When a pet is suffering from an illness that has no ultimate cure, our first (and lasting) impulse is to do whatever we can to alleviate the symptoms of that illness, so that the pet can continue to joy a happy, pain-free life. Eventually, however, we may reach that point when treatments are no longer helping, and there are simply no further treatments to try. That issue of “quality of life” is perhaps the most important factor to examine when considering in home pet euthanasia. But what is “quality of life”?
That decision is individual to every pet, and every owner. Following, however, are some factors to consider when attempting to assess a pet’s quality of life:
Mobility: Can your pet get to its feet without assistance? Can it sit or lie down without collapsing? Can it walk? Can it handle basic functions, such as squatting on a litterbox? Does it whimper or growl if you attempt to move it?
Appetite/Eating Ability: Is your pet able to eat? Can it consume enough food (or digest that food) to remain properly nourished? Does it regurgitate immediately after eating? Is it unable to chew, or does it have difficulty swallowing? Does it enjoy eating, or do you have to coax every bite past its lips? A pet that is unable to eat or gain sufficient nourishment from its food is on a slow road to starvation.
Breathing: A number of illnesses, including cancer, can affect the lungs. When a condition causes the lungs to fill with fluid or foreign matter (such as cancer cells), a pet quickly loses its ability to breathe easily or comfortably. You’ll notice that your pet may seem to be panting, or that it is laboring to breathe; often, you’ll see its stomach or flanks “pumping” as it can no longer breathe with just the chest muscles.