Having a dog at home entails a lot of happiness as well as responsibilities. A few of the best years of your life are spent with your pet dog but unfortunately, all good times come to an end and these blissful years will too. You are completely in charge of your dog’s well-being and mental or physical health. There are numerous significant decisions that you are going to have to make on behalf of your loyal friend. These involve lifestyle, training-oriented, and medical decisions oftentimes. One of the most difficult and conflicted questions that you are going to have to make for your furry buddy is whether it is necessary and ethical to euthanize your dog.
This is a life-changing decision that a lot of pet owners are faced with. Be it because of a terminal illness, a genetic fatality, or a bad accident, there are a lot of times when it comes more painful for a dog to carry on than be “put to sleep”. At other times, encouragement and physiotherapy or medical aid can go a long way in completely healing the dog. As a dog owner, these decisions are often very difficult to make from an objective, scientific standpoint. Understandably, the choice to euthanize one’s lifelong partner cannot be an easy one to make. That being said, it is very important to keep some things in mind when one comes face to face with such a tragic situation.
You have to take into consideration the quality of life that your dog is leading. There are a lot of markers that you have to check before deciding as vital as euthanizing your lifelong and most loyal partner.
So the question of the hour is – When you should euthanize your dog? Is there ever a right time? These are some of the vital questions that this blog will discuss in the next few paragraphs.
To determine whether your dog needs to be euthanized or not, Dr Alice Villalobos, DVM, developed something known as the quality of Life scale – also popularly known as the HHHHHMM scale. This scale will help you in maintaining an objective approach during a very emotionally turbulent time of your life. It will help you judge your dog’s quality of life-based on an objective, unbiased, and scientific approach and come to a decision that will be beneficial for your canine companion in the long run.
For each category, what you have to do is rate your dog on a scale of 0 to 10 – 0 being the lowest rating and 10 being the highest rating. For a more accurate reading, it would be best if you took these readings thrice a day over three days consecutively. The average of these readings will give you the answer. Now let’s find out what these markers are.
H – Hurting: Is your dog having trouble breathing? Are they in pain? Is the pain manageable for them? Does your dog require extra oxygen? These are all questions the answers to which will tell you at what degree your dog is hurting at the moment.
H – Hunger: Is your dog eating enough? Are you having to hand-feed them? Do they require a feeding tube? One of the very important markers of your dog’s health or recovery process is their appetite. If they have stopped showing signs of hunger or displaying excitement on being offered their treat, it is a definitive sign that your dog is terminally ill and requires serious consideration about their quality of life.
H – Hydration: Is your dog hydrated enough? Do you have to supplement their fluids with subcutaneous fluids? How is your dog reacting to these fluids? Fluid intake is also a very crucial marker of a dog’s health and signs of dehydration, hydrophobia, and lack of urge to drink water are also very obvious signs that your dog has reached the point of no return and their quality of life cannot be reversed at this point.
H – Hygiene: Your dog needs to be brushed, groomed, and cleaned regularly, especially after dispelling poop or urine. Is your dog displaying signs of incontinence? Do they have visible pressure sores? You need to keep a track of these hygiene factors to know more about your dog’s health/ Clean wounds regularly and provide them with lots of soft bedding!
H – Happiness: Does your dog show any signs of joy or excitement? Jumping around, tail wagging, and licking are common signs of a happy dog. If your dog is anxious, sick, or depressed, you can determine something is wrong simply from their demeanour.
M – Mobility: Does your dog need assistance with moving around? Are they as active as they previously were? Are they stumbling constantly or suffering from seizures? A lot of dog parents think that euthanasia is a better option than amputation but many dogs have been known to lead very happy lives after going through an amputation.
M – More good days than bad: If your dog has more sick days than healthy ones, it should serve as an indicator of the fact that your dog’s quality of life has been compromised. If you cannot forge a bond with your dog any longer, chances are that the end is near and you will finally have to decide to euthanize your dog.
Add up the numbers after each category. If your dog’s total score is 35 or above, then they have an acceptable quality of life. If it is below 35, you should possibly consider euthanasia. These decisions are very hard to make but someone has to make them on behalf of your pet dog. The best you can do is give your dog the happiness and comfort he deserves during his last days and let them go in peace to a more painless existence.