How Do You Know When It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Your Beloved Pet?

Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner may face. Our pets become cherished members of our families, providing us with unwavering love and companionship. However, there may come a time when their quality of life deteriorates, and we must consider euthanasia as a compassionate option. Being told “you will know when it is time” is never helpful advice. Making this decision is never easy, but by evaluating your pet’s condition and considering their well-being, you can determine when it’s time to say goodbye

dog on teal blanket

Assessing Your Pet’s Quality of Life:

When contemplating euthanasia, it is crucial to assess your pet’s quality of life. Consider their ability to engage in daily activities they once enjoyed. Are they able to eat, drink, and eliminate without difficulty? Are they experiencing chronic pain or discomfort? Observe their behaviour and look for signs of distress or significant changes in their overall demeanour. If your pet is no longer able to experience joy or engage in normal activities due to their condition, it may be an indication that their quality of life has significantly diminished.

When Dr. Banks began MMVHS in Toronto, ON back in 2012, she developed her own Quality of Life (QOL) scale for pets to use with her hospice, palliative and geriatric patients. It is meant to help families take subjective thoughts about a beloved pet and put them into a more objective framework. Dr. Banks used this scale with her own dog, Smudge, to help her decide when it was time to say goodbye to her sweet girl, and many of our clients have found it very useful.

Consulting with a Veterinarian:

Veterinarians play a vital role in guiding pet owners through end-of-life decisions. Schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns, as they can provide professional insight into your pet’s condition. Vets are experienced in evaluating the severity of illnesses, determining pain levels, and assessing the overall well-being of animals. They can help you understand the available treatment options, their effectiveness, and potential side effects. Collaborating with a compassionate and knowledgeable veterinarian will empower you to make an informed decision about your pet’s future. At MMVHS, we offer 1 hour quality of life assessments via telemedicine which can be very helpful in guiding families through this difficult decision.

old lab laying on carpetUnderstanding the Prognosis:

Understanding your pet’s prognosis is essential in making the decision to euthanize. In some cases, there may be treatments available to improve your pet’s condition and provide a better quality of life. However, it is crucial to consider the prognosis realistically. Discuss with your veterinarian the potential outcomes of treatment, including the chances of recovery, possible side effects, and the long-term prognosis. If the prognosis is poor, with little hope for improvement, it may be time to consider euthanasia as a humane option to prevent unnecessary suffering.

Provide Environmental Enrichment:

Keeping your pet mentally stimulated and physically engaged is crucial during this time. Provide toys, puzzles, and interactive games to prevent feelings of loneliness or boredom. Engaging their senses and encouraging them to explore their surroundings can help distract them from their loss and redirect their focus. Consider introducing new toys or rotating their existing ones to keep things fresh and exciting. There is a Facebook group called ‘Canine Enrichment’ that has some neat ideas for activities and unique ways to create stimulation.

Evaluating Pain and Suffering:

Pets, like humans, can experience pain and suffering. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to ensure their well-being and alleviate any unnecessary pain. If your pet is experiencing chronic pain that cannot be effectively managed or their suffering outweighs their moments of comfort, euthanasia may be the kindest choice. Remember, some people feel animals hide their pain, but we feel they show it differently, so it is essential to observe their behaviour closely. Signs such as decreased appetite, difficulty moving, or increased restlessness may indicate that your pet is enduring significant discomfort.

hugging older petConsidering the Emotional Toll:

The emotional toll on pet owners cannot be overlooked. Witnessing a beloved pet’s decline can be heartbreaking, and it is important to consider your own well-being. Prolonging a pet’s life solely to delay your own grief may not be in their best interest. Reflect on the bond you share with your pet and evaluate if their current condition aligns with the quality of life they deserve. Saying goodbye to end their suffering can be an act of love, ensuring they pass peacefully and preserving cherished memories.


Deciding to say goodbye to a cherished pet and consider euthanasia is an incredibly difficult decision. By assessing your pet’s quality of life, consulting with a veterinarian, understanding the prognosis, evaluating pain and suffering, and considering the emotional toll, you can navigate this challenging process. Remember, as a pet owner, your responsibility is to prioritize the well-being of your pet companion. Saying goodbye in a humane and compassionate manner is the ultimate act of love you can show your beloved friend.

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About Midtown Mobile Veterinary Hospice Services

At Midtown Mobile Veterinary Hospice Services, we are dedicated to helping people say goodbye to their pets with dignity and respect. We bring our services to our patients’ homes where they can be cared for in a quiet, familiar environment surrounded by their loved ones.