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When is it Time?

hands holding clay paw print of dog

When is it time?
This is the question you may struggle to answer.

Pets are the ones in our lives that love us unconditionally and without judgement. They love us regardless of our income, physical appearance, education, politics, religion, interests, or position in life. They are always happy to see us and are loyal and dependable. They rely on us to make decisions for their welfare- including life and death.

Sometimes the final decision is obvious to everyone. Other times there can be a balancing act of managing quality of life- good days, bad days, how to decide when is the “right time” to let go? Every pet, every family, every situation is different with unique considerations for those involved.

When your pet has been diagnosed with an illness that cannot be cured, but can be managed, your veterinarian can assist you with a treatment plan. The term “palliative care” is treating your pet to address his/her quality of life knowing you will not be able to cure the disease.

I feel euthanasia should be considered when your pet…

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  • has pain that cannot be managed
  • is in respiratory distress
  • is unable to eat or drink and medications are not helping
  • cannot get up and move around, or has difficulty getting up and moving around
  • has become irritable and snippy
  • has a condition that is prone to a sudden, catastrophic event (rupture of an organ, internal bleeding, seizure, broken bone). The only way to guarantee your pet will pass peacefully and without stress is to euthanize before the catastrophic event happens.
  •  is no longer enjoying life
  • your family can no longer manage your pet’s condition


Here are links to some articles on how to make this decision:

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Always feel free to call us to discuss your pet’s condition.
We are willing to discuss your questions, concerns, or just listen!


About the author

Dr. Katie Hilst

Dr. Katie Hilst founded Journeys Home Pet Euthanasia LLC, a mobile veterinary service for Madison and surrounding communities. She authored the JOURNEYS Quality of Life Scale for Pets. The vets at Journeys offer compassionate, gentle in home euthanasia for families that prefer to be in the privacy of their home for their last goodbye. Dr. Katie received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from UW- Madison in 2002, and is certified in Pet Loss and Grief Companioning. She is also active on the board of the Pet Loss Resource Center, dedicated to providing grief support to those who have lost a pet.

Read more: Articles surrounding end of life written by by Dr Katie & Dr Laura