"The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."
Charles Schulz, the cartoonist that brought life to Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang, once said succinctly, "Happiness is a warm puppy." If you've ever had a pet, you understand. You know how much joy pets can bring to your life, and how much love and compassion you can extend toward them in return. Verses like Psalm 147:9 and Luke 12:6 talk about how God cares for all His creatures, and Proverbs 12:10 discusses how a righteous person tends to the animals under his or her care. As a pet owner, you know the happiness and compassion that you can experience because of your pet.
You also know how difficult it can be when pets near the end of their life. As your pet reaches this point, you may have to decide whether or not to euthanize your pet. This decision is not an easy one, but eventually it is something you will be faced with. Knowing when it's the right time to put your pet down is something you alone must figure out. Thankfully, there are a few things you can consider when faced with this situation.
Obviously, your veterinarian can assess your pet's health and give you an idea of the prognosis as far as how much time they may have left. However, there is only so much they can tell you and ultimately the decision is going to be yours to make. There are some questions you can ask yourself that might be helpful when you are struggling with this decision. How is your pet's quality of life? Do they still seem to enjoy certain parts of their life or do they seem to struggle at everything they do? At this point in their life, your pet may have good days and bad days. Are the bad days happening more frequently than the good days?
Are they able to sleep and move around comfortably? Can they eat and drink without vomiting? Are they able to relieve themselves normally? These are all indicators of an animal's overall health and condition. If your pet is vomiting and has diarrhea, it could mean that they are becoming too ill to survive much longer. It could also mean that they aren't receiving the proper nutrients required to live a healthy life. You may also notice that your pet seems to have lost the desire to eat entirely. This is a very clear sign that things may be progressing toward the end. If your pet is on medication to manage pain, you might notice that the drugs are becoming less effective. This could mean your pet's condition is becoming more advanced. Unfortunately, medication is expensive, and some people may have to consider euthanizing their pet for financial reasons. They may not be able to afford to administer the medication, especially if it appears the end is near.
Another thing to consider is your pet's state of mind. What this means is that you need to realize that pets are different than people. They really only concern themselves with what is going on right now. They do not look to the future or reminisce about the past like humans do. The only thing they are thinking about is the pain and suffering they are experiencing at any given moment. It could be that a peaceful passing is the best thing you can give them at that time.
This is a heartbreaking time in every pet owner's life. We want to hang on to our loved ones as long as we can. At the same time, it kills us to watch them suffer. This is what makes it so difficult to know you are making the right decision. If you ask yourself these few basic questions, hopefully you can make the best possible decision for your family and your pet.