Care Decisions

End-of-Life Care Decisions

End-of-life care decisions can be the most difficult phase of pet ownership.
We are here to support you in providing the kindest option for your pet during this challenging time.

Many factors can influence when a family decides that humane euthanasia is the best choice for their pet. These decisions often come with a range of emotions, including confusion, guilt, and sometimes even a sense of relief. We encourage you to remember that you have provided a loving home for your pet and that your pet has had a much better life for having had you in it.

The goal of this page is to outline some reasons owners may choose to humanely euthanize a pet and to provide resources that can assist you in making an informed decision regarding your pet’s care.

Declining Overall Quality of Life

Is your pet no longer taking joy in regular daily activities? Is your pet sleeping more than they are awake?

Consider marking days on the calendar as “good” or “bad” and monitor for trends.

Life Circumstances

Does your pet require care that you cannot provide?

Are you physically unable to assist a pet with declining mobility or increasing hygienic needs? Does your pet require medical care that is not within your financial capability?

Declining Mobility

Is your pet no longer able to stand or walk unassisted? Is your pet struggling to stand up or lie down?

Loss of Cognition or Sensory Perception

Has your pet lost normal senses (hearing/sight) that are affecting their ability to navigate normal daily life? Does your pet have cognitive dysfunction that makes them anxious, frightened, or easily lost in familiar surroundings?

Tumor Burden

Does your pet have a tumor that is impacting their normal daily life function?

This can include a tumor that has ruptured and is bleeding excessively. It could also be a tumor that is so large that activities of daily living are difficult or impossible for your pet.

Weight Loss or Poor Body Condition

Has your pet lost an excessive amount of weight despite having access to food and water? Are you able to easily see or feel your pet’s bones or skeletal features?

Behavior Problems

Is your pet aggressive and not safe to have around people or other animals? Is your pet not toileting appropriately or eliminating in unacceptable locations?

The decision of when to euthanize a pet is a very personal decision for everyone. Our philosophy is that each owner knows their pet best, and each owner has the privilege of deciding when humane euthanasia is the best choice for their pet. We are here to support your decision and make the process as dignified and peaceful as possible. We encourage owners to remember that a pet’s last day does not need to be their worst day. Saying goodbye on a good day will leave you with happier memories than if you feel like you waited too long. There is no perfect time to euthanize a pet, but there may be a best time. Sometimes the best time is when you have support available from a friend or family member, and when you can give yourself the time and space required for grieving the loss of your pet. You need not wait until a crisis occurs, or until the dying process has begun, to schedule an appointment for in-home euthanasia.

The following situations are indicative of what we would evaluate as “active suffering” and require immediate medical attention.

  1. Severe respiratory distress – Your pet may be panting heavily for more than 5 minutes despite being in a temperature-appropriate environment. Your pet may be breathing with their mouth open and have their head and neck extended.
  2. Severe, persistent pain – Your pet may be loudly vocalizing, uncharacteristically aggressive, or unable to find a position of physical comfort.
  3. Intractable seizures – Your pet may have lost consciousness and been having uncontrolled body movements. Intractable seizures are seizures that persist for greater than 5 consecutive minutes or that occur more than 5 times over a 24-hour period.

You are always welcome to contact us in cases where a pet is actively suffering. While we cannot guarantee immediate availability, we will certainly help you if we can. If we cannot assist you and your pet, we will refer you to another provider or recommend you contact your nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

Some owners find the “JOURNEYS Quality of Life Scale” written by Katie Hilst helpful to quantify their pet’s quality of life.
Hours of Operation
9am - 4pm
Please Inquire