being.

To help you through this difficult choice, we’ve compiled some guidelines to help you understand when it’s the right time and, if it is, how to say goodbye the right way.

Look at Your Pet’s Enjoyment of Life

Courtesy of Michael Gil via Flickr

If your pet is no longer able to enjoy his or her favorite things, whether that’s playing fetch or rolling in catnip, you may have reached a moment of decision. Try doing something you and your pet have always enjoyed together, and pay close attention to his or her behavior to help you gauge your pet’s mental and physical shape.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

Courtesy of Army Medicine via Flickr

Because each situation with a pet is different, you’ll need input from your vet to help you decide what’s best to do. If you think there’s a problem, seek advice right away regarding the medical choices available to you.

Talk to Your Friends

Courtesy of Seth Werkheiser via Flickr

When measuring your pet’s health against his or her happiness, your judgment may get a bit cloudy, preventing you from reaching the best, most objective decision. Talk to your pet-parent friends about it to get a calm, pragmatic perspective on your situation.

Take the Time You Need

Courtesy of Maxwell GS via Flickr

Don’t let yourself be rushed into a decision that feels too sudden for you. Your vet should give you all the time you need to make the right choice.

Focus on Your Pet’s Point of View

Impossible Decision

Courtesy of Tekke via Flickr

Pets aren’t able to reminisce about wonderful times past in the same way we humans are. Because animals live very much in the present moment, they are primarily aware of what they’re experiencing now. If your pet is experiencing pain, take that into consideration when deciding what’s best.

Plan Ahead

Courtesy of FaceMePLS via Flickr

If your pet has started a long, slow decline, establish a plan for future care. Decide how much quality of life your pet would be willing to lose, such as the ability to walk or even play with a toy, and keep that in mind as you move forward.

Get All the Information You Need

Courtesy of Audio Luci Store via Flickr

If you want to explore the options available to you and your pet, let your vet know what kind of information you need. Be aware, though, that sometimes having too much information can make it more difficult to make an already tough decision, so be sure to always keep your pet’s well-being in mind.

Think About the People Affected

Courtesy of Roger Ahlbrand via Flickr

As you make your decision, always consider the other people in your pet’s life. If you have children, be honest with them about the situation, and give them time to process their emotions. Make sure everyone who loves your pet gets a chance to say goodbye.

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