End of Life Care and Euthanasia

How Do I Know If My Pet is in Pain: Quality of Life Questions

Your beloved pet will always show you their best face, regardless of their pain or disease. Evaluating your pet in any of the following areas below should be considered on a timeline. Just as you watch children grow: you know they grow every day but we measure that growth in increments of time. So likewise, your pet’s deterioration occurs daily, but your true evaluation comes after time has passed.

The information and questions below require you to consider the responses as they are today compared to your pet’s “normal” responses as of weeks or months ago. You already know your pet’s normal actions better than anyone, and so you are in the best position to evaluate your pet’s current situation. You may use the categories below to evaluate your pet’s current quality of life but feel free to contact us with any additional questions you may have so we may help you in this difficult time.

How can I tell if my pet is suffering, and what is my pet’s quality of life?

Breathing: Is your pet breathing with increased difficulty? Does breathing become more labored with exercise? A number of diseases can result in difficulty breathing. Some of these are lung cancer or other diseases of the lungs or heart, as well as metastatic cancers.

Pain: Our pets experience pain just like we do, but they are unable to directly communicate how they are feeling. Animals are also adept at hiding pain which is thought to be a survival instinct so that they do not appear weak to predators or other pack members. Some signs to help you recognize possible pain in your pet are:


  • Aggression or irritability
  • Arched or hunched back
  • Chewing or licking painful region
  • Decreased interest in food or play
  • Growling or biting when the painful area is touched
  • Hiding
  • Lameness or limping
  • Reluctance or inability to jump
  • Reluctance to move
  • Stiff gait or stance
  • Tail between legs


  • Aggression or irritability
  • Chewing or licking painful region
  • Crouched or hunched posture
  • Decreased interest in food or play
  • Growling or biting when the painful area is touched
  • Hiding
  • Lameness or limping
  • Not grooming
  • Not making it to litter box
  • Reluctance or inability to jump
  • Reluctance to move
  • Stiff gait

Warning: Never give pain medications to your pet at home without the advice of your veterinarian. Human pain medications and anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be dangerous and even fatal to cats and dogs.

Appetite and Drinking: Is your pet eating regularly? Is your pet eating normal amounts of food? Is your pet drinking adequate amounts of water based on their past history, or drinking too much water?

Incontinence: Does your pet exhibit a lack of control of their bowels or bladder? Does your pet need to relieve itself more frequently, or have accidents before it can get to an appropriate area? Is your pet vomiting and/or having diarrhea and are either of these becoming more frequent?

(Content used with permission from Caring Pathways)

At-Home Euthanasia Options:

One Last Gift – Dr. Jason Cordeiro


(720) 432-4579

Caring Pathways – Multiple Vets


(720) 287-2553

Vegabond Vet, LLC – Dr. Erica Rambus


(720) 334-3734


Cremation Options:

Communal Cremation: Pet’s ashes will not be returned to the owner. Ashes will be spread over privately owned pasture land in the Colorado Springs Area.

Individual Cremation: Pet’s ashes will be returned to the owner in a plastic urn. The pet will not be alone in the cremation chamber but will be partitioned from other pets to avoid mixing of ashes.

Absolute Private Cremation: Pet’s ashes will be returned to the owner in a plastic urn. The pet will be the only animal in the cremation chamber. There is an additional fee for this service.

Urn and memorial catalog available in our office upon request

Clients may also take the pet’s body home for burial, but be aware that this is illegal within city limits.

Pet Loss Resources:

Human Animal Bond Trust

The Human Animal Bond Trust (HABT) in Denver is a non-profit organization that exists to serve those who are anticipating or experiencing the loss of an animal companion. That loss may be one of the most devastating and painful experiences you will ever face. Such a loss can be as traumatic as losing a family member or a dear friend. To meet the needs of those faced with animal loss, HABT provides the help of professional grief counselors through the Denver Pet Loss Support Group. You can find more about support groups on their website.


Another great resource is the Pet Loss website where you will find a wealth of resources for most of your grieving questions and concerns as you work through accepting the loss of your pet. This site has a list of Counselors for many cities and states. Once on the website, click on “Links and Hotlines,” and then click on “Colorado” to view a list of support groups and counselors in your area.


The APLB is unique, and the only organization in the world offering extensive free advice for grief. Their services are free and available to anyone grieving for a beloved pet. They pride themselves on incorporating the collective wisdom and experience of their friends and members, and they make that freely available to anyone who can use it, during the deep bereavement of a beloved pet.

Pet Loss Support Groups:

This is a walk-in pet loss group that is free. Its meetings are held every Thursday from 6:30pm to 8:00pm in the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation & Petaid Colorado, located at 191 Yuma Street Denver, CO. Their contact number is 303-318-0447. Visit their website to learn more about their available support groups.

Resources for Children:

Children grieve very differently than adults. For support and info on what to look for, please contact the Grief Support Specialist.

– When Dinosaurs Die, A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (ages 6-10)

– Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck Deklyen (ages 6-10)

– The Tenth Best Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst (ages 4-9)

– Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (ages 6-10)

– Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (ages 9-13)

– Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant (ages 4-11)

– Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant (ages 4-11)

– The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye by Jane Yoles (ages 6-9)

– I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm (ages 2-6)

– Jasper’s Day by Majorie Blain Parker (ages 6-10)

– The Legend of the Rainbow Bridge by William N. Britton

Ages are a recommendation but may be used for other ages. For more support and resources for children, please contact the Grief Support Specialist.