Putting your Pet to Sleep: How to Make the Decision

Knowing when to make the decision to put your pet to sleep (or euthanasia) can be one of the mostDeciding on Euthanasia difficult decisions you will ever have to make. In this article, I present some helpful tools that you can use to objectively assess your pet’s quality of life to help you make the decision to euthanize at the right time.

The first step you might want to take when deciding if it is the right time to euthanize your pet, is to have an open conversation with your veterinarian. Your vet can help you to identify your pet’s subtle signs of pain, and give you baseline information about acceptable activity and appetite levels.

Once you have baseline information for your particular pet, a tool that many veterinary providers recommend is Dr. Alice Villabobos’ Quality of Life Scale.  This scale was initially developed to determine if hospice care is appropriate for a specific pet, but it can also be used by pet owners to objectively think about their pet’s quality of life. If you use this assessment over a period of days to weeks, it may help you to notice trends in your pet’s life quality.

Another technique that is commonly suggested in veterinary hospitals, is for pet owners to keep aDeciding to put pet to sleep pet calendar, and mark a rating for your pet each day. This rating might pertain to your pet’s pain level, activity level, level of awareness, etc. By recording daily ratings, you will be positioned to notice when your pet makes subtle trends in life quality.

Whether you use one of the above techniques to decide when it is time to put your pet to sleep, or you are able to identify the right day, whatever day you choose will be the right one for you and your pet. I have heard it stated many times, that for many pet owners, they “just know” when the right time is.

Click here for ideas about how to memorialize your pet’s life.

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Angela Linvill

Angela has been the Hospital Administrator of a multi-specialty/ emergency/ and general practice veterinary hospital since 2005. She is also the Chair of the Contra Costa County Employer Advisory Council. Angela has a Masters of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Troy University. She is committed to helping pet owners make good decisions about the health care of their pets regardless of their financial situation.

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