Though we do not wish to think of this day, the time comes when we must say goodbye to our beloved companion. No part of this is easy. But it is an important part of our commitment to provide our companion with the love, and respect they deserve. The below resources are tools that can help when the time may come, to make the final, important decision.
End-of-life decisions for animals are difficult. A natural death is what many of us hope for with our pets. They are members of our family, deeply enmeshed in our lives, and for many of us, thoughts of euthanasia seem unfathomable, so we cling to the notion that a natural death is desirable.
But … [that] end-of-life scenario [isn’t] realistic. In most cases, a natural death, means prolonged suffering that we don’t always see, because dogs and cats are far more stoic than humans when it comes to pain.
To help pet owners make decisions about end-of-life care, Dr. Villalobos developed a decision tool based on seven indicators. The scale is often called the HHHHHMM scale, based on the first letter of each indicator. On a scale of zero to 10, with zero being very poor and 10 being best, a pet owner is asked to rate the following:
- Hurt: Is the pet’s pain successfully managed? Is it breathing with ease or distress?
- Hunger: Is the pet eating enough? Does hand-feeding help?
- Hydration: Is the patient dehydrated?
- Hygiene: Is the pet able to stay clean? Is it suffering from bed sores?
- Happiness: Does the pet express joy and interest?
- Mobility: Can the patient get up without assistance? Is it stumbling?
- More: Does your pet have more good days than bad? Is a healthy human-animal bond still possible?
Pet owners should talk to their vet about the ways they can improve a pet’s life in each category. When pet owners approach end of life this way, they often are surprised at how much they can do to improve a pet’s quality of life. There are many products, with advances in modern medicine, and technology that allow our senior and geriatric pets to live longer, and in comfort. Your veterinarian is there to help you navigate the sea of choices. If your pet scores low in one, or more categories, talk to us today to discuss how we can improve those areas for your pet.
We here at McCleary Animal Hospital understand your attachment to your pet, and can examine and evaluate your pet’s condition, estimate your pet’s chances for recovery, and discuss potential disabilities and long-term problems. Dr. Paterson can explain the medical options and possible outcomes. Because we cannot make the euthanasia decision for you, it is important that you fully understand your pet’s condition. If there is any part of the diagnosis or the implications for your pet’s future that you don’t understand, ask to have it explained again.
Questions about your pet’s quality of life
- Does he/she still enjoy his usual activities?
- Does he/she appear to be in pain or struggling to breathe?
- What do I think he/she would want at this point? What would I want if I were in her/his position?
- Do I have the financial and physical resources it may take to adequately care for him/her as his/her condition declines?
- Will the quality of life through the treatment and beyond be good enough for the time it afforded? Am I prolonging their life for my pet or for me?
- Do I have any questions/concerns about euthanasia that may be preventing me from feeling good about making a decision?
If you need help answering any of these questions, at any time, we are only a phone call away. 905-822-1644
Pets are often considered members of the family. Each member of the family has their own special unique relationship with their pet. When it is time to face a difficult decision or following the loss of pet family members may respond differently to the loss depending on their relationship with the pet as well as the way in which they experience grief. Sometimes this can lead to conflict and tension in the family. When your family has undergone the loss of a pet it is important to understand that everyone handles it differently. Everyone needs to respect each other during this difficult time.
The death of a pet is difficult for every one in the family. It can be especially difficult on children. Children often form a very special bond with the family pet. The family pet is often a fun playmate, a source of comfort, and an uncritical friend for your child. All children, like adults, have different relationships with the pet. For many children the pet was his/her best friend and represented unconditional love. Many factors determine how a child will respond to the loss of a pet: their age, life experiences, attachment to the pet, circumstances surrounding the death, experience with death, and support available to the child. Be aware of what events have occurred recently in your family that may add to the grief for your child (recent divorce, additional death, troubles at school etc.). Some of these factors can compound the grief your child is feeling and may cause old issues to resurface.
For many children this may be their first experience with death. Children may not understand what exactly death is. It is important to talk with your child. They may be confused about what they are feeling or how they should feel. They also may look to you in how to act with the loss. Pay attention to your child and the signs they display. It is normal for them to feel depressed, withdrawn, and or angry, just as adults do.
When talking with your child make sure you answer their questions. Listen to your child and reassure them that you are there to help them, love them, and are experiencing grief as well. Your child may need you to hear you repeat information and reassurances several times. Be patient. Provide comfort. Recognize and appreciate the special bond your child had with the pet and do not trivialize the child’s grief for the deceased pet. If your child knows the veterinarian talking with the vet may be beneficial.
Remember everyone handles grieving differently. For your child it is important they feel you are supporting them in their grieving process. Being a supportive parent is the best thing you can do for your child during this difficult time. If you are at all concerned about your child’s behavior or are having difficulty helping your child a grief counselor that understands the importance of pet loss may be helpful for both you and your child.
When facing the loss of a beloved pet, it is often a time of overwhelming emotion. As you come to terms with this sudden change in your life, you may be left wondering how to honour your faithful companion and cherish the memories left behind. At Gateway, they understand how hard it is to say farewell to a true friend. They also know how important it is to celebrate the life of your pet in a way that is meaningful to you and your family. Whether your pet’s loss is unexpected or not, they will support you in making memorial arrangements that best suit your needs.
From their cremation choices and private viewings, to unique memorial products, they offer a number of ways for you to say your final goodbye and remember your pet for years to come. All of their pet aftercare services are provided with dignity and respect. You can trust them to guide you through this difficult process with compassion and sensitivity, helping you find a lasting sense of peace and comfort.