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Guilt over euthanasia

Columba

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Today I had to euthanise the first bird I ever owned, a precious albino budgie hen. She was about 6 or 7 years old going by her ring. She developed breathing issues, which I tried treating with antibiotics and she improved a little after a week, then rapidly declined. In the past few days she was eating less and lost weight (5g in less than a week) and the breathing issues got worse (heavy tail pumping, laboured chest, clicking and squeaking when breathing). But she still seemed herself; preening, drinking, bright and alert. The vet laid out my options: X-Rays to see if there was another reason for the breathing, but advised that she may not survive the sedation due to her weakened condition and that it doesn’t necessarily mean we can treat whatever is wrong eg tumours. Or I could euthanise. I just kept having nightmares of waking up or coming home from work to find her dead, having suffocated all alone. Or putting her through all the stress of procedures just for it to be too much. I thought maybe I could at least let her go peacefully before the suffering got worse.
But now that it’s done, I just feel guilty. Like she had no idea she was going to die today and I killed her, that I betrayed her. Maybe I should’ve tried to fight harder for her to live. When the vet sedated her before the final injection, it took a long time for her to fall unconscious which makes me think I made a mistake and it’s cost her her life because she was strong. Is this a common feeling after euthanasia? How do you cope?
 

Mizzely

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You remind yourself that you made a decision based on the information given to you by your vet, and with your bird's best interest in mind.

Every single one of us dies eventually and we don't know that day will be the day.

:sadhug2:
 

April

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I know that feeling all too well especially when I had to put my heart dog to sleep. She absolutely needed it she was in heart and kidney failure but it still felt like I killed her and that I was wrong to have done so even though logically it was 100% the right choice the difference in pics in even a week was absolutely shocking.

It will take time to heal but you did this out of love and so she wouldn't suffer and that's never wrong.
 

Olliebirb

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I also felt the same when we had to put our dog down. She had all of these complications and also cancer. For a while she would barely move and just cry. It was even more sad when we had to take her and she was acting like her old self. Running around and acting happy. The vet said we were doing the right thing and it was better to let them have more good days than bad. Let them go out peacefully rather than in pain.
 

Pixiebeak

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I think of it as the final act of kindness .
Im sorry you had to make the choice. , but it is better than watching them suffer.

My budgie was a fighter and had bern through so much. When he got a head injury id hope he would recover. But he started having more seizures, became blind...vet recommended euthanasia. I wanted to give him more time to recover....but the seizures became terrible and he was suffering. So I finally decided the next day I would have him euthanasia. But he passed during the night. If I could go back in time , I would have ended his suffering earlier.....

She was loved by you. She knew she was loved . You loved her enough to not let her suffer.
 

Shannan

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I have had many many animals in my life and had to come to that same decision and of all the animals that I have lost, the one I regret the most is the one that I did not choose to euthanize. It was a 39 year old horse who had fallen into a hole and as a result of my indicision she suffered all night long and there was nothing I could do for her. She passed away at around 3 am in the morning and I still have night mares. You made the best choice given your circumstances and know that you gave her the best life you could and just one bad moment (and not even really that) vs. suffering. It is a very personal choice and no one should judge you (not even yourself). Go easy on yourself and know it will get easier.
 

Sparkles99

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You gave her one last, unselfish gift, a most rare gift for an animal - that of a peaceful death.

The first time you have to decide solo is the hardest.
:sadhug2:
 

Columba

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Thank you so much each and every one, and for those who shared their stories… I really appreciate that and it really does help. I’ve never been great at decision making anyway but this one is so big I guess it’s kinda impossible to not have regrets whichever choice is made. I know if I let her live and she ended up suffering I’d regret that too, I guess it’s a feeling of “what if she didn’t suffer? What if she got better?”. I guess we can only do what we think is best in the moment… which is easy to say now but not during the harder moments. All your responses make me feel less alone and thank you for that :heart::shy:

and @Mizzely that’s a very good point about none of us knowing our time… that really made me see that aspect differently! Thank you:heart:
 

Spearmint

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Guilt is something that unfortunately comes with loss. It's a lot of "What if's", but in the end, you did what you knew was best for your buddy, and i'm sure she knew. It's much better that she left this earth peacefully and content. I'm very sorry for your loss. :(
 

BrianB

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It's a hard decision that can weigh on your soul. When a pet has been entrusted to your care to feed, nurture and love, giving them a painless passing is truly the best gift you can give them.
 

Kassiani

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The death of any creature we love (human or otherwise) is accompanied by guilt. All the 'wouda, shoulda, coulda' thoughts. You acted out of love and compassion for your sweet bird.
 

Tiel Feathers

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I’m so sorry for your loss. That is one of the hardest decisions, but it sounds like it was her time.
:sadhug2:
 

Columba

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Thanks again everyone, it really does help. I always heard the old “you’ll know when it’s their time” so I thought I was one of the unlucky few who wasn’t sure and did it in error. But so many others here felt the same and that’s really comforting (though I’m also so sorry for everyone who has had to go through this too). I also appreciate the new point of view that it was better for her while she still maybe had good days vs all bad… all these messages have really helped me get a new way of thinking about it, though it still hurts and the guilt still comes on, I just re-read these to help :heart:
 

Mizzely

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Sometimes the curse/boon of knowing when it's time is robbed from us because of the circumstances.

I took my cat Jasmine to the vet because she wasn't eating and was bloated. I knew something was wrong. Well we got there and they basically said that she had cancer, that due to her age (17) and situation that she was unlikely to make it through surgery, that if they just drained the fluid in her abdomen we would only buy her a few weeks and she would likely starve or suffocate to death as her abdomen would refill.

What choice did I have? None.

That was 2018, and I still worry if I did the right thing occasionally. My sister was mad that I didn't try harder for her. She wasn't in that room. She had no idea what a awful decision it was to put down my best friend. I know I did the right thing but I still sometimes wish I had known that was the last day I would have with her so I could spend it differently. That I had tried to see what we could do with those extra couple weeks. But I also could have caused her a lot of suffering for my own selfish needs.
 

tka

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I've heard it expressed as "better a week too soon than a day too late". In the face of

You made the decision to let her go while she still had quality of life. She left this world without knowing pain or distress. In a way, it's a kindness that she didn't realise that that would be her last day: you spared her becoming weaker and frailer and, as a prey animal, the fear of being vulnerable and weak. She got to be bright and alert and wholly herself up until the end, and then die with dignity and with you beside her. I think that's as kind and gentle a death as any of us could wish for.
 

BrianB

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I believe our pets let us know when they are ready to go. My old lady kitty was so horrible with the vet that they had a standing order to sedate her. When the time came she didn't fight me getting into the carrier, and she sat quietly on the table in his office. When he came in she went to him without any struggle. It's as if she knew the release from her discomfort was coming and she welcomed it. I cried while she purred in comfort until her last breath. She was 2 when she came into my life and she gave me 15 years of unconditional love and companionship during some very rough times. Giving her a peaceful death was the very least I could do in return.
 

Columba

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@Mizzely I feel the same about wishing for more time… I wish I could’ve enjoyed a last day with her. I’m sorry for the loss of your best friend :sadhug:


I've heard it expressed as "better a week too soon than a day too late". In the face of

You made the decision to let her go while she still had quality of life. She left this world without knowing pain or distress. In a way, it's a kindness that she didn't realise that that would be her last day: you spared her becoming weaker and frailer and, as a prey animal, the fear of being vulnerable and weak. She got to be bright and alert and wholly herself up until the end, and then die with dignity and with you beside her. I think that's as kind and gentle a death as any of us could wish for.
This perspective really changed how I see it… a lot of stuff I read on the internet was from owners of dogs and cats so I totally overlooked the aspect that as a little prey animal she could’ve been even more scared. That really helps. Thank you for that insight :heart:

I still can’t get over all the supportive messages from everyone here and I appreciate each and every one, I’ve been re-reading them the past few days, thank you guys:shy:
 

WillowQ

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I am sorry for your loss and your difficult decision. Your bird did not have much hope ahead of her and this was a kind thing you did.

i lost my first Quaker parakeet at four years old. Gonzo had laparoscopy one morning because she’d had many many infections and chronically did not do well. We found that she had disseminated aspergillosis (and was very ill).
I’m willing to bet that the vet gave her an overdose of gas because it would have been very hard for me at my young age to choose to put her down. Anyhow Gonzo did not come out of anesthesia.
This is the kindest choice you can sometimes make for your animal friend. They can’t tell you what they want but it’s not right to make someone suffer.
 
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