How Do You Know It's Time to Say Goodbye to Your Pet?

Signs That It’s Time to Put Your Pet to Sleep


Relieving our furry companions of suffering is a gift. But how do you know when it’s time to let them go?

As pet parents, we are responsible for the well-being and happiness of our furry companions. This means giving them the best care during their lives. But it also means preventing them from suffering unnecessarily when those lives are approaching the end.

Unlike people, animals don’t have a concept of mortality. They don’t know how long they’ll live or even really understand the idea of “tomorrow.” They live in the moment. When the quality of those moments declines and there is nothing to do to improve them, euthanasia is a precious gift.


How Long Should You Wait to Put Your Pet to Sleep?


If your companion is suffering from a terminal illness, chronic disease, or just the inevitable decline of age, you may be wondering whether it’s time to put them to sleep.

Before making any decisions about your pet’s care, the first step is to consult your veterinarian. Your vet can give a clearer picture of what’s going on with your pet’s health and how much quality time you might have together. You can also ask for some signs of pain to watch out for so that you can keep a better gauge on your pet’s day-to-day quality of life.

When assessing the quality of life, many veterinarians utilize the HHHHHMM Scale.

  • Hurt: Are they in pain? Can that pain be managed?
  • Hunger: Are they eating enough on their own? Do they show interest in food?
  • Hydration: Are they drinking on their own? Are they showing signs of dehydration?
  • Hygiene: Can they keep themselves clean? Are they soiling themselves or neglecting their grooming?
  • Happiness: Do they show joy and interest in the world around them? Do they enjoy favorite activities? Do they seem depressed or seek out isolation?
  • Mobility: Can they move around on their own? Is it possible to provide mobility assistance?
  • More Good Days Than Bad: Do they only occasionally have severe symptoms, or do they seem to struggle every day?


When thinking about this assessment, it’s important to be realistic with yourself about your personal limitations. Some conditions can be managed with intensive ongoing care, but providing that care may not be financially feasible or even physically possible for you. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide where to draw the line. Be honest and up-front about your needs when you talk to your veterinarian so you can create your pet’s care plan together.


Planning in Advance


It’s a good idea to decide as early as possible where you will draw the line. Think about your pet’s personality and day-to-day habits, then choose a few benchmarks to measure their quality of life against. When Mittens is no longer interested in her favorite treats or Bowser stops caring about his squeaky toys, that might be a sign that their time is approaching.

Discuss this with your vet and decide in advance how you will have the euthanasia performed. Will you bring your fur baby to the office, or can the vet come to you? How much will it cost? Have the money set aside so you don’t have to stress about it when the time comes.

Planning for your pet’s burial or cremation in advance is a good idea as well. Preplanning allows you to budget for their final expenses. It also allows you to make decisions while you’re clear-headed rather than in the depths of grief on euthanasia day. Best Friends can help you preplan up to six months in advance, and we work with veterinarians throughout Albuquerque to arrange pick-up and delivery when the time comes.

We know how hard it is to say goodbye. We’re here for you while you work through these difficult decisions. Call us at 505-345-5615 to discuss our pet cremation and memorial options, or stop by our new location at 1001 Menaul Blvd NE, Suite E Albuquerque to chat in person.