Aug 252013
 

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.

Putting a Dog to Sleep - A Veterinarian's Guidelines

“Putting a Dog Down” Cremation Urn

If you want to keep your dog’s ashes, the Odyssey Cremation Urn pictured is a beautiful vessel.

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.

Summary
Article Name
Putting a Dog to Sleep - A Veterinarian's Guidelines
Author
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A summary of what pet owners need to know about putting a dog to sleep. Veterinarian Marie Haynes shares the most important criteria for putting a dog down and offers help for healing.
laurie pawlik kienlenI'm Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen - bookworm, travel bug, flute player, writer, blogger, warrior princess. :-) My husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada with our cat and dogs.

Are you happy? My Grade 10 Social Studies teacher always asked me that. And I am happy, despite a hard childhood (schizophrenic mom, no dad, foster homes), infertility, an eating disorder, and a chronic illness. The source of my peace and joy is God; I'm a Christian. Where do you find peace?

I welcome your big and little comments below, about big or little things. I can't give you advice, but writing can give you clarity and insight.

In peace and passion...Laurie

  378 Responses to “6 Signs It’s Time to Put Your Dog to Sleep”

  1. I have to make the toughest decision to put my beautiful 9.5yr Dobbie, Precious, down yesterday. Found a tumor growth in her back tit and decided to get it remove last month. After the biopsy, found that the growth is malignant and it has gone into the lymph nodes. She was back to her usual self for 2 weeks but last week, things got worse cos lumps were growing on her belly and her limp on her front left leg got worse with a big lump and the whole leg was swollen. She started to lose her appetite and was very thirsty. She wasn’t even going to the bathroom, all she does is lay there. It hurts to see her in pain and I have to make the tough call to put her to sleep. It was devastating since she was with me since a pup and we got her after we put the last Dobbie down due to bone cancer. She has been through so much with me, the birth of my daughter, my divorce and moving to our very own place, losing my job….my daughter and I miss her so dearly. I still feel I can do more or shouldn’t have got the tumor removed in the first place, still can’t believe she’s gone.

  2. Dear Michelle,

    Thank you for being here. I don’t know any affordable ways to put a dog down…but if it was me, I’d tell my veterinarian that I can’t afford it. I’d ask if they can donate the euthanasia and cremation. Some veterinarians are willing to help out by donating their time and supplies.

    I wish you all the best in this, I hope you find a solution that works.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. Life without our dogs almost seems unbearable, because they are so much a part of our daily routines. I have two dogs, and this article on putting a dog to sleep always reminds me how precious they are and how short life is.

    May your broken hearts heal. May you find comfort in the idea that your dogs are resting in peace, and watching you with love and compassion. Your dog doesn’t want your memories to be full of pain or regret! Your dog wants you to be happy in your life, full of energy and love. My prayer is that the grief you feel will pass naturally and even quickly, and that you are able to open your heart and home to another dog in the future – a dog who needs to be rescued, and who will be eternally grateful for your presence. Just like your old dog was, and is.

    Blessings and sympathies,
    Laurie

  4. A very sad day today that I had to let me special baby girl go. She has suffered from Cushings disease, arthritis, thyroid and collapsed wrists. I had not concern about the money for her healthcare but her quality of life was impacted.

    Over the last few weeks she has been struggling to walk and she fell off the deck into a plant pot. I could tell she was not comfortable and struggling to get our coordination in check.

    This morning she had a seizure and it was without doubt one of the most awful experiences to watch someone you love go through such misery. It appears she may have had a few whilst we didn’t see her which must have been awful for the poor girl.

    I took her to the vet immediately after witnessing the seizure and the Vet ran some blood test and compared to a couple of weeks ago. She said from her opinion Tasha was heading for renal failure and anything we do now would be for sustaining for weeks not months and she may suffer during this time.

    In tears I had to make the call, it was time to let my baby go. I held her as she passed and I was happy it was so peaceful and quick. I am now going through the grieving process and obvious guilt on whether I made the right decision or not….it’s too late anyway as she is gone and at rest.

    It is the hardest decision I have ever made in my life but I need to believe as sad as life is without her, it was the right decision for her….not me.

  5. My dear, sweet baby Rennie is an 11 year old Boston Terrier. She had her first seizure in February and they were contolled by potassium bromide unitl last week. She had 4 seizures this weekend and ended up at the hospital for a pheno injection since 3 were within 24 hours. She has a brain tumor.

    Her anxiety is worsening…. she paces in circles confused a lot…. for the last 24 hours she has had no bladder control…. but the vet gave her some prednisone and said we’d know within 3 days if it would help or not. I’m sitting here looking at her as I type this with tears just flowing down my face. I already know what I need to do for her…. I just don’t know if I do it today or if I can delay it a week. My heart is hurting so badly and I just want some peace….. for me and for her…..

  6. Im ready.. Im tired of the suffering.. I have 11 yr old Chihuahua, who is 1/ blind…
    I hear him wine daily.. he keeps me up at night wining..

    I keep getting we will call you from the vet… every time I suggest putting him down..

    For the past week my poor chihuahua has been unable to walk,.. the pain meds dont seem to be working.. blood work was fine but Kidney test came back high.. they say he injured his shoulder or back up by shoulder blade, he just keeps tucking his legs under wont even try and stand.. I have to hold him up to potty.. or he lays in his pee and i have to bathe him after wards..
    Being a single parent only part time working I couldnt afford the x ray and they refused to Bill me.. I spent $200 last week on blood work, a capstar for 5 fleas, and that was it other than a nights stay at the vet, with a emergency visit and still no results.. They think he will come out of it.. and get better..

    I cant take hearing him whining anymore.. I feel its time to put him down.. hes my youngest sons first friend and pet, I got him 6 months after my son was born.. its going to be heard on all of us..

    • Hi Jenny,

      Your words hit me hard and so very close to my heart as I read your post I had a chichuaua named Posey and had to help her across the Rainbow Bridge this past Oct. 3. Posey had similar conditions. Her kidneys weren’t working properly, I too had to help her stand at times to potty. She paced the floor and walked back and forth from the house to the shed and would fall at times. She would fall on the house floors or get stuck in a corner and not know how to get out. Posey was weak in her hind legs from the phenobarbital she had to take because of multiple seizures she had on two occasions. She had a breathing problem also. I too took her to the emergency vet twice.

      After the last visit to the vet before she had seizures, she started whining in the vets office. Posey never whined before. She too whined at night and wanted out of bed to pace the floors while I needed sleep because I work full-time. I was up 4-5 times a night comforting her and I came home at lunch to check on her.

      Posey was Mommas dog she brought home at six weeks old. Momma passed June 30, 2013 after Daddy Oct 13, 2012, then Sally, Mommas pug passed Oct. 22, 2013. Now with Posey gone, I feel very alone and lost. I have cried at least once if not more daily almost since Posey left.

      They say helping you pet across the Rainbow Bridge is the last act of love you can give. It was the hardest thing I ever did but I had too-for Posey she was 12 yrs. Old.

      Please feel free to write me at my email anytime. You and your family are in my
      prayers. Paul

  7. I have a 9 year old Jack Russell, Sammy he is diabetic which has recently caused his sight to go due to cataract, he has constant ear infections due to polips in his ear he is now deaf in that ear. He has just started limping Vet says could be because of ear infection. My husband and I had decided 2 years ago when he was diagnosed with diabetes, we would go by quality of life. Obviously it’s time. But now we’re stuck in another situation I recently got let go from my job in July, still unemployed seeking full time work. Husband contractor business is slow but we keep roof over our heads and insulin for Sammy. We want to put him down and have him cremated. We obviously can’t afford this. Hoping by posting my story someone will know an affordable way to put our sweet pup down.

  8. Dear June,

    You love your dog so much, it’s almost impossible to think about putting him to sleep! The loss is heartbreaking, and it seems like you’ll never get over it. It’s very sad, and such a difficult thing to do.

    But, I think your first concern needs to be for your dog. Not on keeping him alive, but letting him go so he doesn’t suffer anymore. Is it fair to him to stay alive if he’s in pain, and not enjoying a good life anymore?

    My prayer is that you find the strength you need to let him go. This is sacrificial love — it’s about putting your dogs’ needs before yours. This is a final act of love, to put him down and let him rest in peace. It will be painful for you, but I hope you find comfort in the knowledge that you loved him enough to put his needs before yours. I know it’s painful, but I believe there is a time that we need to let our dogs go. It breaks my heart to think of life without my dogs….but I feel sick at the thought of them living in pain.

    Let me know how things go, if you decide to put your dog to sleep :-(

    With deepest sympathy,
    Laurie

  9. Dear Anita,

    Thank you for being here, I know how difficult it is to put a dog to sleep when you love her so much. It may feel like it’s heartless to say good-bye, but it’s not.

    Putting your dog to sleep when she is sick and not enjoying life anymore is the most caring, loving thing you can do. It is an act of sacrificial love, of kindness and compassion. If you’re keeping her alive when she is in pain or not enjoying life, then I believe you are doing her a disservice. You might be keeping her alive for your own sake, not for hers.

    I don’t know how you can be absolutely 100% sure….but what makes me think it might be time to let her go is that you said your dog isn’t enjoying her life. I believe you’ve answered your own question, but you don’t want to put her down because of the grief you’ll feel.

    And indeed, you will be so sad at your loss. But, you will know she isn’t suffering anymore. I hope that knowledge – that she will be resting in peace in a safe, secure place – helps you make the decision a little easier and eases your pain.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

    • Hi I don’t know what to do about putting my dog to sleep, he is a 10 year old german Shepard his back legs have been bad for a while now but over the last few days they had been times where he hasn’t been able to pick him self up, he has been threw so much all his life when he was 5 wks he managed to scoff a large bowl of complete dog food his mothers food, he had to have a major operation then at the time the vets rang me asked if I woulx give them my permission to put him to sleep because he swallowed mucas threw the operation had Got a bad case of humonia and they said he wouldn’t make it threw the night, but I said no and at the time it was Xmas I said to the vet no it’s xmas miricals happen I will not give you my permission to put him to sleep. 10 years later I still have him he is bad now with his back end but vets have gave me pai. Killers for him hoping he will get threw to the end of next week, I are finding it so hard to come to terms with letting my baby go i also still have his mother she is fit and healthy will she sense that he’d son has gone has to this day she cleans his face every morning and every night. Do you think I will lose hey soon after of heart hake, I can not cope I would rather it be me then my baby’s.

  10. Hello my little dog is 18 ryes old
    She no longer enjoys her life .
    My problem is trying to decipher
    If it it’s time to let her go .
    She seems to have all the problems that an older dog goes throught.
    I don’t want to seem heartless .but how can I be absolutely shure .
    Any advise to help thanks
    Anita

  11. Dear Margaret,

    Trust that you made the right decision. You were listening to your heart and mind, and you believed that it was time to put your dog to sleep. You did what you thought was right for your 16 year old dog, and you have to trust that it was time for her to go.

    You saw that she was in pain and struggling, so you saved her from more painful moments in the future. How can this be the wrong decision? You decide to put your dog to sleep because you loved her so much, and you wanted her to be free from her old, sore, achy body. I believe you made the right decision, and my prayer for you is that you find peace and healing.

    Your beloved dog is watching you with love and a free spirit, and does not want you to suffer. She wants you to be happy and peaceful, and secure in the knowledge that she forgives you and is very glad you let her go.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  12. Thank you for this post. My wife and I have been debating putting our dog to sleep for a few weeks now, and it really has been tough on the whole family. Our dog was a very big part of our family, and it’s going to be really hard to say goodbye.

  13. Andrew,

    It’s such a difficult decision to make – and what might make me decide to put my dog down may be very different than what might make you decide. Above all, we need to be at peace with our decision.

    Your boy is young, only six years old. But age isn’t the most important factor – it’s his quality of life. A dog can be 15 years old and enjoying a great life, or one year old and suffering. If you believe that your dog is still enjoying a good quality of life, then maybe it’s not time to put him to sleep. But if you believe “a good life” is more than sitting at home….then maybe it’s time to let him go.

    What do you think your Bernese mountain dog would tell you to do? Is he ready to go? Dogs don’t fear death the way humans do…it’s possible that he’s ready, but you aren’t.

    I’m sorry there aren’t any easy answers, and I wish you all the best in this decision.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  14. Dear Gillian,

    How is your Pomeranian today? Does she still seem to be scared, and in pain?

    I think the biggest question is whether or not she’s ready to leave this world. You know her better than anyone…when you sit with her and put your hands gently on her body, do you get any sense of what she wants from her life? I know this is difficult to know for certain, but I believe our dogs aren’t afraid of death. They’re scared of lots of things on this earth and they don’t necessarily want to die….but they know death is as natural as being born.

    If my dogs were in pain and not enjoying an active life, I would let them go. I wouldn’t give them pain medication, because I’d have no idea how effective it was. I know it’s easier to say this when it’s not my dogs who are suffering, but I really believe I’d choose to let them rest in peace rather than try to prolong their lives.

    Only you can make this decision…and you need to be at peace with putting your dog to sleep. My prayer for you is that you find the strength, courage, and love you need to make the most sacrificial decision of all.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  15. It seems like everyone feels exactly the same way when it comes to this decision. My boy is only 6 years old. He is a bernese mountain dog. Has hip diplasia and austio arthritus (i think the arthritus comes with the hips). Also he has decided that any piece of fabiric in the house is his to eat. Which in turn is really messing with his digestive system leading to accidents in the house. I do not know what to do because he can only walk for about 5 minutes and then he is in pain all night. I feel terrible that he can no longer go out and about but at the same time he does not seem “unhappy” sitting at home. Am i being selfish keeping him at home all the time? Any advice?

  16. I am facing this decision for my ten year old basset who has suspected disc on the point of rupture, dodgy ticker and thyroid problems as well as skin issues. In the last three weeks her legs have been failing and she is no longer the cheeky, full of life character she was. Going to the toilet and eating now seem difficult for her. Reading your page had helped me make this heartbreaking but right decision and on Friday the vet will come home to put her to sleep. I will miss her more than words can say but know I have to make this decision in her best interest… She is existing not living.

    • I had to take our Yorkshire terrier on the 3rd October. She was 17 years old but her kidneys were failing. I felt guilty about letting her go. Its broken my heart, she was our life. Muffin we miss you so much you will never be forgotten xx

      • Oh Steve my heart totally breaks for you. My Yorkie, Sparky is being euthanised on Wednesday this week and I am totally and utterly distraught.
        My little man will be 16 years 8 months old and although the vet said his heart his strong and his legs don’t seem too bad, he has been totally deaf for a long time. He has cataracts and doggie dementia. He sleeps nearly all day but at night is anxious and distressed, pacing, whining & barking. At night he is doubly incontinent and walks through his urine & excrement where normally dogs would walk around it. He is sad for most of the time and is constantly hungry (due to dementia he forgets he has been fed) and seems tormented. I feel it’s not fair for my beautiful boy to go on in this way, he deserves so much better. Selfishly I want him with me forever and can’t bear the thought of life without him. The vet said his quality of life doesn’t seem too good now and that’s what has to be considered. Trying to do fun things with loads of love and treats for his last days

        • Hi Fiona. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. But Muffin was not eating properly and she was very unsteady on her legs. All the food that she loved she wouldnt touch, except for a little cooked chicken. She was drinking less too. 17 years to have your best friend is a long long time. I look around the house for her everyday in all the little places she would snuggle into. She made our house a proper home with not having children. We miss her with all our hearts. Goodnight old lady and God bless Muffin xx

        • Hi Fiona. We lost Muffin as you know on 3rd Oct. On the 28th October we collected our new ten week old Yorkshire Terrier, Millie. We only had Millie for five days, she died this morning 3rd November at 4am. We just don’t know what’s happening in our lives at the moment and what we’ve done to deserve this. She was the most gorgeous looking Yorkie we have ever seen and so bubbly and characterful. She was settling in lovely with us, but stopped eating on Friday. I took her back to the breeder on Sunday morning and she passed away a 4am on Monday. We are absolutely devastated. She was a bundle of joy and love. R.I.P. Millie. You will never be forgotten for the joy you gave us in you very short life. Goodnight, God bless xxxxxxx

    • Today I had to make the heartbreaking decision to put my beloved cocker spaniel to sleep , his name was woody and he was 13 years old . Woody had kidney failure and had deteriorated over the past three days , he couldn’t eat or drink or go to the toilet, the saddest thing was is that he kept struggling out into the garden and laying down in the wet grass , his breathing was laboured and he was making a strange noise. We carried him back inside and laid him on his bed, woody looked so sad and his eyes said he had had enough , through tears and grief we rang the vet who came within the hour . We told woody how much we loved him , kissed him stroked and cuddled him and the vet gave him the injection, woody went to sleep instantly , no distress just heartbreak for us, I never realised it would hurt this much , it’s been 7 hours since woody died we are distraught, it’d agony How will I ever get over this ? I’ve never cried do much I just want him back .

  17. I have an 8 year old Pomeranian in CHF, with a collapsing Trachea, one back leg that had a luxating patella but repaired with pins amd recently the other has been diagnosed with the same. About 18 months ago she was diagnosed with the CHF and is being treated and we recently added tramadol for her back leg discomfort because surgery is not an option. Tonight her back leg with pins seems to have frozen up and she could barely walk. Since then she’s hiding herself in the back of her kennel which is what she usually does when she’s scared. I did give her some tramadol this evening. I’m thinking that if the back leg doesn’t resolve itself in the next few days maybe it’s time. But then I feel guilty because she isn’t doing “that” bad. However her life consists of just eating sleeping and going to the bathroom. She doesn’t play, has never liked my giving her too much affection, so that hasn’t changed. I don’t know if I’m heading to the right decision. Her vet and I did have a conversation last month that she will probably not last 6 months because of the CHF. But it’s her legs and the discomfort that’s the issue now. I can always up her meds but is it fair to dope her up so she is comatose? I’m so confused. Thanks for any input you might have.

  18. My thoughts are with you, as you think about putting your dogs to sleep. May you find peace and acceptance as you make this decision, and may the veterinarian who helps you be kind, compassionate, and supportive.

    And, may you remember that your dogs will rest in peace – without pain or fear – after they die. They will embrace death as naturally as they embraced every moment of their lives.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  19. We are thinking of having our lab mix put to sleep either monday or tuesday morning. He is 16 years old and has a myriad of problems, from skin issues, to not being able to see or hear well, and he can barely walk without staggering over into something. He has started to turn away from his food as well. I know his quality of life is poor and he sleeps most of the time, when he isn’t pacing around. I know it’s time to let him go, but I still question myself.

    • KAREN, we are in the exact same boat! Our black lab/golden mix is 17 and has a lot of the same problems you mentioned. She still eats like she always has though. Did you put your dog down? If so, do you feel it was the right decision? We are struggling. Even had an appt and cancelled. Thank you!

    • Aloha;
      I said goodbye to my loving beautiful very sick black lab retriever mix I cradled he’s head in my arms; kissed him for one last time. I could not stay to watch he’s last struggle and bleeding out; I tried in vein to stop. Scarface (we didn’t name him) came to use 10 years ago; rescued from the pound; he was 2 years old and his first family couldn’t take with them no money to fly a large dog back to mainland. I was not looking for a dog that day; he was sitting in a cage of many others afraid; too large for any family that wanted only smaller dogs. I looked at him; I asked him why couldn’t they take? He tilted he’s head and talked to me with he’s eyes. Love at first sight!
      I am hurting; crying calling he’s name thru the house today…..”Scarface come to Mommy”
      I just couldn’t do it; my Vet who has helped us many times with our other loving pets. See my husband, Tim was our strong person who did it all. I left Scarface and went home to let Tim know that he’s buddy was gone; Tim has demensia and in a wheelchair; I will have to slowly let him understand.

    • I too have a 16yr old shepherd mix, our appt is today… so very difficult to make and keep this appt as I cancelled the original appt over a month ago. But other than his good appetite, all the signs are here and clear. As one person described, my Jasper is basically existing, not living. He just sleeps most all day, paces the house at night and his potty habits are well, just not what they were in his younger days. I made this decision to put him down because I fear that he will pass alone and in pain while we are at work, and that I cannot live with that thought… we also have a 3yr old little guy I am sure will miss him too, so my plan is to honor Jasper’s lifeby remembering all the great times we had and the love and devotion he gave to us all these years. He has been a great dog and will be sadly missed. But I am doing this out of pure love!

  20. Tomorrow I’m saying goodbye to my much loved staffie Keiko. She just turned 11 last month and we’ve had her since she was weaned. In May this year she started having fits and has been on epiphen ever since. We also give her metacalm for her joint pain. Over the last month she has deteriorated quite rapidly and is displaying all the symptoms of dementia. She hasn’t gone upstairs for weeks, no longer greets us in the morning or when I come home from work, She’ll come up like she wants petted and then pulls away. She paces and pants and cries at night. In the last week she has fouled in the house just a short time after being let out which she has never done before. Oh and she licks everything..the couch, our clothes, the fridge door, the wall in the corner she gets stuck in. She eats but doesn’t have the same enjoyment and won’t play anymore. Her wee personality is gone and she doesn’t show pleasure or enthusiasm at anything. My heart is breaking but I know it’s time to let her go. Just a short 4 weeks ago she would ‘help’ me garden and play tug. She’s lying sleeping just now, snoring gently the way she does and it’s hard to think she won’t be here this time tomorrow. You would think she is fine but I know she will wake soon and the pacing and crying will start. I’m so thankful for all the joy and love she has given us. I don’t know how I’m going to say good bye, it hurts so much

    • So yesterday my son and I took Keiko to the beach for the last time on the way to the vet. She padded dutifully up and down the beach accepting the treats we gave her. The contrast between her and the other dogs, even the older ones, we met was striking. She didn’t wag her tail or greet people, it was clear she was putting up with it for our sakes. We walked through the park beside the vet, took a last picture of her and James and then went in to say goodbye.
      It was so gentle and painless, literally like she went to sleep, my heart broke again, as I saw the full extent of my son’s love for her. Our vet was an angel, so sensitive and compassionate, I’m so grateful to this wonderful professional lady.
      I had snuggled with Keiko on the couch in the early hours of the morning. She laid her head in the crook of my arm and looked into my eyes. She seemed to be crying and I kissed her and told her I was going to make it better, she licked me and dozed off while I held her and listened to her breathe..
      I thought my heart would be empty and have shed many tears however this morning as I lay in the same place on the same couch without her comforting weight, thinking of the previous morning I felt a ‘thank you’ in my heart and realised it is still full. Full of the memories and love she gave, full of the gratitude I can feel from her for keeping my promise, full of the knowledge that the precious gift of loving her could never leave the space empty. So, it still hurts but she’s entitled to the pain and I embrace it’s bitter-sweetness as proof of our love.

      • We had our 17 year old Yorkshire Terrier put to sleep on Friday 3rd October 2014. She was struggling with high kidney levels, not eating properly for nearly three weeks, wobbling when she walked and trembling a lot of times. I took her to the vets where she didn’t move off her blanket, she just lay there. I stroked her head and paws as she went to sleep. It broke my heart. I feel so guilty in letting her go. Maybe more could have been done ?. I just told the vet that I though she had given up. The hardest decision I have ever made in my life. I kissed her face and said goodbye before I broke my heart and left her. I’m having her cremated and should have her back on Friday 10th October. Goodnight God bless Muffin we will always have you in our hearts and minds. Sleep tight old lady x

  21. Thank you so much for this article as it brought me comfort. We made the very difficult decision to put our 13 year old Golden Retriever down just on Monday. It was the hardest decision and hardest week. Now I am plagued with guilt and worry we did it too soon. She was in pain. She panted most of the day and couldn’t get up off the floor without some assistance or looking so uncomfortable. It was starting to become difficult for me to even watch her because she seemed to be struggling so much at times. Yet, she still got excited to see certain people and was still eating. Last week as she was coming up the stairs to come inside her front legs gave out and she slammed her face on the stairs. That was when I decided we might be getting close. I just have horrible guilt and miss my friend so much.
    Thanks again for this article.

    • I still feel guilt and remorse that we put our Aussie mix to sleep too soon
      and that was in August. She also struggled to get up and sit down and
      sometimes fell over for no apparent reason. She was eating sporadically,
      but no enjoyment. Even though she was almost sixteen, I don’t know that
      she was ready to leave. It just broke my heart to watch her struggle. Now
      I am tormented that I should have waited.
      Thank you for this article, it helped.

  22. Dear Nicola,

    Thank you for being here – it sounds like you’ve been having a great deal of difficulty with your youngest schnauzer. It also sounds like he’s not doing well.

    Nobody can make the decision to put your dog to sleep for you…it’s something you have to decide, because you need to be at peace with your decision. If you make this decision because someone told you to, then you’d later second guess yourself, and even be angry at the person who told you it’s time to put your dog to sleep.

    I think all dog owners should look at their beloved dog’s quality of life. Is your dog happy, pain-free, and able to enjoy his life? Most of the time, we know the answer to this…it’s just that we love our dogs so much, we never want to lose them. The grief of not having them around feels overwhelming. But, we can’t keep our dogs in pain. We have to make the most difficult decision at a time they need us most. That’s sacrificial love: putting our own feelings aside, and doing what’s best for our dogs.

    Is your beloved schnauzer ready to leave this world? Lay your hands on him, take a deep calming breath, and look into his eyes and soul. Is it time for him to go? Let him decide. Remember that dogs don’t fear death; it’s as natural to them as birth. Don’t let your fear get in the way of taking good care of your dog.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, as you make this decision.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  23. Dear Kelly,

    Thank you for being here, and for sharing how Max is doing. Deciding if you should put your dog to sleep is so difficult – and there are no easy answers.

    I think the bottom line is his quality of life. Max’s brave, strong heart could keep beating for months or another year or maybe even longer…but is he comfortable, pain free, and enjoying the things he used to? I don’t think it’s “unfair” to keep him alive because he’s not really enjoying life the way he used to.

    Is Max ready to go? Death is as natural to dogs as birth, as chasing squirrels, as eating yummy dry kibble. Humans fear death because of our grief and loss, but dogs don’t have that same dread. Sometimes we protect our dogs from death, when we should be protecting them from discomfort, pain, and a body that just isn’t up for this world anymore.

    I don’t know if it’s Max’s time to go, but I encourage you to sit with him. Take his lovely head, look into his eyes, and ask him if he’s ready to leave this world. Remember that death brings peace and the end of suffering in an aged body. I believe death is freedom and release, and it’s the final act of love — sacrificial love — that we give our dogs.

    Is Max ready to leave this world, to be free from his body?

    My prayers are with you as you make this decision. May you feel peace and serenity, even though you’ll be pierced by the grief you feel at the thought of life without your beloved dog.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

    • Dear Laurie:

      Thank you so much in your kind worded response. I read these words as I grieve for Max, for I had him put to rest today at 11am. I did just as suggested, I looked deep into his cataract covered eyes and know that he was dealing with the pain and depression for my sake, which made me decide to do for him. My life will never be the same, but I am truly blessed to have had him in my life.

      Sincerely:
      Kelly

      • Dear Kelly,
        I am sorry for the loss of Max!
        I was in the same position as you yesterday as I had to put my golden retriever “Bubbles” to sleep at 1 pm. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and I swear a piece of my heart died with her. We spent 17 years together and were only apart for 4 weeks of those 17 years….it was an incredible journey!
        I do want to say to those that may read this note later…PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE be with your furry companion when it is time to put them to rest. They want you there until the end…it is hard to think about it, but it is the RIGHT THING TO DO!
        From Stan Rawlinson’s The 10 Commandments (from a dog’s perspective) #10: go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I can’t bear to watch” or “let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember, regardless of what you do, I will always love you.
        Again, my sincerest apologizes on the loss of your sweet dog! I know that Max & Bubbles are running around in doggie heaven!

  24. I have three schnauzers and my baby who is 10 was diagnosed with diabetes, Cushings, high Cholestrol and high triglycerides. We are thinking about putting him to sleep because he is so lethargic and lost a lot of weight, peeing pooping and puking in the house. I am up all night with him and exhausted. What do I do?

  25. My Max is 15 1/2 yrs old. Him and I have been through a lot together and I am grateful to have had him for this long. At 11 yrs people called me crazy when I sent him for ACL surgery, stating he was too old, but to me, age wasn’t a factor..he still played, chased squirrels/bunnies and loved to run over the hill to the creek. Surgery a success, after months of recovery, Max continued his run/play times. At age 13, he had a large mass growing on his shoulder we had removed so it didn’t inhibit his ability to walk. This too was a success, mass hasn’t grown back. However, for the past yr, he has been deteriorating, mentally as well as physically. He seems confused sometimes, sleeps a lot, drinks a lot of water, is hard of hearing and sometimes his back leg will give out on him. He has some good days where he will act like a puppy when I come home, though this lasts about 30 sec. I have no doubt he has “life” left in him, but I don’t believe it is “quality life” as he no longer does the “fun things” anymore, including scratch his butt! I am trying to get the courage to call the vet and make an appointment to put him to sleep but I’m scared that I am doing this prematurely and don’t want to be unfair to him. Any opinions will be welcomed.

  26. Five days ago my dog Probie, 8 year old Amstaff Bull Terrier, was diagnosed with Inguinal Mast Cell Tumor. We started her on Kinavet at the time she was diagnosed. It is too early to tell if this drug is helping in anyway, but I am trying to be hopeful. Her initial blood test shows normal counts in every area. I’m also giving her Benadryl to help block the production of histamine and slow the tumor growth. I have also switched her diet to a low carb high fat, since most malignant cells depend on steady glucose availability in the blood for their energy and biomass.

    Probie stills has a healthy appetite, loves to play fetch with the same level of enthusiasm, and as of now does not appear to be in any discomfort.

    I have the best vet. I have been with him for 20 years – four dogs, and a cat. He has been with me through two euthanasia’s. The decision never gets easier, the signs never become any clearer. But with my previous experiences, I believe it is better to be a week too early, than one day too late.

    I am painfully aware that this cancer is terminal and I will be faced with the end of life decision. I just hope and pray I can have a little more time with her. She truly is one of God’s gifts.

  27. Dear Frankie,

    It sounds like your dog isn’t happy, and isn’t enjoying a very good or peaceful life. I believe veterinarians say that if the quality of a dog’s life is low – or if the dog is in pain or highly irritable – then it’s time to say good-bye.

    Do you think your husky is ready to leave this world? Sometimes we need to listen carefully to our dogs, for they know what the next step is. They don’t fear death like we do. Is your beloved dog telling you it’s time for her to rest in peace?

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  28. I have a 13 year old husky we almost lost her once she had a infected uterus and we took care of that now she hardly wants to go outside she having accidents in the house she can’t hardly get around when she wants and she snapping at people she looks miserable half the time and she just layes around what your intake in this

  29. Thank you, Millie, for sharing your thoughts on putting a dog to sleep. We love our dogs so much, we feel terrible about ending their lives…but we don’t realize that death may bring release, freedom, and peace.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  30. Dear Terri,

    Putting your dog to sleep is not a terrible thing to do! It is a final act of love and compassion. Putting your dog to sleep means you love your dog so much you can’t bear to see him in pain anymore. Saying good-bye is a natural act of sacrificial love that shows how much you care about him. You’re willing to let him rest in peace, and not drag him through an unhappy, uncomfortable, even painful life.

    Euthanasia isn’t a punishment or failure on your part. It’s about saying good-bye with dignity and respect, before life gets unbearably difficult or painful. I believe in life after death, and that there is great peace in death. The whole “rest in peace” thing is something I really believe — even for our beloved dogs. I also believe our dogs’ spirits won’t leave us when our dogs leave this earth…and our souls will be reunited with theirs in the future.

    My prayer for you is that you accept your dog’s final days – whether it’s now or several months from now – with peace, serenity, and freedom. I pray you are able to overcome whatever feelings of guilt or anxiety you have, and find somehow healing in this transition. I also pray you hear what your dog is telling you…sometimes our dogs know what they want and what’s best for them. We sometimes just don’t have the courage to hear what they’re telling us. Sometimes they just want to be freed from the pain of this life. My prayer is that you know in your heart that whatever you decide for your dog is the best thing for both of you. Amen.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

    • Hello, reading your comment has helped me with my decision, my 4 legged daughter Bella has Kidney Failure she is only 2 1/2 years old the vet says to young to have this her brother died of the same thing when he was 15 months old. I will miss her terribly, in readying other articles about this disease I came across a poem Rainbow Bridge here it is: I know I will see my baby girl again………..

      When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
      There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
      There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

      All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
      The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

      They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

      You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

      Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

      Author unknown…

  31. Dear Iris,

    I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through with your dog, for how traumatic and painful it was. It sounds so frightening and confusing, and your poor dog suffered. I can’t imagine how upsetting it must have been. It sounds like the veterinarian and staff weren’t caring, kind, or compassionate. They have such an important job, and when they act coldly and even cruelly, we are devastated — and helpless. I have a couple of little dogs, too, and the instinct to protect and love them is so strong. We feel like we let them down when they suffer pain, because they’re so vulnerable and dependent on us.

    I can’t offer advice, but my prayer is that you are able to let your dog’s death go. May you find a way to accept the past – for it can’t be changed. May you forgive yourself for not doing things differently, and may you forgive the veterinarian for not saving your beloved chihuahua-terrier. Acceptance and forgiveness are not easy to grasp and hold…but if you can work towards accepting and forgiving, you will find freedom from the heavy burden of grief and guilt. I pray you are able to find peace with your dog’s life and death, that you learn to remember her with love and joy. Holding on to the anger, frustration, and injustice at how your dog’s life ended won’t help anybody. In fact, it’ll just eat away at you and fill you with more pain than you can handle.

    I wrote http://hopingfor.com/dog/how-to-deal-with-anger-at-the-veterinarian/ to help another reader work through the pain and anger she felt after putting her dog to sleep. It may help you process your feelings, and move towards the peace that I know your beloved dog wants you to have. Dogs are naturally forgiving, compassionate, and accepting of life and death.

    May you feel the strength, energy, and love of your dog’s spirit and soul. May you find freedom from the burdens of guilt and pain, so your dog can rest in peace and so you can remember her with serenity and acceptance.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  32. I’m considering putting my dog down. He’s 13 years old. He’s lost his hearing and his eyesight is bad.
    I work , when he was younger, I could leave him alone for hours. He was able to control his toileting. I can no longer keep him caged for hours. I have to barricade him in the kitchen. And , when I come home , it’s such a mess. He also pees and poops in the house while I’m there. This has been going on for sometime now and I’m loosing my patience. It keeps me in such a nervous state. I feel that my life is being controlled by the dog to some extent. I guess I’m just looking for some reassurance that I’m not a terrible person, if I do make the decision to put him down.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Teri, My adult daughter’s dog has been with us for 15 years. She, too, is quite deaf and has poor eyesight. She is taking meds for arthritic pain. She walks, but painfully. She sometimes falls on our smooth floors and needs help to get up. She often needs a boost to get back in the house after going outside. She no longer runs around the yard or is interested in playing. She is beginning to loose weight and is often restless–I think because she is so uncomfortable.We have found that we can no longer go away overnight and have someone else come and care for her or board her. I think it is probably time, but I am not sure my daughter is ready. Don’t feel guilty–you are NOT a terrible person–not if you are considering your dog’s quality of life and whether he can any longer enjoy his favorite activities. Not being able to control his body functions is stressful for him , too.

  33. Our beloved chihuahua-terrier was put to sleep Aug.30 and I am suffering extreme guilt. Only a week before, she became severely ill, first with panting in the early morning, followed two days later with severe vomiting and loss of appetite. We’d seen our vet at the first signs, but he didn’t ask to see her when the symptoms were worse. He sent us to the vet hospital for an ultrasound two days later, but by then she had tremors. The vet did not bother to talk to me, and when I asked the tech what the tremors meant, she said she didn’t know. Later the vet called about the ultrasound, saying our dear dog had pacreatitis. She then said she suspected brain tumor or stroke and giggled that a MRI would cost thousands. She shrugged off the fact that the poor dog had not eaten for four days. Finally, we brought her in because she was staggering, had violent tremors of the head, neck, and limbs, and was becoming glassy-eyed. I deeply regret not consulting with our regular vet, but he had pretty much sent our case to these incompetents. The next doctor blamed us for her condition, although she’d been in the hospital all day when she had the ultrasound. No one bothered to tell us how susceptible to hypoglycemia small dogs are. Her symptoms were consistent with that, but they all latched on to the one doctor saying “brain tumor” because of the trembling. Twelve hours of glucose IV had stopped the tremors, but directly contrary to this evidence, the doctor insisted there was no improvement. She, like all the other cold, condescending vets here, gave us nothing but bad news. This tough little dog had survived a week of starvation and was still able to walk and drink water, but the doctor dismissed any positive sign. She did advise that IV therapy usually is needed for three days, so we planned to see what the outcome would be. We came to visit and I was told that the vet in charge of her case would be there. She had not bothered to return my call and they said she was unavailable again. We went to visit our baby and were just leaving when we were accosted by the doctor on duty. She stated flatly, “I don’t know much about the case, but your dog will never recover or ever eat again. She has an incurable brain lesion.” No evidence, no proof, just spouting the party line. I asked how this was possible in one week, and she said it was very fast growing. She then asked us if we would like to take the dog home to say good-bye, but she said she might die outside the hospital. We were taken to a room to say good-bye, but when our precious dog was brought to us, she fell asleep peacefully in our arms. (We had just seen her in the ICU with bleary eyes and drooling.) I suggested to my daughter that maybe she could make it, but the poor girl had been influenced by the vet and said we should relieve her suffering. The guilt and regret come from not insisting that someone give a damn and treat her suffering, then from allowing an unqualified person to push us into euthanasia. It should be our carefully considered decision, not hers. I keep wondering what the outcome would have been if we had given her the full course of fluid therapy. Would she have rallied, recovered her appetite, and been with us for months more or maybe a year? She did have dementia but she had good moments. She also had molars that needed to come out but it would take a while before she was stable enough to go through that. There was no heart disease, no liver disease, blood pressure normal, coat still silky, no cancer. The pancreatitis had caused elevated BUN, but they didn’t give me the final number. I can’t understand why these doctors were so quick to give up when no one had even bothered to get a complete history. If only we told the last doctor that we were going to get a second opinion! Thank you for any advice you can offer.

  34. Dear Patti,

    As hard as it is to say this, it sounds like the right decision is to put Timmy to sleep. Your dog is not happy — he WAS happy because you loved him and gave him a wonderful life! — but now he is old. It’s time for him to find peace and freedom. He is suffering in his little doggy body, because he knows he should not be messing in the house but he can’t help it. He can sense your frustration and anger….and he knows you are grieved at the thought of putting him to sleep.

    You took such good care of Timmy for his whole life…and the greatest act of love and compassion might be to take care of him as he leaves this world. Putting a dog to sleep is a huge sacrifice. It’s painful and sad…and it might be the most loving last thing we do for our aged, ailing dogs.

    My prayer is that you find peace in your heart with whatever decision you make – whether you decide to put him down soon, or whether you decide to wait a bit longer. I also pray that you lay your hands on Timmy, and get a sense of what he wants you to do with his life. Is he ready to go? Open your heart, soul, and mind, and listen to his answer. If you sense he is done with this life and his little doggy body, I pray you are able to move forward with love and peace. Amen.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  35. I have had my Yorkie, Timmy, for over 14yrs now, 7 yrs ago we found he was diabetic, I have been giving him insulin 2x’s a day for more then 7 yrs. now. Overall, he and I have dealt well with this condition, however, along with diabetes blindness follows, and now his hearing is just not what it use to be. My Timmy LOVES to eat but his obsession is as much as right after he eats he wines for more food especially when he knows your making something or another family member is eating.. He has been urinating frequently in the house, and pooping everywhere. I do know its time but only because my husband says its time, and he is getting angry about it lately, but he will not do the duty of putting him down, he is leaving it all up to me to do the chore. I have put down all our animals in my life time, but this one seems to be the hardest because he has lived the longest of all my animals. My plan is to take him to MacDonalds and give him as many cheese burgers & French fries he can eat, and then make his last car ride before he goes. I know its the best thing, however, he still wags his tail, and wines and cries when I walk in the door as he always has, but so much mess over nite and all day long its beginning to smell like a kennel at times. I don’t know if my decision is because its what my husband wants or because it truly is time to put him down..I know he is not in pain but at time I wonder if his mind is in take.. At times I find myself getting extremely angry at Timmy, and hit him when he poops or pees in the house or wines to obsession over a bite to eat, and that I know I should NEVER do.. but I get so upset cause I m picking up poop and pee all day long or yelling at him to shut up!. he walks into walls and falls down our deck I have to watch him closely so he doesn’t get hurt. Its becoming a real chore to keep him safe. DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO?????????????? IS IT TIME????? )8

  36. It hurts so much now. My cat is very sick. His kidneys are failing . He’s 14 yrs old & I know I have to let him go, but damn, my tears are falling.

    • It only gets worse, Kidney disease it doesn’t get better. sorry to say. It may be time to do the right thing for your pet. but only you can say yes its time or not its not. but as I said Kidney disease doesn’t get better it only get worse, in time, and usually a short amount of time. May god watch over your cat and give you guidance.

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