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How I Know if it is Time to Euthanize my Pets?

How do we make that difficult decision? Because that’s what it is, it’s the hardest decision you’ll make, it’s the hardest day that you make, and you don’t wanna do it too soon or too late. – Hey everybody, welcome back to the article. If you’re Reading this one, I’m really sorry that you’re here because I know how difficult this topic is and what a struggle it is. So we’re gonna be talking about how to know when the right time is to euthanize your dog or cat.

And I hate that phrase, because it’s never the right time and we all struggle with it. And we’re all so close to our pets that it’s hard to be objective. So I’m honored that this vlog is done with my colleague and wonderful friend, Dr. Mary Gardner who is the co-founder of Lap of Love which is a national company. It’s an in-home euthanasia company. And she lectures and she has helped thousands of families with this decision. And she’s gonna give us some great tips. We shot this video when we were just recently in St. Martin lecturing for Vet Vacation CE. So I do want to give you a little bit of warning, this was a video that we shot sort of last minute and I’m holding the camera. So it’s a little bit shaky at times. And we’re out in the sun, but I think the information is really valuable and Dr. Mary is just the best. So she has so many good tips about euthanasia and just trying to help us figure out when is the best time when our pets are suffering and when we’re suffering as caregivers. And I’ve personally struggled with this decision with Page, my labrador that I had when I was in vet school and my two kitty cats Jeter and Raz. So I really hope that you find this information helpful. We’re gonna provide some links to Lap of Love, there’s some great information that Dr. Mary talks about. And we’ll provide some information there. So, thanks for reading, and here we go. Hey everybody, welcome back to the vlog. So we’re not in the typical location, we are in the beautiful, fantastic, gorgeous St. Martin. And I am joined today by the fabulous Dr. Mary Gardner. And we are on day 2 of three, we’re speaking for Vet Vacation CE and we’re having a great time. – Yes, it is work. – It is work, it is. But I am so fortunate to have you here today. So she is co-founder of Lap of Love, which is in-home euthanasia and I really wanted to have you hop on today because this is a common question that we have and so many people message me and one of the big questions is, “When is,” and I know you’re gonna hate this, “When is the right time to euthanize my pet?” And it’s something that many pet proprietors battle with.  With malignancy as well as with many, – Every illness.  – Every disease. – such a large number of illnesses, and simply interminable, mature age manifestations and issues. – Yeah. – Yeah. – So– – You wanna, like you want me to tell you how I help families?

Would that be helpful?

Yeah, so why don’t you tell them how you help families and then maybe a couple of tips for pet owners to help them figure out when is the best time. – The best time, that’s right, the best time. And even saying best is hard, right? – Right, right. – We never wanna say goodbye. So is that best or right, or whatever? How do we make that difficult decision, because that’s what it is. It’s the hardest decision you’ll make, it’s the hardest day that you’ll make, and you don’t wanna do it too soon or too late. And so a lot of times with Lap of Love the families call us just to help guide them through that decision making process. And we have a lot of stuff on our website that helps, as well. – So, let’s tell them what the website is. – Oh, lapoflove.com. And so there’s a lot of good information about assessing quality of life and some tools on there which I’ll talk about as well. So the first thing when I’m helping a family with quality of life issues is I wanna know what their major disease or ailment is because sometimes we know we have a diagnosis. It might be cancer, it might be arthritis or diabetes or something like that, because it also helps me understand what their symptoms that they’re going to be dealing with are. Sometimes it might be nausea, maybe it’s just mobility issues but they’re still eating and wagging their tail, and that’s really hard for some owners ’cause they perceive their pet as super happy but yet they’re still struggling with a lot of painful issues that they’re just not telling us about. So I wanna know first what the disease or the major problem is. A lot of these older guys have a number of problems, it’s not just one. And then we’re gonna talk about the symptoms that they’re going to have, especially as the disease progresses and what to look out for. Next is also looking at the pet’s personality and how they’re dealing with some of the, maybe medications that we’re giving, Okay, I want people to hear this information ’cause it’s so awesome! – No, okay, good. So, I’m gonna talk about the pet’s personality and how well are they dealing with the symptoms that they have and also the care that we’re giving, whether it’s medications or a harness or how they’re managing around the house, or their anxiety level, ’cause some pets are very anxious or dogs and cats can get similar to Alzheimer’s or dementia. And so how are they handing that anxiety? And things like that. The next thing I’m gonna talk about is also the family’s beliefs.

We’re all so different of what we believe, right?

So some people may be all for doing absolutely everything we medically possibly can. And some people don’t think that that’s something that they want to deal with, or manage, or whatever. And afterward likewise when is time is additionally abstract to the family. So do we wanna wait till every last minute that we have? Or do we not even want suffering to even come into the picture at all? And that’s a big wide range of time period, if you will. And the last thing that I talk about are the budgets. So, do you have, there’s four budgets in life. – Oh, I love this part. – I know you do! – So, yeah, ’cause when you say, “Budget,” people are thinking money. – Money. – And she’s not talking about money. – Right. – So listen up. – So there is a financial budget, right? – No, but not just the financial. – Yeah, but not just the financial. Because a lot of times things are not actually very expensive towards the end. We’re not doing a lot of blood work or X-rays or things like that. It’s maybe arthritis medicine or anxiety medication, it’s management around the house, things like that. So it’s not always the most expensive. But there’s the other budgets. So we have the monetary budget. The time spending plan, do you have sufficient opportunity to think about your pet. So for instance, my own dog, when he was towards the end he had to be let out every four hours and his medications were every six hours. And I– – Duncan, right? – Duncan, yeah, so I’m not home all the time. I’m working. And so I had to make sure that somebody was home to let him out and give him his medications. So not all of us have that opportunity. So we have a time budget. Also, some of us travel for work or something like that. So that’s hard. And then the next budget is the physical budget. Do you have enough abilities to handle your pet. Now we can all think about a very large breed dog, but what about a 20 pound dog? Lifting them up, giving them the medications, helping them into the car, that can be a struggle for some.

What if you have your own back issues?

so, we’ve talked about that before. You can say, “Well, that person should be able,” but if they have chronic issues themselves, or back issues or other things like that. – 100%. – Right, it may mean– – A 20 pound dog could be equal to a 100 pound dog to some people right? – Right, yeah. – And so we don’t know what somebody’s going through. And then last is the emotional budget. And that one, everyone when I say that, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, we get it.” And that’s very hard, because whether you wanna say goodbye sooner than later because you maybe went through this before with another pet. Maybe you, yourself are struggling with these issues and it might be difficult to watch your pet go through it. Or you wanna wait till the very last moment because maybe this is the last living link to another– – Family member – A family member, yeah. – A lot of times someone adopted, this was their mom’s dog, and their mom died of cancer and– – And now to say goodbye – the connections. – Yeah, that’s really hard, so we may wait a longer period of time. And so as a veterinarian, I always say at any time, if any one of these budgets is up, then I support your decision to say goodbye. So that’s one thing to look at with assessing quality of life. It’s also your quality of life. And I know a lot of people– – as the caregiver. – As the caregiver. So the second reason why people will euthanize, the first is quality of life of the pet, it’s then caregiver pressure. And it’s hard, and it’s really hard. And I tell people like, “You don’t know how hard it is till you’re in it yourself.” And then we then have the, a lot of families think of the guilt of making that decision. And it’s not, do not take it as a guilty decision. You are releasing your pet from pain, from, maybe nausea, from some other things that they’re dealing with. I also suggest doing either any kind of quality of life scale, we have a couple on our website, but it just helps you think about things that you might not have recognized that’s going on with your pet. So a lot of times, like I said, with the dogs, they could have horrible arthritis and they come running in. You don’t notice this mild limp or something like that, but they’re in a lot of pain, yet they’re eating and drinking and having fun, and, but they’re still in a lot of pain. So, and one thing I also really love for families to do is, like there’s the classic bucket list that you can make, but I like to make a Joy of Living List. And so if you write down, like if I think about my Duncan,

what made him happy?

What made Duncan Duncan? And I wrote down that list. Two things’ll happen. One is I might realize he’s not doing those things, and that will just help me take off my denial goggles, if you will, to be like, “Wow, these things that made him him, and made him happy, he’s not doing anymore.” The other thing is that it will allow you to do those things that he can still do. So that way you feel like towards the end that we have done everything, medically, physically, emotionally, for everybody involved, and it’s very helpful then to when you have to say goodbye. And I think it’s so important– – What was his joy, tell– – Oh, my Gosh, well, – I love it. – Well, his joy, one of his joys was barking at the Goodyear Blimp. – I love that one! – We really love to hate the Goodyear Blimp. – I love it! – I know, and so I was reading that and towards the end he got so weak and just tired, he had heart disease. – He didn’t care about the blimp! – He didn’t care about the blimp anymore. And it maybe food or something like that, but it may be something as small as snuggling next to you. – But had you not thought about that, you might have sort of missed it. – I would have missed it, yeah. – You have to think about those things, I think, beforehand. – Yeah, so write down what makes them them, and helpful. But it is the most difficult decision to ever make. There isn’t a right or wrong. I think making sure that if your pet is struggling with anxiety, or pain, or something like that we can at least, in the meantime as your making decisions, help them with certain prescriptions just to help them through that.

 And that’s what we do in human medicine, right?

We take a lot of good stuff to make us feel good and we have that as well. But it’s also not a flippant decision. This is not something that you’re going to just watch a video and, “Aha,” moment. But it’s really for you to reflectively think, get everybody involved in the family as well. Because what you may think may not be the same as your teenager may think or your husband may think, or your friends. – It’s so hard. – It’s so hard, and get everybody involved. And the other, the last thing I’ll suggest, too, there’s such an easy thing to say is like, “Oh, well, when there’s more good days then bad,” “As long as there’s more good days than bad,

It’s so hard. But what is a good day?

So you need to choose as a family what does a decent day mean? – And I have seen people’s definitions of a good day change and that’s okay. – And that’s totally okay, 100%. – Right, but what they thought a good day was morphs and changes over time. – Overtime. – And so it’s hard to know. – It’s hard to know, but you just have to define is it that he can get up on his own? Is it that he slept through the night? Or is it that he slept four hours through the night? Because in the beginning you’re like, “Yeah, I want him to sleep through the night.” And then, uh-oh, he’s stopped sleeping through the night, and you’re grateful for four hours, right? So just write that down. – Mary, I love the resources that you have. So again, we’ll put the link below. It’s lapoflove.com and you have so many wonderful resources. And I love what you and Dr. Dani have done with Lap of Love, so you have made in-home euthanasia so much more accessible and just a beautiful experience. And I’m honored to be your friend. And if any veterinarians or veterinary students are Reading, you need to hear this woman speak at a veterinary conference. I’m honored to speak with you. – I know, it’s a lot of fun. – Yeah, because she is brilliant, and so many good resources on your website for veterinarians and veterinarian professionals and for pet owners as well. So, thank you. – I hope this was helpful. – No, thank you, – I could talk for hours on it. – I know. Thank you for taking the time, go to the beach, – Okay, I’m gonna go relax, a joy of life for me. – And we’re gonna speak again, tomorrow, – Yes, tomorrow we’re speaking again. – Thank you, everybody for reading.

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