No one wants to see their pets pass on, but sometimes we must choose to let them rest peacefully to avoid further suffering. It’s never an easy choice to make. Understanding how different owners approach euthanasia can help us make the process easier for them.
Public Perception of Euthanasia Has Shifted
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that long ago that convenience euthanasia was a reasonable choice for owners who decided they simply didn’t want to deal with a pet anymore. Thankfully today, anywhere from 80-95% of pet owners view their pets as family members. This shift has made euthanasia a choice exercised when a pet is suffering from major medical problems and there are no reasonable medical solutions.
It’s About the Animal, Not the Money
Most clinics tend to fall into two categories: those that offer top quality care regardless of cost, and those that aim for value so that clients can afford to keep their pets healthy. However, there isn’t a correlation between income and choosing when to euthanize a pet: while medical costs are still a major factor when considering euthanasia, both high and low income households increasingly choose intensive medical, even if it costs thousands of dollars.
Making the Decision the First Time is Hard
If it’s the first time an owner has had to choose to euthanize their pet, they tend to put it off because they think there will be some moment when they’ll know it’s time. As a result, the pet lives longer, even if their quality of life is terrible. After going through this process, owners are more likely to choose euthanasia sooner for their other pets because they understand how hard it is for their pets to keep living with a terminal condition.
When the subject comes up, most veterinarians will tell their clients to do it when they’re ready. This places a huge burden on them, and they might not understand the full implications of keeping their pet alive. It’s important that they understand the pet’s perspective: their cat or dog doesn’t know about surgical options or disease progression, they just know that they feel bad and they hurt. To help them see the dilemma from their pet’s perspective, have them make a list of their pet’s favorite activities. If the animal can’t do most of these things, it’s not having a fulfilling life. Having a quantifiable assessment of their pet’s happiness can make the choice a little easier.
It Never Gets Easier
Every time an owner chooses euthanasia, they’re more likely to make the choice sooner for their future pets. After facing high medical bills, having to do extra to care for their pets, and knowing that they will still suffer and die, it’s easier to choose to end a pet’s life before things become too dire. However, they still care for their animals, and they’ll still go through the same grieving process. Some owners find it harder to deal with because it reminds them of experiences with past pets. When handling these cases, it helps to remember an easy decision does not mean an easy loss, and they need the same level of support you would give to any client.
It Can Feel Like a Failure
Choosing euthanasia can make owners feel like they’ve failed to properly take care of their pet, no matter the circumstances. Remind them that they did what they could, and they got to spend several happy years with their pet: hearing that from a professional can do a lot to lift the blame off their shoulders.
It’s Hardest on Teens and Young Adults
Owners who got their pet when they were children or teenagers are hit the hardest: in many cases, they didn’t just grow up with their pet, they took over care, making it one of their first adult responsibilities. That animal saw them through school, college, the start of their career, and maybe even their marriage and the birth of their children. No one likes it when their pet passes on, but it’s even more devastating if it happens anywhere during this timeline.
We Can Help You Make It Easier for Your Clients
Positive Impressions, LLC has helped clinics and hospitals connect with their clients for over a decade, both in good times and bad. In addition to our selection of customizable reminder cards, business cards and pharmacy supplies, we have memorial products, sympathy cards and posters that can help your clients feel more at ease when they have to face the loss of their loved ones. If you’re looking for ways to help clients grieve for a lost pet, welcome a new one, or just keep up with their current pet’s health, visit our website to see the latest specials and most popular products.