Our pets are so incredibly lucky to be able to receive the medical fix of euthanasia. They don’t have to linger in malaise like we humans do. An older woman at a monthly grief support meeting made a profound impact on me recently. She described how her late husband struggled for years with leukemia. In his last months, he would wake up every morning cursing the fact that he woke up…and was still here. He told his wife, “Why can’t I be euthanized like my dog? I don’t want to live like this anymore!”
So many clients comment about this while I am at their house, “Gosh, I wish we could do this for humans!” While we cannot legally euthanize humans, hospice was developed as a band-aid to keep people “comfortable” while nature takes its course. And nature can be cruel. What kind of quality of life do these bed-ridden people have? So sad.
When we look back in history, medicine has come a long way in the past 100 years. We now know enough medically these days to be quite confident in assessing disease, degree of pain & suffering, and level of quality in our lives. I believe with pets, we need to focus on quality of life. In my opinion, they don’t want life at all costs. They want quality of life, as long as it lasts.
*A note about hospice care for pets. I feel it sometimes caters to people who cannot let go, enabling them to avoid the loss, to stay stuck, to not decide. I feel sorry for pets who have to linger in hidden pain and low quality of life. Natural death is often cruel and prolonged. Euthanasia is a very valuable opportunity to give our cherished pet the gift of relief from terrible pain and suffering. As a veterinarian, I am an advocate for pets. I believe our pets want to be functional and comfortable. It is my job to speak for pets and explain suffering clearly so that we all can feel a little more confident that we are doing what is best for our pets. Natural death often involves too much suffering. This could be why the vast majority of pets are euthanized and not left to die naturally.*
From “Euthanasia Guidebook For Pet Owners” written by Dr. Karen Twyning, DVM, founder of Pet Loss At Home: a respected and growing national network of compassionate veterinarians dedicated to private pet euthanasia in the comfort of home.