This answer was provided by Karen Tiede to a question of a young adult on Quara. I found the answer so fullfilling that I asked permission to quote it here.
This particular question and others are often asked of me on my radio show on the Human/Animal Connection.
Please join us at www.blogtalkradio.com/auntieartichoke
First, abandon any thought that you can have, or there is value in having, a conversation about euthanizing a pet without crying. There’s nothing wrong with crying, and that one or more of you is crying does not mean you are not being rational. It means you are crying.
Then, consider doggie diapers. They might shift the balance of the conversation one way or another.
Consider what your criteria for euthanasia are. If not now, then when?
My criteria are: eats, sleeps, poops outside under his or her own power, and only needs one medication. I waver on the last, depending on the circumstances. I don’t tube feed; I can’t carry them outside to poop.
Talk to your vet about the pain problem, and about what end stage disease will look like. Some end stages are more painful than others. Heart attacks hurt. Strokes are terrifying to an animal. It may be that there will be some definitive signal, and maybe not. Sometimes, my life has made the decision, such as a business trip when I did not want to leave a dying animal in the care of a stranger and therefore opted to euthanize before I left.
Most of my animals get more than one “last trip to the vet,” but I would far rather make that trip than miss it.
Heart attacks hurt. I know this, in the worst way, by watching a dog die of one.
Talk to your mother. Cry. There’s a lot of crying in euthanasia; it’s part of the deal. The only thing worse than making this decision is not making it soon enough.
We all get pets knowing that their life span will be shorter than ours, but it still hurts when thery become elderly, sick or approach death.
Thank you for being part of this community of kind, thoughtful people who have respect for all.
Be sure to sign up for your free gift at http://www.deathofmypet.com You will be glad you did.
Judy Helm Wright, “Pet Grief Coach”