Saying Goodbye: How to Assess Your Pet's Quality of Life

Saying goodbye to your pet is one of the hardest decisions you'll ever make, but there comes a time when it's the right decision.

As your beloved pet nears the Rainbow Bridge, it doesn't often get easier to let go. In fact, many pet parents hang on too long, and their animal is just waiting for the okay so that they themselves can let go.

When a pet is dying, it is important to objectively evaluate their daily quality of life, which can often be the hardest part. This simple checklist for all pet owners can lessen the difficulty of this task as well as turn the subjective into the objective. It will ensure your pet has a good quality of life, even in the end.

old cat

Additionally, comparing the answers to these questions on a day-to-day basis, especially if your pet is approaching an old age or has a terminal illness, can make it feel less overwhelming. Ask yourself the following:

  • Has my pet's appetite changed?
  • Has my pet's hydration level changed?
  • Has my pet's activity level decreased? Are they showing signs of severe arthritis?
  • Does my pet show signs of urinary or fecal incontinence?
  • Has my pet lost weight?
  • Does my pet's coat, scales, or feathers look unhealthy?
  • Has my pet lost interested in play time or socializing?
  • Does my pet refuse to climb stairs, jump, or go for walks or rides?
  • Does my pet show signs of restlessness?
  • Does my pet have increased vocalization?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, it might be time to say goodbye to your best friend. It's a difficult decision but making the end of your pet's life comfortable is the right thing to do. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss quality of life and end-of-life services such as at-home euthanasia. In some cases, euthanasia is more comfortable than a natural death.


To see some tips about the grieving process, especially with family members and young children, go here. You can also look into support groups in your area.

How did you know when it was time to say goodbye to your pet? Share with us in the comments below.

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