When to euthanize

When to euthanize

I wrote a previous post expressing my feelings about euthanasia. Even if you believe in it, it’s a vague decision. You can’t run a test on a bird and determine that the time has come.

Someone retold to me the criteria used by Brian Speer DVM of the Medical Center for birds. It still has subjectivity, but it’s still very useful and simple.

You start by thinking about the 5 things your bird enjoys most, or enjoyed if they are already in bad shape. If the bird can do at least a part of 3 out of five of the list, then the assumption is that they are still getting enjoyment out of life. Anything below that is time for euthanasia.

A friend of mine shared the 5 things for one of her birds dying of cancer:

  1. Flying
  2. Bossing other birds around
  3. Eating
  4. Preening
  5. Hanging out with her mate and being affectionate

She’s still alive and doing all 5, but they are all diminishing. Applied to another species, dogs usually like to run or be walked more than anything. If they can no longer do either of these at all, that item is off the list.

It might sound harsh to apply some objectivity to subjectivity, but if a bird is dying of a degenerative illness, it’s only a matter of time. They will often be in so much pain at some point that no painkiller can help (without killing them).

Food for thought.