How to Know When It’s Time to Put Your Pet Down

One of the hardest moments you’ll experience as a pet parent is the day you decide it’s time to say goodbye. You don’t want to put your pet down before it’s truly necessary, but at the same time, you don’t want them to suffer. We understand that it can be difficult to know when it’s time to make that decision and the Pet Passages team is here to help you navigate it. 

Below, we have some guidelines to help you decide how to make the kindest, most humane decision for your pet. 

Signs to Look for That Indicate Your Pet’s Quality of Life Is Declining

As a loving pet parent, you’re more in tune with your pet’s personality than anyone else, so you will start to notice when they don’t seem to be themselves. Look for the following signs that their quality of life isn’t what it used to be:

  • Eating: Do they still show an interest in food and are they still eating on their own?
  • Interacting with you: How are they acting around you? Are they still cuddly and playful or are they hiding by themself?
  • Mood: Do they still enjoy their favorite activities like going for walks, playing with their favorite toys, grooming themselves, etc?
  • Pain: Are they showing signs of being in pain that can’t be managed by medication?
  • Using the bathroom: Are they still using the bathroom regularly?

If you answer no to any of these questions, it could be a sign that your pet’s quality of life is on the decline. 

Things to Consider When Deciding If It’s Time to Put Your Pet Down

If you’re concerned about your pet’s quality of life, your vet can help you decide how to move forward. However, ultimately, the decision to say goodbye is up to you. Consider the following when making your decision. 

  • Track their quality of life: Use a calendar to keep track of your pet’s quality of life for a week or two. If you notice there are more bad days than good, it could be a sign that their health is declining and it’s time to prepare to say goodbye. 
  • Think about their favorite activities: Write down 5 things that your pet loves to do. It could be playing fetch, sleeping with you, eating treats, etc. When they’re consistently not enjoying at least 3 of these activities, it may be time to put them down.
  • Look back at how they used to act: Take some time to look back at photos and videos of your pet at a healthier time. If you notice a significant difference in their disposition, talk to your vet about the next steps. 

Making the Most of Their Final Days

Deciding to put your pet down is an incredibly difficult decision and there’s not always a clear answer on when to say goodbye. You might feel like you’re being selfish if you’re not ready to put them down, but try to remember that you’re doing the best you can in a terrible situation. As long as you’re putting your pet’s best interests first, you’re making the right choice. 

When you know the end is near, do what you can to give them their best final days. This can include taking time off to give them extra attention, taking them to their favorite places, giving them extra treats, etc. 

Making the most of their final days can help give you peace of mind that they are peaceful and happy when it comes time to say goodbye. 

Pet Passages Is Here for You

We understand that making the choice to put your pet down is just the start of the grieving process. Making the right choice for your pet is often at the expense of your own happiness, which is part of what makes it such a hard decision.

We offer bereavement support to help you through this difficult time. Find your local Pet Passages location to learn more about how to process your grief after saying goodbye.