End of Life Care

Making end of life Decisions

In today’s society our pets have become part of our lives and our families.  Losing a beloved pet can be very painful and disorienting for those of us that are left.  Acknowledging that your pet is dying will allow you to make the decisions that are right for you.

No loss is ever the same and the process varies from pet to pet and person to person.  Every decision that you make will be part of who you are, your beliefs, and the relationship that you have developed with your pet over time.

Nutmeg sleeping peacefully

Assessing Quality of Life

Finding out that your pet has a serious illness is often very difficult and painful.  The best thing to do is to recognize that you may feel overwhelmed and at times helpless and confused.  Understand that you will go through a myriad of feelings from disbelief to sadness.  Acknowledge those feelings and gather as much information as you can to help you through this difficult time.

  • Ask for help.  There are a lot of resources to guide you with your pet’s medical care.  Ask the veterinarian to explain to you what the disease process is and what to expect in the future.  What would be the best and worst outcome of this disease?  What are the costs associated with helping your pet?  They will be able to guide you in the treatment plan that is best for you and your pet.
  • Research your pet’s illness.  There are excellent resources available on the internet or in your local library.  Ask your veterinarian for information about reputable internet sites that may be helpful.  Write things down so that you can remember things during this difficult time.
  • Talk to trusted family and friends.  If you feel comfortable, ask them if they have noticed any changes in your pet over time.  Talk to them if you feel it may give you comfort and help in your decision making process.  If you need to, find a counselor who has a special interest in pet loss.  We have resources for them


When evaluating the best treatment plan for your pet there is no right or wrong to this decision.  You need to ask yourself if you feel that your pet is suffering.  Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself.

  • Is my pet still interested in his’/her surroundings?
  • Is my pet still acknowledging me when I come home?
  • Does my pet vocalize or make unfamiliar noises?
  • Is he/she moving more or less than usual?
  • Is he/she sitting in unusual or new places?
  • Is my pet still eating or showing an interest in eating?
  • Is my pet reacting differently when touched?
  • Does my pet seem disoriented or confused?
  • Is my pet panting or coughing?  Is there an increase in breathing?
  • Can my pet still go to the bathroom on his/her own?
  • Does my beloved pet still play with his/her toys?