Making that decision to say goodbye to our pets isn’t an easy one; sometimes, they do pass on without intervention while there are other times when we need to help the over the rainbow bridge. Our pets and working animals, for many, are a part of the family but they sadly do not live quite as long as we do. It can be tough to know when we should say goodbye but there are plenty of ways we can make sure that the animals in our lives have a great life during the last few months and years before crossing the rainbow bridge.

There are some things to consider during this time of your pet’s life, especially when it comes to their quality of life. Dr. Alice Villalobos, DVM presented a way of knowing your pet’s quality of life back in 2008, referring to the list/scale as “HHHHHMM”. The five H’s and two M’s refer to parts of life we should be thinking about for our pets: hurt, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility, and more good days than bad.

Are they eating and drinking enough (hunger and hydration)? Are they happy and having some good days overall (happiness and more good days than bad)? Take a hard look at your pets’ life in each of the 5 H’s and 2 M’s and give them a score of 0-10. If the end score is less than 35, it might be time to have a conversation with your vet about euthanasia. Regardless of the score, the most important thing to do during this time is to talk to your vet.

In the time before they pass on, there is a whole lot you can do to provide the best care for your pet. Different medications can often help with different issues (like any pain they might be experiencing) and some tasty treats can help them gain an appetite for their food! If your dog loves to go on walks but can’t walk that far, wagons can help them explore! Maggie from The Golden Ratio 4, for example, has her own wagon after being diagnosed with a blot clot in her hind leg and it was lovingly dubbed the ‘Maggie Waggie’!

While there is so much we can do to help our pets, there is the question of whether to extend their life through medical treatment. When Shasta the llama died, all those who cared for him knew it was his time to go and we should help him cross over. It was an incredibly tough decision but we all knew there’s a point in which you have to make it. There are many times in which medical care can help our pets make it through something but there are other times in which we have to ask if what we’re doing is for our sake or theirs.

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