The time when you have to take the toughest call of Euthanizing your dog, you will have numerous things in your mind.
Your pet dog gives you innumerable memories of laughter and joy and it is generally in his presence that you ink some of the best years of our lives. You love cuddling him, playing with him, seeing him run around you, relaxing with him and it goes without saying that he is a part of your family. His loyalty towards you is unquestionable, which is why a dog is widely recognized as a man’s best friend and an impeccable partner. Unfortunately, nature does not provide you with the luxury of having his companionship forever.
Normally, the life expectancy of a dog is much shorter than that of humans. Often, the amount of time he is expected to spend alongside you is determined by the breed he belongs to. While dogs belonging to the large breeds usually live for around six to eight years, medium-sized dog breeds cease to exist after they attain the age of ten years or so. Interestingly, miniature dogs live longer as compared to their larger counterparts and have an average life span of about fifteen to eighteen years in most of the cases.
In a nutshell, it is fair to say that you will outlive your dog if you yourself are not in the final stages of your life or are free from major disabilities or sickness. Losing your household pal will never be easy and the sight of seeing him become sick and old will undoubtedly be a heartbreaking scenario for you. There might arrive a situation when on one hand, you will want him to live longer while on the other hand, your conscience will beg you to relieve him from his miseries. It will be humane to let your conscience win when you know that your dog’s end is near, for suffering due to incurable health issues is the last thing that he deserves.
Euthanasia in animals – What does it mean?
Humane euthanasia in animals refers to the process in which euthanasia pills or injections are used to put them down, or in simpler words, to let them die peacefully. Most of the veterinarians use pentobarbital in large doses, which first makes an animal unconscious and then stops the brain and heart functions. In short, it is a gentle and brief journey from being awake to sleep to coma to death. Veterinarians may perform this activity either at their clinic or at the pet owner’s home and it generally takes a just few minutes to get it done.
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Quality of Life Scale – An assessment
Veterinary oncologist Dr. Alice Villaobos came up with seven factors along with a numerical scale to make it easier for pet dog owners and the veterinarian in determining the right time to put a dog down. It is a simple yet scientific approach to comprehend a dog’s quality of life and it gives fairly accurate results on most of the occasions. Also known as the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale, each factor is given scores from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest point and 10 being the highest point. The HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale comprises of the following seven factors:
- Hurt: There are many gestures and signs which will enable you to know whether your dog is currently in pain or not, which includes panting, whining, tail tucking, inability to rest comfortably, and immobility. High scores are to be attributed if your dog has no pain or normal age-related pain, whereas low scores are to be attributed if even strict medications will be a futile effort to keep him alive.
- Hunger: If your dog is reluctant to eat, losing weight rapidly, or is vomiting on a regular basis, it means that his internal organs are giving up. You can go for injections and even spoon-feeding him to see if his situation improves. In case his appetite continues to falter even after the assistance from you or the medicines, you should consider putting him to sleep.
- Hydration: A low score is to be given if your dog is unwilling to drink water or if he stays dehydrated. Water is as essential as food for any pet and indications of reluctance to consume a sufficient amount of water by your dearest buddy implies that you have a big problem to worry about.
- Hygiene: Maintaining a proper hygiene is as important for your dog’s health as is for you. It is common to see pressure sores in untreatable dogs which leads to serious infections. Further, he suffers from incontinence problems and faces issues while urinating, making his chances of survival look bleak and slim. The worse the level of hygiene, the lower should be the marks to be assigned in the check-list.
- Happiness: Dogs normally have a fun-loving, affectionate, and energetic behaviors on offer. But if your dog no longer shows a joyful attitude and rather seems depressed most of the time, you must talk to your pet’s veterinarian. Do not confuse yourself with a couple of odd bad days to judge the level of happiness of your dog.
- Mobility: A healthy dog needs no assistance to move or play whereas the one which is suffering from an incurable form of pain will need your support even to stand up straight or walk. If your dog no longer has the tendency to move, then it is obvious that he has no control over his body and that he is gradually getting weaker as days progress.
- More good days than bad: The final aspect you need to consider is how his good days fare against the number of bad days he is having. If you are unable to build the close rapport which you used to have with him earlier, euthanasia could be resorted to.
It is recommended to rate your dog for three consecutive days to get a precise reading. If you get a score of 35 or above after adding the assigned numbers, it indicates that the quality of life of your dog is acceptable. However, if the figure is less than 35, it is advisable to go for euthanasia. With the results of the Quality of Life Scale, veterinarians are aided in assessing the condition of your pet and advice you accordingly.
Importance of choosing the right time
Knowing when to put your dog to sleep is a difficult question to answer and you must not rush yourself either to do it or to refrain from doing it. If you are too quick to do it, you may lose out on a few more weeks or days of valuable time together and if you delay the process, you may be making him suffer unnecessarily. Euthanasia is a boon in disguise for your sick and untreatable dog, such as the ones suffering from cancer, tumors that will cause a slow death, vomiting blood, or any other terminal illness. It is advisable to consult your veterinarian as well as with your friends before you come to any conclusion.
How much does it cost?
The emotional impact of losing your pet dog is beyond contemplation but laying your dog to rest for eternity will definitely cost you something. The clinic where euthanasia is to be performed, the breed your dog belongs to, your home’s location (if you are going to do it in your house), and the services provided as per your demands are some of the factors which determine the monetary outflow.
At a local animal shelter, this process can be carried out for a modest fee of $100 whereas in a reputed veterinary clinic it is expected to cost you $500 or above. In-home euthanasia service, in which the veterinarian will carry out euthanasia at your home, is likely to cost $400 to $1,000.
There is no denying that euthanasia is a boon for your sick or untreatable pet dog, for it is absurd to be hoping against hope when you know the ball will never be in his court again. Consider euthanasia as a parting gift from your end for your dog as a peaceful death is something he must have earned for himself.
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally and give him love and affection until the very last moment of his life. Do not be afraid of taking this bold decision when the time comes because sometimes in our life, we need to make a tough call to showcase our love for someone, which even includes bidding them a farewell for their good.
“Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone” – Jiddu Krishnamurti.