As a veterinarian, I am often asked this question, but can not make this final decision for any pet owner. Instead, I focus on the medical issues and facts, so the owner will have the knowledge to help make an informed decision. This may include discussing the possible outcomes of terminal disease or conditions so the owners knows what to expect and watch out for. Even so, the answer is not always obvious, so I offer this thought: it is probably "time" when the bad days begin to outnumber the good ones. Pet owners usually have an idea of what is 'good' and 'bad' in the life of their pet. Chart time over a week or month.
Here are some things to consider when evaluating your pet's quality of life:
- Does your pet soil him/her self during the day? This can really be a stressor for some pets who prefer to be clean, and it can also pose health risks - i.e. skin rashes and infections from sitting in urine and/or feces.
- Does your pet still enjoy "basic activities" such as eating? Is the appetite normal?
- Does your pet enjoy human interaction? Is s/he still cognizant of who you are?
- Can your pet move around without difficulty or pain?
From the VetMed Forum:
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Suffering?
PHILLIPFL asks: "How will I know when it's time to put my cat down? Surely, forced feeding or/slow starvation can't be humane. Do they ever go in their quietly, in their sleep? I'm torn between when she's really suffering or just the age-symptoms she's enduring and how will I know?"