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Healthy Pets

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Is It Time to Put My Pet to Sleep?

Put Yourself in His Paws

Think about how your pet feels, Nguyen said. Their organ systems are a lot like ours. So it’s likely that kidney failure in a dog feels about the same as it would for a person. Ask your vet what your pet is feeling.

"Imagine yourself super thirsty -- so thirsty that you’re constantly nauseated,” Nguyen tells pet owners. “People can relate to that. That often helps them make their decision.”

Sometimes it’s clear that it’s time to let your friend go. You just know. He doesn’t eat. Or he can’t control when or where he poops and pees. Maybe all he can do is lie there. And due to his illness or age, you know that none of this will get any better. It’s a bleak outlook, but it makes the decision easier.

Gray Areas

But what if signals are mixed?

A pet that has severe arthritis can seem happy and hearty, even if his joints have given out and he can no longer walk.

“Those are the most devastating decisions to make -- when the pet is still bright and alert, and their organs are fine,” Nguyen says. “To help, I let patients know that I view the musculoskeletal system as another organ system that is a requirement for life. When your legs go out, and you can’t move, that’s not a good quality of life.”

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Reviewed on September 23, 2014

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