From the moment your dog comes into your life, it’s your duty to look after him and do what’s best for him.
Sometimes, particularly as they get older, those decisions aren’t necessarily easy.
At some point as pet owners we’ve had to make that heartbreaking decision to put our best friend to sleep.
Trust me, it never gets easier.
I still remember the first time I had to do it.
There were so many emotions, so many questions in the lead up to making my decision.
Sometimes you might be lucky and have time to think about it and weigh up the options.
Then there are times where it all happens too suddenly.
So how do you know when it’s time to give your dog his wings?
Sometimes it can be just the look in his eyes – that tired, sad look.
But other times your dog can appear completely happy and healthy, and that can make it all the more difficult to know what the right decision is.
Veterinarians have come up with various ways of helping us make the right decision, doing their best to answer that age-old question.
Dr Andy Roark has come up with a guide on how to know when your dog is ready, and some of his tips are sure to resonate with you.
He encourages pet owners to remember that our pets live in the moment.
“When our pets are suffering, they don’t reflect on all the great days they have had before, or ponder what the future will bring,” he writes.
“All they know is how they feel today.”
With that in mind, he asks us to look at the issue from our dog’s perspective.
Sometimes writing down your thoughts can make it all clearer.
Dr Roark suggests writing down any questions you have about euthanising your dog – including what your fears and concerns might be.
The hard part in making a decision like this is your dog can’t talk to you.
But if you pay enough attention, there are signs your dog can give you that he’s ready to go.
Dr Roark has a rule of five good things.
Basically, he tells us to write down the five things our dog loves to do.
When he or she can’t do three or more of those things anymore, he recommends it might be time to consider euthanasia.
Or you can record your dogs good and bad days.
The veterinarian tells us that tracking the days our dog is not feeling well can be helpful.
“A check mark for good days and an X for bad days on your calendar can help you determine when a loved one is having more bad days than good,” he writes.
Need a second opinion?
Well, there’s plenty out there.
Dr Alice Villalobos is a veterinary oncologist who has devised her own scale for determining your dog’s quality of life.
Her HHHHHMM Scale looks at Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More Good Days than Bad.
So how does it work?
It works by measuring each letter out of 10.
So with Hurt – is your dog having trouble breathing? Can his pain be successfully managed?
Measure hunger by asking if your pet is eating enough? and does it need hand feeding?
Hydration relates to whether or not your dog is staying hydrated?
Hygiene relates to the dog being clean and having clean wounds.
What about your dog’s happiness?
If your pet isn’t responsive to things around him or depressed, lonely, anxious or bored, it could be time to make a difficult decision.
And of course there’s the issue of mobility.
Think about whether your dog can get up on his own, if he can walk on his own and if he’s having seizures or stumbling.
Mobility can be a big factor in your decision to put your dog to sleep.
At the end of the day, the decision rests with you as a dog owner and your dog’s best friend.
Don’t feel pressured into making a rushed decision.
Feel free to seek a second opinion where you think it’s needed.
As emotional as it can be, the most important thing to remember is what is best for your best friend – after all, the average dog gives you 10 to 12 years of his life.