When the Time Has Come…

Doc, do you think that the time has come?

Regularly, as veterinarians, we have to guide people in making the decision to euthanize their animal, which is always a heart-wrenching decision.

Unfortunately, many degenerative and disabling diseases result in a severe loss of quality of life and unacceptable suffering. The veterinarian is the best resource to support the owner in managing the end of life of their animal. The veterinarian will closely monitor the patient's health condition and will intervene to ensure maximum comfort and a good quality of life. He must also be aware of observations made at home by the owner.

Everyone assesses quality of life very differently and it can be difficult to measure perfectly. There are some indicators of quality of life. Dr. Alice Villalobos developed the 5H and 2M guidelines: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More good days than bad.

Using these indicators, the veterinarian and owner can determine together if the animal is in pain, if he's eating and drinking enough, if he's grooming himself daily, if he's alert, and if he's interacting. Is it able to walk well, how many good days are there versus bad days? What is a good day? etc.

Based on the quality of life analysis, a decision can be made to continue treatment or to choose euthanasia. Obviously, other elements may be considered, such as the animal's tolerance to the therapies, or the owner's skill and ability to administer medication.

These considerations about euthanasia, palliative treatment, and evaluation of quality of life are of paramount importance to any pet owner. By teaming up with your veterinarian, you can ensure that the best will always be done for your pet's comfort and well-being.