SHOULD YOU EUTHANIZE YOUR DOG OR NOT?
When an animal is in pain as a result of injury or serious illness, naturally the pet’s owners become distraught and want to end their suffering by either seeking treatment for the condition or by having their pet euthanized. When veterinary treatments are offered, sometimes dog owners feel unsure whether to proceed or not for the following reasons:
- Will the treatment ensure my pet is treated successfully?
- What will the total costs be from the surgery, medications, consultations, etc?
- Will the problem return or continue to affect my pet?
As an animal naturopath specialising in canine health, I am often contacted by people that are feeling desperate to try anything to help their poor dog when they are in pain, especially in the case of chronic (long-term) conditions or when their pet has been diagnosed with cancer and pet owners are seeking alternative treatments.
Although there has been a large amount of scientific research conducted on certain herbal medicines, nutrient therapies and other natural medicines that has shown positive results in the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases, I feel that pet owners can sometimes be taken advantage of by a small number of unscrupulous businesses on the internet selling ‘magical cancer cures’ and other such treatments. These businesses are not usually operated by properly qualified practitioners and I feel they should be avoided at all costs. These online retailers and their ‘consultants’ may offer false promises and non-professional advice which is very disappointing as the pet owners are usually feeling extremely vulnerable and should be guided appropriately.
When dog owners receive a diagnosis of a serious disease in their precious pets, they often feel desperate when it comes to trying to heal their pet. That’s when I will often receive an email asking for help. In these cases I am always saddened and I think to myself “I wish they had contacted me a long time ago so that we might have been able to prevent the disease in the first place” but nonetheless, I will still try my best to help them. After asking a number of questions, the pet owner is sometimes shocked at my recommendation to seek veterinary advice regarding euthanasia. If the dog has an aggressive form of cancer that is well advanced; if the dog is very old (and at the top end of their normal life span), or if the dog is in severe pain that is not responding adequately to analgesics, then I will ask the pet owner to consider euthanasia and to discuss the matter with their veterinarian, as this is a very humane act and will allow the pet to have a peaceful end, rather than experience continued suffering.
It takes a lot of courage for dog owners to allow their pet to leave them forever.
Dog owners that I have spoken to go through various emotions and often have many pessimistic thoughts about themselves such as feelings of guilt (e.g. Could I have done more? I’m awful for ending their life…etc) and other similar negative self-talk.
However, the fact that they are having these thoughts at all means that they really care about their pet and want to do what’s best for them. Having your much-loved pet euthanized can be the hardest thing to do but it can also be the most unselfish act as well. Keeping pets alive when they are in pain and suffering – if there is no real hope of recovery – is not helping them at all.
On the other hand, if your veterinarian feels there is a good chance of a full recovery from the condition or injury, then great! I recommend that pet owners work with their veterinarian as well as a qualified animal naturopath and do all they can (within their budgets) to achieve the best possible outcome for their pet. The veterinarian can diagnose the condition, organize tests and scans if necessary, perform any surgery that may be required, and suggest any other suitable mainstream treatment methods. A qualified animal naturopath can provide advice on herbal medicines, nutrient therapies, homeopathic remedies or other natural medicines that can increase healing, improve immune function and allow the body to repair itself rapidly and effectively.
However, if your dog is at the end of their normal life span or the disease or injury is far too serious and is beyond recovery, then don’t beat yourself up for choosing to end your pet’s life in a humane and restful manner. By asking your veterinarian to euthanize your dog, you will know that your pet is no longer in any pain.
If this is what you choose to do, you can be there with your pet to comfort them and stroke them and talk to them (because they can still hear you right to the very end) and you will know that you have done the right thing by providing your pet with a peaceful ending, which is one of the hardest but most wonderful things any dog owner can do for their treasured pet.
Important: Please seek urgent veterinarian advice if your dog has been injured, is suffering from a serious illness or is in pain.Warm regards, Sara Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons) Zoology, MATMS. Naturopathic Physician, Research Health Scientist & Canine Naturopath Naturopathic Animal Services www.AnimalNaturopath.com.au www.DogNaturopath.com www.CanineNaturopath.com www.HealYourDogNaturally.com