The Final Days: Knowing When It Is Time to Say Goodbye to a Pet 

dog at animal hospital

The inevitable end of life comes to all living beings. Life, death, birth, these are the important themes of anyone’s journey, including our cherished pets. Losing a pet is incredibly difficult and can be a confusing and sad time for the entire family. There are days when you wonder if your pet is experiencing any pleasure in life, or if they are in pain. These questions can make it hard to know when the right time is to say goodbye to a pet.

Even though it is hard to let go, there are some indicators that the time has come when your pet’s quality of life isn’t there anymore. Your team at Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital is here to discuss this delicate time of your pet’s life and help you with any questions you may have.

Pet Pain

It can sometimes be hard to know when a pet is experiencing pain. Their instinct is to not show any signs, so pain signals may be subtle. You may assume they’d be crying or whimpering, but that isn’t generally how they express pain. Pain in cats is especially subtle.

Some signs to look for include:

  • Hiding/wanting to be alone
  • No longer interested in being petted or held
  • Wincing when touched
  • Lack of appetite
  • Panting
  • Reluctance to move
  • Struggling to breathe or breathing deeply

Your pet’s pain can be managed through pain medications and anti-inflammatories, but at the end of life, their discomfort will be more apparent.

What Are the Signs of End of Life?

You may notice that your pet has a few good days, and this can naturally give a loving pet owner hope. Toward the end of life, though, those good days become few and far between. We understand how hard it must be, but there are some signs to be on the look-out for.

These include:

  • Loss of interest in most things
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Refuses to move
  • Not eating or lack of appetite
  • Incontinence
  • Breathing difficulties
  • No longer interested in attention

These are signs that your pet is ready to pass over the rainbow bridge. At this point, it’s a good idea to have your pet examined. During this visit, you can discuss how to handle your pet’s passing with our caring team. We all want to keep them as comfortable as possible until it’s time to say goodbye.

Time to Say Goodbye to a Pet with Loving Care

This is a noble time we all must experience as living beings. You can help your pet with the transition by providing them with comfortable blankets, a gentle touch and kind words. Your presence will bring them peace and keep them stress-free. Keep routines as close to their normal ones as possible and minimize the introduction of anything new (strangers, diet, etc.)

This is also an important time for you to check-in with your level of self-care. End of life with a pet family member can take its toll on you emotionally. Seek help when needed and be gentle with yourself, since this is a rough time for all.

Would you like more information on the timing of when to say goodbye to a pet, or would like to speak to someone about your options? We are here for you. Please contact our compassionate team.