6 Signs It’s Time to Put Your Dog to Sleep

Here’s what you need to know about putting your dog to sleep. Veterinarian Marie Haynes shares the most important criteria for putting a dog down and offers help for healing.

6 Signs It's Time to Put a Dog to Sleep

Animals and the Afterlife

One of the best ways to cope with your dog’s death is believing that their souls and spirits live on – and you’ll be reunited one day. Read Animals and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends’ Journey Beyond Death  to learn how some pet owners experience their beloved animal companions after their pets died.

Are you confused about putting your dog to sleep? You’re not alone if you feel devastated, guilty, sad, and lost. This information about pet euthanasia is from a veterinarian who had to put her own dog to sleep. She shares her story, and offers general information about the process of putting a dog down.

This is the most important thing to remember about putting your dog to sleep: “If you can save your dog or cat even one day of discomfort, you must,” says Dr Haynes.

Is It Time to Put Your Dog to Sleep?

The number one sign it’s time to put your dog to sleep is quality of life. If your dog is suffering in any way, then it’s time to say good-bye.

I hope this article on putting a dog down helps you cope with this difficult decision. I can’t tell you whether or not you should put your dog to sleep – only you can decide. But, this article may give you insight and clarity.

Dr Haynes says it’s often difficult to tell whether a dog is in pain or suffering, but there are some general guidelines it’s time to put your dog to sleep:

time to put dog down

“6 Signs It’s Time to Put a Dog to Sleep” image by Laurie

  1. Is your dog’s appetite suffering? If so, this can be a sign of pain.
  2. Does it seem like your dog is enjoying life?
  3. Does your dog still do the things that bring her joy?
  4. Are you enjoying having your dog around — or is there more pain than happiness?
  5. Does your dog seem happy more often than not?
  6. Does your dog look distressed or uncomfortable most of the time?

Here’s the bottom line about putting a dog down: There will come a day when it is absolutely clear to you that your dog is not enjoying life.  That day is one day too late.  If you can save your dog even one day of discomfort, you must.

As a dog lover, you want a clear answer about putting your dog to sleep, but it can’t just be the veterinarian’s decision. The vet only sees a snapshot of the pet’s life, while the pet owner has the big perspective.

“I see a scared, sick animal in the hospital,” says Dr Haynes. “You have taken care of your dog all its life. This is your final chance to take care of your pet.  If you can spare your dog pain and suffering, then putting it to sleep is the ultimate gift – no matter how hard it is for you.”

Putting your dog to sleep is difficult, but it could be the most loving thing you do for your dog. You can be present when you put your dog to sleep. Euthanasia is similar to falling asleep, and you can be with your dog when he or she drifts away. Dr Haynes says pet euthanasia is generally painless, and almost always goes smoothly.

Do you feel guilty about putting your dog to sleep? Read How Veterinarians Decide It’s Time to Put a Dog Down for guidance.

How Dr Haynes Decided to Put Her Dog to Sleep

“My shepherd/cattle dog cross, Eddie, had a multitude of problems and I couldn’t decide if it was time for euthanasia.  Then, one day he tore his cruciate ligament.  He had already previously torn the ligament on the other knee and although it was healed he had severe arthritis in that knee.  With both knees injured, Eddie was unable to walk.  My decision to put my dog to sleep was finally made for me.

should I put my dog down

6 Signs It’s Time to Put Your Dog to Sleep

I went to my office and collected the supplies I needed for euthanasia.  Eddie was such a good boy as I shaved his front leg and placed the needle in his vein.  I will never forget the look of love and trust he gave me as I made the injection.  Then, the life just went out of him and he was gone.  Once he had passed away, his buddy Joey (my other dog) came in the room but he did not seem to care about or comprehend what was happening.  Then, my two cats came in and I swear they suddenly had a look of glee in their eyes as Eddie was very much a cat tormentor!”

If you’re putting a dog down, remember to allow yourself to grieve. Take time to heal.

Help for Putting Your Dog to Sleep

Losing your dog is a heartbreaking experience. When I wrote Letting Go of an Animal You Love, I interviewed veterinarians, grief experts, and pet owners who had to say good-bye to their beloved animal companions.

It’s true that time does ease the pain of having to put a dog or cat to sleep, but it’s also good to learn what helped other people cope with the pain. For instance, I talked to one dog owner who got a paw print tattoo after putting her dog to sleep, as a way to remember her pet. I wouldn’t have thought of a tattoo, but she said she is comforted every time she sees it.

should I put my dog down

Dog Cremation Urn

If you want to keep your dog’s ashes, the Perfect Memorials Dog in Basket – Pet Cremation Urn pictured is a beautiful vessel.

I know it may seem too soon to think about cremation urns for your dog — you may want to stat by reading books about dog loss. Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet is Gary Kowalski’s second book on coping with a dog’s death, and it may help you heal after making the heart-wrenching decision to say good-bye.

And finally, How to Deal With Anger at Your Veterinarian is an article I wrote for a reader struggling to cope after putting her dog to sleep. It’s a difficult decision, but it’s sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do for your dog. But this final act of love can be destroyed by a veterinarian who is thoughtless or inept.

If you have any thoughts on putting your dog to sleep, please comment below. I can’t give advice, but writing can help you decide if putting your dog down is the right choice for you.

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649 Responses

  1. natasha says:

    i have a poodle that is 16 years old. she struggles with her hind legs going up and down. she will sometimes just moan and groan during the day. she cant see very well as she bumps into things. she wee and poos in the house as she sometimes does not know where she is. other than walking up and down she sleeps. the only thing is she still has a appetite., everyone tells me its time. im struggling to make the decision. ?

    • Tim says:

      based on what you said it’s time. It was a terrible day for me when I lost my lab Bailey. Her arthritis was really bad. She couldn’t walk very well.

      Put the dog’s interest first. I know that is really hard.

  2. Amy Smith says:

    Yesterday I put my 7 pound long coat Chihuahua down. I could not have written this yesterday because tears would have gotten in the way. When I adopted her as a rescue dog she was snappy. Over the six plus years I had her she became a mellow sweet dog who rarely barked and never snapped. First her joints gave out, then her heart and breathing. She was on multiply medications. When she no longer wanted to eat I knew it was time – that does not make it any easier! She was constantly breathing hard and very sluggish. Her old playful self had disappeared. Today I am cleaning out all the dog stuff I have – carrier, crate, car seat, harnesses, leashes, combs, bowls, buggy. You name it I spent a fortune on her. It was all go to the local Humane Society to be sold and the profits to help other dogs. I am 76 and live alone so this is a devastating loss but I am thankful for the good little companion that traveled with me all over the US and to Alaska. I loved her dearly and helping her make a peaceful pain free exit was the least I could do for her. Oh, oh, tears again. I am sure that it will take awhile to adjust to her not being here.

    • Tim says:

      there is a poem called rainbow bridge. Please google rainbow bridge and read it.

      • Amy Smith says:

        Thank you, Tim. I have read Rainbow Ridge and it is a lovely sentiment. However, I do not believe in an afterlife. I will reflect on the wonderful times I had with my lovely little dog and be comforted in that.

    • Amy says:

      Amy, I still have tears quite frequently, and mine has been gone for 7 months. You did the right thing. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  3. Dawn says:

    I’ve been struggling the last few days on putting my 12 year old pit bull ” Sirius ” to sleep. I can’t describe in words what joy he has brought to my life. He has taught me about humanity and love. In many ways …. He saved me. The thought of losing him breaks my heart.
    He has had arthritis mostly in the back legs for some time now. In the last two weeks or so it seems his front foot ( mostly by the elbow ) is bowing out. He walks, but he is slow and limping. Sometimes he falls the last step of the stairs to go outside. I help him into the bed and out of the bed. He has a large tumor on his back . Had a biopsy done and was told it was cancerous. He has been on carprophen for some time and that doesn’t seem to give him any relief anymore. He eats. Boy does he like to eat…. But other than that, he sleeps all day . I don’t want him to be in pain. even throughout it all he’s always happy and smiling. I think he has the heart of a 2 year old…. But his body is failing him. Need advice. ASAP. Thank you
    What we love so deeply , becomes a part of us.

    • Amy says:

      Hmmm, this is tough. I wonder if you have access to alternative therapies, such as accupuncture, water therapy, or cold laser therapy? My dog showed quite an improvement with cold laser therpay on her lower spine, which helped her hind end. Also, she did really really well on a small but consistent dose of Deramaxx. If he seems haply and still eats and is not crying in pain, and not having accidents in the house, I wonder if it might not quite be “time” yet. What does your vet say?

    • Tim says:

      you need to put him asleep. I just went through this in September for 13.5 year old dog I found the day after 9/11. My dog had horrible arthritis. We were giving cortisone shots every month. It was so hard but I know now it was the best I could do. If you cannot solve their problems, you have only 1 option. I buried her in a pet cemetery. I can go there now.

  4. Crystal says:

    I have a 11 year old boxer Pitt mix and she is my baby. I have been considering putting her to sleep. For the last year if we are gone longer than a couple hours she usually messes. She is very stiff when she walks up stairs. We have her only limited to our deck stairs but no way around that. She also whimpers from time to time for no reason. My husband says it’s not time hire do you know when it’s right? I don’t want her in pain and I know she’s humiliated when she messes. She Bennett head accidents unless she was sick.

    • Crystal says:

      She walks stiff all the time but even worse up the stairs.

      • Amy says:

        Does she seem happy most of the time or depressed? Does she sleep most of the time or is she restless? Does she still enjoy eating, going for walks, playing, getting petted, and treats?

        • Crystal says:

          With her temperament I think she will always be happy. She has and is always wanting to please. She tries to play with my yorkie but can’t she just ends up standing there stiff and out of breath. She sleeps most of the day and night. There has been a few nights here recently that she whimpers keeping me up. I am a very light sleeper.

          • Amy says:

            Well, it doesn’t sound like she is deeply depressed, but she may be in pain a times. I knew my dog was just not herself when it snowed and she didn’t care at all. She loved loved loved snow, but this time, couldn’t care less. Also, she auit drinking water, started pooping in the house, and just looked depressed most of the time. Her face just said “Mom, I’m so tired, in pain. And I can’t do anything fun anymore”. It was so hard to tell for absolute sure, and I went back and forth for a month, then second guesses my decision. I did consult a vet and a pet psychologist, both told me they did feel it was “time”.

            I hope you get clear signs one way or the other and find peace with your decision.

          • Crystal says:

            Good I am not ready to say goodbye yet. But in my heart I know this is the beginning and it will be downhill but very grateful for any amount of time we have with her. She is my husband’s and my first fur baby. Thank you for the feedback and sorry for your fur baby.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Our beloved Casey is almost 16 1/2. We know the time is close but would love some objective feedback. She has difficulty going up and down the stairs, poops in the house almost daily and has very weak hind legs. She pants and limps when walking while taking 4 tramadols daily. On the other hand she still gets excited to go for a short walk, eats, drinks and enjoys pets and our company. Is it time due to the constant limping and panting despite being on pain relievers, anti inflammatories and monthly adaquin injections?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      I am sorry that your sweet Casey is nearing the end of her long life, it is so hard. I would say you are correct, the time is close, but not sure how close. Based on what happened in my dog’s case, I would say we euthanized my dog about 30 days after she got to the point yours is.
      What does your vet say?

  6. NetScanr says:

    I just put my sweet Sugar to sleep on 5/31. I woke up at 3am to her panting in a slightly distressed way. She lived 18 months after a splenectomy and chemo for Hemangiosarcoma. She had a good 18 months, but in the last week she was more anemic than she had been and I assumed internal bleeding had started again. She ate her dinner (woofed it down), and even barked around 11:30 when Bear barked at something. Then there was the sudden change. I took her to the emergency vet and with her history there was little chance anything could be done to give her more happy time. I didn’t want Sugar to suffer any longer than the few hours she already had, so when the vet was ready I told her she could begin. I read a LOT about the process and how important it is for YOU to be strong for your friend in their final moments of life. You don’t want YOUR emotions upsetting your pet during their final moments with you. You can lose it after they are gone. During the vet’s prep, I hugged Sugar, pet her and told her how much I loved her. I asked for kisses and she gave me some really good ones! In my mind, she was telling me she was OK with my decision, and she knew it was time too. I knelt down next to the table so I could be eye to eye with her. She rested her chin on my hand as I stroked her head and told her how sweet of a girl she had always been. We gazed into each others eyes as the vet slowly gave her propofol. She slowly closed her eyes part way, but I could tell when she went unconscious. After a short wait, the vet slowly administered Beuthanasia. After a minute of monitoring, my sweet Sugar’s heart stopped and she was truly gone. Reading up on it, Beuthanasia is a combination drug with 2 chemicals that work differently, but together. The first causes almost instantaneous, painless brain-death. There’s no way your friend will feel anything after brain-death. The 2nd chemical stops the heart. Right now I’m in tears, not over putting my sweet girl to sleep, but over the continuous loss of her sweet presence, never more than 5-6 feet away when I was home. Being one of God’s creatures that I believe he put on this earth and gave me the opportunity to enjoy our lives together for 10 years, I truly believe God will reunite us one day. I only hope my own death will be as peaceful.

  7. Beverly says:

    My 14 year old Westie is having – every now and then pooping accidents in his kennel during the day while I am at work. He is always wanting to eat grass and he has had a very sensitive stomach for years. He now only eats prescription dog food. He can hear anymore and I think his site is limited. He sleeps most of the time but stills gets around fine. My husband thinks it is time to put him to sleep mainly due to the accidental pooping. I would feel terrible to do this at this point. I need some feedback.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Beverly,

      It is such a tough call. Your dog’s eyes may be cloudy, but it doesn’t always mean they are blind. Does your dog seem happy? Does she still enjoy eating? Enjoy walks? Enjoy your company? If she still seems to enjoy life, I would see if you can treat the accidents. Does it seem like she has accidents because it is diarrhea? Or is it lack of control due to a spinal issue?
      I would seek the advice of your vet and see if they can offer anything to help with the incontinence.

  8. Kevin says:

    Day 4 now since my girl is gone. First day I didn’t wake up crying. I guess that’s progress. Seems unreal that’s she gone. When I get up from the couch I step wide so I don’t step on her, course she’s not there. I go out and hold the door open for her to follow, but she’s not there. I try to keep busy, but that only helps so much because she was always busy with me whatever I did. I feel like a zombie walking thru life, but nothing feels real.

    • Jamie says:

      So sad I’m so sorry.. I have done this before and it’s so weird.. I lost my Angel this morning and feel so sad…

      • Kevin says:

        Jamie, I am so so sorry, I know the pain your in. There’s no words that will make you feel better. Just let it out when it comes (and with me it comes in waves) and I hope you have someone to cry with. I personally think we will see them again in whatever happens after this life. Anything that loves has a soul and I sometimes think animals have the purest souls of all. I really believe we’ll see them on the other side.

  9. Jamie says:

    I think it’s time.. But it’s so hard.. Angel my 14 year old rat terrier had ha kidney disease for aling time.. This past year she has gone completely blind, she does not eat her dog food but will eat hberger meat, eggs, broccoli, bread, and stuff like that..she smells terrible, her mouth is gray. She sleeps a lot, fell down the stairs this morning, is limp but yet will come outside bark at the neighbors dogs, lay in the sun. She also growls and is very irritated.. After writing this I think I know what I need to do :( so sad..

  10. Stephanie says:

    Hello, I’m trying to get some advice from people on making this hard decision about my dog-she is a aussie shepherd/border collie mix, by far the smartest dog I’ve ever owned, her name is Sydneyand she is almost 15 years old. During this last year she has really gone down hill, losing lots of weight, walking in circles and staring off into space, falling alot, panting a lot, and trouble with stairs and I feel like in her awake times she cannot get comfortable-paces and seems confused. She still eats good sometimes and then other times ignores her food without some additional prodding, yet has only had accidents in the house a couple of times-but granted that she never used too…I think that’s what makes this so hard as I’m seeing a lot of issues people talk about but not all of them so I keep second guessing myself about if its really time yet I know that even though we all love her so much, I dont feel she has a happy life anymore, she doesn’t even want to interact much where she used to be so loving-you have to prompt it and even then she doesn’t usually respond much! Any advice would be great, the vet mostly doesn’t seem to want to give a opinion about it but I feel that’s because she doesn’t show obvious signs of sickness and such, just old age.

    • Kevin says:

      We just put down or 14 1/2 border collie yesterday. She had also been having trouble the last year or so with getting around, playing ball and Frisbee turned into her standing there and me throwing it to her. I carried her up and down stairs into our bedroom everything and down every morning. About 3 weeks ago started having trouble breathing, which turned out to be cancer. Our plans to put her down peacefully at home tomorrow (our vet would do that) turned into a panic call yesterday because she was struggling to breath. We also kept struggling to determine what her quality of life was and when it was “time”. To me bottom line is 1) Is she suffering? and 2) Is she enjoying anything in her life? Attention, petting, playing, anything. If not, I would lean toward a peace full end, rather than a hurried, painful one after something happens. You sound like me and you’ll regret and second guess any decision you make no matter what it is. My companion, my joy in life, my black & white shadow is gone and its killing me. I hope you have someone to lean on and cry to, cause your going to need it. I am so so sorry, but if its not time, its getting close. Don’t even know you, but sending love your way.

    • Amy says:

      Stephanie, it is a very tough call. No one wants to put their dog down one day too early, but like Kevin said, one day too late is also not desirable either. All I could do was pray for guidance and signs, and I did receive it. I am so sorry for your struggle, all of us can relate.

    • Alex says:

      We just put Tiger, our red healer German short haired pointer cross down. She was 13 and a half. It was a very hard decision. She was suffering more and more during hot summers with labored breathing, arthritis, had trouble with stairs and her legs would sometimes just give way. She started drinking and urinating a lot. We agreed would wouldn’t make her suffer another hot summer in Renmark and last night she developed a tooth abscess which was the catalyst for today’s decision. Overall she was probably happy but in some pain with her body beginning to fail. A hard but humane decision.

  11. Anna says:

    My dog is 14 years old, October last year she started to lose a lot of weight very quickly. She lost about 8kg in a matter of weeks and the vet said she had a week to live
    Since then she has stayed between 17-18 kg buy in the last mth or so she has been drinking and eating loads!! So much that she will drink out of the toilet if the is Left open even dirty buckets of water that I have cleaned the floor with.
    She pees in the house daily and has gone on her bed without noticing a few times.
    All tests have come back normal the only other thing the vet said is that they could open her up to see if she has cancer but she’s had 5 cancerous lumps removed already and I don’t want to put her though that again
    Really don’t know what to do! Is It time to say goodbye

    • Kevin says:

      Certain medications, like Lasix, will make a dog drink a lot and often have accidents. If she’s got a decent quality of life and not suffering or in pain, I would enjoy the time you have, but keep a close eye on her

  12. Sherri says:

    I’m struggling with the decision on our 15 yr old mixed terrier. A mutt we adopted from the pound as a puppy. He’s been terrific, an athletic active dog until recently. This past 6 months we began noticing a difference and very recently he has began walking in tight circles. His vet diagnosed Dementia and found Cushings disease after blood test. She did not recommend the treatment due to his age and what it would do to his quality of life. We were asked to watch him and see how quickly he worsens. Unfortunately his mind is not keeping up with his athletic body. In the past 2 weeks he’s taken a couple of bad falls, missing steps, misjudging distance. He tumbles hard, gets up, shakes it off and resumes. He’s had a couple of accidents in the house and sleeps a lot. My big concern his he’ll eventually break bones, etc. I simply wonder if he is happy…

    • Kevin says:

      If he’s in otherwise reasonably good health, I’d just tone down his activities. Block off stairs, keeps runs in yard etc. The last year of my loyal Nicky I carried her up and down the stairs every evening and every morning after she took a fall. Everyones relationship with their pet is different, but all I can say since just losing mine is enjoy every minute you can. They won’t be around forever.

  13. Kevin says:

    Waiting for a call from our vet to set up an at home euthanasia. Our border collie Nicky has gotten so afraid of going to vet office, I don’t her to be scared when we do this. She has cancer in at least two organs and keeps accumulating fluid in her chest. Has been drained 3 times. She also has arthritis real bad in rear leg and hips and now that she’s off rymadyl because we started predolosone in hopes of beating back the cancer for a while. She’s still bright and alert, though stopped eating yesterday. I hope we’re doing the right thing, it’s killing me. I don’t know how I’m going to hold her as she dies, but I have to. I owe her that and so much more. She’s been my shadow, my joy and I have to be there now. God give me strength

    • Amy says:

      I am so glad you have a vet that will come to your home, that will be much better. We had our dog put to sleep in our Jeep because that was her happy place. We couldn’t hold her per se because of her size and weight, but we were in the car with her and touching her. It is the hardest thing ever. I would just say that you need to know it goes very fast. I wish I had understood that before. There is no “slowly going to sleep and drifting off”. Once they are given the sedative, they go right to sleep and then the second drug is given right away. It’s fast and there is no saying goodbye after that. But, I will say, we made a pact that we would do our best not to “let on” that this was a sad event, we did not want her to sense our angst or sadness…we did not want her to feel sadness or fear in her last moments. We drove her body to the crematorium, which was a 40 minute drive. That was very comforting to me. To be the one that took her there, it was good. I am crying right now typing this, and it has been over 6 months. The sadness never leaves.
      I wish you the best. God Bless.

      • Kevin says:

        Thank you Amy. We made the “appointment” (what a thing to call it) for Friday at 7 PM. Between now and then going to spend as much time with her as I can. She has good and bad times. Mornings are the worst. They will take her body and I asked for an individual cremation. I’m so sorry you still cry and I know I will too for a long long time.

        • Amy says:

          I thought of one more thing. Cocoa got to eat all of her favorite things on her last day. Whipped cream from the can, grilled steak, peanut butter crackers, and even stopped for a soft serve ice cream cone on the way to the vet. She was so happy that day, she didn’t want to take h usual nap for fear of missing anither “treat”! What a day that was. Enjoy your remaining days with your sweet girl. Take care.

          • Kevin says:

            We are trying anything to get her to eat. Seems she’ll eat something new for a couple meals, then stop. Went from Gravy canned dog food (she always had kibble before this), then chicken, hamburger & wawa meat balls. She wouldn’t eat the meatballs this morning. I slept on the floor with last night. She had a bad night, not breathing too well, more like panting. Got better this morning. Now feeling guilty we (I really) said Friday. Selfish of me wanting a few more days. But she didn’t have this problem then. I can only pray it will stabilize until Friday evening. If it get bad and we have to take her in, it would only make sense to do it then, but I wanted to avoid the Vets office. She so scared of it now.

          • Amy says:

            The same thing happened to mine. We made the appointment for a few days out, as we wanted to spend one last weekend with her. Then, in the middle of the night, she was in distress, panting and very uncomfortable. I was beside myself because I thought “Oh no, I waited too long, now she will die tramatically” However, she did get past that. I hope yours does the same thing. Mine never stopped eating, but she did stop drinking. I had to put water on her food to get her fluids.

          • Kevin says:

            We didn’t make it to Friday. Had a very bad night Monday, couldn’t sleep cause she had to keep breathing. Seemed to get better early morning morning but when I came home for lunch, was bad again. She was in pain, struggling and we couldn’t allow that to go on. We scooped her up and took her to her place of fear and and had to do it. I curse myself for being selfish and trying to spend every waking moment. It was heart breaking as her Adrenalin kicked in from fear and I started doubting if we should go through with it. But we did, one of many regrets I’ll have for the rest of my life.My soulmate is gone and I struggle with every minute not break down. I want to sleep for week, but when I wake, she’ll still be gone. I take it minute by minute, hour by hour, time grags on

          • Kevin says:

            We didn’t make it to Friday. Had a very bad night Monday, couldn’t sleep cause she had to keep breathing. Seemed to get better early morning morning but when I came home for lunch, was bad again. She was in pain, struggling and we couldn’t allow that to go on. We scooped her up and took her to her place of fear and and had to do it. I curse myself for being selfish and trying to spend every waking moment. It was heart breaking as her Adrenalin kicked in from fear and I started doubting if we should go through with it. But we did, one of many regrets I’ll have for the rest of my life.My soulmate is gone and I struggle with every minute not break down. I want to sleep for week, but when I wake, she’ll still be gone. I take it minute by minute, hour by hour, time drags on.

          • Amy says:

            Oh Kevin,

            I am so very sorry for your loss and the way that it ended up happening too, I know you had envisioned it going much differently for your sweet girl. Heartbreaking!

            Listen, please try and think of it in a different way. With my sweet girl, she seemed so good the day we did it, I had so many doubts about wether it was maybe too early. In a way, I wanted her to be more acutely ill so that there was NO doubt it was time.

            You see, because we love them so much, we do not want to let them go one day too early or one day too late. We wish we could find that exact day where it is no doubt the right day. But we can’t.

            So, in my case, I know I could most likely have waited another day or maybe even a week….which makes me sad. In your case, you could have done it a day or even a week sooner, which makes you sad too.

            The main thing we need to understand is that we have done our very best to do it the beat way we can, and many times we humans will not get it exactly right.

            But what we have gotten right, is we taken away our beloved dog’s physical pain, and allowed them to end the suffering in the most humane way we could do. As a result, their pain is transferred onto us in the form of emotional pain.

            Your little black and white shadow is free an not in any pain or distress. You were the best care taker she coild have wished for, so don’t be upset, you gave her a great life, and she knew that.

            Let yourself grieve…..cry cry cry it out. I still cry often for my baby girl, but not so much because of her death, more because I miss her in my life.

  14. Sieglinde says:

    Our English Bull Terrier is 13 years old and we considered her a part of our family. She has been for several months now, shaking in her hind quarters when I take her outside. She also eats grass like she is a cow and started urinating/pooping in the house . She drinks more than she eats and as she has gotten older doesn’t eat like she did when she was younger. She will start panting while laying on the couch and sleeps 90% of the day & all night. She balks a lot while walking and on occasion after waking instead of walking to go outside or to water bowl, it’s like she is senile and walks up to a wall and stands there until I lead her away. She has moles fatty cysts/tumors – one the size of my palm, and the vet tested them last month costing us $800 and they were benign. Spankie also has dry eye now and I have to clean her eyes many times during the day to remove the green mucus. My husband has become disabled, and is unable to help me with our beloved pet. She will softly whine sometimes too. Are these signs that she is nearing the end of her life? I don’t want her to be in pain and suffer.

    • Amy says:


      I think the time may be near. It sounds like your dog might be in pain much of the time. I would consult your vet and then make a decision. I am sorry, it is so hard.

  15. Cherrie says:

    My dog Jonah is scheduled to go in on Wednesday to be evaluated. I’m 99 percent sure it’s time but I don’t want to admit it. He is almost 15 has fatty tumors, warts, he sleeps 90 percent of the time now. He is shakey when he walks, he cannot go up and down stairs, or get in the car with out help anymore. The has a cyst that has emerged on his left thigh and is growing at alarming rates. He coughs up white foam about every other day now. He pants just walking to his water bowl and must lie down to eat because he cannot stand that long. He drinks a great deal of water. I love him though, I have PTSD due to domestic violence and Jonah has been through hell and back with me. He has been my therapy dog, my protector, my confidante, and my anchor. I am scared to go through life without him but he has been such a good dog I don’t want him to suffer. I just wish someone can tell me if I’m doing the right thing. I’m a single parent and cannot pay for chemo and radiation and at his age I’m not sure if he would survive surgery. Please, I feel like my heart is breaking. He is such a piece of me.

    • Kevin says:

      I’m so sorry Cherrie. I am in a similar position. A people say that they’ll tell tell somehow, but it doesn’t really seem to happen that way.
      I keep telling myself you must do whats right for her. I don’t know what I’ll do without her, but have to push that aside. Do whats right for him.
      Sometimes, if you have a good vet (and most are), ask what would they do if it was their pet. You can usually get a helpful answer.
      Whatever you decide, know that there are a lot more people than you think going through this hell. Try to do whats right for him and try to find peace in that you did the right thing.
      Hang in there, this too will pass.

    • Amy says:

      Oh Cherrie, I am so sorry! But yes, it is time to let your best friend go in peace. I am sorry.

    • Brett says:

      Cherrie im sorry to hear your situation….I am the Brett from a few comments below…I know what your feeling….I got my dog not long after I divorced and he went through tough times with me as well…to come home and always see him excited to see me helped me move on from a difficult time….It makes it all that bit tougher.
      Your dog is coughing up white foam…that a sign of mycoplasma disease…your dogs immune system is probably trying its best to fight the tumors he has and this is what happens to them…by the sounds of it…its time for him to go….you are doing the right thing for him….be strong and just think of the time when he lets go and has no more pain to deal with.

  16. Lisa says:

    I just lost my mini-dachshund, Bruno. He was almost 11 yrs old. He’d been sickly his whole live with heart and lung issues. He would get better and worse on a daily basis. One day, he was worse and I took him to the vet, like usual. The vet took one look at him and told me there wasn’t much they could do anymore, he had just reached the limits of his strength. He died peacefully in his sleep. I am heartbroken, but I know he isn’t suffering anymore. It was time for him to go. My other dog is a 13 yr old Chihuahua (Pablo) who seems to be ok for now, but I know it’s coming. It will never be easier, but it’s what we sign up for when we fall in love with our fur babies. <3

  17. Brett says:

    Just got my 13 year old black lab put down yesterday…he started coughing and tablets wouldn’t help..he was covered in lumps and started limping all of a sudden…he had good days and bad days but I could see what was going to happen…the cough was like he was drowning in his own fluid…he would cough up white foam and in the mornings and at night were worse…I am a lot more upset than I thought I would be but it was very peaceful and me and my girlfriend spoiled him the night before and fed him treats all night and let him sleep inside.
    I have been struggling all day but I just know I did the right thing….I live alone and am a shiftworker…to go to work knowing he wasn’t well was killing me…..for the last month or so I used to open the back door with dread wondering if he survived the day or night when I was at work.In the end as sad as I am I know I did the right thing for both of us…rest in peace Buster.
    You were best mate in the world and this experience has made me decide no more dogs for me…you become to attached and I know I will never get another character like him.

  18. my family is being torn apart. OUr Choc Lab is 14 years old and has tumors all over his body and his back legs don’t work so well, they just tremble like crazy. He has Cataracts in both eyes and most times he gets to the bottom of the steps and can’t figure out how to make it up the stairs (almost like he doesn’t remember). Well now, I put him out in the back yard regularly for about 15min. at a time and when he barks to come in. he walks right in and craps across the floor as he walks, he don’t even bend down to go to the bathroom. He never in all of his life ever had accidents in the house. I am having a hard time with him going poo all over my house. I feel it is time to put him to rest, but my husband says that he isn’t that bad yet. I don’t know what to do or think. He still eats, but his whole body shakes all the time. What do you all think? I could use some advice.

    • Amy says:

      Hi RuthAnn,

      Boy, this sounds so much like my chocolate lab! At 14 she was having the same issues. Very weak hind end, fatty tumors all over her body, and she started going poop in the house and would drop it like a cow almost, as if she didn’t even knkw it was happening until it was too late. I can so relate!!
      I will tell you that her eyes, although they appeared to be very cloudy, the vet did say she was not blind, not even close, it’s just a commin condition that makes it appear that she cannot see out lf them.
      As for the fatty tumors, that is to be exlected with age.
      Now, thw weak hind legs and the pooping in the house, that is really the issue I think. We had some success with cold laser therapy on her spine, but you must find a vet that does it, and it’s not cheap. Also, water therapy amd accupuncture can help, but again, these are expensive specialists, so not alot of folks are in a position to be able to do this type of thing.
      I think your dog is most likely in pain in her hind end…back and hind legs. Does he ever cry out in pain? The shaking and weakness are troubling.
      Have you sought advice from a vet?
      I am so sorry you are going through this, it is very upsetting and stressful.

  19. Kim says:

    My husband and I are leaving in 30 minutes to put our sweet old boy Rusty to rest. He is a black lab Chesapeake bay mix. This is soooo hard I have been crying all day he is the best dog ,loyal loving and just turned 16 years old.He has been declinining for awhile now and just started barking at night because he no longer can get up the stairs. I know it is time but this is so hard he is like one of my children and he will be missed so very much. I just hope I see my ole boy in heaven some day and he is running and having a grand ole time.Well it’s time to go lay him to rest. Kim

    • Amy says:

      I am so sorry Kim. I believe you will see him agIn one day. Godspeed Rusty, you were a good dog.

      Peace be with you,

  20. TIna says:

    We are laying our sweet molly to rest on Friday and its tearing our family up. She is a 10 year old boxer and the last year she has declined slowly. She is not able to walk very well because of her back legs. Dr. say because of her age surgery is not a good thing. We have to carry her up and down the stairs and hold her up while she goes to the bathroom because she falls when she tries to stand on her own.
    But when the door bell rings she is eager to defend our home and wrestle with her brother Tyson another boxer when she is having a good day. So this is what makes it very hard to make that decision to lay her to rest. In the morning she would eat when my husband would go to work at 5am now she passes on her food until early afternoon and we have to put cheese in her bowl to even sniff it but then she eats. She is always panting which we were told this is a sign of pain for a dog. So please please tell me we are doing the right thing.

    • Tim says:

      Without a doubt, you are doing the right thing. Your poor baby is suffering. You’ve had her evaluated. There’s nothing you can do to alleviate her pain. You have held onto her for as long as you can and have given her a rich, full, happy life. Unfortunately, she’s sick and not going to get better. Releasing her will be your final act of love for her. It’s the right thing to do. I wish I could tell you that doing the right thing is going to make it easy at all. The right thing for her is going to hurt you badly. That’s why it’s an act of selfless love. I’m so sorry. God bless you and comfort you. Having just gone through this myself a week and a half ago, I am so sad for you. It’s terrible, and the fact that it’s the right thing to do doesn’t change that.

  1. October 26, 2013

    […] to share what I’m learning here. I know my readers are interested in pet ownership, because Putting a Dog to Sleep – A Veterinarian’s Guidelines is one of my most popular […]

  2. December 2, 2013

    […] tips are inspired by a reader who had to put his dog down. Saying good-bye to your beloved dog or cat is heartbreaking – and it’s even worse if you […]

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