Euthanasia Service and Resources

Allowing Our Pets to Have Dignity

We know the decision to euthanize a beloved pet can be one of the hardest decisions to make in life. When death cannot be avoided, euthanasia gives our animal companions the kindest and most pain-free pathway towards death. We view euthanasia as a service of compassion and respect for animals who are suffering, and we understand saying good-bye is never easy. It might feel like it is a decision that must be made alone. Our care team of animal-loving staff is here to answer your questions or concerns, and to discuss the options available to ensure your pet will have dignity and comfort in their final moments.

We use the word “pet” interchangeably to acknowledge and give respect to the many diverse types of furry, feathered, and scaley companions.

Determining Quality of Life: How will I know, “it’s time?”

Animals do not always show obvious signs they are sick or suffering.

Unfortunately, we cannot ask our beloved companions to tell us how they feel. This makes it difficult to know “when the right time is” and even harder to be objective when considering their well-being.

There are so many difficult emotions and memories involved in making a tough decision such as euthanasia. Utilizing a quality-of-life scale can help you see your companion’s health in several areas of well-being.

“The final punctuation mark at the end of the story isn’t the book itself–it’s just the way it ends. You have all those different chapters full of events, adventures, and maybe illustrations. They are the real book, not that last punctuation mark. And when we think of a book, we take it as a whole, not just its final bit.” - Mark Tyrrell

When Should You Use a Scale?

  • Have you noticed a decline in your companion’s health?
  • Do they have a terminal illness?
  • Are they no longer able to do or enjoy the things they love?
  • Have you and your vet discussed euthanasia or implementing a quality-of-life scale?

Tips to Guide You Through the Scale

  • Complete the scale at different times such as every two weeks, once a month, or even every 3-6 months. You and your Veterinarian can discuss when the best times are.
  • If you go out of town without your pet, complete the survey right before you leave and again when you come back. Sometimes when we are constantly with our pets, we miss gradual changes in their appearance and behavior.
  • Keep track of their good and bad days on a calendar by drawing a symbol, smiley/frowning face, or simply writing a few words to describe how their day went.
  • Save copies of completed scales to keep track of any changes and always reach out to your Veterinarian when concerns arise.

Quality of Life Scale (HHHHHMM Scale)

If you are concerned about your beloved companion’s quality of life, completing a quality-of-life survey can help you see the full picture of your loved one’s health.

Using a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = Unacceptable, 10 = Excellent), pets can be evaluated for their quality of life.




0–10   Hurt—Is the pet in pain, including distress from difficulty breathing? Can the pet’s pain be successfully managed? Is oxygen necessary?
0–10   Hunger—Is the pet eating enough? Does hand-feeding help? Does the pet require a feeding tube?
0–10   Hydration—Is the pet dehydrated? Are subcutaneous fluids once or twice daily enough to resolve the problem? Are they well tolerated?
0–10   Hygiene—The pet should be kept brushed and clean, particularly after elimination. Does the pet have pressure sores?
0–10   Happiness—Does the pet express joy and interest? Is he/she responsive to things around him (family, toys, etc.)? Is the pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored, or afraid? Can the pet’s bed be near the kitchen and moved near family activities to minimize isolation?

Mobility—Can the pet get up without assistance? Does the pet need human or mechanical help (e.g. a cart)? Does he/she feel like going for a walk? Is he/she having seizures or stumbling?

Note: Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, yet an animal with limited mobility may still be alert and responsive and can have good quality of life if the family is committed to quality care.
0–10   More Good Days than Bad—When bad days outnumber good days, the pet’s suffering is substantial, and quality of life might be too compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware that the end is near.
Total:   A total of more than 35 points is acceptable quality of life for our animal companions.
Adapted from Canine and Felina Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, Villalobos A, Kaplan L-Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007, with permission.

Get Help

If you want to talk about your pet's quality of life, contact our veterinarians today.