For your convenience, we’ve included several tables of additional information here. You may click on the tabs that you’re interested in and scroll down the page to find additional resources.

How do we know when it’s time and how do we assess the amount of pain that our pets are in?  The following table can help.

Assessing just how much pain can be difficult. Some of the signs of pain in dogs and cats include abnormal actions, such as:
  • Posture–hunching, refusing to move or lie down, flinching, trembling
  • Movement–limping, circling, restless, pacing
  • Vocalizing–whining, crying, being too quiet or sometimes even purring
  • Losing house training
  • Licking a certain area excessively
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased grooming
  • Fast breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Aggression

How to know when it is time

By Eric L. Nelson. MS, MA and Sharon Zito, DVM

Clearly distressed, tears in her eyes, Margaret said, “I still wonder if there was something else I could have done…”

Margaret’s feelings and questions are typical for a grieving human who has just euthanized a companion animal. Questions torment, such as “Could a different treatment have been tried?” or “Would a different pain medication have given a few more days by providing greater comfort?” Such questions raise the possibility that the decision to euthanize was made too soon. For those who languish, this time would be less painful if there was a method to determine for certain when euthanasia should be administered.

There are many factors which contribute to such a decision. Some, such as chronic painful suffering, are clear indicators for an immediate euthanasia. Others, such as stiffness or incontinence are less clear. A system is needed which helps the human companion evaluate a pet’s totality of circumstance, and then yields a clear, unambiguous answer regarding euthanasia.


• Quality Of Life: looks at the overall experience of a pet’s present existence.

• Pain Assessment: looks for signs of pain and suffering.

• Insight: looks into the companion animal’s mind, in order to find out what they want us to do.

In this article we present three methods for making a euthanasia decision. All three should be used in order to fully evaluate the pet’s circumstances. None of the methods are difficult to use.

Two of the methods (Quality Of Life and Pain Assessment) ask questions which correspond to numerical values. The numbers are added, and the Recommendation Table is consulted to determine if euthanasia is indicated. The third method, Insight, uses a thought experiment to look into the companion animal’s mind, in order to find out what she wants done.

The Quality Of Life Assessment is divided into seven categories of life experience such as walking and affection. As an animal ages, or as the course of a disease progresses, the quality of an animal’s life experience will deteriorate. For example, a young cat can jump up onto a couch, whereas an older cat with arthritis will reach a point where he can no longer jump.

The Quality Of Life Assessment evaluates a companion animal’s decreasing quality of life. Some characteristics are, by themselves, indicators for prompt euthanasia. For example, a pet who can no longer arise without assistance, or an animal that has lost bladder or bowel control, and who urinates or defecates on herself.

Quality of Life Assessment Test

Give you pet the assigned number value in parenthesis for each category and then total your points at the end.


(8) No longer can walk

(8) Walks to eat, drink, or toilet only

(1) Stiff, can walk, but no longer runs


(8) Cannot get up without help

(3) Arises slowly, stiff

Eating and Drinking:

(8) Is not eating or drinking

(5) Losing weight and/or is dehydrated


(3) Does not play anymore

(1) Limited play, reduced play interest


(8) Urinates or defecates on self

(8) Painful urination or defecation on a chronic basis

(3) Cannot hold urine or feces indoors or has accidents


(5) Shows aggression when approached (fangs, growling, etc.)

(3) No longer shows affection even when petted or rubbed

(1) Only shows affection when laying down

Artificial Life Prolongation (APL):

(8) is on 3+ ALP measures

(5) is on 2 ALP measures

(3) is on 1 ALP measures

Recommended plan from total number of points

1-3 Reassess every 90 days

4-7 Reassess every 30 days

8+ points Euthanasia recommended

Many characteristics are not, by themselves, an indication or euthanasia. For example, stiffness and reduced interest in play have small numerical values. Adding the smaller values together may generate a score which is high enough to indicate the time has come to euthanize, or the score may only indicate that the pet should be re-evaluated periodically.

The Pain Assessment Test

The Pain Assessment Test allows the human companion to estimate the amount of pain which a pet is experiencing. Unfortunately animals do not speak in human languages, so they cannot tell us in our language what amount of pain they are experiencing. As a result, the human companion must look at behavioral signs which are then interpreted as indicators of pain.

Give you pet the assigned number value in parenthesis for each category and then total your points at the end.

Pain Assessment:

(8) Cries or moans when moving or re-positioning

(4) Avoids all but necessary activity such as eating or going potty

(2) Cannot climb stairs or inclines

(1) Stiffness

The Pain Assessment Test can be used in addition to the Quality of Life Test.

For example, a score that doesn’t indicate euthanasia with the Quality of Life Test, but instead calls for a re-evaluation every 30 days but the pet’s pain score is found to be an 8, may call for euthanasia.

The Insight Method

The third method is subjective and does not generate scores. Using the Insight Method, the human companion answers three questions in a way that they think the pet would respond, Doing so illuminates the pet’s wishes. When we put ourselves into our animal companion’s mind, we may find that they want to be released, even though we, their human companions, are not ready to let go. The desires of the pet should be honored as a final act of love and respect for them.

1. Do I want to be alive any longer?

2. Do i still enjoy life?

3. Am I ready to go?

When it is time for a beloved pet to be euthanized, it should typically be done within a day or two. If the animal is suffering, it should be done right away. A veterinarian will make a house call, euthanizing your companion animal at home allows your pet to transition in a familiar environment. This reduces stress for you and your pet.


This section is for Pet Loss Support and those who wonder about Heaven.

Saying goodbye does not mean forgetting your cherished animal friend, but celebrating a life that has touched your own. Letting go of a pet that has passed away is a healthy part of the grieving process and there are several resources to help.

Graceful Departure Pet Center
Pet Loss Support
1177 Greenfield Drive, Suite B
El Cajon, CA 92021

Graciously Led by Dr. Carolyne Joseph, PsyD.
Dr. Carolyne Joseph is available on site at Graceful Departure Pet Center, by appointment, for individual pet loss support counseling and life coaching. For more information, please call 619-334-0708.

San Diego Humane Society
619-299-7012. ext. 2311
5500 Gaines Street
San Diego, CA 92110

The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s Pet Loss Support Group is a helpful way of coping with the loss of a pet in a relaxed, group setting.

Participants are encouraged to share experiences to support each other during this challenging time. There is no charge for these sessions, thanks to San Diego Pet Memorial Park, however donations are gratefully accepted.

Sessions run one weekday evening per month, one weekend morning per month and are open to those ages 12 and up. Reservations are encouraged. Call for exact dates and times.

We Care: Veterinary Wisdom about Preparing for Loss

A website dedicated to providing credible, compassionate and comprehensive education and support that pet owners need regarding decisions about end of life issues.

On the website you can find up-to-date listings for pet loss hot lines, articles, e-books and expertise regarding end of life issues.

San Diego County Pet Bereavement Program
Dr. Lorri Greene, PHD, Licensed Psychologist
2058 Oxford Avenue, #A
Encinitas, CA 92007
(760) 519-5215

For anyone who has loved and lost a companion animal. Offering caring, compassionate understanding of your loss. For over 20 years, Dr. Lorri Greene has provided group and individual pet bereavement counseling.

Click on the image below and use your arrow keys to navigate through the pages.

Pets and Heaven?

By Dr. Kristi Freeman

I have heard stories of Pastors and Priests telling their congregation that animals have no soul and therefore do not go to Heaven. I think they do a grave disservice and may even turn people away from faith. It’s a real shame. Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

Many people wonder whether their pet will go to heaven when it passes. While there’s no definite proof, I believe that they do. Much of my belief came about when I read through the Bible and wrote down all the verses that I found that discuss animals, especially the prophecies about the New Earth. I will list a few below. I have also been influenced by Dr. Randy Alcorn, who is a theologian and possibly the world’s best current authority on Heaven. His book, Heaven, is a wonderful, scriptural book that answers many questions about heaven. In section 11, Dr. Alcorn talks about animals:Will Animals Inhabit the New Earth? (Chapter 39) and Will Animals, Including Our Pets, Live Again? (Chapter 40).

Other books have also influenced me. There have been a couple of recently written books about near death experiences by people who come back with stories of seeing animals and even their pets in Heaven. Two such books, Heaven and the Afterlife and Encountering Heaven and the Afterlife, are written by Dr. James Garlow.

Here are a few of the Bible verses

God is talking to Noah after the Great Flood. He is instructing him about shedding man’s blood. If animals shed man’s blood, yet continue to live out their lives on earth, will they not have to make an account of their actions in the next life?

  • And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Who so sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man (Genesis 9:5, 6 KJV).

After the Great Flood, God not only made a covenant with Noah,
but also with the animals:

  • And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth (Genesis 9:8-13 KJV).

The hostility between animals themselves and people will be abolished:

  • The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9 KJV).
  • The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord (Isaiah 65:25 KJV).
  • And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely (Hosea 2:18 KJV).

Animals know God:

  • But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:7-10 KJV).

Though this is talking about the judgement to come, it shows that there are horses in heaven:

  • And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth (Zechariah 6:1-5 KJV).

Animals suffer the consequences of Man’s decisions:

  • For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:18-22 KJV).

Jesus Christ came to restore ALL things. That would include the animals:

  • Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-21 KJV).
  • And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1:20 KJV).

Some people (myself included) believe that animals may be able to
talk in Heaven:

  • And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever (Revelation 5:13 KJV).

The serpent in the Garden of Eden spoke to Eve to deceive her into eating the forbidden fruit and Balaam’s donkey spoke to him:

  • And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord , she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay (Numbers 22:27-30 KJV).

Even the trees speak:

  • The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us (Isaiah 14:7, 8 KJV).

What About People?

By Dr. Kristi Freeman

So, if animals are going to be in heaven, what about people? If you died right now, where would you go? Would you like to be sure that you’d go to Heaven?

  • For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
    (Romans 3:23 KJV).

We are all under a curse because of our sin. We don’t like to think of sin but it really just means “missing the bullseye.” No one is able to be perfectly perfect. But, if God requires perfection because He is holy, what do we do?

Some try to be good and hope that their good works out weigh their bad deeds. But how much is enough? What if even one teeny, tiny sin disqualifies us?

  • For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23 KJV).
  • Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3 KJV).

We’re all under the penalty of death. The gap between God and man is just too great for us to make that leap. The good news is that God created another way. Instead of us having to die for our own sins, God sent Jesus, His Son, to die in our place:

  • But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 KJV).

But, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead on the first Easter. This proves that He paid our debt in full.

  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 KJV).
  • For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast
    (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
  • That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed
    (Romans 10:9-11 KJV).
  • Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6 KJV).
  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12 KJV)

So, what do we need to do to be saved?

Ask yourself

  • Am I a sinner? (Romans 3:23).
  • Do I want my sins forgiven? (Romans 6:23).
  • Do I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins? (John 3:3).
  • Am I willing to accept God’s gift of eternal life? (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Am I ready to accept Jesus into my heart and life? (Romans 10:9).

It’s as simple as a prayer to receive the free gift

Dear Father,

Thank You for the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. I know I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus died on the cross and paid my debt. Jesus, I now invite You to come into my life and heart and be my Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me.

In Jesus’ name,

If you prayed that prayer, the angels in Heaven are rejoicing! It is important that you get involved in a Bible believing church which can answer your questions and give direction as you begin your journey of faith. To get to know Jesus better, you can start reading about Him in the Gospel of John in the Bible.

God bless you!

The following is a section of George MacDonald’s book, Life Essential the Hope of the Gospel that mentions pets and heaven:

“For what good, for what divine purpose is the Maker of the sparrow present at its death, if He does not care what becomes of it?  What is He there for, I repeat,
if He have no care that it go well with His bird in its dying, that it be neither comfortless nor lost in the abyss?  If His presence be no good to the sparrow, are you very sure what good it will be to you when your hour comes?  Believe it is not by a  little only that the heart of the universe is tenderer, more loving, more just and fair, than yours or mine.

If you did not believe you were yourself to outlive death, I could not blame you for thinking all was over with the sparrow; but to believe in immortality for yourself, and not care to believe in it for the sparrow, would be simply hardhearted and selfish.  If it would make you happy to think there was life beyond death for the sparrow as well as for yourself, I would gladly help you at least to hope that there may be.

I know of no reason why I should not look for the animals to rise again, in the same sense in which I hope myself to rise again – which is, to reappear, clothed with another and better form of life than before.  If the Father will raise His children, why should He not also raise those whom He has taught His little ones to love?

Love is the one bond of the universe, the heart of God, the life of His children:  if animals can be loved, they are lovable; if they can love, they are yet more plainly lovable:  love is eternal; how then should its object perish?  Must the love live on forever without its object? or, worse still, must the love die with its object, and be eternal no more than it?

Is not our love to the animals a precious variety of love?  And if God gave the creatures to us, that a new phase of love might be born in us toward another kind of life from the same fountain, why should the new life be more perishing than the new love?

Can you imagine that, if, hereafter, one of God’s little ones were to ask Him to give again one of the earth’s old loves – kitten, or pony, or squirrel, or dog, which He had taken from him, the Father would say no?  If the thing was so good that God made it for and gave it to the child at first who never asked for it, why should He not give it again to the child who prays for it because the Father had made him love it?  What a child may ask for, the Father will keep ready.”

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Phone: (619)741-5366

Mailing Address:
Graceful Departure
3755 Avocado Blvd #438
La Mesa, CA 91941

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