When is the right time to euthanize a companion? Like many of you, I had to go through difficult decisions. Looking back … I have mixed emotions and still question and ask myself if I should have waited longer. How many times have you heard “you will know when it’s the right time” or “your pet will tell you when it’s the right time”. Both statements are wrong, in my opinion. I’ve shared my life with fur babies. Each time there is no way that I knew the right time and there is no way that they were ready. Even though it was the right thing, I still look back … there’s unanswered feelings with our last moments of saying goodbyes. I wonder if these unanswered feelings will ever be fulfilled and the pains of what-ifs will go away.
What if we could ask our companions if they are ready to go … what would they tell us? Language barrier aside, animals are better than humans at masking pain and hiding weakness. Their survival is dependent on fitness and health. To depict anything less
is an invitation for a kill.
There are species where weak members drop off the pack and goodbyes are noted in kind ways. The pack moves on. Then, I have observed species that handle the event, in human terms – in a sad and cruel manner. But it is the practice that works for them.
When we see our pets acting different, what are they trying to say? “It’s my time, take me to the vet to inject me and I will not know what is going on and will not wake up again”- really? No way! I don’t believe it. Would you? I mean, you don’t feel good one day … kind of like under the weather so you don’t eat because you feel a bit nauseated … and because you don’t speak human we should read your behavior as it’s your time you are ready to go!?
Oregon has the Death with Dignity Act. The act “[…] allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose”, (Oregon Health Authority, 2018). Have you ever had to think if you had to use this law? I have and not really, it did cross my mind. Well, a cancer diagnosis made me think of the worst a few years ago, especially when the person in a white coat says, “you might not be here in a few months”. Makes you think fast. A few months … in what shape was I going to be, was I going to be able to support my family to the end or be a financial burden on them? Ok good news … I’m still here 😊 but how many people are given an expiration date and live way pass that date? What-if the Death with Dignity Act had been available to them and they had used it? I would not have met them, and I would not have heard their stories.
Per the Death with Dignity Act 2017 Data Summary, “Of the 218 patients for whom prescriptions were written during 2017, 130 (59.6%) ingested the medication; 129 died from ingesting the medication, and one patient ingested the medication but regained consciousness before dying from the underlying illness and is therefore not counted as a DWDA death. An additional 44 patients (20.2%) did not take the medications and subsequently died of other causes.” It’s statistics, keep in mind the way the percentages are blended in a sentence can easily skew perceptions. Ok 59.6% ingested the medication. Huge number, right? No … how many were diagnosed with a cancer in Oregon in 2017? Per the American Cancer Society, there were 21,780 cancer diagnosis in Oregon in 2017. So, if “[…] 130 (59.6%) ingested the medication […]” and there were 21,780 cancer cases – well, it means that the Oregon Death with Dignity Act was only used by 0.006% of whom received a cancer diagnosis. Whoa right? It’s available and not even one percent used it. Our companions, if they had a choice … if they could speak human … I have a feeling they would choose a natural death versus the It’s the Right Time Act or It’s the Convenient Act.
Do not mistake a pet not eating as a sign to euthanize. The body is going through its natural life cycle. Eating and digesting takes a lot of energy to produce energy that might not be needed. The body knows it needs to conserve energy for the act of dying. Ok now a twist … I’m a believer in fasting (but never fast a cat) for healing. Keep in mind the body knows when to fast … it’s not always preparation for the end, it may just be conserving energy to heal. Let us not be the person in the “white-coat” and arrive at a decision based on short-term observation.
Food for thought … there is a hospice sanctuary that noticed the pets in their care were living way longer than the time given by conventional medicine. Why? Why would the pets in her care be living many more years? The pets in her care were fed a species appropriate diet. They were fed what they were meant to eat and had an opportunity to heal. Don’t put too much into the death sentence conventional medicine is so quick to hand out. Animals live in the present and you may be surprised the change in an animal when they are in a proper environment. Conventional medicine needs not be executioner. Exercise your responsibility as pet parent aim to provide a proper environment for your loving pet. You and your companion can live with a natural understanding of what is and embrace your time together.
Recently, I received the following from a Pet Parent “Hey wanted say thank you for all the help you gave [name removed]. We got an extra year out of her because of you. She passed away this afternoon peacefully.” I met the beautiful dog. Through that year, she had her up and downs (healing crisis), but they were all in the process of living, healing and dying. I’m very thankful her parent had the patience and trust in nature and was able to get an extra year with her.
Please if you are like me and will think back to what-if I did this and that would s/he still be here with me? I know easier to say, but please don’t dwell on what happened. It happened and I’m sure it was just as it was supposed to be. I’m hoping that this article helps for the next time or if help someone’s companion with a spark in its eyes but the parent is too stressed and already grieving to be able to see the animal exercising its instinct to live.
Once our companions have healed … when they have passed. What about us? What are we left with? It drained me when people would say “things will get better”. The thing is … when Bauer passed, I knew the moment he left the physical world, that things would not get better with time. Especially without him! I decided to hang on to “things will be different”. Things are different! Bauer’s passing is giving me guidance in following my passion, making it a lifestyle, letting go of fears created by the last century of conventional medicine and the drive to help companions and their parents.
I know how difficult it is to make the right decision. Don’t feel alone in this process. I’m happy to share information, hold your hand for an extra year if possible or help your pet transition to the next step. And of course, a shoulder to cry on. I miss Bauer more than I could have ever imagined. If you are healing, we can heal together.
P.S. I love life! Important message about holistic practitioners being killed off > Click Here
“Don't believe what I post research what I post,”
Chantal L Regan
Certified Animal Naturopath
Student of Animal Acupressure
Mind Animal Spirit LLC
Oregon Health Authority (2018). Death with Dignity Act. Retrieved August 4, 2018 from https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Pages/index.aspx
2017 Data Summary (2017). Oregon Death with Dignity Act 2017 Data Summary. Retrieved August 4, 2018 from https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Documents/year20.pdf
American Cancer Society (2017). Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2018 from https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2017/cancer-facts-and-figures-2017.pdf
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is for educational purpose only and is not intended to replace medical care or to diagnose. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.