Tuesday is World Pet Memorial Day, and the BC SPCA is offering tips to help owners deal with the loss of a four-legged friend.

“The bond that we share with our pets is incredibly special,” said SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk.

“We never want to think about losing them. But when our pets reach the point where they can no longer live without pain or distress, we owe it to them to put our own feelings aside and to make the right decision for them.”

Dr. Elizabeth Kuan, a vet at the SPCA's Burnaby Veterinary Hospital, said that when it comes to saying goodbye to a pet, owners should prioritize quality of life.

“Most owners regret letting go too late versus letting go too early," Kuan said. “With terminal diseases where we're expecting quality of life to slowly deteriorate, it's better to let them go when they're having a ‘good day’ rather than after they've suffered for weeks.”

According to the SPCA, most vets can provide quality of life scales and surveys that can help with this difficult decision. These tools allow pet owners to make informed decisions on an animal's condition by asking questions about things like the animal's activity level and demeanour.

And when the time comes to say goodbye, it's important to not go through the grieving process alone, the organization said.

“It’s important to understand that this is a genuine loss and that your feelings of grief are real and valid,” Chortyk said. “Seek out the support of friends and family during this difficult time. Some communities even have pet loss support groups where people can share and work through these feelings together.”

Finding ways to memorialize the animal can also help, including keeping their tags, recording happy memories in a journal and making a donation to an animal shelter or welfare organization.

“The important thing is to treasure the beautiful moments you shared with your pet and to know that, when it was time to say goodbye, you made the kindest decision possible for them,” Chortyk said.