This takes me back to when I have heard the bad news of an aging pet. I remember all the extra effort to make them comfortable and the fear of the impending loss.
End of life decisions are very difficult to make. We speak of quality of life vs. quantity. Each dog has their own specific ability to manage pain. Evolution has given dogs and cats the ability to look healthy up until either they fail, or we intervene with a cure or treatment for their condition. Just because a dog is showing pain, however, doesn’t mean it is time to put them down. Pain can be managed and so can nausea and other issues to a degree. The will to live is strong in animals just as it is in humans. That is what makes the decision to let them pass so difficult.
Each of us has our own tolerance to pain and suffering. In fact, it is amazing the tolerance people have to suffering. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is quality living. We can’t help but project onto our pets what we are feeling when we see them struggling, as this is how we try to understand them. And our human compassion makes it hard for us to see them in pain.
There is, however, an objective way to track your pets pain and discomfort as well as understanding how they are feeling about how they are feeling. The scales have psychological and behavioral cues as well as how the pet responds to palpitation, which can give you a good idea of how much pain your pet is experiencing.
Using this scale periodically a couple times a week when you are facing the difficult decision can help you to track how your pet is really doing . Keeping track of the scores can help you tell and when your pet has more bad days than good ones and more unhappy times than before. It makes it a bit easier to understand what your pet needs.
Many other things factor into our decision. How many times we have gone through it, what our experiences have been, how attached we are to our pet, and our own will to live.
It is never an easy decision. Most veterinarians will give you an idea of when to put your pet down to relieve their suffering. But ultimately you have to make the decision and when you do, listen to your intuition, try talking with your pet. Sit with them for a while. You will make the right decision because your love for your pet will guide your choice.
Cat Pain Scale PDF http://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org/assets/files/csu_acute_pain_scale_feline.pdf
Dog Pain Scale PDF