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Pets are more and more present and important in Quebec households. Previously, the way to think about a dog was that it was simply a dog. While today, this same dog will be perceived as a full-fledged member of the family. We give them a place in the centre of our home and in our hearts as well. We are much more attached to our pets than in the past and the last moments spent with our four legged companions are not the easiest.

As we all know, the life expectancy of both cats and dogs is shorter than that of humans. Unfortunately, it is inevitable for us, as the owners, to make this painful decision. On the other hand it is important that you know that taking responsibility for a painless and peaceful death is the most generous act that you can do as a pet owner towards your beloved pet.

A frequently asked question is about pain and suffering. Does my pet suffer? You should know that animals do not necessarily demonstrate their pain by weeping or howling. Animals tend to adapt their lifestyle according to their pain. We regularly see, for example, a dog from any of the large breeds no longer wanting to jump in the back of the truck. As an owner, you can ask yourself several questions about his quality of life:

  • Does my pet look happy?
  • Does he always look and act enthusiastic when you come home at the end of the day?
  • Does he look too weak to go about his usual activities?
  • Does he still have an appetite?
  • Does he still walk with ease?
  • Does he control his urination and/or defecation?
  • Does he still participate in the working life of the house?

Your four-legged companion may suffer if you notice a change in behavior, loss of appetite, or reluctance to play or move. Another sign that your pet is feeling pain can be seen if your cat or dog is restless or does not seem to feel comfortable, or is sitting or lying in an abnormal position, or if they seem tense or stuffy, or has lost their usual joie de vivre.

Now that you’ve taken the time to think about and answer to these questions, it may be time to make an appointment with your veterinarian. He / She will be able to complete a physical examination and assess your pet’s needs. Your veterinarian will be in the best position to make recommendations regarding your pet and their comfort. Several signs and aches of old age, such as arthritis, can be relieved.

Unfortunately, you will still have to make the decision one day or another. If you feel that your pet’s quality of life is not what it used to be and that it is getting worse and worse, the time has come. You and your family know your companion better than anyone, so try to make a reasoned judgment about their quality of life. But persistent and incurable inability to eat, vomiting, signs of pain, distress or discomfort or difficulty breathing are all indications that euthanasia should be considered. If you hope to improve your pet's health status, setting a time limit can be a wise option. Unfortunately, few dogs or cats die peacefully in their sleep at home. Most reach a point where their quality of life is not satisfactory and where they are in pain. Permitting them to die peacefully at home is only a myth. Their last moments will only be suffering. Euthanasia is and will remain the best decision to stop their suffering.

At the time of euthanasia, two choices are available to you. It is possible for you to be present or not. It can be comforting for you to see that euthanasia is usually a quick and painless process, but above all, try not to feel guilty if you feel unable to attend. Veterinarians and animal health technicians choose their profession because they want to help the animals. You can count on them to treat your pet with much empathy even in your absence. If you do not feel comfortable attending, it is always possible to see your companion afterwards and spend some time with them.

Prepare your return home and expect that the house will feel empty and very sad. Try to cherish your memories and talk to family and friends. If you have questions about the condition of your pet, then talk to your veterinarian. Sometimes family, friends and co-workers who have not experienced a special relationship with an animal themselves may be indifferent or make unnecessary remarks. It can then be useful to talk to someone who understands your feelings. For children, this period can be particularly shocking and at times this is their first experience with death. Children need support even if they are not upset. Talk to them honestly about what is happening and, whenever possible, involve them in decision-making. Rituals such as funerals, making a memorial or assembling an album of memories of the cat or dog can help. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to mourn a loved one, only time will allow you to get better.

If you are considering the euthanasia of a healthy pet, remember that putting them up for adoption may be a better option. Ask our team for advice as we can help solve the behavioral problems that are often the basis of this decision.