When To Put Your Dog Down

When to Put Your Dog Down: A Quality of Life Scale

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Dogs become our family members. When you are a dog owner, you are responsible for protecting him, taking care of him, and just being there for him- as you would with any family member. Unfortunately, there may be a time when your dog gets sick or old, and some serious, often heartbreaking decisions may need to be made about how to proceed. The decision to euthanize a dog (or when to put your dog down) is a challenging and complex decision dog owners have to make. You cherish your dog and don’t want him to leave you, but simultaneously you also want your dog to have a decent quality of life

Every single pet has specific needs that need to be recognized and respected. “Quality of life” is a way to refer to and discuss the day-to-day lifestyle of a dog who is nearing the end of its natural life. If the basic needs of an ailing or chronically ill dog can be met satisfactorily, then your efforts in keeping your dog alive are justified. This article will discuss some ways to assess your dog’s quality of life, if they will be able to enjoy the time they have left in this world fully or if you should put them down.

Related: Can Dogs Take Human Vitamin Supplements?

Conditions That May Deteriorate A Dog’s Quality Of Life 

Most older pets develop one or more medical conditions that tend to get worse as time goes on. Some chronic medical conditions commonly found in older dogs include:

  • Cancer: All types of cancer risks go up with age
  • Deafness: As the eardrum becomes less flexible, hearing deteriorates
  • Blindness: Generally happens gradually due to changes in the lens of the eye
  • Overweight/obesity: Over 50% of senior dogs are over their ideal weight, lowering their overall quality of life
  • Chronic renal disease: Degenerative kidney disease can result in decreased kidneys’ ability to filter biological waste from the blood. 

Measuring Your Dog’s Quality Of Life

Top veterinary oncologist Dr. Alice Villalobos has developed a quality-of-life scale for dogs so that owners can help their beloved animals as their pet’s life comes to an end. The quality-of-life scale Dr. Villalobos formulated offers guidelines to assist veterinarians and owners in working in conjunction to maintain a healthy human-animal bond. This scale functions as a tool for measuring the success of a hospice or palliative care plan for a dog with a life-limiting disease, and to improve that care/plan. The quality-of-life scale developed by Dr. Villabos examines seven different categories. Each parameter is scored from 1 to 10, going from worst to best. If a dog scores above 5 in each category, or an average total score greater than 35, it lets us know that the dog’s quality of life is still reasonable and continuing end-of-life care and support is justified. “HHHHHMM” is an acronym for the categories. The letters’ list stands for: “Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, and More good days than bad.” 

Looking for premium pet products? Order from Rogue Pet Science today!

HHHHHMM Categories

Hurt

Acceptable levels of pain control, especially the ability to breathe correctly, are a baseline for pain. Many pet owners are unaware that breathing properly is one of the most crucial pain management strategies. Receiving oxygen at home may benefit an ailing or chronically ill dog, and it may not be as challenging to institute as you think. Other ways of controlling pain may include injectable or oral medication.

Hydration

Fluid under the skin is a simple, easily-tolerated way to supplement the liquids an ailing dog can drink on his own. This easily-implemented measure can assist an older dog and make him feel better.

Hunger

Hand-feeding may help dogs who are unable to eat properly or willingly. If this method proves unsuccessful, then a feeding tube may be appropriate, especially if the dog requires oral medication. Another alternative is liquid or blended diets. 

Hygiene 

Can the dog be adequately combed, brushed, and kept clean? If the dog has an accident, can they move away from the urine or stool? Is the dog’s coat matted? Does it have a tumor that gives off discharge or an odor because it has outgrown its blood supply? Often, dead cells can be cleared away gently with a diluted solution of soap from your veterinarian on a washcloth or sponge. You should work out the details of this kind of palliative care with your vet or vet healthcare team. To prevent bedsores, it is vital to regularly turn bedridden pets around, ensure they have enough padding underneath, and keep them clean and dry. 

Related: Why Dogs Eat Grass And How to Prevent It

Happiness

Is the dog able to regularly experience mental stimulation or joy? Dogs communicate through wagging tails and their eyes. Is the dog able to interact with its environment and family members? Help a dog remain engaged in life by placing comfortable beds near areas where the family congregates. Dogs can become depressed when they are separated from their pack because they are highly social animals. 

Mobility

Mobility devices may be an option for dogs who can no longer get around on their own. In some instances, a sling or harness for support is enough. Other options include four-wheel carts, two-wheel carts, and wagons, depending on how much support is necessary. Mobility devices help a dog remain active. This is especially critical for larger dogs who cannot be easily carried to different locations. If a dog is bedridden, hygiene and mobility go hand-in-hand. When working through mobility issues, you should always consult with your veterinarian. 

More Good Days Than Bad

If the dog seems to not enjoy life, or there are more bad days cumulatively than good days, its quality of life is compromised. Bad days can mean anything from vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, frustration, seizures, unrelenting pain/discomfort, or inability to breathe. 

When Is It The Right Time To Let Go? – When To Put Your Dog Down

A healthy bond with your dog is a two-way street, and when one side of that exchange goes away, it’s time for humane euthanasia. Planning for the end of life before that time gets here is essential, and the quality-of-life scale can assist with this sort of planning. You can help your dog maintain a decent day-to-day life experience by using this scale to determine how well your dog’s basic needs are being met. The scale can also be used to evaluate the decision to end your dog’s life, hopefully relieving regret and anxiety surrounding the decision. 

dog with rolling wheels

Related: Are there Benefits Of Vitamin C For Dogs?

Rogue Pet Science is a top pet product firm providing premium, all-natural dog supplements, and vitamins. Keep your dog healthy and happy with Rogue Pet Science!

Looking for premium pet products? Order from Rogue Pet Science today!

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