Saying goodbye to your beloved pet is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. Euthanasia is a very humane way to end an animal’s suffering from old age or illness. A trusted veterinary professional can help you determine the quality of life of your pet, and when is the best time to end their suffering.
We have created this chart to help you to look at all aspects that can affect your pet’s quality of life. It is important to remember what may be considered a poor quality of life for one may not be for another.
Higher numbers on this chart equal a better quality of life. This chart may help you to visualize the general well-being of your pet better. In some cases, even one item on the left-hand side of the chart (for example, pain) may indicate poor quality of life, even if many of the other items are still positive. Some items or symptoms on the list may be expected side effects of the treatments that your pet is undergoing. It is essential to discuss these symptoms and side effects with your veterinarian.Quality of Life Assessment
This directory is provided as a resource for grieving pet owners. VSC of Seattle cannot guarantee that any of the organizations listed will be able to help in your specific situation, and VSC of Seattle does not endorse any of the listed agencies.
Mimi Handlin, MSW, Certified Life Coach, Certified Pet Loss Counselor
Paws To Connect Counseling
Washington State University, School of Veterinary Medicine
American Humane Association Pet Loss
ASPCA Pet Loss
Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
Coping With the Loss of a Companion Animal – Support Guide for Families
The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, by Russell Friedman, Coles James, and John W. James
Your relationship with your pet is special—it’s a bond that is very different than those that human beings share. When a beloved pet passes away, people often resort to incorrect mechanisms to deal with the grief, such as trying to move too quickly past the loss (dismissing the real impact) or even attempting to replace the pet immediately. However, these are merely two myths out of six that the authors discuss and dismantle in The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss. Based on the authors’ Grief Recovery Method®, this book addresses how losing a pet is different from losing a human loved one, and ultimately, how to move on with life.
When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering, and Healing, by Alan D. Wolfelt
Affirming a pet owner’s struggle with grief when his or her pet dies, this book helps mourners understand why their feelings are so strong and help them overcome the loss. Included are practical suggestions for mourning and ideas for remembering and memorializing one’s pet. Among the issues covered are understanding the many emotions experienced after the death of a pet; understanding why grief for pets is unique; pet funerals and burial or cremation; celebrating and remembering the life of one’s pet; coping with feelings about euthanasia; helping children understand the death of their pet, and things to keep in mind before getting another pet.
My Pet Remembrance Journal, by Enid Traisman
This grief workbook & keepsake journal is recommended for anyone who wants to make sense of their grief and to create a keepsake of their beloved pet. It was designed to help sort out feelings through writing about your relationship and your loss. The prompts are to help you deal with some of the emotions that need to be addressed so that you can release them. The format enables you to understand your grief with guided, leading sentences, invoking the healing power of writing, and taking an active part in your own recovery and healing at your own pace.
Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, by Jon Katz
In this invaluable guide and touchstone, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz addresses the difficult but necessary topic of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. Drawing on personal experiences, stories from fellow pet owners, and philosophical reflections, Katz provides support for those in mourning. By allowing ourselves to grieve honestly and openly, he posits, we can in time celebrate the dogs, cats, and other creatures that have so enriched us. Katz compels us to consider if we gave our pets good lives if we were their advocates in times of need and if we used our best judgments in the end. In dealing with these issues, we can alleviate guilt, let go, and help others who are undergoing similar passages. By honoring the animals that have graced our lives, we reveal their truly timeless gifts: unwavering companionship and undying love.
The Goodbye Book, by Todd Parr
This colorful and simple story is told through the point of view of a fish that has lost his companion. While the story does not reference the death of the companion, it does drive home the point that it is not always easy to say goodbye. Parr helps address the feelings and emotions around death and loss, and portrays several stages of grief in easy and simple to understand terms for little ones. (Ages 3-6)
The Rainbow Bridge…A Dog’s Story, by Judith Kristen
The concept of a rainbow bridge is prevalent in stories that discuss the death of pets and animals. This particular book is about Henley, a sheepdog who lived a full and vivid life. Even in death, his story continues as he comforts pet owners from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. He explains that sadness is normal, grief is okay, and that the pet you loved is running with friends on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. This book provides the perfect amount of light in a dark time—in the form of a bright and vivid rainbow. (Ages 4 & up)
Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant
With endless fields, tons of biscuits, and a paradise for dogs to run in, this book shows via bright paintings the type of heaven God has created for dogs. A Newbery winner and bestseller, this classic book is great for gifting to a friend or family member when they have lost their furry, four-legged friend. Readers will enjoy being immersed in the warm, inviting images Rylant has created within this book. (Ages 3-5)
Cat Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant
Let’s not forget cats can go to heaven, too! Butterflies, crickets, endless climbing trees, and angel’s laps to sleep on are just some of the amazing things Rylant imagines God has created for our feline friends. The cheerful paintings will invite your child into a world where they can imagine their cat is cuddled up with or carousing among all their favorite things. (Ages 3-5)
I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm
Elfie the daschund has grown up with her family, and her special young master, since she was a rambunctious little puppy, and is now in her quieter, golden years. One night, she passes away in her sleep and the family is full of grief. After burying their beloved pet, the young boy is not ready for a new dog. But when the time comes, he knows he will tell that new pet, “I’ll always love you.” This is a great book for families that have lost an older dog. (Ages 3-7)
Badger’s Parting Gifts, by Susan Varley
Even though Badger is a woodland creature, this story will resonate with anyone who has lost a favorite pet. Badger’s friends are sad that their friend has died, but by sharing the memories and gifts their furry friend has left them, they are able to work through the sadness and find the joy. A great book to use to discuss death of an animal, whether a family pet or a favorite creature at the zoo, in a thoughtful way. (Ages 4-8)
Paw Prints in the Stars: A Farewell and Journal for a Beloved Pet, by Warren Hanson
A more interactive book, this is both a story and a journal that can become a keepsake for a cherished pet that has passed away. Told from the perspective of the pet, the book helps owners work through the emotions of losing a beloved animal companion. A child can help add pictures of their pet, as well as their collar tags, so that they will have a special book to revisit in the coming years when they want to remember their furry family member. (Ages 5 & up)
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst and Erik Blegvad
Finally, from the awesome author of the Alexander books, a story about a boy coping with the death of the family cat. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney handles this sad situation with honesty and sensitivity. Be warned, it will definitely make you cry—but sometimes that’s a good thing, right? (Ages 6-9)