How will I know when it's time?  

Lap of Love provides numerous resources and education to help animal owners sort through the difficult decisions of "knowing when".   In this short video, Dr. Dani McVety shares insights from quality of life to quality of death considerations.  This can be an overwhelming experience; however, seeking support helps owners during this difficult time to better understand their situation and make the best possible decisions.  Consider these tips:

  • Ask the veterinary medical team your questions as they may not know the fears and worries you have unless you share.  Talking through your concerns can bring great relief.
  • Track changes in your animal's quality of life and functioning.  There are many scales available, such as the HHHHHM Scale, HuMane Care Quality of Life Assessment Aid, or Journey's Quality of Life Scale for Pets.
  • In, Facing Farewell by Julie Reck, DVM , she describes the benefit of understanding your animal's disease process and considering the human experience of the same illness.  She provides tracking logs and information about the humane euthanasia process for owners to be informed when that time comes.
  • Sometimes limited resources drive decisions.  Ask the business office of your practice about any available financial assistance programs and see Frankie's Friends Financial Resource List.  Many resources require applications upon learning of an illness and documentation from a veterinary provider while your animal is in the hospital.   It's best to start the application process as soon as possible.
  • Ohio State's How Do I Know When It's Time? gives you some questions to ask yourself which are helpful when if you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • When possible, you may want to consider who you would like to support you and/or be present before, during, and after the process of humane euthanasia if you will be at a clinic.  This is especially helpful to consider during COVID.  At-home euthanasia is available in some areas as well.  In the New River Valley region of VA, you may contact the Veterinary Social Worker on this site.  
  • When deciding to bury or cremate, Agape Pet Services and Oakeys Pet Loss provide helpful things to consider.  Information regarding options, costs, and memorialization are provided.

Your experience may bring up thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to process at any point on your journey.  When situations do not go as planned, communicating openly with your veterinary care team will enable you to answer any questions.  For support processing thoughts and emotions and anticipatory grief, reach out to a local mental health provider, a pet loss or grief counselor, a veterinary social worker, or pet loss helpline.

- Written by Trish Haak, LCSW