Making the difficult decision to euthanize a beloved pet is the most challenging one that any owner will ever have to endure.
As pets have become more like family over the last few decades, the conversation about ethics in regards to euthanasia has become more common among pet owners and veterinary staff.
So, when does someone know when the “time is right”?
Keep reading for a walk through on what veterinary professionals recommend when it comes to ethics and euthanasia.
By Allison Salonko.
Allison is a Veterinary Technician in the state of Indiana. She graduated from International Business College and Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with a degree in Animal Science and Technology in 2011.
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#1 Poor Quality Of Life
Veterinarians will recommend euthanasia for dogs that have poor quality of life due to pain and/or an incurable condition.
These pets are at a point where medical intervention won’t improve their quality of life, either due to their age or the progression of a condition or disease.
Quality of life for dogs is everything because they live in the “now”, so when veterinary professionals can no longer keep your pet comfortable, then the ethical option of euthansia is warranted and often recommended by the doctor.
Does Your Dog Still Do What They Love?
As a Veterinary Technician for over 10 years, I have seen many animals with questionable quality of life.
I like to suggest that owners take note of three things that their pet has always loved (i.e chasing the ball, going on walks, excited over food/treats) and when they are no longer doing those things then it is time to consider their quality of life.
#2 Financial Constraints Are Holding Back Treatment
Life is always full of things that you don’t see coming, such as veterinary emergencies.
Whether your dog was hit by a car or ingested a sock, these emergencies can be quite expensive and financially taxing on owners.
Sometimes pet owners have to make a difficult choice between going broke or paying for a treatment or emergency surgery.
While these are always tragic decisions, they are not uncommon in the veterinary field.
If an animal’s pain and suffering may be prolonged due to financial constraints on the owner, then euthanasia can be ethically recommended.
#3 Aggressive And Unwanted Behaviors
Veterinary professionals deal with aggressive, painful and fearful pets every day.
But in some situations there are dogs that have unpredictable behavior and aggressive tendencies that can escalate quickly and become dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening to an owner or their family.
It is important that the owners have made an attempt at correcting the unwanted aggression before seeking out euthanasia from a veterinarian.
Proper socialization, training and behavioral consultations with a board certified veterinary behaviorist are crucial in trying to understand and prevent problems in the future.
Elderly dogs that have become aggressive due to cognitive dysfunction (doggie dementia) are a tough case because their body is often still going strong but their mind has slipped away.
These once sweet and loveable dogs become fractious and a danger for their owners as their change in behavior can be unpredictable.
Whether it’s a beloved geriatric dog with dementia or a middle aged dog with unpredictable behavior, aggression and biting is a dangerous and slippery slope.
If possible, seek out behavioral counseling but in many cases dogs that are known to attack or bite with little warning are often ethically elected for euthanasia.
Euthanizing For Non-Aggressive Behaviors
There are almost no ethical reasons for euthanizing a dog when they are non-aggressive.
In the veterinary field, we call these cases “convenience euthaniasias,” implying that the owner only wants to euthanize because they are no longer in a position to have a dog or they are tired of being financially responsible for them.
Asking veterinary professionals to perform these unjustified euthanasias is ethically wrong and many of them will decline to go through with it.
Putting Your Dog Down Is Never Easy
Choosing to euthanize a canine companion is easily the hardest decision that an owner will ever make.
Even with good ethical reasons, putting down your dog is something that brings grief and guilt to most people.
However, take comfort knowing that your beloved doggo has crossed the rainbow bridge to a place where all of their pain is gone.
Saying goodbye to a friend is never easy but they will forever leave their pawprints on your heart.