When Is It Time to Let a Pet Go?
One of the toughest decisions any pet owner can face is deciding when it is time to say goodbye to their beloved companion. Of course, everyone wants to believe that their dogs or cats will live forever. However, the unfortunate reality is that the lifespan of dogs and cats and other popular domestic pets is much shorter than the lifespan of humans. As a result, dog and cat lovers may have to face this difficult choice many times throughout the course of pet ownership.
Many people believe that their pet will "tell them" when it is time. Of course, our pets don't actually speak to but many pet owners feel that they have a deep connection with their pets and can understand their pets needs and wants. The soulful eyes of a beloved dog speak volumes to an attentive owner, and the purring of a cat is as clear as words to a feline's master.
Listening to and taking cues from the unspoken words of your pet is definitely one of the best ways to determine when it is time to let go. When your dog or cat stops taking pleasure in all of the things they once enjoyed - they no longer eat, or purr when you scratch their bellies or behind their ears - that may be a sign that it is time to say goodbye. Many pet owners say that as long as their dog's tail still wags with happiness, they will persist in caring for their ailing pet. This choice is a very personal choice, and should be made between the owner and the pet.
However, it is very important to remember that our pets' needs must come first in this situation. Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not fear death. Their lives are full of joy, they take happiness in everything, and they know when it is their time to say goodbye. It may be much harder for us to part with them, but we need to put their interests first and when it is finally time, know that we are doing the right thing.
A veterinarian can give you some guidance as well, on when it is the right time to say goodbye. They can determine your pet's quality of life from a medical standpoint, and explain the prognosis for health and possible recovery or deterioration. Many kindly vets form lifelong relationships with the animals they care for, and are able to intuitively understand the needs of the pet almost as well as the owner.
Once it is finally time to say goodbye, you can find comfort in knowing that you did the right thing for your companion. You can select pet urns or pet grave markers to memorialize your special pet, and to help you begin to get over the loss. It may be helpful to write pet memorials about your pet, or discuss pet loss grief with other's who have been through the loss of a pet.