Common feelings surrounding the decision to euthanize
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
Euthanasia—one of the most difficult decisions a pet parent can face.
Euthanasia. The word carries immense emotional impact for loving pet parents. If you’ve opened your heart up to pets, you’ve very likely had to face the decision of whether to euthanize a loved companion animal. Making such a difficult decision can seem impossible. We second guess ourselves. We push back, trying to squeeze in just a little more time with our pets. We fear that we are “killing” are pets, taking their lives prematurely.
Pet parents can chronically doubt and second-guess whether they are doing the best thing for their animals. Often it is easy to prolong the decision of euthanasia in order to spend more time with our pets.
Looking for an opportunity to spend more time with your pet at end-of-life is fine and healthy as long as it is not prolonging the experience of suffering. The definition of suffering is “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.” If you start to notice, either because of age or illness, that your pet no longer enjoys the things they have always loved, this is probably a good indication that it might be time to start a conversation with your veterinarian. You know your pet the best. Seek advice from others, but trust your gut. The hardest choice, the one of euthanasia, can actually be the kindest and most loving gift that you can give your pet.
The most common theme among pet parents facing euthanasia is guilt. Guilt for making the choice to “kill my pet.” Deciding to euthanize a pet is never easy. This is particularly true when finances, time constraints, physical limitations to providing care, unexpected events, or a need to prioritize the care of our human family trumps our desire to care for our animals. People feel tremendous guilt, helplessness, and sometimes even resentment toward the things and people that seem to be standing in the way of what we’d like to do. Sometimes life is so busy it seems there just isn’t time to stop and take the time needed to face the decisions we must make. And, sadly, sometimes there simply are no good choices, no matter how much time we have.
Sometimes the questions related to our emotional attachment are the ones that can be the most important to address because these emotional factors can be the things that blind us to the reality of our pets’ conditions. Having people who can listen to your concerns and questions, and help you sort through things as objectively as possible, can be invaluable. This can then leave room for tackling the equally important emotional issues attached to losing a loved one.
There are far worse things in the world than a kind and peaceful euthanasia. At times, the last, best gift of love we can offer our beloved animal companions is release from suffering. If your primary focus is truly your pet and their comfort, and your decision is made from a heart of love, you will make the right choice.