It’s never easy saying goodbye to pet, so when it comes to making those end-of-life decisions, it’s easy to see why an owner might choose to extend the life of a four-legged friend.
That’s a mistake, says Dr. Elizabeth Kuan, a veterinarian with the SPCA.
“Most owners regret letting go too late versus letting go too early,” said Dr. Kuan. “With terminal diseases where we're expecting quality of life to slowly deteriorate, it's better to let them go when they're having a ‘good day’ rather than after they've suffered for weeks.”
Today, June 11, is World Pet Memorial Day and the BC SPCA is reminding people of the tools available to help pet owners deal with the demise of their beloved animals.
One set of tools to help you assess how your pet is doing are quality of life scales and surveys. Found at a veterinarian’s office, these will help you ask the tough questions: “Does a pet not enjoy the same activities as before? Is the pet trembling or shaking? Does the pet need help to move around normally?”
When the grieving period begins, it’s important to remember that the death of an animal can spark genuine grief.
“Seek out the support of friends and family during this difficult time. Some communities even have pet loss support groups where people can share and work through these feelings together,” said BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk.
Memorializing a pet can also help owners deal with the grief of their loss. The SPCA offers the following tips:
- Keep pet tags and put them on a key ring.
- Record the happy memories in a journal.
- Create a collage of photographs.
- Make a donation to an animal welfare organization in the pet’s name.
- Write a poem about the pet.
- Plant a memorial tree.