When It’s Time To Say Goodbye To Your Best Friend: Look For Signs

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Kid Loves Old LabUnfortunately, it’s a common part of everyday vet practice that we need to say goodbye to our patients and friends. As difficult as it can be on me, the veterinary technicians and other staff in the hospital, it is always more difficult for that pet’s owner. Making the decision to humanely euthanize your pet can be hard. We all want to minimize or eliminate any pain or discomfort our pet may be experiencing, but when is it time to say goodbye?

Say Goodbye to your best friend: Dottie

When I was in the sixth grade I got a Dalmatian puppy for my birthday. I was fortunate enough to have Dottie for fourteen years before we had to humanely let her go. I was in my first year of veterinary school and Dottie started to change. It was becoming more and more difficult for her to perform her daily routines. She was an old dog and we all knew she wouldn’t live forever, but things suddenly changed when she was diagnosed with a tumor located at the base of her heart.

My family considered all of our options. We took Dottie to a specialist and even spoke with a surgeon to get her point of view. At the end of the day, we all decided it was the most kind thing to let Dottie go in peace and with her dignity. She had given us her whole and uncompromising love for fourteen years and we needed to be her advocates at this most crucial time in her life. The decision wasn’t easy, but I learned something that fateful day from one of the veterinarians I hold in the highest regard, Dr. Robert Granberry.

Look for Signs to Know When It’s Time

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Not all cases and animals are the same but something that helped me and many of my clients is this. Pets can deal with an unbelievable amount of discomfort and at times show little to no sign of distress or pain. When an animal’s life is no longer enjoyable, or you as the owner believe your pet’s quality of life to be less than it should be, then it’s time to speak with your veterinarian. He or she may be able to help with the decision.

Talk to Your Veterinarian Before Making a Decision

Attitude and appetite are everything when assessing my patients – whether it be post-operatively, on a wellness visit, or any other occasion. Animals don’t lie and it’s up to us to pick up on their cues. Think of the three most favorite things your dog or cat loves to do. One of the three is almost always eating. When 2 of those activities are no longer as important to your pet as they once were, then it’s time to assess the situation with your veterinarian. It may not be time to say goodbye but it’s certainly time to get some expert advice and seek help understanding what may be happening. You know your pet better than we do. How have things changed over time? What is the best decision for my pet AND myself? Be the advocate and don’t focus on the feelings of today. Remember the good times. The reasons we cry when losing a pet are not for the feelings of today but for the memories we have made with our best friends.

About The Author:

The pet doc is a veterinarian who has consulted with our site for many years. While he is still practicing and licensed, he volunteers his time to help us educate you, our readers, and has asked to donate this time and contribution anonymously. HIs 10+ years of experience in the field is invaluable as he helps to answer our reader’s pet-related questions. And hopefully, you will find his insights and helpful tips as much as we do.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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Joanne l
October 6, 2019 9:28 am

Our 11 year old staff had progressing dementia which took his personally and his life away even though his body and organs were fine he forgot us and how to let us know when he wanted to go out he lost interest in walks his favourite food and eventually forgot how to eat and drink I didn’t want him to loose all dignity that he had left like eventually he would have forgot how to go to the toilet outside all he wanted to do was sleep so after 10 weeks of medication we had to make the decision to end it all for him I still cry to this day and it’s been 5 months now and still miss him so much but I realise euthanasia is a good thing I know my parents who were terminally ill would off choose if lt if it was possible but unlikely humans pets don’t have to suffer

Dino Violante
September 6, 2018 8:52 pm

It got me when you said that it is time to talk to the vet about the pet once the owner notices that the quality of the pet’s life is not as good as it used to. My pet has been my best friend since I was young, so this is really hard. But of course, I cannot ignore the fact that he is suffering. So I guess I really might need to say goodbye to him.

February 14, 2014 11:14 pm

our pets are our very best friends. Loyal like nothing else they are. They love us no matter how we look or how badly we screwed up something. When I’m down my dogs are first ones to come plant a juicy wet kiss on my face. My dogs make me laugh a lot. They adapt to my feelings and conditions like when I’m sick they will stay right with me until I’m finally better and up again.

April 12, 2010 5:24 pm

Saying goodbye is very hard. Especially if your dog is laying in your arms… My dog Spot was also diagnosed with a tumor but it was a lot earlier in his life. He was 4 years old and had very good chances for a successful surgery. We’ve always loved him and when he was a puppy we decided to pay for pet insurance, even though it’s not a very popular thing.

And when the unfortunate event occurred, we were as ready as we could be. We still ended up paying several thousands for the surgery and following procedures but it was a small percentage of the total cost. Spot is now 6 and a half. I hope to see him reach the same age as Dottie.

January 16, 2010 4:19 am

We were so fortunate to have Jacob treat our beloved yellow lab, Bailey during her courageous battle with Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia. This article explored various forms of treatment methods and medications for her heart condition. He waited for Bailey and us to decide when it was time….we drove into the back parking lot of the office, he came out and sent her to heaven while she laid in my arms. Thank you.