6 Signs It’s Time to Put a Dog to Sleep – A Vet’s Guidelines

Here’s what you 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.

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

Animals and the Afterlife

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. Here’s 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.

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.

6 Signs It’s Time to Put a 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:

  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. 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.

Are you anxious about putting your dog to sleep? Read How to Prepare for the Loss of a Pet.

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.

putting a dog to sleep

“Putting a Dog Down” image by Laurie

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.

Putting a Dog to Sleep - A Veterinarian's Guidelines

“Putting a Dog Down” Cremation Urn

Odyssey Cremation Urn (pictured) for your dog’s ashes, so you have a beautiful memory of your dog’s life

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.

Surviving the Death of a Dog 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. A final act of love.

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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296 Responses

  1. lauren rifenburgh says:

    Im facing loss of 3 of our 7 dogs. One is a shi tzu who is 14 & almost died last week but was saved with ER visit, oxygen tent, antibiotics, etc. He is not wanting to do much now and I hate thought of just finding his body one morning. My other 2 are a spanish mastiff and st. bernard. both close to 8 yrs. they fought and mastiff lost more. he has many staples but worst is his back legs give out about 75% of the time now and he cant use stairs (he fell down them) and barely gets around now. hangs his head and I feel so bad for him as he lays there. not himself. St bernard got bites to his chest that caused huge “water balloon” and has 2 shunts. first recheck they kept them in cuz he still has much to drain. he not the same either. but at least he still gets excited by walks and car rides. Any one of these is HARD. I can barely type this thinking about it. But I need to know what to do. my kids are affected too. any advice greatly appreciated. thank you.

  2. Laurie says:

    Dear Grace,

    I’m sorry that you have to make this decision, because it sure isn’t an easy one. Nobody can tell you what the right decision is – you have to know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing. Some dog lovers would say putting a dog to sleep is the most loving thing you can do, if the dog is too old or sick to keep going. Others say we should keep them alive as long as possible, regardless of the financial or physical cost.

    I lean towards putting dogs to sleep when they need alot of medical attention. I don’t think it’s pleasant for them to undergo surgeries and other medical procedures – especially when they’re old dogs. I know many dog lovers disagree with me…..and I guess that’s the hazard of inviting opinions on when it’s time to put a dog to sleep! There is no one “right answer”, or right way of doing things.

    I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful. You are showing these old dogs so much love and kindness towards the end of their lives…I know they’re grateful and happy to be with you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to stay alive forever, chug chug chugging along.

    I wish you all the best as you make this decision. I know you’ll do the right thing – whether it’s saying good-bye before things get worse, or going forward with the medical procedures. You’ll know in your heart what the best thing is.


  3. Grace C says:

    I am hoping someone can help with my decision. I came across 2 sweet old dogs at a garage sale. The owner has moved out the country and left friends in charge of all her belongings including these dogs. They looked fragile and weak and had yellow nasal discharge and what looked like infected gums and decayed teeth. I decided to take them to a local vet- who informed me that their teeth have not been cared for and the results was years of plaque build up and now infection. After blood work- their organ functions surprisingly came back normally abnormal for their age- but no sighns of failure. He suggested putting them down but also says that there is an option of oral surgery which will fix the core problems of their current illnesses. I discovered that One is 19 and the other is 16 yrs old. Ive been giving them oral antibiotics and feeding them regularly keeping them sheltered in my own home. They had been kept the house where no one lived anymore, the dog owner’s would feed them in the morning, leave them in the yard during the day and then bring them back in to sleep in a closed in area b/c they are have never been house broken. The owner is angry that brought them to the vet- saying she wishes them to die naturally and be given to a home that houses Alzhiemer’s patients. Well this place has refused them since they are unable to accomodate these dogs high needs. I’ve been told that these dog’s are suffering b/c their person has abondonded them…however, they seem to warm up quickly to anyone how holds them, they wag and have super appetites despite all that has happened to them. The most difficult thing against them in being adoptable besides their age is that they are not potty trained. Is it ethical to put these dogs down b/c no one has the time for them? Resuce programs Ive called say they do not want to invest in older dogs? I have 2 dogs already and honestly it is a lot of work to care for them, expensive pee pee pads, vet bills out of my own pocket already. The dental work alone will cost $$$ and w/o gauarantee they will survive the anesthesia given their cardiac and kidney age. I know I cannot keep them, but also saddened that they may be at risk for further abuse b/c they are not potty trained. The owner may want me to bring them back to that empty house where feeding and human touch is inconisitent… I am am given permission to take over them… thoughts have came up that I could care for them for “a time” to give them sweet memories ….. before putting them to sleep? But how much time? And I am already struggling with the given estimate for the oral surgeries for them. Very hard to think of making that decision when I still see those tails wag, big appetites. Any advice, words… ideas please for helping me decide the faith for thesed dogs?

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi Grace C.
      I wanted to say that first of all, THANK YOU for taking those dogs out of that environment. I will never understand why people do this…mistreat animals.
      I think ALL decisions that are now made about those dogs are now YOURS. They don’t get any voice in the matter. When they gave them to you at that garage sale and you took them in…they became yours.
      I am glad that you took them to the vet and now have them on antibiotics. It is probably helping them feel better.
      As for the teeth work that is needed, I don’t know where you are, but there are lower cost ASPCAs here and there that will do things like shots, neuter, teeth, etc.
      But in all honesty, if you can’t take care of them and no one else can either…what is the choice? I guess I would put them down before I would abandon them once again in their life. They don’t deserve to be left alone again.
      Harsh truth, yes. A 19 year old dog and a 16 year old dog won’t have much of a chance anywhere else.
      I think it’s awful that the other owner didn’t take care of those dogs in the first place, humanely. Geeze…the former owner wants them to die naturally? WTH!!??!!
      Sorry…this one just upsets me, and I usually don’t get this way.
      I am so very proud of you and others that try so very hard to do the right thing…feeding, vetting and loving on them. At least you tried, versus those who don’t.
      I am sure you will make the right decision for them. Just please, don’t give them back to those awful people who had them before.
      Thanks for all you do.

  4. Laurie says:

    Dear Linda,

    It’s such a difficult decision – I’m sorry you have to think about putting Brandy to sleep. I think it’d be good see what the veterinarian says. Sometimes they can give us information that helps. I have heard of “doggie diapers”, but part of me thinks that’s just prolonging the inevitable. And, I’m sure it’s not fun for anyone to be in a diaper. It must be confusing for the dogs, and maybe even potentially unhealthy. Infections and such, with urine in contact with skin that could have a cut or something. I don’t know much about it, obviously!

    I have nothing to advise, I just wanted to say my heart is with you as you think about putting your dog to sleep. I hope you can release all guilt if you decide to say good-bye, and that you let Brandy rest in peace. And if you decide to keep trying, I wish you well! Come back anytime, let me know how you are.


  5. Linda says:

    I have a 17 year old lab mix. Her name is Brandy. i have had her for about 4 years. She belonged to my brother but when he was no longer able to keep her i took her in. She has recently started having accidents and urinating on her self. Some days are good and we have no accidents but outher days she completely wets her bed. It’s usually happens while she’s sleeping. She is also starting to move around a lot slower and some days she won’t eat her food but will partake in one of her doggie treats. She still wags her tail and gets little short bursts of energy but for the most part she does a lot of sleeping. I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time to put her down. I have what I call her “old lady” check up coming up the end of this week and will talk to the vet again about what she thinks I should do. I’m just looking for another opinion … I know putting her to sleep is something I’m going to have to deal with in the near future but I don’t want to do it to soon or wait to long. Any input would be great.

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi. A 17 year old lab is quite the wonderful thing. Thank you for taking her in and giving her a home with you.

      I have just a few suggestions about the issues you wrote about.

      *You could give the dog Dasuquin…which is a mix of Glucosamine Hydrochloride and Chondroitin. I got mine from my VET and he gave me the brand from Nutramax. It is liver flavored chewables. It takes a couple weeks to see a difference in the movement of the dog, but it has helped my dogs move easier.

      *Rimadyl is a good pain reliever for dogs. Chewable. Prescription from the VET.

      *A tablespoon of Coconut Oil each day helps keep things moving.

      *There are drugs from the VET that helps with the incontinence.

      *Doggy diapers when she sleeps? Or put a doggy pee pad under her when she sleeps?

      If all those options works, great…but if not….that is fine as well. Only you know (and you VET) if the dog is in so much pain and unhappy that perhaps the next step is to seek peace for the dog.

      I wish you all the best. And thank you again for giving this doggy a home for it’s retirement years. You did great!

      • Linda says:

        Thank you for the advice!!! I use the doggie pee pee pads and change her bed sheets daily … I know I wouldn’t want to sleep in wet sheets so I’m sure she doesn’t want to either!!! The vet has given her a few different things for her movement but I didn’t see any difference. She’s just old and slow!! Every time I take her to the vet they are always shocked that’ she is still alive and doing as well as she is. I know I don’t have a lot more time with her and soon I’m sure I will have to make a decision but for now as longs as she’s happy I’m happy!! She still gets super excited to see me when I get home from work and she and my 10 year old Chesapeake Bay Reteriver still play… It’s just for super short periods of time!!! Like all old people .. She has her good days and her not so good days. As long as the good days out number the bad I’m gonna let her keep hanging out with us!!! Thanks again!!!!!

  6. Laurie says:

    Dear Michelle,

    It sounds like you and your son are going through such a difficult, sad time right now. I’m sorry your poor dog is not a good candidate for surgery, and that it seems like the consensus is that he should be put to sleep. It’s heartbreaking, especially since your son and you have both experienced a great loss.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you’re able to let your dog rest in peace, and that you can remember him with love and joy after he’s gone.

    In sympathy,

    • michelle says:

      Dear Laurie,
      This morning he got up and went out to the toilet and he is barking and wagging his tail I know the pain killers are helping him. I was ready last night to euthanize him today but now I don’t want too. I rang the vet and she said it won’t get better (which I know.) I want to take it a day at a time …Is this wrong of me? ….michelle

      • Laurie says:

        Dear Michelle,

        You love your dog so much that you’d do anything for him – and that’s not wrong! You want him to live as long as possible, because imagining life without him is terrible. That’s not wrong, to want him to live so you can spend as much time with him as possible.

        I can’t tell you when it’s time to put your beloved dog to sleep – nobody can do that, because nobody knows how long he’ll live or how much pain he’s in (if any!).

        The bottom line is your reason for making a decision to keep him alive longer. Is it for him, or for you? Sometimes we make decisions based on the extreme love we feel, but that love blinds us to the pain our dogs are in if they’re struggling with an illness. I guess my question for you is, “Are you keeping your dog alive because he is healed and his quality of life is good again, or because you can’t bear the thought of letting him go?”

        The veterinarian I interviewed for this article about putting a dog to sleep said, “If you can spare your dog even one day of pain and suffering, then you must.”

        It’s not my intention to push you towards putting your dog to sleep. I have two dogs I love so much, and I can’t imagine the day that I have to say good-bye! It’s terrible. But sometimes love involves sacrifice…and sometimes that sacrifice is the heartbreak we feel when we release our beloved animals and let them pass on in peace.

        My heart breaks for you, whether you say good-bye to your beloved dog today or in a month. No matter when it happens, it’ll hurt – and I am sending you my sympathies.

        Come back, update me anytime.

        Warm hugs,

  7. Laurie says:

    Dear Alice,

    It sounds like your poor little terrier is on his last legs, and it’s time for you to let him rest in peace. I hope you’re able to see your way clear to making the decision that is best for him. I know that putting a dog to sleep is one of the most difficult decisions we could ever make…it’s heartbreaking. My heart and soul goes out to you, and I pray that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

    Listen to Rosemary’s kind and wise words – I couldn’t have said it better myself. You are not alone. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    In sympathy,

  8. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. It has been a week today since I held her in my arms whilst she went to sleep. I have never had to make such a hard decision in my life. This week has been so hard it has made me very poorly even though everyone keeps telling me it was the right thing I did.

    I hope in time I will find peace with what I did I miss her with all my heart. Thank you for your lovely reply it is so nice to hear xxx

  9. michelle says:

    My baby Beau is 14 and 3 months. I had his cruciate ligament fixed on his back right leg 4 years ago and yesterday he did his back left. I took him to the vet this morning and they said they can operate but he is not a good candidate for surgery. As he has a limp on his right leg and arthritis also he would be leaning heavily on his right leg which would be painful. His recovery would be up to 6 weeks and I will have to be with him at all times. Everyone says I should put him to sleep. I agree in my head but my heart hurts no end. I know euthanasia is the right choice but it doesn’t make it any easier. I will miss him so much and so will my son who lost his father 2 weeks ago and my other dog Chico who is 3. This is the first time I have had to make this decision all my other pets have passed on there own. He seems fine otherwise eating and drinking as normal. Why is life so hard sometimes?

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi Michele,
      First off, the words that jumped out at me was that your son’s father has just passed on very recently. I am so sorry for your family’s loss.
      And now dealing with a dog that is in the age and shape that you have described…is heartbreaking in and of itself.
      Just like Laurie has said, she can’t tell you “when” to put an animal to rest, and nor will I. But, if your pet is in pain, can’t get better, and probably hurting more than you can tell…well, it might be what you need to do.
      It’s beyond hard and sad to do this for your pet…I know. Been there. Questioning when and why will make you crazy with quilt. I know. Been there with that as well. In the end though, peace is where things need to go.
      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers for your family.

  10. Alice Davis says:

    I have little rat terrier 15 yrs old. He has had diareah for a week. Can’t seem to control it. He doesn’t even move he just goes. He has arthritis and several of his teeth have fallen out. All he does is lay and sleep. He is eating and drinking if I bring it to him. It hurts me to watch him walk he just looks so miserable. I live on a fixed income with limited resources so expensive vet bills are not an option. I have been hoping it would get better or mr peanut would go on his own, I just can. Not seem to make a decision . I am crying as I am writing this it is very hard to know what to do.

    • Rosemary says:

      Dear Alice, I am so sorry for what you and your little pet have had to go through. I can see by the way you have described everything, that you know in your heart that you have to let you pet have final peace.
      I am so glad that he had such a good LONG life with you but now he needs you for one more thing…to rest.
      I had always hoped that when MY pets had gotten so sick and old that they would go to sleep forever on their own, but they never did. It seemed like they would just hang on because they wanted to please me. It isn’t about ME, it’s about the pet and their pain and suffering. But, in the end…I just knew that I needed to do what was best for my pet, and give it rest. It’s always…ALWAYS hard to do…but when done with love…well…love reigns.

  11. Laurie says:

    Dear Amanda,

    It sounds like putting your beloved dog to sleep was the right decision, because you prevented her from experiencing more pain!

    When you look back on your decision to say good-bye, your grief is causing you to second-guess your decision. But you have to remember that you made the decision to put her to sleep because it seemed like the best thing at the time. And, I believe it WAS the right decision, for all the reasons the veterinarian shared.

    But the grief is overwhelming. I’m sorry. I wish I had the right words to take the pain away. You’re not alone in this grief, and I believe your spirit will be reunited with Puddin’s spirit one day! She is watching over you, loving you, and feeling so happy and grateful that she was part of your life. She wants you to remember her with peace and joy, not pain and guilt.

    May you remember your dog with peace and joy, because that is what she would have wanted.

    In sympathy,

  12. amanda says:

    Hi I wanted to write on here because I am having a very difficult time with what i have done, Friday just passed we had 2 hours to decide whether we start treatment for our old dog or put her to sleep.

    Puddin our bichon frise was 13 years old i had, had her since i was 14. 2 years ago puddin had to have a very horrible operation on her groin to remove a very large cancer it was a scary time for us but we decided if it came back we would let her live her life to the full. Puddin was never spayed which they said it might be the cause of what had happened but at the time we still couldnt do it as she was in heat. we decided to not let her go through more pain. Puddin’s lumps did not come back.

    3 weeks ago puddin started to drink lots and lots of water and eat sooo much food and she was messing in the house and flooding the house. i thought that the cancer had come back and it was nearly time to say good bye. At this point she was still happy in her self playing with my new arrival who she loved dearly but then by this week we noticed she had lost lots of weight to the point i could see her bones. this scared me so we took her to get tested. the bloods showed that his has way too much sugar in her system and she was getting very poorly with it as she was sick twice and her eyes was going a funny colour. the vet said we can start her on treatment but she would have to stay in the hospital and it might not work because of her age. if it did work it would cost us alot of money a week and we dont have that money at all or insurance. the vet had advised us if we couldnt go through with the trial we would have to say good bye as she was getting worse. I could not believe that we was going to have to make a desision with in 2 hours. pudding was still happy and walking and eating but she was old as her legs was getting weak. we decided to say goodbye to her and let her drift off to sleep. i am absolutely devistated to the point i am sick. i feel so much quilt that we could of saved her even though the vets said her vains wasnt very good either. i am really struggling x

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi Amanda,
      I am so sorry for your loss. I truly understand.
      Looks like you provided a great home to your dog and there was plenty of love to go around, all those years.
      I am sure that your Vet was trying to also keep your pet from feeling sick as well. A lot of times, a pet doesn’t LOOK sick or ACT sick, but they ARE sick. It’s hard to tell at times.
      You did a final loving thing for her, to give her peace.
      Try not to feel the guilt about it. Try to remember the good things about her.

  13. Louise says:

    Did I do the right thing? My Peganise Sokkies (17yrs) had to be put down, the last few days she struggled to eat, can not swallow or chew food, her breathing was not normal, could not breath trough her nose, could not walk and exstreame weight loss, she weighed 2.3 the day I put her down… would she had a chance if I put her on a drip?

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi Louise,
      First off, my sympathy for your loss at this time.
      Golly…your dog was 17 years old. I am always amazed at what love and kindness can do for some animals…and clearly, YOU gave lots of both love and kindness to your dear friend for her to live so long.
      I truly believe that you did all you could do for her and your final gift to her was to give her peace.
      It’s never easy, this I know all too well.
      Because of love, we grieve. We grieve because we love.

      • Louise says:

        Thank you Rosemary, it is almost 3 weeks and I miss Sokkies so much, in the evening when I have to give the other dogs food, this is the time I miss her the most and to lock the doors at night and she is no longer with me…it is SO hard. Thank you and the other people who started this site, it helps to talk about it…a little. THANK YOU

  14. Laurie says:

    Dear Cheril,

    Thank you for being here. It’s wonderful to hear that you had 16 years with Harley! I have a friend whose dog is called Harley, as well. He’s a border collie who loves to herd everyone around.

    I hope that if you have to make the decision to put him to sleep, that you feel comfortable with it. I wish you peace as you think about what’s best for Harley. I totally understand that losing a pet is somehow more traumatic than losing a loved one…I’ve lost several family members and it hurts, but losing my dogs and cats is a different type of pain. Our pets are so vulnerable, unconditionally loving, dependent, and easy to be with…saying good-bye is devastating.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


  15. Laurie says:

    Dear Ms Eddy,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, as you put your dog to sleep today. I hope all goes well, and Bailey is resting in peace after a smooth transition from this world to the next one.

    In sympathy,

  16. Laurie says:

    Dear Alison,

    I agree with everything Rosemary said, especially the “quality of life” part. I believe resting in peace is preferable to suffering through surgeries, medications, and veterinarian visits. At some point, the pain and discomfort isn’t worth it, for either our beloved dogs or us.

    But of course this is your decision, and you have to do what you’re most comfortable with. I love animals so much, and I can’t stand to see them in pain. I’d rather say good-bye too early than too late, because it breaks my heart to see dogs hurting. My thing is that I can’t tell how much they’re hurting, because animals are pretty good at hiding their pain.

    Whatever you decide, I’m sending you my thoughts and prayers. Let us know how you’re doing.


    • Alison says:

      Thank you for your replies. I still have not gone through with it. 2 cancelled appointments. UGH. She remains the same with a blown knee and I know I’ll have to make the call soon as the 3 flights of stairs are just horrible for us both. I can see how much pain she is in when I’m home yet she still is so lovable and seemingly happy. Except I can’t let her run or play or be a dog :-( This has been so hard and I’m really not sure if prolonging this for her or me. To make it worse her vet is making me feel even worse. They told me “I’m better off trying to re-home put down a perfectly healthy dog” She has never been healthy and I do my best but I do not see a good outcome doing this surgery and I also know most of the time the other knee goes soon after and I have to consider my financial situation. I never thought it would be this hard but I truly feel like she’s trusting me and I’m failing her.

  17. Laurie says:

    Dear Tes,

    I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, and my heart goes out to you for this tough decision you have to make about putting your English Springer Spaniel to sleep. It’s a very difficult decision, and it sometimes helps to talk it through with a veterinarian.

    Everyone seems to have a different perspective of when to put a dog down – and I believe there is no one “right” answer. Personally, I’m less inclined to put my pets through repeated surgeries, medications, vet visits, etc, especially if they’re getting old. But sometimes those operations and medications turn out to be good for our animals, and worthwhile. It’s such an individual decision, and nobody can tell you what the right thing for your dog – and your family – is.

    I think if my dog was aggressive towards humans, I’d lean towards saying good-bye. Sometimes aggression is a sign of pain – and it’s definitely not good to live in pain! Nor is it good to live in fear of what our animals might do to our family.

    What does your husband think about putting your dog to sleep?

  18. Ms. Eddy says:

    Our Shiba, Bailey, turned 15 on Tuesday. For months we have watched him go steadily downhill.
    A few months ago we thought he had a stroke; he couldn’t stand or walk.
    I cried the entire night, thinking thatvwe would have to out him down. When we took him to the vet we found out that he had severe inflammation in his inner ear; the prescription was to give him Bonine. It was like a miracle cure; as long as he had his pill first thing in the morning he could function.
    He is almost completely blind and deaf, and spends all of his waking hours pacing frantically and going in circles until he falls over. He gets stuck in every corner in the house and yard.
    He has trouble walking on the tile and wood floors so I have covered almost everywhere with non-slip area rugs.
    Sometimes he can manage the stairs but most times I have to pick him up and carry him up and down.
    He howls day and night; the vet said before that it seemed to be anxiety, but now it seems like more than that.
    He hasn’t been sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time, and it seems like it is getting harder for him to relieve himself.
    He has lost so much weight; I can feel his spine when I pet him.
    I kept thinking that I was being good to him by taking care of him for so long; going without sleep for months and constantly cleaning up after him. I thought it was like taking care of an elderly parent; that you don’t put down your dog just because he is old and takes up most of your time and energy.
    But last night, even with the sedative I gave him, he wouldn’t settle. He paced non-stop all night, howling even though we were right with him, petting him and talking with him. I had to wake my husband up to spell me about 4:00 am because I was so exhausted.
    His howling kept me from going to sleep so I got back up and took him outside, thinking that maybe he just had to go. All he did was circle the yard, unsteadily, because it is getting harder and harder for him to walk; he was whining the whole time.
    When I brought him back in, the howling started again. He seemed so frantic and confused. I gave him his Bonine and another 1\2 sedative. He finally fell asleep, but he is whimpering in his sleep.
    And now I know; it’s time.
    Not because I am tired, but because he is.
    And now I feel like I have been selfish for keeping him here as long as I have.
    I kept hoping that when his time came, he would just go to sleep and not wake up. I didn’t want to have to make that decision for him.
    I have been afraid of dogs for most of my life; Bailey is the first dog I have ever emotionally bonded with, so my decision has not come easy.
    When the vet opens this morning, I will ask my daughter (who was Bailey’s original owner), to go with me to help Bailey go to sleep one last time.

    • Rosemary says:

      Ms Eddy and family,
      I am so sorry. I know it’s all very hard to muddle through. Your Bailey knew you loved him…dogs love, I KNOW this.
      You did everything you could have possibly done, and now you gave the ultimate gift….peace.
      My hugs, thoughts and prayers are with you.

  19. Alison says:

    I’m struggling with guilt on whether to put my dog to sleep. First because she is only 6. She is a Rottie/Lab mix that has had one issue after another since I adopted her at 11 months old. First she had such severe allergies to everything that she would scratch herself raw. We managed to get them under great control. She also has severe separation anxiety which has gotten slightly better, I was bringing her to a doggie day care while I worked a few days a week. She has Pancreatitis and/or gastroentrinitis which has required trips to animal ER when she has flare ups she also has arthritis in her hips. I give her Glucosamine for that. Last week she tore her ACL or CCL the dog version. She is in so much pain. I’m reluctant to do surgery since we live on the 3rd floor (this is the ONLY place I could find that would take a dog when I was forced to relocate). I have quite literally spent several thousand $$ for her variety of issues over the years and I’m not complaining. I just can’t stand to see her in pain. Also not being able to play, go to day care and being home alone is causing her so much stress and anxiety. BUT she’s so young. I’m wrecked with guilt and sadness over even considering but I don’t know what more I can do?

    • Rosemary says:

      Dear Alison,
      I am so sorry that your dog has had so many health issues. It’s always a puzzle to me as to ‘why’ some dogs (and people too) have struggles like this.
      It seems to me that you are a very loving pet momma…thank you!
      I get on here (on this forum) because I care about pets and their wonderful families. I see that you have asked some questions, so, here is just my opinion.
      Besides all the other issues that your dog has, NOW having a torn ACL or CCL is a BIG DEAL for a dog to heal from. I know that surgery can help in limited situations, but the dog is in constant pain and limited mobility forever more after it. Most dogs that I have known that have the surgery do not do well afterwards. It seems to me that dogs go through a lot of pain and you as the owner of the dog go through a lot of pain and money.
      I guess I wouldn’t do the surgery and I would help the dog rest eternally. Quality of life just isn’t there.
      But…I want you to know that this is just MY opinion…and you need to do whatever you need to do. I RESPECT you in whatever decision you make. You do whatever you need to do because of love. Been there, done that. It’s heart breaking, either way.
      Hugs to you.

  20. Laurie says:

    Dear Patty,

    Tyler sounds like an amazing dog, and you and he have an incredible bond! We don’t connect with people the way we connect with our dogs, do we? We love our dogs so much – they’re part of our heart, soul, and spirit.

    I offer you my sympathy and prayers as you prepare to say good-bye to Tylerman. It’s heartbreaking, but it sounds like you know you’re doing the right thing for him. He needs to shed his slow, painful earthly body and pass over into lightness, freedom, and eternity. And I believe he needs you to be at peace with this decision, and let him go with joy and sadness.

    You will meet Tyler again someday. His spirit will not be extinguished! His physical body will be gone, but his the energy of his soul will always be with you.

    My heart breaks for you, and I will keep you in my prayers as you grieve your loss. It is a huge loss, and I encourage you to honor your pain and sadness. Say good-bye to Tyler, and allow yourself time to grieve. His death is just as traumatic as losing a loved one, and I hope you’re able to give yourself time and space to express your loss — and to remember how awesome it was to have Tyler in your life.

    Come back anytime and let me know how you’re doing.

    In sympathy,

    • Tes says:

      Hi. I’m just searching sites this afternoon in the hopes of getting help and support for a tough decision we are having to make. I hope this works, we need it. We have a 9-year old English Springer Spaniel, who has had two surgeries on her right knee, and has now blown out her left knee; she has a disc separation at L7-S1 from injury several years ago; she is aggressive toward my husband, having actually bitten him in the face requiring 12 stitches; we can’t have our 5-year old and 13-year old goddaughters to our home because of her aggression….so, we are praying about letting her go before putting her through another knee surgery. Are we being selfish? We’re trying to approach this from the depth of our love for her, releasing her from the demons of aggression; and saving her the pain and misery of another surgery. Can anyone help me? Thank you.

      • Rosemary says:

        Hi Tes.
        I am sorry that your dog is going through all of this. I am sorry that your family has to experience this. I truly am. Been there, done that.

        At the VERY TOP of this webpage are something helpful to think about…

        “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.”

        In the way you describe your dog, he is in a lot of pain and is lashing out. He is doing that because of the pain and the anxiety that he is experiencing. I don’t feel that he is safe to have around your family either. I do not feel that you are being selfish.

        If it was me, I would help my dog by ending his suffering. It will hurt you terribly to do so, but love is the “why” you are doing it. Give you and your family time to “say goodbye” to your dog. I find that it helps to have that one special day or afternoon with your dog where you talk to him, give lots of treats, love him as much as he will accept at the time.

        You asked for opinions…and this is mine. In the last part of your letter for help, you pretty much said already what you feel you need to do. I will keep you and your family in my prayers at this time. (hugs)

  21. Shiv Sharma says:

    Planning to put a dog down is one of the most difficult decisions to take. It is tough….

    • Patty says:

      Our dog Tyler is 19 1/2 years old. I’ve had him since he was 7 (a rescue pup). The story is supposed to be that I rescued him, but in reality he rescued me. You see, I had just gotten a divorce after 25 years of marriage and Tyler came into my life and gave me a reason to live every day. Tyler has many health problems of course at his old age, we give him a handful of pills each day. We actually went to the Vet’s office yesterday to discuss putting Tyler down, and all we ended up doing is arguing (my husband and I) over what is right. For months now, Tyler does nothing but pace, turns circles, he is blind and deaf. The Vet said that he may know we are still around. It’s such a hard decision to make. I think I am ready, then I just can’t do it. I run the scenario through my head over and over. It has been months since I have slept through a night because Tyler is up all throughout each night and it is a matter of hurry up and get him out the door. He walks very, very slow. I know in my heart he is tired. I also know he has lived a great life since the day he came home with me. We were kind of like what you see in the movie, I took him around and showed him my house and told him this was not his room or area, what he was not to get on and what was okay to get on. I bought him a bed and put it at the foot of my bed. Each morning I woke up and he was right beside me and to this day he remains there each night. He has never been put in a kennel, he has travelled with me everywhere. He continues to eat and drink, but that is all he does, besides the pacing and turning circles. It breaks my heart and I sit here day and night watching him deteriorate this way. I get it in my head that next Saturday will be the day, but then as I said before, I just can’t do it. The guilt is killing me. The not knowing and worrying about something happening to him while we are at work is killing me and affecting my work. I know there is no reassurance that everything will be okay, but I just can’t imagine life on the other side without him beside me. Since he came into my life, he is the reason things have been done, I bought an SUV with him in mind for travelling, we bought a house next to a huge park with him in mind, every plan that has been made has him in mind and a part of it, we have birthdays in the park for him, family pictures made, he is truly my third child. It is my husband’s only child, other than his beloved cat. I guess what I am trying to say here is, I just don’t know how to plan such a thing for Tyler. You know when a family member passes away, you plan afterwards, you don’t plan the day for them to die. I pray God will help me and watch over my Tylerman!

  22. Laurie says:

    Dear Adele,

    Making the decision to put a dog down is one of the most difficult decisions we’ll ever make. And – as you mentioned – it never gets easier.

    It sounds like your husband is very uncomfortable with the decision, and maybe even scared of facing the heartbreaking grief of losing Romeo. Some people never get over the loss, and can’t open their hearts to love a dog again.

    I suggest giving your husband a book about coping with the loss of a pet – even if you think he won’t read it. You might read it yourself, to get an idea of how to support him as he grieves. And it’ll help you grieve your loss, as well. Most books offer really good suggestions on how to move on and heal after a pet dies.

    Another suggestion is to make time to talk to your husband about death, loss, and grief. What loss has he grieved in the pass, and what helped him cope? Did he get help, or did he face it alone? Sometimes, losing our pets brings up all sorts of past losses and griefs…it’s not always just about the loss of our dog.

    I wish you all the best as you make this decision. Stay in touch.


  23. Adele Peters says:

    Being a dog owner for many years I’ve put dogs down and have had them pass while with me. Neither of them get easier with time. I have a 14 year old male Yorkshire that loved life but now he is blind and deaf with multiple ear infections which gives off a terrible odor, has allergies which makes him scratch and itch most of the time and has recently been diagnosed with water in his lungs and has been put on water pills twice a day for the rest of whatever life he has. It’s been tough cause the pills make him urinate frequently as he does make it to the paper about 50 % of the time that other 50% not so good, I’m cleaning up urine all day long. He has a hard time standing still it seems his back legs what to give out so he just keeps walking and pumping into things being blind or he is sleeping. His life consists of eating walking and urinating and sleeping. I’m planning a move to California from New Jersey this summer and I know he will never make the plane ride. He stresses out in 1/2 hour car ride to get him groomed. I skim over the conversation about putting him down with my husband cause he can’t face Romeo being old and sick and leaving us. Romeo can’t be left alone for long periods of time which being a bit selfish stops me from my life. How do I handle this … the frustration is building I love the little guy but I don’t think has the quality of life that a dog should have. Any suggestions thoughts ideas would love to hear them :(

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi Adele,
      I understand your concerns, and it is very obvious that you love your dog and even though you are struggling with his many health issues, you are still trying to do the best you can for your dog.
      I had a 13 year old chihuahua that was having kidney failure and arthritis and was on the verge of being diabetic. He peed a lot, cried when walking or being held, ate only if you hand fed him, etc. It was no qualitiy of life for him and really no quality of life for me as well. I couldn’t leave him. My home became an infirmary for my sweet friend.
      I had asked my Vet about “how do you know when” and he simply said this…”When your home has turned into a hospice for your pet, and all you are doing is making the pet last longer….it’s time to help the pet pass on.”
      Sometimes, it’s just so very hard to do what is needed to be done…but maybe it’s a “last gift” that we can do for our beloved pets.
      I don’t know that this helps you any, but just know that I can simpathize with your hard decision. You will do the right thing that is needed for YOUR family…whatever that will be. (hugs)

      • Brenda VanAuken says:

        Hi, Rosemary–

        Thanks for your reply to Adele. It helped us make the difficult decision. The statement …”When your home has turned into a hospice for your pet, and all you are doing is making the pet last longer….it’s time to help the pet pass on.” is what confirmed that it was the right decision. We had become a hospice for Riley these last few weeks–special foods to try to get him to eat, carrying him when he couldn’t walk, giving him pain pills to help him get through the day.

        That statement made me realize that we really weren’t doing Riley any favors. So I called the vet and made the appointment, then we spent the following days spoiling him rotten and giving him all the love we could cram into the time left. Today was the day, and it was really rough. Riley always hated for us to leave him, so I stayed with him to the end, and even though it broke my heart, I’m glad I did.

        Even now I’m still crying. I’m dreading going to bed because we were the kind of parents who let their furbaby sleep with them (I always said that Riley graciously shared his bed with us), and I know that even though my husband is there, the bed will seem so empty.

        • Rosemary says:

          I am glad that I could help you in my very small way. It is beyond hard, yes, I know. My heart hurts for you. My sympathies for you and your family.
          Some of the hardest things we do in life, is for love.

      • Mimi says:

        Adele, Rosemary, and Vangie,

        I know what all of you have been or are going through. I am on my second senior miniature poodle, a rescue, who is exhibiting all the symptoms of my first one in her last year. Both blind and deaf, pacing, anxious, circling, back end failing, having to be hand fed, constantly cleaning up pee because I can’t, couldn’t, get them outside in time. I had and still have extreme guilt over my first poodle, Rachel, thinking that I could have done better by her after she lost her sight and hearing and became weak in her back end. I was the best owner up until then. We had an incredible bond. When she became infirm, I did everything I could think of at the time to help her.

        We were at the vet every three months to check her kidney values, which fluctuated. I would ask the vet, “What can I do for her in her older age?” and never got any answers other than “she’s old.” For the last seven months of her life, I gave her fluids under her skin every day, but she kept losing weight, even though her appetite was good. I took her to a number of vets, and none seemed interested in making her life better or prolonging it. Near the end, I was looking up dog carts and harnesses to help her with her back end failure. I just couldn’t understand why the vets were writing her off. Her heart and lungs were great.

        The day came when I knew that she was suffering, and I had a vet come to my cabin to put her down. Before the vet came, I took her out in the sun and took pictures of me holding her. I looked at them then, her raising her head up to me, but I have not been able to look at one picture of her since. Afterward, I was consumed with guilt and remorse. Why didn’t I know to feed her something different, why didn’t I get her teeth done and ignore my original vet who told me that she couldn’t undergo anesthesia again? Why did I put her in her canvas dog tent, where she would circle endlessly and then fall down? I thought that it would keep her safe.

        Everyone who saw us together would tell me that I was such a good mother. But after she left, I thought that I could have done much better. I read about all these people who go to great lengths for their dogs, and I thought that I had failed her in her final year, at 17 and a half years old. I’m sure I could have done better; the vets were no help. But the truth is, once she went blind and deaf, she stopped wagging her tail and never wagged it again. That really upset me. She went from a vibrant, happy, playful dog to one that got stuck in corners and who was never the dog she had been, although she still knew me and was comforted lying in my arms and sleeping with me.

        I felt extremely guilty about being frustrated with her at times, wanting her to settle down so that I could sleep. There was very little sleep for either of us the last year of her life. And now, just a year later, it is the same with Oliver. He is repeating Rachel’s last year exactly, minus the SQ fluids. But, he also has a suspected cancer on his hind end, which is growing. I keep forgetting about that when I see him pretty vibrant on our walks, and scarfing up food. I asked about a biopsy, and my vet said that it would leave a big, gaping gash.

        So I guess the bottom line, what I’m trying to say, is that sometimes our grasping at straws is not doing our beloved pets any good. How much is our wanting to keep them with us, all the memories of the happy days, overshadowing their need to leave. I empathize with everyone who is going through this difficult process.

        • Rosemary says:

          You have well worded the thoughts of many. We try to do the very best with what info and strengths we have. We do it all with love. Our pets know that, I truly believe that. We are bonded to them and they to us.
          I often wonder just WHY I have a pet at times…when they get old and sick is such a painful time. When it’s time to ease them into death just about kills ME.
          After I had to put a beloved pet down, I asked the Vet just WHY do I keep getting pets, when in the end, they leave me too soon? The Vet told me, “Love sends two souls together for a little time, and love sends us apart again. It’s something that is needed in our lives, to give love.” (I have such a good Vet! He should be a shrink actually! Very wise.)
          I have a cat who is just diagnosed with stomach cancer. It isn’t pretty as she vomits a couple times a day lately. She has meds to take to limit it some and some pain pills as well. (A person hasn’t LIVED until you have to give pills to a CAT on a regular basis!!!! haha) I also just noticed that she has a large lump growing on her lower lip…it doesn’t look good either…so I imagine it’s part of the cancer deal. My cat is 13. That isn’t ancient for an indoor only cat. I guess when the cat is visibly suffering, I need to make some decisions. It doesn’t get any easier.
          My dog is 8…a minpin. He has a condition where his body does not process fat well, and he can’t get rid of it. Of all places to store fat, it is affecting his eyes. It looks like he has cataracts but actually the fat cells are building up on his eyes. Weird. He has daily eye drops for this and a special diet to try to control all this…in the hopes that he won’t go blind. It seems to help.
          ANYway….it’s amazing what we will do to help our pets…our loves….our family. We do what we need to do. A lot of times, it surely is hard to do it though. I have full sympathy for those most hard of decisions to make.
          Big hugs to all who are hurting with a loss or hurting with decisions about what to do.

        • Adele Peters says:

          Thank You Mimi for your kind words I feel your painmy boy Romeo isn’t in pain that’s where the problem comes in if I knew he had pain it would be easy to the right thing but everybody keeps telling me it’s his quality of life not quantity. my concerns now or I’m moving to San Diego I don’t know if he’ll be able to make the 5 hour flight and being that he has water on the lungs and taking water pills I’m unable to sedate him to keep in relaxedso I kinda know what I have to do in my head but its not in my heartI do hope that God takes him before I have to do this.

      • Cheril says:

        Hello, I am kind of in the same boat as you, I have a 16 year old male yorkie that I don’t know what to do either. He s going blind, I think he can see a little, his hearing is going, he potties all the time ( I have rubber backed rugs everywhere), he eats some but is extremely picky, walks over smells it then walks away so I cook him a hamburger party which he eats until some of it comes back up, and the rest f the time he sleeps.

        Harley was never a socialable dog, he was attacked my a huskie right after I got him and he only weighed a pound so when the huskie shook him the third time he broke his hip & pelvis. So because he was so small there was nothing the vet could do for him which after 3 days of him being in pain and not eating I thought I was going to have to put him down then, but when I was on the phone with the vet he must have heard and started eating…now we are 16 years later and confused on it again.

        They say to ask 6 questions but when I look at them he really never was up for any of them anyway, he used to have to be laying on me either in bed or on the sofa, now he wants nothing but the bed I bought him, which smells like urine a lot which I guess is dripping off, so I dust it with carpet fresh all the time since you can’t wash them. I had to have all of his teeth pulled last summer because his teeth were so bad it smelled like his butt…which he has done very well with eating even dry food which amazed us..I see him drinking water so he hasn’t stopped that..but in general all he does anymore is sleep and pee. If I try to hold him he squirms wanting down and back on his bed. I even went to a animal psychic and asked her if it was time …yea I know…all she said was he stopped sleeping with me because he can’t control his bathroom times and didn’t want to mess on my bed….whatever..

        So like you I’m not sure if it’s time or not..is he in pain? Doesn’t act like it, he doesn’t play anymore but he’s 16 who would, he eats but is very selective, he drinks water but certainly pees a lot, does he act happy! No but he really never did..I know he’s not as energetic as he used to be but neither would I at 112, My 84 yr old mother had ALZ for 7 years 2 of which there was no quality of life…but I didn’t put her down,..has Harley lost most of his quality of life?

        I had to put my 12 yr old cat down 9 years ago and I have to say that was almost as hard as losing both of my parents..I swore I would never make that decision again, and here I am. I don’t want to question my decision for the rest of my life, but I don’t want my dog to be miserable so I can remain without guilt…if he was showing pain there would be no doubt in my mind,..but….I know no one else can make ths decision but me but it does help reading others with the same issue… I pray every night that God just takes him in he sleep but I don’t believe that’s gonna happen…my heart will ache when he does go but I also know I have had 16 years with him and that in itself is amazing..

        Good luck with your decision I’ll be checking back to see what is happening…

    • Vangie says:

      It is hard I know, believe me I still struggle with guilt and regret for deciding to put my dog down two months ago. Her quality of life was suffering she was just existing and like my vet told me, only you know the dog he used to be but if I had known how much I would miss her honestly, I would have just waited and let her go on her own. Like you said, the frustration started building and I was exhausted cleaning up pee and poop every day. There are alot of helpful articles on this site and I was so glad I found it.

    • Adele Peters says:

      Thank you all for your kind words and suggestions they are greatly appreciated. Romeo is still with us, he doesn’t seem to be in any pain but needs constant looking after due to his urinating problem because of being on water pills twice a day. My problem now is my husband and I are relocating to San Diego and I’m not sure if Romeo will be able to make a 5+ hour flight. He gets antsy driving in his car seat 20 minutes to his groomer due to the urinating problem. I’m at a loss I’m heartbroken I don’t know what to do. I love him so much I think of nothing but what am I gonna do when I leave in July … This has saddened me and caused stress in my home and my life :(

      • Rosemary says:

        Hi. I re-read what you had written on April 2.

        I also re-read what I had responded to you on April 2. I still stand by what I had said about : “I had asked my Vet about “how do you know when” and he simply said this…”When your home has turned into a hospice for your pet, and all you are doing is making the pet last longer….it’s time to help the pet pass on.” ”

        I am going to “go out on a limb here” and suggest that you have these options:
        1. don’t move
        2. move but DRIVE the dog even though you will have to stop several times along the journey
        3. Fly with the dog in a little carrier WITH YOU ON BOARD along with a LOT of pee pads with you. Also, perhaps give your doggy a little sedative when flying so it isn’t anxious. Heck, some PEOPLE need sedatives when flying! lol
        4. put the dog down before you move

        Just please don’t leave the dog behind withOUT you. Don’t abandon him. (I know you won’t do that, but I just stuck that in there…sorry if I offended you on that one.)

        It’s only May…see what June brings. If things don’t get any better for the dog or your family; you will then know what to do.


  24. Laurie says:

    Hello Vangie,

    That’s a great question – how do you know if you’re ready to adopt a dog after putting your dog to sleep? I wrote this article for you, it’s called
    5 Signs You’re Ready to Adopt a Dog After Your Dog Died. Here’s the link:


    I hope it helps. Let us know what you decide! I’d adopt a dog fairly quickly if I had to put mine down — but everyone is different. Some of us need time to grieve before we open our hearts and homes to others.

    The bottom line is that if you feel ready to adopt another dog, then it’s time. I wouldn’t be too concerned about what other people say. They don’t know your heart as well as you do.

    Are the people you live with supportive about you adopting another dog? That’s the second sign you should adopt :-) The first sign is your own gut feeling.

  25. Laurie says:

    Thank you, Patricia – I think that’s really good advice. It’s so difficult to know when to put your beloved dog to sleep…but I think your comments help.

    Dionne, I wish you all the best as you make this difficult decision.

  26. Dionne says:

    My boy Raydar is a lab/roti/dob mix and just turned 14 in Jan. When he was young he tore both his cruciate ligaments (one after the other). About 3.5 years ago he started slowing down and his back legs have now become progressively worse. He pretty much needs my assistance to help him up most of the time. He can’t really go out for a walk anymore because he falls every 10-20 steps or so. He has also has incontenance that started a year and a half ago. Lately he can’t hold his bowels and it just falls out of him. I am struggling with “when is it time?” I know it’s nearing but I’m not sure. He is still eating and drinking and seems happy most times. Any input for me?

    • Patricia says:

      My 14-year-old dog was eating and seemed happy too, but once he could not walk or get up easily and his bowels were an issue, I knew it was time. He could have lasted longer, but I am sure in retrospect that to wait would have been for me and not for him. We had a very peaceful exit planned in our home. He was happily eating treats from my hand and then gently fell asleep. I am very sad at his loss, but I am 100% certain it was right for him. Someone told me as Teddy was declining. “It is far better to do this loving act a week early than a day too late.” That really sealed the decision for me. I did not want him to get to the point when he could not stand up at all and had to be carried around. I let him go while he still had his dignity. It truly is a loving act to let them go before it gets to its absolute worst. Good luck. I am so sorry you have to say goodbye to a loyal companion.

  27. P says:


    You are a good person. I struggled and sometimes still do about putting my Taboo down the day after Christmas. I felt and at moments feel like I was being selfish and could have done more. We have to realize or believe that what we did was NOT for us but for them. I couldn’t deal knowing Taboo couldn’t be anymore the dog she once was. The next day after I removed her bedding, found the cutest picture of her and had it blown up to an 8×10 and framed an hung it next to my other to dogs who have since passed before her. Everyday I smile and know that she is better.

    We have to remember w/animals we are their voice, and care givers. They are animals they can’t tell us there is something wrong or it hurts there, or they don’t feel good. In days ahead it the sad will settle and the fond memories of the fun, love and all the other stuff you did will overwhelm the should of, could of.

    My thoughts…. remove her bed from your room, and fill the void w/maybe placing an Ipod next to the bed where you have to focus on that. I have her tags / collar in my jewerly box w/ DOG (our Beagle which died in my arms at home in Oct) Everytime I go in there I smile and think hmmmmm my funny funny babies. Keep them safe St.Francis. You can have a heavy heart but remember animals find us. Ebony will make sure in time you’ll have a new puppy bed along side yours. Prayers and hugs to know you are ok.

    • Vangie says:

      Thank You. I am so thankful that I found this website for support from others who have also experienced losing a pet.

    • Vangie says:

      I have a question: how long should one wait to get another dog? I have been feeling so empty and guilty that I was considering getting another dog and started feeling guilty about that! My coworkers say I shouldn’t get another dog right now but my family says it is OK to want another one.

      • kitty says:

        I think you’ll find many different opinions on the subject, but it’s really your own decision. Some people get another pet right away, others take months or even years.

        Personally – and you can see my comment about my cat below – I got two kittens a week later. I felt miserable and was missing my cat, but I still had all of her things there, her tree/scratching post and pads, her toys that she hasn’t touched for a while. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. and I was just missing having a cat. So I went to a rescue and got two kittens. I am still missing my cat, and no new pet will ever replace the old one, but they do fill the void. They have very different personalities, and they will never replace my old cat, but they are new lives to love and cherish. Besides, there are really so many homeless pets in shelters and rescues out there. Even poppies and kittens. People say how poppies and kittens always get adopted, but the two I got were “left over” from the kitten season (born in July) and they were growing older in the rescue.

        Do I feel guilty? Yes, sometimes, I even thought that the ringworm my kittens have is a kind of karma for getting them so soon (and I am not even religious), but bottom line is neither my old cat nor your dog care now how long we wait. So do what feels right. As long as you understand that your new dog is likely to be very different from your old one, you should be fine.

        This is just my personal opinion.

  28. Laurie says:


    Thank you for sharing your experience with Killer. I’m so glad you have no regrets, and you know the right thing was to put him to sleep.

    He is resting in peace. May you remember him with love, joy, and a peaceful spirit. Remember all the beautiful moments you had with him, and know you’ll always carry him around in your heart and soul.


  29. Laurie says:

    Dear Jenni,

    I hope your work day went okay, and that you didn’t break down. But it’s also important to let yourself grieve, even if you have to go to the bathroom and cry at work! You’re mourning a huge loss in your life, and you need to express and process your feelings.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


    • Vangie says:

      My heart is so heavy. I had my black cocker spaniel Ebony put to sleep on Monday, February 3rd and I am having a hard time coping because the guilt is so overwhelming. She was getting so old and her health was deteriorating in so many ways. She had lost weight, she was going blind, deaf, her hind leg would shake and her back side would slowly drop down to the floor. She was only eating small amounts of food and sometimes she would fall. Lately, taking her for a walk had become a challenge she walked slower and she started having accidents in the house which used to make me mad at first because she house trained and I didn’t realize something was wrong. She slept all the time and when she wasnt sleeping she would just roam or walk in small circles. Early December, the vet gave her some pills to help with her cognitive functions but it was helping much and she said if it didn’t I would have my “decision”. So I made the decision on Monday to have her put to sleep. I asked the vet if it were her dog if she would do it and she said yes to end her suffering. I watched the first injection and when she started falling down like she was drunk, I lost it. Then they layed her on the blanket sleeping and I cried so hard, I knelt down beside her petting her and telling her I love her but this was best so she wouldn’t suffer any more. I left the room for the second injection and when she was “gone” the assistant came and asked if I wanted to see her one last time and I went in and it was like she was at peace laying there so I was able to leave. This morning, I lost it again so I just prayed and asked God to forgive me but most importantly for my Ebony to forgive me because there were days I was so frustrated with her, scolding her and wishing she would just pass on her own than for me to make the decision for her. She was with me for 16 years and now when I go home and don’t hear her footprints on the floor or when I wake up in the morning and she’s not beside me in her doggy bed, it is really hard and I can’t stop crying thinking, wondering what I coulda, shoulda and woulda done to not have this void I am feeling for deciding to let her go.

      • craig R says:

        You did Ebony a favor, it was for the love of her. When time passes you’ll realize that as well. I wouldn’t want my dogs suffering with no chance of having a quality life again.
        You had her a long time be thankfully blessed for that. Again guilt always looms upon us as a false feeling, of course you feel grievence.When my two Pomeranians reach the Rainbow Bridge I’ll be devastated as well then hoping for support of others.They’re five & four years old my wonderful furballs.My first dogs too,I’m on a site on Facebook called “I Love My Pomeranians’. Great photos & support from fellow Pom Owners.

      • Patricia says:

        Please be kind to yourself. You made a very loving decision to relieve Ebony of pain and suffering. There is no room for guilt. Sadness, yes. It is terribly sad to say goodbye. I had to say goodbye to my 14-year-old Teddy in December. It was unbelievably painful and I certainly miss him terribly, but I have come to understand that it was the loving thing to do so he would not live with pain and ailments any longer. Forgive yourself so you can fill up all that space in your heart with loving memories that honor Ebony and all she meant to you. If she could talk from beyond, I’ll bet she’s say thank you. Feelings are what make life worthwhile. Sometimes they are difficult ones, but joy is there too. You will feel joy again!

        • Vangie says:

          Thank you. This has been more difficult than I thought it would be. I have to excuse myself at work everytime I feel the tears coming. My little Ebony’s health was deteriorating so badly, my sister said she would cry because it was hard to watch. My mom tried to warn me a few months ago when she saw how much weight she lost. She told me to prepare myself because she thought Ebony was dying. I was in denial because I didn’t want to make the choice to end her life but what helps to ease my guilt is knowing that she is no longer in any pain or discomfort.

      • Vangie says:

        I have a question: how long should one wait to get another dog? I have been feeling so empty and guilty that I was considering getting another dog and started feeling guilty about that! My coworkers say I shouldn’t get another dog right now what are your opinions? 6 months? 1 year?

  30. Patti says:

    My heart is broken. I said goodbye to my devoted and loyal companion of 18 1/2 years 2 days ago, New Years Eve of 2013. I’ve been battling with the thought of taking him in to have him put to sleep but I could not bring myself to let him go. This little Jack Russell/Shelty mix, Killer, has been the light of my life for so long that the idea of not having him around was unbearable. His appetite was great, still waking me up at 5:30 am for his breakfast up to the last day. It was when I came home from work at lunch to let him outside that I discovered him on the bathroom floor unable to get up. He had urinated and was lying in it. He was not even fighting to get up. When I lifted him to have him stand he could not stay standing. I held him for a while and tried to have him stand again but he was unable to stay upright. I knew at that point that I had waited too long to let him go. I called my vet. They stated they didn’t have any openings but to come in and they would fit us in. I wanted to take a little time to be with Killer before I took him in. I brought him on the bed with me and snuggled with him, wrapping my body protectively around his. He slept. We spent about an hour like this, me loving him, petting him, whispering in his ear how much I adored him. It was then time. I bundled him up in our snuggle blanket and put him in the car with me. As I waited in the patient room for the vet to come in I held Killer in my arms. I held my face close to his telling him I loved him and breathing in his breath. The vet was very compassionate, crying with me as Killer passed. Even though I’m heart broken I know without a doubt that I did the right thing. My only regret is that I waited too long. But the thing that eases my suffering somewhat is that he died peacefully in my arms and that he is no longer suffering.
    Goodbye my Sweet Baby Killer. You have been my four-legged soul mate and I will never forget the unconditional love we shared.

  31. Jenni says:

    I just put my Sammy to sleep yesterday afternoon. I had to take him to emergency because it was NYE and all the offices were closed.

    He had a chronic ear infection in one ear caused by a 95% blockage by a tumor. The surgery would have been out of my budget and possibly very uncomfortable and uncertain for him. It involved removing the entire ear canal. He was about 12 years old and was a stray I picked up about three years ago.

    He had been going downhill over the last week. Basically acting extremely tired, sleeping all the time, yelping when I would get anywhere near his ear, not eating his favorite treats, giving me weird looks due to discomfort, and not really being able to hold his head up. He also started trembling uncontrollably, which really scared me because I couldn’t stand to see him suffer.

    I had been anticipating this ever since the vet told me about the tumor three months ago, but it didn’t make it any easier to go through with it. I didn’t want him to suffer or to come home and find him half alive or dead, not knowing how he’d died (had it been peaceful or painful? no, i couldn’t bear it).

    My heart goes out to all of you dealing with this. I have never felt such bereavement as I do now being alone in this apartment … with no Sammy sitting on the balcony looking out, coming in and out as he pleases. The silence and absence of his spirit is killing me at this moment. I even went on a walk today, which caused me to cry, because since I moved here, he was always with me on my walks. It seemed weird being out by myself.

    I have to go back to work tomorrow. I will try my best to keep it together and not have a mental breakdown.

    I think if our pets could talk to us, they would tell us they are no longer suffering, and that we should not torture ourselves, because they know we did all we could and loved them so much. They just seem to live completely in the moment and only know if they’re happy or in pain. I have also had four dogs put to sleep and in every case, it was such a peaceful end to their suffering and I never really regretted doing it. Still, doesn’t make the loss any less traumatic and devastating.


    • Patricia says:

      Jenni, I’m glad you took the time to write. It is cathartic, although not enough to ever match the sadness of goodbye. Thinking of you and hoping you recover quickly from this loss while your memories lock n to bring you smiles about Sammy for a long time. He was one lucky stray to find you.

    • Patti says:

      Jenni, I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t think it matters how much we know letting a pet go is the right thing, it is still the hardest thing to do. We do everything in our power to keep them safe, fed, dry, and out of danger, so the thought of ending their life goes against everything we’ve ever done for them. But it is the most compassionate and selfless thing to do for them. I pray for your broken heart and that you find peace knowing you did what was best for Sammy.

  32. Laurie says:

    Lee, what did the veterinarian recommend, about putting your dog to sleep? I wish you peace and acceptance, if you had to let her go.

  33. Peggy says:


    I am sad to hear of Naomi. My Taboo is resting peacefully or not with God now. I took her yesterday to the Vet (26Dec13). I took her myself, funny she knew sometihng was up. It was hard but the Vet was awesome and the Tech also. My Taboo had the same issues w/the exceptation of months prior she was bleeding bad. They didn’t know how to treat the mass that was in her.

    All aside, it was ok. I was w/her and it took only mins. The Vet gave me a few mins and said when I’m ready they will take care of her and bring her out to the car for me. They came out w/ her in a box w/the Rainbow Bridge Passage on top. I did it! I brought her home, placed her in the grave my husband dug, and took care of the rest. (I made my husband go to RI to see his family as we had planned for months) He knew I wanted to put her to sleep but wanted me to wait. Nope… I told him that she past in her sleep. Which isn’t far from the truth.

    I believe that we are stronger than we think. I am praying you hold her dear enough to do the best for her. Ask yourself if this was you how would want someone to take care of you. We make conscience decisions for ourselves all the time. When we can we make Living Wills, right, we make our decisions and place others in a position to do the same.

    Pray! Hold her and tell her you’ll see her later.

  34. Lee says:

    I have a 15 year old bassett mix that has over the past month gotten very sickly. We have taken her to the vet on multiple occasions because she gets skin tags that have to be removed and biopsied for cancer. They have all come back as non cancerous, but just recently we have noticed all she does is sleep and gas lost quite a bit of weight. She is deaf and now we are sure but think she is losing her eye sight. We have an appt tomorrow at the vet. I really hate to put her to sleep but want what is best her. Please give me some insight or your opinion based on what I have written. I really love my Naomi. PS she is not eating well now either

  35. Peggy says:

    I’m overwhelmed of all the comments. My Taboo of 15 yrs is the best dog ever. I got her as a house warming gift. Since than she has been everywhere with me. This past few months she has been not doing well. First she started bleeding again, (Vets had no thoughts) she stopped last week (after 3 longs months). In that time she played, barked when we asked for story time, and loved treat time. Than just last week, stopped eating. Drinking water like no tomorrow. I can keep up w/her in the day but at night well, I will now have to replace my carpet in the hallway & bedroom. I have to leave for my job in a week for a month. It’s too much for my husband so as not to be selfish I am putting her to sleep. I keep praying that she goes to sleep thinking it will be easier but it’s not. She’s not well, the spark in her eyes has turned to sad. I know she wants to bark, bark and dance around but it just seems as if she is trapped. Do I feel guilty, selfish YES! But, I also have to understand and believe in that God has reasons. I have to believe He wants my Boo Boo to be as she was when I got her 15 yrs ago. Thank you everyone for seeing the recents post. I comforts me and helps me to know I am not alone. I love my Boo Boo, but I have to not be selfish to hang on and think in a day or two she’ll bounce back. Can I be forgiven for being selfish, can I be forgiven by others who think I should just seek Vet help? To help her yes would be awesome but for how long? Thank you for just having the post of support

    • Patricia says:

      Peggy, please be absolutely reassured that putting Taboo down is the most loving gesture you can give. 15 years is a very full life for a dog. I put Teddy down two weeks ago and although I miss him terribly, I’m absolutely sure I gave him a peaceful ending before his pain got worse. It was the best gift I could give him. Truly, this is a loving thing to do for a beloved pet. Do not feel guilty. You are not being selfish. Going to extreme lengths to keep your dog alive feels natural but it is not doing the dog a favor. Give yourself loving permission to send Taboo off peacefully.

    • Peggy says:

      Yesterday I put my girl down. 15 yrs w/Taboo she was the best. I read the comments from everyone, help all my friends love, kept saying my prayers, and I stayed strong. it was hard but she is better off now. I couldn’t care for her, and the Vets couldn’t help w/her illness.
      Pets can’t make Living Wills like we can. They see w/their eyes and tell affections w/the wagging fo the tell and barks.
      Today is the first day w/o my Boo Boo girl, but she’ s w/me. I see her everyday in my heart and in the pictures. I’ll be w/her oneday, but not right now God doesn’t want me yet. He wanted Taboo, I guess some Angel needed a Storyteller and she did…… that was her thing. All you had to say was you got a story… and for what seemed like forever she started to bark w/expression. God’s Speed to all who are struggling w/a hard decision. But look at this way how would like someone to handle you if you were in the position where you couldn’t talk for yourself? HUGS everyone…. thank you for all your supports

  36. Stacy says:

    Good morning everyone. I have made the difficult decision and me and my beloved Orion will be heading to the vet this afternoon so that he can finally be free of pain and go back to the lively puppy that he is in his heart. My poor Rott/German Shepard mix is 14 and half years old and has lived a good life. He’s been a faithful companion and now it is time for me to give him the ultimate gift. It’s time for me to take on his pain as I adjust to life without my shadow (he loves to follow me everywhere when he has the strength to actually get up and walk.)
    Thank you all once again for sharing your stories here. They have been a great help and comfort for me.
    And for all of those who have made this decision for your friends, I promise you that Orion will be a great friend to all of them once he is with them. He’s so gentle and loving but will definitely be looking for a good game of tug of war with a rope or stuffed toy!

  37. michelle says:

    Good morning. I have a 12+ year old rat terrier named eddie that I adopted from the Humane Society close to 12 years ago. I was told he was about a year old but I honestly feel he was older. He was on his 31st day. No one wanted him because of his back broken legs that were inoperable. He does use one hink leg to aid in walking but he was damaged goods. I knew in my heart I had to save him. He has been an amazing dog ever since. Recently he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure about 6 months ago. Then two weeks ago he was struggling with a horrible cough. Vet medicates him, cough gone. He went to his 2 week check up this past Friday to find that he lost 3lbs. He hasnt been hungry in about a week. I gave him shredded boiled chicken wednesday evening and it came up completely undigested thursday morning. The vet has given him two full days of IV, diuretic, anti nausea, hunger stimulants, two antibiotics plus his regular heart meds. His blood work was poor on friday but improved on Saturday BUT he isn’t eating and since he is so old his lapping up of water take a while because its hit and miss for about 5 minutes. I tried giving him the coconut water advised by vet for potassium but he hates it. He fights ne when I try to administer meds. Its as if he just wants to be left alone. I know Eddies quality of life is failing because of his heart disease and now kidney failure. I am struggling with when do I override my vet and say enough is enough. I love my dog but this poking and proddling is not making him eat. He just looks so sad. I don’t want my boy to be suffering. This is harder than I ever imagined.

    • Patricia says:

      Michelle, you were an angel to rescue your sweet dog and you’re an angel for going above and beyond to be sure you’ve done what you can to help him heal. Trust your gut about the timing for relieving him of his suffering. I put my dog down just over a week ago and felt tremendous relief for him, because I know he isn’t in pain any longer. It’s one of the hardest things to have to do, because you’re very job has been to keep that little life going, but giving him permission to go is a great gift. Everyone kept telling me I would know when the time was right. Actually it was not that simple, but in the end I believe I did the right thing at the right time. Again, trust your gut and just love your dog enough to give him peace. Best of luck. You sound like a very loving person.

  38. John Alexander says:

    Dear Jeanette:

    It sounds like your dog is not ready to be put down. Get a hold of a good vet and tell them about the behavior. This could be severe separation anxiety which sometimes increases as they age. There are things that can be done to improve this.

    My vet, who is incredible, told me that you only put a dog down when they stop eating, can’t go to the bathroom on their own, can’t stand-up on their own, and won’t interact with their owners. Otherwise, it is not the time to put the dog down.

    I just put my Rotti/Shepard mix down on October 28th, but she had all of the previous symptoms. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I grieve much more for Shiloh than I even grieved for my parents when they both died. I would advise you to get input from a professional vet. Don’t listen friends, family, and neighbors. There are too many people who see a dog as nothing more than an animal not deserving of extended life. Hang on to your Roxy until a professional tells you the signs are there to consider euthanasia.

    Also, it is hard, but when this does occur you must muster the courage to stay with Roxy when they are let go to puppy heaven. My vet said that dogs, especially older dogs, know something bad is occurring if their owner reacts negatively. I went in with Shiloh and held her in my arms during the procedure and assured her that we would once again be together one day in the future. I think she was calm and peaceful when she drew her last breath-at least I hope so.

    I will keep you and Roxy in my thoughts and prayers. I think I loved Shiloh even more than many humans I know. She was my loyal and loving friend for almost fifteen years.

    Take care, John Alexander

    • Vangie says:

      I know it does believe me but I miss my dog so much I would do anything to have her back so I am the wrong person to give advice. Just this weekend I went to visit a breeder who had two new litters of puppies and I’d been feeling like maybe another dog would help fill the void of losing mine. the condition that these dogs were in was very disturbing. It wasnt a large operation it was at their home. The smell was overwheliming, several dogsin cages, with their new litters, poop everehere. Just awful. One of the females reminded me so much of mine she, both moms had the saddest eyes depleted. and I found her on the AKC website I will never understand how that was even possible. It still bothers me and that has made me miss my dog even more. Cherish every moment you have with your dog. Forgive yourself for being frustrated and make the best of right now, that experience helped me to decide that when the time is right,I will adopt from a shelter. I’d rather save a dog any day than support someone like that.

  39. Jeanette says:

    I came across your web page because I am so torn up inside it hurts to even think about having to say goodbye to my first love. My baby will be 14 years old next February and I honestly don’t know if she’ll make it to see her next birthday. Roxy is Rotti/Lab mix and I have loved her since the day my mother brought her home for work just weeks old so it pains me to think about not having her around. Lately for the past serval months I’ve notice some changes in her, she is developing behavior problems that I didn’t see before. She has what I call “anxiety attacks” where she becomes destructive bitting at our wooden gates, back door, pacing, panting uncontrollable until I come out to ease her hoping she’ll stop. This seems to happing once a month it feels like. She’s losing her hearing which I know is part of her old age and I notice some lumps when I go to pet and rub her belly. But when she is not going through these attacks she’s walking around, sleeping a lot, eats well no issues with her bowels seems like an old dog going through life’s changes. Yet these attacks that hurt me to watch her have and brings tears to my eyes worry me. I don’t want her to stuffer yet i don’t think I can bring myself to put her down and I’m so torn up inside because I know my 2 year old son will go out into our yard one day and say “Mommy, Roxy gone”?! I just don’t think I’m ready. I’m so glad I found this support. It truly is so hard letting go.

    • Stacy says:

      I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with this. Isn’t it crazy how difficult it is. For me, I think that hardest part is knowing if I am making the right decision. Yes, facing the fact that my beloved friend isn’t going to be there any longer will leave me with a very sad heart but time can heal that pain and I will have wonderful memories to reflect back on and keep his memory alive.
      I worry more about cheating him out of life that he’s still meant to live or him suffering and me not realizing it.
      All we want is for our friends who have loved us so unconditionally to go to that better place with dignity. I keep trying to remind myself that is the ultimate gift to them.
      I wish you peace as you face this difficult time.

  40. Laurie says:

    Thank you for being here, Patricia – and everyone who is sharing and walking alongside. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    May your beloved dogs rest in peace, and may your own soul rest, believing you will be reunited in spirit one day.

  41. Stacy says:

    I wanted to thank all of you for sharing your stories. While they have brought tears to my eyes, they have also given me comfort to know that I am not alone when it comes to making the difficult decision to say good-bye to a furry family member.
    I have a Rott/German Shepard mix, Orion, who is 14 and half years and has been with me since he was just 14 WEEKS old. He’s been a good friend and with me through so much over the years. He was a rescue dog and I truly believe that contributed to him being such a “hearty” dog. Over the last couple of years, he’s developed arthritis, is losing his hearing, the normal things that a dog his age would experience. He eats well, still wags his tail and perks up his ears from time to time but nothing like when he was in his prime. He no longer plays with his toys and certainly can’t jump up on the bed any longer to snuggle. I sit by him and try to rub his back and legs but sometimes I worry that maybe I am hurting him more than helping. He also struggles with potty problems and looks so uncomfortable when going out to do his business.
    I keep praying the he will go on his own but I think he’s going to make me decide for him. The problem is that I just can’t decide if now is the time, before he takes a bad fall and breaks a bone (his legs give out at least once a day) or is he still happy to be by my side and has a little time left in him.
    I know that if I have to take him in, I will stay with him through the procedure. Why can’t our faithful friends give us that clear sign?!?

    • Patricia says:

      I made the agonizing decision last week to put my beloved 14-year-old golden down. We had our vet come to our house Friday. My sweet dog was so eager to get every last treat from the bag in my hand, he never even noticed the first injection. He slowly lowered his head while still chewing his favorite treats and fell into a gentle sleep. After a few minutes he got the second injection and was finally pain free for good. As heart broken as I am, my immediate feeling was relief since I had worried so much about his physical mobility and trying to asses his pain level. He is finally free.

      I wrote him a letter while we hung out on our last day. I am sadder than sad, but so grateful that I was able to give my sweet dog this loving gift of pain relief before he got too bad. I am quite sure I could have waited days or even weeks, but it would have been for me, not him. Here’s my letter (if it does not exceed post length):

      For Teddy
      December 6, 2013 at 8:50pm
      Warning–grab a tissue:

      Well, today’s the day, sweet dog. It is time to relieve you of your discomfort. It is time.

      I am spending our last morning together, a cold Friday morning, in my chair with you at my feet; you are blissfully unaware that this morning is different from the other roughly 3200 we have spent together. This is the last one.

      This morning, as usual these past few years, you pushed through the bedroom door around 4 am, announcing yourself with a shake that jingled your tags. When you do that you usually realize I am not going to get up quite yet, and I hear your exhaled harrumph as you plop to the floor by my bed.

      Of late any kind of movement has been a challenge for you. Your back legs and back just don’t cooperate as they need to. It is hard to get up the front step. It’s hard to turn easily­– and you were always a dog that ran in circles getting to where you wanted to go with great excitement, as you’d look at me with gleeful eyes. You always jumped for joy as well, lifting your front paws up as you danced for a treat. Lately you’ve been responding that same way as you eagerly beg for treats, but the jumps are small and sometimes land you on the floor where it’s hard to get up. Your body just can’t do what your brain is commanding. Your eyes are clouding. Your hearing left many months ago. It’s time, dear one.

      I will miss so many things, Teddy. Seeing you in your spot in the bathroom where you’d wait for me while I took a shower. Your insistence on being petted while I got ready in front of the bathroom mirror. Your waiting next to me while I dried my hair, practically face to face when I was bent over to get the right fluff from the dryer. Your following me from room to room, as if you might lose me somehow if I got out of your sight. Your small face with cocked ears watching out the corner of the sun porch as my car pulled out. That look always seemed pleading. Why are you leaving me? Are you ever coming back?

      I will miss how you got excited whenever I put on my yoga pants, since that meant play time of any sort. It meant I was planning to be here instead of wherever the “there” was that made me wear different clothes and disappear for hours. I will miss hearing your loud sniffing at the kitchen door when I got home from anywhere. There was always an urgency to it, as if you could not wait a second longer to be reunited with me, even if I’d been gone for just 15 minutes. The first thing I’d see in the narrow space when I began opening the door was your black nose waiting to greet me. You would shiver and shake and wag with delight. Since you are a dog, you can’t know how incredible it is for a human to feel that loved and cherished. Surely it must be one of God’s ways of giving us a glimpse of his total, unconditional love for us. Every day. Regardless of the day’s circumstance or any ill will I may have harbored or any failures I may have brought on. Every day. Unconditional joy at my mere existence. Unearned loyalty. Unerring belief that I’d hung the moon and spun the earth. Coming home will never be the same, sweet dog, after today.

      You have spent more nights in this house since 2004 than I. Ian was 15 when we found you as a rescue. Our excitement at your arrival was equally matched by your fear and trepidation. You had been given up twice by previous owners. Your last home had been a shed on a farm in Turtle Lake. Just before you left you’d been sprayed by a skunk, so there were many insults you had to survive to get here. You endured a long car ride. When you arrived at your new home, it was just another strange place with strange people. Your tail was tucked firmly between your legs and your eyes were filled with uncertainty.

      We quickly dubbed you Teddy the Love Sponge because you relentlessly sought affection. I learned I could not let you ride in the front seat of my car because you insisted on being in my lap so I could pet you nonstop – which did not work well in my stick-shift Mazda. The back seat was way too far away for you, but you eventually adjusted. Oh how you loved car rides! We would barely whisper the words and you would bolt for the back door, eager to jump into an open car door. If a car door was left open you were in in a flash. We could not remove you without extreme force. I would have to fire up the engine, drive around the block, and come back, at which time you would jump right out. When I got the convertible, you found car-ride Nirvana. I could look in the rear-view mirror and see your head resting on the upholstery and your ears flapping in the wind. You loved those outings so much. We’d drive to Stricker’s Pond and walk around the path. Those were days when we could take you to Lake Wingra, Mendota Park and for long walks in the neighborhood. You could jump up on the couch, bound up and down the basement steps and run down the street to greet me. You could chase rabbits then. Now you just look at them and let them be.

      Watching you age has certainly drawn parallels to our own aging. Part of what we see in your decline is our own. In 2004 those thoughts were kept at bay. Phil and I were busy in our careers, we had a growing son and we were all in the thick of life, as were you. Now Phil is retired, I am farther in my career and Ian is grown, educated and married, with a home (and dogs) of his own. A lot has changed in nine years. In saying goodbye to you, we are also certainly saying goodbye to parts of ourselves. Our grief at your goodbye will be part of a general grieving for things that are behind us.

      While I am writing this, you are occasionally waking up from your place at my feet and looking up at me with your loving brown eyes. I have my camera nearby to snap photos or video of you. I want to remember your face, the sound of your bark, your little ways of communicating what you wanted. But pictures and video can’t capture the warmth of your body on my feet, the softness of your fur to my touch, the way you lean in to let me kiss your head or the gentle moan you shared when your ears were rubbed just right.

      For nine years our daily routine included walking you, feeding you, giving you treats, taking you on car rides, petting your ears, following you to the kitchen when you commanded us to get you more treats, sharing last bites of our meals while you drooled in wait, looking for you in the window, holding you back at the front door when you barked like an attack dog at solicitors, watching your pacing when a storm was coming and your shaking inconsolably when there was thunder.

      When Ian learned to drive, you were there. When Ian’s friends came to hang out on the deck, you were there. When Ian graduated, you were there. When Ian headed to college, leaving a gaping hole in my life, you were there. When Ian brought the love of his life home to Madison for the first time, you were there. When I left my job, you were there. At times when the world seemed to be passing me by, you were there. You gave so much and required so little. You are an indelible part of the tapestry of my life and this family. It is so very, very hard to let you go. For a few more hours I can pet you and love you. Then I can remember you as the dog I had longer than any other in my life. A dog that captured my heart from Day One and never let go. Thank you, our sweet, sweet Teddy Bear.

      • Patti says:

        Patricia, I have read your amazingly heartfelt and heartbreaking tribute/letter to your Teddy Bear about 10 times today and I have cried every time. I am facing this same heartbreak, although I’m a little more selfish and can’t bear to let go just yet. I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your post. Your writing demonstrates the unconditional love that you and Teddy Bear have had for each other, right up to the very end.

        • Patricia says:

          Teddy’s passing was so peaceful. As sad as I am, I am sure I did the loving thing for him. The vet came to our home and we sat on the floor petting Teddy. Teddy was eagerly eating treats from my hands and did not even notice the first injection. He gently lowered his head and then fell into peace. No fear, no anxiety. Just sleep. I know he could not get better, so letting him go in this way was my final gift to him. Until the day before I was not sure, but he pooped in the house, which was my sign that his dignity was compromised. That and his pain were enough to say it’s time. He could have stayed longer but it would have been for me and not him. I am terribly sad, but glad Teddy could leave with dignity. I am grateful for this forum. It helped me prepare for Teddy’s loving farewell.

  42. Jo says:

    Could someone please help me??
    My sweet dog (my baby and buddy) that we’ve had for 11 years passed away this morning, but I’m just sick about the euthanasia experience. Buzz was hospitalized at an emergency urgent care since Friday night for pancreatitis. We had to pick him up this morning because they close during regular business hours. I called several times over the weekend to check on him. Everytime I called (twice a day) I could hear him barking in the background. They told me how painful pancreatitis can be so I asked them each day what pain meds they had him on. Apparently they only gave him some on Friday night because “he was alert and barking and didn’t seem in pain”. What they didn’t know was he has really bad anxiety. When we arrived, again he was barking but started to wag his tail when he realized we were there. They said his blood tests revealed his pancreatic enzymes were even higher than before and they wondered if his duct was completely block and now it looked like his liver was shutting down. We knew it was the right time let him go and not suffer anymore (he also has had cancer and many health problems before this).

    My friend told me about the beautiful experience she had when her dog was euthanized. She said she held him while the vet injected him and her dog just closed his eyes and peacefully went to sleep. So I wanted to do this for my baby. By the time we were driving up our driveway, Buzz’s breathing was erratic, heavy labored and then nothing and more heavy labored etc. My husband and daughter and I went to his regular vet because we didn’t want his suffering to be prolonged. I had heard from the urgent care to be aware that if the injection is given to fast they can become excited and agitated. They suggested giving him an injection to relax him or put him unconscious before the injection that stops his heart. I told my vet this (I’ve always thought he was very gentle with Buzz). He said that Buzz seemed so sedated that he didn’t think that was necessary. So as I held him in my arms the vet gave the injection but instead of him closing his eyes and peacefully going to sleep, he jerked and tried to jump out of my arms and yelped out in pain! It broke my heart!! I asked the vet, “is this normal???” He said, “yes, but I didn’t think he would have had this sort of reaction… he must have been so anxious.” My dog never closed his eyes and now I have that horrible/traumatic image in my head of his crying out in pain and his lifeless body with his eyes still open!!

    It HURTS so bad, just not having him but then to have this as my last memory is crushing. I feel so guilty like I made him suffer… it wasn’t peaceful at ALL!! Can someone tell me if he suffered? How can I remember him how he was before this horrid day??

    • Rosemary S says:

      Dear Jo,

      I am so very sorry that this experience with your beloved friend went this way. Buzz was sick and you were doing the very best you could for him…with the knowledge you had about the situation at the time. Under a Vets care and direction, you did what was needed.

      Sometimes, things don’t quite go the way you would want or expect, but your Buzz is not suffering now, and that is ultimately what was best. I don’t believe that he was suffering when the injection was done…I think it was more of a “reaction” to it. I do know that the eyes usually do not close when they pass away. (My dogs’ didn’t. )

      Please don’t beat yourself up over this. ALL things you did for your pet, you did with love and with best intentions. Try to remember all the good moments with your dog instead. (yes, I know, easier said than done).
      I wish you all the best.

  43. Laurie says:

    Dear Patti,

    It sounds like Killer has been through so much in his long life! Amazing — even cougars and cars couldn’t get him down. What a dog. A wonderful dog.

    I can’t tell you if you should put him to sleep, but I believe that letting our pets go is a final act of love and compassion. Sometimes our dogs’ hearts are so strong, but their bodies and minds are weak. They sometimes need the gift of freedom, of being able to rest in peace for eternity.

    Often, it’s hard and heart-wrenching for dog owners to make this decision because we think life is somehow better than death. I’ve come to believe that death isn’t necessarily the worst thing in life! Living in pain, suffering, confusion, or fog may be worse. Of course, we don’t know for sure what death brings.

    I choose to believe death brings freedom, peace, and lightness of soul. I believe in some sort of a Heaven, and in a God who welcomes the souls of our dogs and cats and other beloved animals. This belief helps me let go of the dogs and cats I’ve loved with all my heart.

    Are you ready to say good-bye to your dog? Even more importantly…is Killer ready to rest in peace? Put your hands on him, and let him tell you what he needs.


    • Patti says:

      Laurie, thank you for your kind words. I have an appointment today at 4:30 to take Killer in. I’ve been praying for a sign that helps me know it’s time to say good bye. This morning I found a sore on his right hind leg. It looks like it might be a hot spot. I don’t think it would be fair to him to keep him alive just to have him suffer through treatments or medications that I have a hard time getting into him. I’m so grateful for this website. I’ve read some very heartbreaking posts, but I’ve also been inspired by the strength of so many people who have made the choice to put an end to their beloved’s suffering.
      I will post again when I’m ready to share what happens.
      Thank you,

    • craig says:

      My old’ saying is..” I’ll deal with death after I’ve passed away….as I’m living I’ll deal with making the most of life”..

  44. Jesse says:

    Hi. My dog is 15 years old. I believe he has what’s called hematomas on both ears. They’re puffy like marshmallows. He can no longer contain his bladder and pees wherever he is. He hasn’t been able to hear well for a while, I have to tell in his ear. His tail at the hip Bends to one side so he walks kind of odd, always curved. He eats fine, and chews his flavored bones sometimes.
    He doesn’t seem to be in pain unless I touch his ears, but he can’t get on the couch or even a bed only a foot and a half off the ground. He has trouble getting up when he’s laying down. And sometimes hell kind of fall.
    But he seems happy. He follows me around the entire house all day. He seems to just want to be at my side. But he can’t do much anymore. He just eats, or lays in his hiding spots. I don’t know if it’s time or not.

    • Darla says:

      ThFor Jesse,

      YES! It is time! You say your dog is happy, but he’s not. He’s in pain and can’t hear. Dogs will always want to keep their owners happy even though they are in misery. My dog also had a good appetite and when she could get up to walk she would follow me everywhere. I couldn’t bear the thought of living without her, but she couldn’t walk. Her back legs had given out on her and she was peeing and pooping inside because it was to hard to walk outside. Dogs don’t want to do their duties inside, they’re ashamed of it. One day I was looking at her and she looked so sad. She was missing out on all the things she used to do. She was living to please me. I realized that she was suffering because I didn’t want to live without her, but she wasn’t living at all. My love for her had to be put first. I didn’t want to see her suffer another day to please me. It was the hardest most painful decision I’ve ever had to make. I had a vet come to the house and held her while she peacefully passed away. I miss her so much and I cry for her everyday, but I feel good that she doesn’t have to suffer anymore. Please do the right thing and let him go! They can’t tell you it’s time, you have to be the owner that they love and make sure they do not suffer another day! They deserve that from you.

  45. Patti says:

    My dog, Killer, is 18 1/2 years old. He’s a Jack Russell/Shelty mix. I call him my heartbeat at my feet. He has been an amazing companion. He’s tough as nails as he grew up with big dogs and thinks he’s a big dog! He’s been attacked by a cougar when he was 7 years old and survived only needing a few stitches, he’s been run over by an SUV when 11 with no broken bones but some chest and skull injuries which he mostly recovered from, and he had some pancreatic issues when he was about 8 or 9. He now has bad arthritis, is blind and deaf and is having seizures. He’s been having some urine and bowel accidents inside but for the most part asks to go outside to do his duty. He’s has a great appetite and I feed him soft food twice a day and even though he doesn’t have many teeth left he still eats crunchies that are left for him to eat any time he wants. Regardless of this, he is skin and bones. He seems confused a lot of the time and he falls over a lot and many times if he isn’t on carpet he can’t get up. I’m so very torn. The last thing I want is to wait too long before having him put to sleep. I work all day and I’m worried that he will die suffering without me there to help him. My hope is that I will be home when he gives me “the look” that people talk about so that I can hold him when he passes. I would love feedback. Thank you.

    • Darla says:

      To Patti,
      Do the right thing and let him go! He’s skin and bones!! If he’s eating well and is still in that condition, doesn’t that tell you somthing? He’s 18 1/2 years old. He has had a long happy life. My dog was 7 when I had to let her go. How can you feel comfortable leaving him alone when you’re at work all day? He’s probably scared. He follows you around because that’s all he is living for. Think about if it were you

      living in his shoes. Would you want to live that way? You have to love him enough to not let him suffer another day.

      • Patti says:

        Darla, Thank you so much for responding. You are right, I need to let him go. I’ve been praying that there will be a sign that lets me know for sure putting him to rest is the right thing. Well, this morning I discovered a sore on his right hind leg. It looks like a hot spot maybe. He has long fur so it’s hard to see if not actually searching for something, but I noticed he’s been trying to lick that spot. My other dogs have also been trying to lick that area.
        I called my vet to make an appointment to have this sore looked at, but I also told them that it will likely be an appointment to say good bye to him and let him go. I’ve thought of having a vet come to my home to have this done, but because I have three other dogs it would be too chaotic. It would be too stressful with all of them whining and barking and such.
        I will post later as to what transpires this afternoon. I’m hoping I have the strength to let him go.

        • Darla says:

          Hi Patti,

          I feel bad about what I said to you. I wasn’t being very considerate to your feelings. I read your current post and it broke my heart. Everything I felt with my dog came flooding back and it hurts to this day. I miss her so much! She will always be my most special dog. I have moved on and adopted a rescue. She is very sweet and a totally different breed than Snickers. I have fallin in love with her, but I still wish Snickers were here with me. I can’t handle the thought of packing away Snickers pictures. Do you think that’s aweful? I know it’s going to be hard without Killer, but I’m proud of you for doing it. It is the most heartwrenching, torturous difficult decision to put them down. I prayed for god to take her, it wasn’t my job to end her life, but I know I did the right thing in the end. I feel guilty because I don’t want to forget her, putting pictures away seems so final. I have to watch my videos of her by myself because all I do is cry. I’m sorry I’m talking to much about me. I would like to hear how you are doing in the future if you don’t mind sharing. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care.

    • Darla says:

      Hi patti, it’s me again. Darla. I had a vet come to the house because I couldn’t bear the thought of my Snickers being scared and shaking at a vets office to put her asleep. She was laying on my bed very comfortably on her favorite blankets. I knew it was time because she was just staring and was out of it. She had lost her will to live in my opinion. She was diagnosed with IVDD, Intervertibral Disk Disease. She was having trouble walking. At one point she couldn’t walk at all, but with meds, she had at least one good year. She was only 6 years old when she was diagnosed. It was heartbreaking. She could no longer use the stairs, go in a car, jump on my bed or anything for that matter. She could no longer play with her dog friends. I tried everything i possibly could to help her. She could walk, but it looked like she was drunk cuz she would wobble and sometimes her front paws would buckle under and she would fall down. She made it to her 7th birthday, but when her back legs gave out and she could no longer walk at all, she sure tried everything in her to get up and walk to where I was and then she would just fall over..She was such a trooper and tough cookie. I’m sorry I got off the subject. Don’t wait for them to give you a look. You should know when they are unhappy with life and decide to let them go. Have a vet come to the house. That way the dog will be comfortable and you can hold him while he peacefully passes away. It’ll be the best thing for Killer and you will feel good about your decision to let him go and end his suffering. In the end it has to be more about loving your dog enough to not let him suffer another day than keeping him around to comfort you because you can’t stand the thought of living without him! Hope this helps. It definately is the most painful, hardest thing youll ever have to do, but you will feel good about yourself in the end.

  46. Kayla says:

    I don’t know what to do, and I am completely at a loss. Last week, my four-year dog, Harlie, lost the ability to walk on her hind legs. Tuesday, she was walking and climbing slow, Wednesday, she jumped off the couch to greet me and that was last time she walked. I took her to the vet on Thursday, they did X-rays and the only thing they could find was increased space between one of her vertebrates.

    For eight days, I have been giving her steroids, antibiotics, and pain meds. By day four she had some feeling in her hind legs (very, very little), but she still can not walk at all. She is eating and drinking really well, but she is incontinent and not having regular bowel movements. She is having to lay all day on blankets and puppy pads, and I can tell she is getting depressed because she tries so hard to move. She’s 60-70 pounds, so it is hard to move her as well.

    I am torn between continuing the meds and hoping for the best, or putting her to sleep. I don’t know if time will heal her or if I am just delaying the inevitable. She is only four, and she is so very precious to me. She was a wedding present from my husband and she has been by my side ever since.

    I am tired, frustrated, upset, sad, angry, and a barrel of different emotions. I don’t think I can bear to put her to sleep, but I also can’t bear seeing her like this.

    I don’t know what to do!

    • Darla says:

      Hi Kayla,
      My name is Darla and my dog went through a similar situation with her front paws. She started out not wanting to jump off the bed when she was playing with my brothers dogs. They would all chase each other around and one day I noticed she was wimpering because she didn’t want to jump off the bed so I’d help her. This continued to her not wanting to jump on or off the bed, not wanting to jump in & out of the car. I wanted to bring her in right awaay, but my family said no, shes probably just has a sore leg. ALWAYS go with your gut instinct because it’s always correct! This continued and I noticed she was laying around a lot and seemed depressed. I finally brought her in & the vet didn’t know anything, but she put my Snickers on Rimadyl & tramadol for pain plus complete crate rest for 3 weeks. I am such a bad pet parent because I let her walk around when she should have been resting. This went on for 3 weeks & soon I discovered that her front paw was knuckleing under & she’d lose her balance & go into a laying position. When I think back I did so many things wrong. I finally brought her to see her original clinic to see the vet. She was seen by a new vet that I’d never met before and he gave her a neurologic exam & discovered that when he turned her neck she would wimper and when he pinched her paw that was knuckleing under she’d wimper. He diagnosed her with IVDD. Intervertebral disk disease. There’s two types. One is from the neck and the other from the spine.
      I am so sorry I’m rambeling on like this. DON’T PUT YOUR DOG DOWN!! Wait to see what happens. My dog was on Prednisone & Tramadol and she had excessive thirst, panted a lot and the Tramadol increased her appetite. She was peeing and pooping a lot in her kennel so I did a lot of cleaning up after her, but she had pee pads so it wasn’t that bad. After 3 weeks of not walking @ all she started to crawl, try to get up, but would fall down, walk with bad balance, but eventually she would would walk to the back door and would want to go outside to pee & poo. My sister, mom and I would clap & cheer because it was such a thrill to see her moving!
      Give the medication a chance to work. I don’t know if your dog Harlie had what my Snickets had, but give it time to heal. You owe it to yourself and Harlie to wait. It takes a lot of time to recover from somthing like this. The vet had her on crate rest & meds for 8 weeks. It was so hard to keep her locked up. She was so depressed & it was hard for me to see her like that! I would cheat and let her walk around the family room and let her walk outside when I should have been carrying her, but she was too heavy. She did eventually walk and you say that there is feeling coming back to your dogs legs. Give it time!! Please don’t make a hasty decision to put him down. Of course he’s depressed, but he needs time to let the Prednisone work & if it doesn’t there are other meds they can try. Maybe you should get a second opinion and bring him to a Neurologist. They know more and can give you better treatment. There’s physical message, laser and acupuncture treatments and water therapy. I couldn’t afford any of these, but you might. All I’m trying to say is DON’T GIVE UP!! GIVE IT SOME TIME, there are a lot of options. GET A 2ND OPINION!! Harlie is only 4 years old. My Snickers was 6 years old at the time.
      There’s a website you should check out for information and support. It’s “www.dodgerslist.com” they were so nice and they’d answer your questions about what your dog is going through. They are full of information about IVDD. What you are describing sounds a lot like what my dog had. Give it a try and look them up. If you would like to talk more you can contact me @ dparkin21@msn.com!
      I wish you the best of luck!! The process is slow (the treatment) and it takes a lot of time & waiting, but it’s worth it!

  47. kitty says:

    Thank you for writing it. I had my 14 1/2 year old cat put to sleep two days ago, and it hurts like hell. Because she was still able to walk and tried to get away for me when the bell rang, I was second guessing my decision and wondering if it was too early as she was still walking, using her litter box perfectly, and was able to jump (though didn’t do much if anything of it).

    But this quote makes me think this was time: “That’s the number one, most important criteria for deciding you should put your dog down. If he or she is suffering in any way, then it’s time to say good-bye.” It’s about dogs but it applies to cats as well. She most certainly wasn’t comfortable in spite of pain meds – she couldn’t eat except with appetite stimulants and that only a little bit at a tine, she took crouched position every time she age a bite, she stopped grooming herself, didn’t stop by the windows to look at birds, and mostly just lied there – either in the middle of the basement or my bed (though she stopped coming there in the last two days) or by the food bowl – looking at it but not eating.

    I’d like to second what people above said about doing it at home. I was dreading this final trip to the vet with her fighting being put in a carrier and meowing all the way. As is – she died in my arms. Also, the home vets that do euthanasia are very good at it. They sedate the animal before hand, and then you can cuddle it as it goes to sleep and then say good bye.

    It is difficult. As much as I think she was uncomfortable, I am crying and keep second guessing myself. In addition to the tremendous sense of loss, of emptiness one feels when losing a member of a family, there is the fact of taking a life and at that a very special life.

    • kitty says:

      Just to add – she had IBD (or lymphoma – I opted not to do the biopsy given her age and health, now I wonder if I should’ve) and heart disease and was doing ok on meds for a year and a half and then got worse, her pancreas were inflamed as well and I didn’t want to hospitalize her with a feeding tube – she was a fearful cat and wouldn’t have understood why she is in a cage with all the people hurting her.

    • Jeff says:

      Hello Kitty. I want to thank you for sharing your story and my heartfelt prayers go out to you. I believe you did the right thing.

  48. John Alexander says:

    Dear Stacy:

    I, too, had to put my little girl Shiloh down two weeks ago. I have lost both parents, one brother, and my lifelong best friend in the past ten years. Although I grieved the loss of all of them, I am grieving over my Shiloh more than any of them. She was a mixed Rottweiler/Shepard(she looked like a Rott). We had her for fourteen and a half years, a very long lifespan for a large breed dog. She too lost the ability to stand and when her front legs gave out it was time let her go. I was on the floor of the vet examining room when he was putting her down and reassuring her that things would be alright and I would reunite with her one day in heaven. There was no dog any sweeter than my Shiloh. I was angry at first at our loss but then realized the incredible bright spot she brought into our lives for almost fifteen years. I thought of the phrase, “It is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.” You and your family will adjust to him being gone, although he will live on in your mind and heart forever. Take comfort in the fact (this is what believe) that one day you will all be reunited in the afterlife. I truly can’t believe that a merciful God would take our animal loved ones away forever. I wish you and your family to have the strength and courage to move-on and appreciating each other.

    Take care,

    • Stacy says:

      Thank you so much for reassuring words. I just relayed your message to my husband. Today was a rough day with the kids in school, puppy at doggy daycare and husband at work. It was always me and Jumaa on Mondays, spending our day together. My husband told me he lost it on the way home from work today and I tried to reassure him that we did the right thing. As you remembered the phrase “its better to have lost and loved, than to never have loved at all” I will continue to think of that everytime I think of our beloved Jumaa.

  49. Stacy says:

    We put our 12 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback to sleep yesterday and I can’t stop crying about it, wondering if we did the right thing. We told our two boys to say their goodbyes before we left for school yesterday because we weren’t sure he was going to be with us when they got home. His hind legs were so weak, he would get up and then fall to the ground. The night before he was up all night, walking a little then we would hear him fall and we would come downstairs and help him up, this went on all night. He was so confused, walking into small areas and getting himself trapped, looking completely out of it. Finally got him to lay down and sleep at 4am and he stayed in the same spot, didn’t eat, didn’t go outside to the bathroom, didn’t budge when our 10 month old puppy wanted to play, until my husband carried him out to the car 6 hours later to take him to the vet. I know I should believe it was the right thing, but we miss him so much!

  50. Rosemary S says:

    My beloved 13 year old Chihuahua, Murphy, is very sick and I know that I have to call the Vet in the morning, to have him put down. It is tearing at my heart to do this! Murphy has arthritis and has been on Rimadyl for that (which had been working). In May of this year, 2013, he was diagnosed with diabetes AND kidney failure. The vet told me that Murphy (guessing) had between 2 weeks to 2 months left. Well, we have made it to Nov 11th. Murphy hasn’t eaten for the last few days but will drink water. He vomits twice a day. He will urinate when I take him outside. He sleeps otherwise, throughout the day. It’s time. Maybe I should have taken him sooner but the weekend was here and my vet doesn’t work usually on the weekend. I hope they are open on Veterans Day. I just feel so sad that I have to do this for my little buddy, that I waited too long probably for him, but so sad that he is leaving me. It’s a very hard time. Guilt is huge right now for me. But, I will do the right thing for Murphy now, and let him rest. It just hurts.
    I will say a prayer for others who are hurting in their loss of their pets. I know how they feel.

  51. Laurie says:

    Thank you so much for being here, and walking beside each other as you struggle with the difficult decision to put your dogs to sleep. My heart breaks for you, but I am so encouraged by how caring and supportive you are of each other! You know what each other is going through, and you are not walking alone.

    This is a painful stage of loving our dogs…but with great love comes great pain. This is the hard part, but it helps me to believe our dogs have souls, and are resting in peace for eternity. Find what helps you cope with the grief and pain, and don’t sway from your beliefs.


  52. Paul says:

    We are currently in this situation with our 12 year old Sheltie. Brandy was diagnosed with bladder cancer and given 6 months to live back in January. It has now been 11 months and until recently she was doing very well, but the past week or so has been struggling. She has now not eaten in over 3 days and is very weak. The problem is my wife is refusing to let go. She keeps trying to hand feed her food and carry her outside. She is convinced that as long as she is conscious she will get better. As much as I love her it is time to stop her suffering. I just do not know how to get my wife to agree. She is convinced that our other Sheltie who is also 12 and from the same litter will go shortly thereafter as they have never been apart. I have a feeling that I may just need to take her to the vet early one morning and deal with the consequences from my wife. It will be hard but the humane thing to do.

  53. John Alexander says:

    Dear Judy:

    Only you can decide when the time is at hand to let your baby go. I recently put my Shiloh down (15 year old Rottweiler/german shepard mixed). It was the most painful thing I have ever done in my life. I have mourned my little girl more than I did the passing of my parents and brother two years ago.

    One thing that helped me was a comment made on a website by a female vet who said that everyday of pain you spare your loving pet is a show of love and devotion to them. It was this statement that got me through doing a decision that left me devastated. I will remember my Shiloh forever and hope to one day see her again in the next life. If your dog is eating, I would hang in there. Once a dog stops eating, can’t go to the bathroom at all, can’t get up or cries and moans in pain, it is time. If yours is not doing these things, keep Peaches going.

    Good luck! My heart goes out to you. They love us unconditionally and depend on us for everything.

    Take care, John

    • Judy says:

      Thank you John I’m not sure I want to want until things get that bad though, I waited with my last dog, an 11 yr old mini schnauzer, Tasha, until she completely stopped eating and started having seizures after about 9 months of being very ill and I after it was over I realized I should have let her go much sooner. Letting go at any time is difficult.

  54. Judy says:

    I adopted my lttle Pekingese, Peaches, 6 yrs ago she was a puppy mill rescue who’s age was estimated between 3 and 5 at the time so she’s 9-11 now. She never was a terribly active dog but we would play fetch nightly and she loved going for walks up until this past year. She is now lethargic 98% of the time, she no longer plays and can’t even make it around 1 block, she will often just sit down in the middle of a walk. There are 2 steps up to our house and it is obviously difficult for her to get up those 2 steps. She mostly hides behind the sofa or under a bed when in the house. She’s had diarrhea for the past couple of months and every time she goes she strains for several minutes, it looks very painful. I’ve adjusted her diet several times mostly she just eats boiled chicken and rice, she gets better for a couple of days then she’s back to explosive diarrhea. The vet couldn’t find anything specific wrong with her without a lot of additional tests and I can’t afford more tests. She still has an appetite most of the time and but no I don’t think she could possibly be enjoying life. My brain says let her go but my heart says no.

  55. Whitney says:

    My two Pomeranians both 4 years old are my kids. Never had a family of my own yet at times I feel like that I love them so much that it hurts to even imagine how I’d feel if something happened to them . I realize that maybe I’ll go before them yet if I’m still around I have a good idea that I’ll be completely devastated should anything happen to them. In the meanwhile all I can do is just enjoy them as much as I can as something God forbid may happen to them today.

  56. John Alexander says:

    Dear Valerie:

    I read a statement by a vet who said that everyday of pain you can avoid for your loving pet is a gift of love. My Shiloh(mixed Rott/Shepard) was fourteen and a half when I put her down a week ago. I played linebacker in college football and I have never been as overcome with emotion. I can still lose it if I even look at her collar or a photo. This is because I loved her so much and she was not a dog, but one of my best friends. To know she is no longer in excruciating pain gives me some comfort.

    I guess the old saying “Tis better to have loved and lost than have never loved” is true. I am sorry for your loss, it will hurt forever because you loved your friend and take solace in knowing she is now frolicking with my Shiloh in a green field filled with bunnie rabbits and butterflies.

    Take care, John

  57. sa says:

    I adopted my elderly dog (now about 15) so I’m told, about 7 years ago. He always whined a lot and did not want to be left (he was like this with his second owner too) My sadness now is that he has a cataract in his remaining eye so, effectively cannot see. He is also developing arthritis and has a front hip dysplasia.Worse than all of this is the fact that my partner died over a year ago and my dog has got increasingly bad in whining and refuses to sleep in the house wanting to go increasingly to the car to sleep on the back seat. I tried from the vet a form of valium and tramadol both of which seemed to have an adverse effect. Now he is on selgian as an anti-anxiety but he seems almost worse and I have been carrying him back and forth. He is still eating well and will manage to get out the dog flap for a poo but more often than not he will wee in the kitchen near the flap. My real problem is becoming on of trying to calm him. I really do not know what to do and many nights I’m up and sitiing in the car at 5am.Should I let him go I despair of any decision.

  58. Patricia says:

    I am so grateful to have found this page. My sweet Golden, Teddy, is declining and, as have all of you, I am struggling with when and how to say goodbye. Teddy’s organs all seem fine, but his back legs have lost most of their muscle mass and he is starting to fall. Other times he can walk OK and even run a bit, but he can’t sit, can’t stand for long and he lowers himself very slowly when he lies down. His appetite is OK. His bowels are moving but he has less sphincter control so he scoots, which must hurt his bad hips. Today he was happy and begging and eating just fine. Then tonight he could not get up and was very restless. I know this won’t end . He won’t miraculously get better. In order to put him down at home, which I would prefer to making him get in the car and be scared at the vet, I need to preschedule an appointment to have the vet come to our house. It seems so impersonal to schedule something like this. Reading other posts has helped me see how so many others agonize with this decision. Doing the right thing for Teddy means scheduling our misery. It’s so hard. Teddy is 14, which is means he has lived a full life for a Golden. He trusts me, so I need to honor his trust. The when is still so vexing. Thanks to all who have posted so I don’t feel quite as alone.

  59. John Alexander says:

    Dear Erin:

    Take your dog to the vet and ask point blank if he is in pain. I read an article written by a lady vet who had to put down her beloved Retriever and she said “Every day you spare of loving pet of pain is your gift of love to them.” When I put my little Shiloh down (14 year old mixed Rott/Shepard) it was the hardest thing I have ever done but I know she is now in no pain and she was ready to go to pet heaven. You will cry unrelentingly, but in your heart you will know it was the right decision. Your vet will not tell you whether to put the dog down but they will tell you the level of pain they are existing. I hope this helps. It is a terrible situation to be in, that is for sure.

    Take care and God bless,
    John Alexander
    Shiloh’s Daddy

    • Erin Moore says:

      Thank you for that advice John.

      I appreciate it. Both my husband and I feel that Russie will not make it to Thanksgiving in his current condition if we leave matters how they are. We are at the point where he is eating ¼ cup of food at a time. And this hound used to eat a pint of food at a setting at any given time. We will be going to the vet this Friday as I will need assistance from my husband to get him in and out of the car. I have the gut feeling that she will confirm our feelings and we will then ask her to put Russie to sleep. He has been my best guy, and loving canine companion for a very long time, and I want what it best for him. I know we will meet again, and until then his mortal remains will have a place of honor in our garden that he loved to lounge in while he was here with us on earth.

      Best Regards.


  60. Erin says:

    I was told by the vet two months ago that my 15 year old dog Russ had inflamed gums and a lot of tartar build up. I was advised at that time to get his teeth cleaned. Since coming from from the proceedure, Russ has lost a ton of weight, and is only eating 1/3 of his normal amount of food. He sleeps almost all day, and cannot make it around the block when we take walks.

    His legs were getting weak prior to the tooth cleaning procedure, and he was displaying nerve damage in his back toes, stance, etc. But, these days he stumbles and looks so weak and frail. He also wheezes in his sleep, and sleeps so deep it feels like we are checking for signs of life almost every morning.

    However, just when I think it may be time to think about putting him to sleep, he will instantly show an interest in food, urinate and deficate in the yard like his old self, and even seem interested in a walk around the block.

    I have faced this situation before with cats, but it seems so much harder this time as Russ is less self sufficient and more “needy” since that is his nature.

    Should I wait till he can no longer walk and cannot get up and out to go to the bathroom to take him to the vet to put him to sleep?

    Part of me feels that if I take him in before his body gives out that it is a cruel action.

    Please advise.

    Thank you.


    • laura says:

      Patricia…we too had the exact same scenerio with our precious 11 yr old beagle Scooter. His back legs were giving out and he could barely walk..he also have arthitis Iin his elbow. We took him to vet yesterday and she confirmed he was in pain…even though he was eating good and sometimes still walked ok outside…but he was getting worse as the weeks went by. she confirmed he would only get worse and be in more pain than he already was in. we decided to let him go because I could not sit back and watch him get worse. hardest decision we ever had to make and still feel vey guilty and sad. We loved him so much! sorry to hear you are going through the same situation. thank u for your post as it helps me with my grieving!

  61. Elise Hokman says:

    I’ve noticed several folk seem to have a hard time deciding how to go about euthanizing their beloved pet. What I personally have learned is that there is NO wrong way. It’s up to you, what’s available in your area, what you can handle, and what you can afford. With Ike, I stayed with him while the vet did the injections. He was calm, then a little nervous – I talked to him the whole time letting him know he was okay..and soon he would feel no more pain. I chose a group cremation (where they take the ashes to the local farm) because where I am the cost of an individual cremation and return of ashes was cost prohibitive for me. Living in an apartment in the City made yard burial out of the question. In terms of making the decision of when to go and do this with Ike, I did it when the bad days outnumbered the good. In the past, I have faced similar decisions with cats. I had a cat who developed a cancer in her jaw and decided that no treatment would cure her, so I opted to euthanized before she started having bad days. Another cat had renal failure and pancreatitis..once she quit responding to medications, I decided that was the time. Each pet is different, each circumstance is different…heartfelt condolences to all of you as you make this journey.

  62. Robert says:

    Well, we had to put down our ten year old Basset Hound today. We had her since she was a pup and she was just the sweetest little dog. She was diagnosed with Lymphoma about a week ago and had some heart problems as well. The vet gave her prednisone, then some heart medications as an alternative. Then, she stopped eating three days ago, was losing weight, and was throwing-up a lot. She was also having problems breathing and I started carrying her up the stairs in our house. The past two days she would just sit in the back yard by herself, which is a behavior she never exhibited before. The vet ran some more scans today and offered additional treatments that seemed to offer little probability of success.
    I couldn’t bear to see her suffer anymore. I’m feeling bad that she depended on us to take care of her and there was nothing I could do to help her.

    • Jean says:

      Our Maltese was just diagnosed with lymphoma on Sunday and also after coming back home from the vet had to be rushed back as we thought he had a stroke but the vet kept him overnight and said it was vestibular disease unrelated to the cancer …we are devastated over this and wonder how we will be able to let him go …. What are signs that we should look for ?? Thank you and I’m so so sorry for your loss

      • Robert says:

        She stopped eating, was losing weight, throwing-up a lot anytime she drank water, and didn’t seem to be able to sleep very well. I’m no vet, so I don’t know if these symptoms were a consequence of the Lymphoma or something else, as our vet never gave us a completely, unambiguous diagnosis despite numerous scans, tests, and examinations. I do know she was a sick little dog and declining rapidly.
        Thank you for your response. For us, all of this was kind of sudden and she was so much an important part of our lives. Putting her to sleep was one of the most miserable, difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But, I know I’m not alone based on the comments here.

        • Jean says:

          I can’t even think of the sadness that is coming … Our vet told us no more than 2 months he has and I wanted to find out whatever I could to prepare myself for what to watch for as he declines … This little guy is everything to us … Thank you so much for your reply .. I did not want to make you feel any worse by asking some information … I am truly saddened by your loss … And grateful for your reply … I wish for a miracle for my Maltese ….

    • Cathy says:

      Robert, you did help her. You helped her by ending her suffering.

  63. Shel says:

    Can anyone give me some advice as to whether I should put my dog to sleep. she is a 1 year old gentle bullmastiff girl and we have just been told she has hip dysplasia and both cruciate ligaments damaged in back legs. We have had an estimate of £6,000 for both legs, which we cant afford and our pet insurance only pays out up to £2000 per year. I really don’t know what to do. Our breeder said she will be in severe pain, which breaks my heart. She is on metacam but it doesn’t seem to stop her limping around. Bullmastiff’s have a very high pain threshold, so she doesn’t welp or anything but I can see she has trouble sitting down and standing up for long periods. The vet doesn’t want to advise me on putting her to sleep and is leaving it up to me, but I really cant decide what to do. Any advice will be greatly welcome – thanks

  64. Liane says:

    Oh my gosh Deidre! Thank you so much for your response!!! It helps to know that there are others out there going through the same thing. I have read about many of the things you mentioned including the rainbow bridge, love that one! The grief and guilt seems to come in waves. Sometimes I feel ok other times it hits me and I almost feel like I’m going to have a panic attack. Like, what did I do? I try to stop myself right away and tell myself that I did not cause her death, old age did, I just prevented her from suffering.

    She lived a very long happy life. Hopefully I’ll start to really believe it one of these times. I’ve heard that you never truly get over it but the waves of pain come less frequently and aren’t as harsh as time goes on. I feel for you and I do believe we will be reunited with our dogs again some day. They are Gods creatures too so I believe He will take care of them for us until then.

    Maybe Chloe and Spike will play together at the Rainbow Bridge. Thank you again for sharing your story.


    • Deidre says:

      Liane –

      Thank you for your kind words. Your story helped me too because of all of the similarities. You are right some days are better than others. It will be 5 weeks tomorrow and although it’s a getting a little easier now, sometimes I think that the pain of losing our little dog will never go away. There is that tremendous guilt that maybe we should have waited a little longer. I guess it’s never easy to say goodbye and we have to realize that waiting would not have made it any easier. We have to believe it was our final act of kindness and love to spare our pets of further pain and discomfort, even though our hearts feel differently. Our dogs did live long and happy lives and we should be glad for the time we had with them and all of the wonderful memories.

      I also believe that Spike and Chloe are God’s creatures too and that they are waiting for us. That should give us some comfort.

      Thanks again and take care.


      • Valerie says:

        We put our Sheltie Jade to sleep yesterday. My husband and I are both distraught. It took just two days for her to go from seemingly pretty healthy to not eating, drinking, barking, able to walk or jump onto the couch to snuggle. She had renal failure, heart and lung abnormalities. She was displaying neurological symptoms as well. It is heart wrenching and we can’t stop crying. She was a precious creature that loved everyone. We told her how much joy she brought to us for the past 10 years. We pray that we did the right thing in alleviating her pain. I hope our pain will decrease in time.

  65. Michelle McDaughtery says:

    As I write this My mom and daughter are at the vet with my baby boy Sprikey. I dont know if Im doing the right thing..I couldnt bring myself to put him to sleep so I said goodbye at home. I feel like such a coward for not taking him myself but I am so devastated. He is a 12 year old jack russell mix and has been everything to me. He is blind, has a thyroid problem and has had numerous hot spots. He has been wearing a cone around his neck for the past month or so because every time one heals another one pops up from licking and biting his feet. I know he must be miserable…I will never forget the way you licked away my tears and gave me so much love. I hope you felt just as much love from me…I love you Sprik….

  66. David says:

    My dog Sally must be 15 or 16. She is a rhodesian ridgeback and a sweet dog. Sad to say, she is struggling. Had the vet check her out and she says it’s liver and kidney related. Sally also is struggling with walking. Her hind end is so weak. Sally has lost her appetite, and looks sad half the time. I feel bad for her. I’m bringing my nieces and nephews out this Sunday to say their good byes. Is this the time? She has had a good full life. She was my Mom’s dog years ago. My Mom passed in 07′.. Sure gonna miss her.


    My darling dog Seak came to me as a present after passing my major exams. He is a cross beagle and fox hound. He was born on 2000. He is a member of the family and has enjoyed a good life playing and protecting us. he now is very hard of hearing, has trouble with his hind legs due to an accident when he was younger and urinated uncontrollably on himself especially while in the resting positions. he does have his good days but now prefers to lie in the hot for most of the day. He still has bite in him but it hurts us to watch when he tries to get up and has trouble. he has even fallen backwards down some stairs because of it. I can’t tell if he is in pain but I would hate for him to be…

    • beki says:

      Our 17 year old minature poodle is much the same as you describe, problems walking, cramps in hind legs, blind, deaf, toothless and at times disorientated.
      His “messing” indoors in becoming more common and I am sure he is aware that he is doing wrong…………..he becomes quite and the look in his eyes is saying “sorry”.!!!!!!! He still loves his food but other lifestyle activities are greatly reduced.
      He is my “Everything”and I can’t imagine a life without him……however I am at a point where I am beginning to wonder “is it time to let him go ” before he begins to experience even worse.

  68. Cathy says:

    Our golden retriever, Murphy, was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. He was having some issues with sneezing that we thought was related to allergies, but my husband noticed a lump on the right side of his neck. At first, the vet thought it was a thyroid cancer and treatable, but after further investigation, a vet/oncologist determined that it is worse – a squamous cell carcinoma in his tonsils/throat. And it appears to have begun to spread to his lungs. We are told he has a few months, and we just started him on palliative radiation therapy to reduce the size of the tumor in his throat area and slow down the cancer. He is on pain meds, and some anti-inflammatory medicine now.

    He loves to walk, and used to run with my husband (who took up running just this last year). He loves car rides, and still greets anyone who comes to the door with a wagging tail. He loves peanut butter, apples, hamburger, chicken, sweet potatoes (the list goes on and on). And, he seems to be enjoying life still, but I wonder how much longer that will be the case. And I wonder if we will have the ability to see when he is ready to go….

    • Anna says:

      I read your post and I am going through almost the same thing.

      My Golden Retriever, Hunter is 11 1/2 and was diagnosed this Saturday with cancer. He had a small tumor on his paw and suddenly 2 weeks ago I came home and he couldn’t walk. He whole hind leg was swollen. We took him to the vet who said it was either an infection or lymphoma. He put Hunter on anitbiotics and said bring him back in a week. Last week he did a biopsy of both the tumor and his lymphnode. It wasn’t lymphoma but a different kind of cancer.
      He is stlll doing ok for the most part…he still has an appetite,wags his tail, begs for food, loves being loved..the major problem is that he can’t put any weight on his back leg and so he isn’t moving around, unless we force him up and outside. If his leg was better you would never no that anything was wrong.
      We will not do chemo, as he has lived a long an happy life. It is hard because I don’t want to see him get so bad that he stops eating or drinking or isn’t happy, but at this point he seems fine, except his mobility and his swollen foot. At almost 120 lbs he isn’t very easy to get up and going and of course the steps off the deck out ot the yard are impossible.
      I am of course struggeling with the “when”, but also struggeling with the , do I go with him or say my goodbye’s at home and have my husband take him.. We also have 2 children 10 and 6 who will want to say goodbye.

      May I ask any of you…what did you do with your pets? Did you just leave them with the vet and they cremated them? We do not have a pet cemetary here, and can’t just bury him in the yard, and I am not sure I want an urn with his ashes either….

      • Cathy says:

        Hi, Anna

        Murphy is still with us, and is the first pet that we have had, so we are still figuring this out. Our plan is to keep track of Murphy’s good and bad days, and when the bad ones start to outnumber the good ones, and he is not getting any joy out of his life, make the call to the vet.

        The vet will come to our home to put him to sleep. One of our daughters (21, in college) lives close enough at school that it would be possible for her to be there, and she has asked to be present at the end – she has also visited from college a few days to spend time with Murphy. My husband and I will be present too, to usher him out with love and to hold him as he goes to sleep. I don’t know if I would have younger children present for the actual process of putting a dog to sleep, though. I’m sure you will know what the right thing is for your kids when the time comes.

        As for what to do after, we are still in the process of making a decision. Burying him in our yard is an option, as is cremation. We’re not sure yet though. For cremation, we would need to bring Murphy to a place that does this locally.

        I’m sorry that you are going through the same thing we are going through. We love our Murphy, and can’t imagine life without him. I’m sure everyone says this about the breed of dog they happen to have, but to us there is something so special about Golden Retrievers – so smart, so loving. Best of luck to you, and to Hunter.

        • Cathy says:

          By the way, Murphy is 6 years old – too young for this to be happening to him, but there you have it…

          • Anna says:

            though, it hit so suddenly and so viciously.
            Once the vet mentioned cancer, I immediately went to the internet to find out as much as I could. The internet is a blessing, but when you are looking for bad things, you can find so much horrible scenario’s and it is so overwhelming.
            I found out that Goldens are the most susceptible breed to having lymphoma or another form of cancer and 1 in 8 Golden’s will get it in their lifetime. Not very good odds. Of course the love from a Golden far outweighs anything. I love all breeds of dogs, but Goldens are pure joy. I often refer to Hunter as our Marley, from Marley and Me. He was energetic and a handful as a puppy…well until he was 5 probably. He ate everything and did so with a smile on his face. He is the best family dog. My kids love him so much sometime I feel for him, especially when they were small and crawled all over him, but he takes it with ease. I just can’t imagine our family and my life without him.
            Oh, how I wish God would just take him peacefully in his sleep.

          • Anna says:

            Poor Murphy. Six is young. We knew that Golden’s usually have a life span of 11-13 years, and since Hunter is 11 ½ we knew we only had a few more years with him. He had started slowing down and we had started giving him some glucosamine tablets to help. We never expected this though, it hit so suddenly and so viciously.

          • Sharon says:

            Cathy and Anna, I am going thru the same. I have a Shepherd x who won’t make it to 6. She too has lymphoma. She was given 2 – 6 weeks without chemo and 8 with so I opted out of the chemo. Right now she is still eating on her own, scarred me when she refused the syringe, turned out she just didn’t like the food. She drinks and is still active and no house messes. I have made the decision of euthanasia, but my problem is: She is a good dog, a young dog, one that doesn’t deserve this. She never did anything wrong. Because she can still do all of the above, but every extra day is hard on me emotionally. She isn’t on any pain pills but I am going to need them because my heart is breaking just knowing I will loose her soon. I have told myself that I owe it to her to be there. I know she isn’t suppose to know it but I was a nurse and it people can sense, why can’t dogs, if you aren’t there?

          • Anna says:

            So sorry to here about your dog. I agree with Cathy, we are going to take each day as it comes and when the bad days out number the good we will put Hunter down. I think it is an easier decision, we not easy but feels more comfortable when the dog is in pain, won’t eat, has messes in house, etc. That is why it is so hard when are dogs seem mostly fine. it is hard on me emotionally too. I cry almost very day and tell Hunter every hour, I Love You, Your such a Good Boy. Etc. but I will not give up on him too soon. He has been there for me through good and bad and I will be there for him too.
            A friend told me yesterday that I have given Hunter so a wonderful life, family and love. To be proud of that and know that so many animals are not that way and he was so special and adored. He couldn’t have asked for a better family. It made me feel a bit better.

          • Cathy says:

            We lost Murphy, our Golden, on November 22nd, just before Thanksgiving. The 3 palliative radiation treatments, which we were told ‘could’ make him more comfortable and which ‘might’ give him more time, shrunk the tumor on his neck a bit, but since the cancer had already spread to his lungs, we knew that he only had a few months left at most with the treatments, a few weeks without the treatments. It ended up being just a few weeks even with the treatments – he passed 2 weeks after the 3rd of the weekly radiation treatments – 5 weeks after the diagnosis.

            The morning that he passed, he was breathing very heavily. We thought it might be related to one of the medications he was on (prednisone, tramadal and one other pain med I can’t recall). When my husband took him outside for his usual stroll in the yard, Murphy behaved as if he did not want to come back in the house. Also, for the first time in his young life (he was 6), he didn’t beg for some of my chicken sandwich at lunch time. We both knew something new was wrong, and so my husband brought him to the vet. They checked his lungs via xray(or cat scan) and determined that one of his lungs had collapsed (probably due to a cancer related lesion), and the decision we had to make was whether to have extremely invasive, risky, costly surgery done to try to repair the lung, which not only would have a long difficult recovery period for Murphy, but would not have done anything to cure the cancer.

            We decided to have him put to sleep at the doctor’s office that day, and two of our college aged children, one who happened to be home for Thanksgiving break, and one who came from about 1/2 hour away rushed to the vet’s office to say goodbye. We were all there with him then, and I think he knew. The vet had done a temporary procedure to inflate his lung again, and had medicated him so he would not feel any pain. He greeted my daughter and I joyfully in the examining room, same for my son when he arrived 20 minutes later. He was breathing quite normally for about 10 minutes, but then his lung began to deflate again. We all said our goodbyes, and we sat with him and petted him while the vet administered the shot to put him to sleep.

            As with humans, dogs may have ‘good’ days whilst going through a terminal illness, but then their days start to be ‘bad’ days. Our goal when making decisions related to Murphy’s cancer, was to try our very best to make sure that his last day was a good day, and avoid having his last few days being bad ones; that we didn’t keep him around longer for our own sakes. I have to tell you that it was painfully obvious the day that he was ready to go, and knowing that his lung collapsed – probably the night before we put him to sleep – makes me wonder how uncomfortable he had been in the days leading up to his last day. The previous day, although his breathing was not completely normal, he played, he ate, he took a walk and he wanted to be with us. We knew he was a little uncomfortable, but we called it a ‘good’ day, and attributed his discomfort to the meds, to the radiation treatments, etc…

            I could not tell you in hindsight if we made the right call on when to let him go – because he was always so eager to please, he might have been eating, playing, walking to make us happy, and he may have been quite uncomfortable.

            I also think that if we had it to do over again, we might have skipped the radiation treatments, which in Murphy’s case did not improve his quality of life, and allowed him to avoid the visits to the oncologist, each of which took his time and had some associated discomfort, and in Murphy’s case did nothing to prolong his life (or his quality of life).

            I also want to say that I don’t think that the vet gave us any bad advice or information – they presented the options, and we decided what to do. We were told when he was first diagnosed that any decision we made (treatment, no treatment) would be a valid decision.

            I’m posting this in hopes that it will help someone who might be struggling with a decision about when to say goodbye to their pet. From our experience, even though we looked for signs that Murphy was ready to leave us, and even though at the end of every day we said to each other ‘this was an ok day’, tomorrow will be better, I’m not sure if we succeeded in letting go before Murphy’s bad days outweighed his good days. Dogs are so unselfish, and want to make us happy, and in giving us what we need, sometimes they ignore their own pain. The gift we can give them is to try to see through their selflessness and give them what they need when that time comes.

  69. Scott says:

    My dog is 17 and has hung in there for a long time. More than a year ago, we could tell his hearing was almost gone. A few months ago he was no longer able to jump up on the couch and sleep in his favorite spot. Since then he has gone down hill and has trouble walking. He was starting to poop in the house but it was easy to clean up so we dealt with it. Now he has not urinated in almost a full day and has pooped in the house again but not so easy to clean up. His tail is constantly down between his legs which my wife learned is a sign of pain. He still seems alert and thats what makes it so hard. He looks at you with those loving, trusting eyes. Selfishly I want to keep put off this decision because I feel like he has had a good life and wants to remain with us. But I also know that, although he doesn’t cry, that he is probably sad and in pain.

    • Kim says:

      Scott I feel your anguish. My dog is also 17 and she has been a great dog. She has started pooping in the house regularly now. She has a hard time to support herself with her back legs – when she tries to eat her legs are wobbly and sometimes give out and she is sitting down. I know she is deaf and her eyesight is pretty much gone as well. Some days she eats 1/2 – 1 cup of food for the day but I have to put water on it so that it gets soft so she can chew it. Her wobbly legs cause her to fall down the stairs or up the stairs and I hope she does not hurt herself. I don’t think she is in pain but she stopped making noise about a year ago so I am not sure. I am really unsure about what to do. I hope I am not being selfish as I try to come to a decision. Good luck with your decision.

      • Darla says:

        Do the right thing and let her go before she falls down the steps and suffers a broken bone or worse. That poor dog! Falling down the stairs really got to me. How can you stand to see her like that? That would just kill me inside to know she’s that far gone. She’s hanging on to please you Dogs are so loving and loyal that they will do anything for you including suffering in silence to make you happy! My story is on this page about making the hardest most torturous decision ever to put them to sleep. You have to love your dog MORE than the idea of keeping them around suffering to please you. I finally made the decision to put my dog down and every hour before the vet came to my house I would try to think of reason to cancel & keep her around for me, but I knew she was no longer happy and that her spirit for lfe was disappearing. I mean what did she have to live for? She’d lost her dignity because she couldn’t control her bladder or her bowel movements and she lost the use of her legs. She was living for me so I could still see her adorable face and not be lonely. The thought of keeping her alive suffering was to much to handle. I had to let her go. Im happy with my decision and how I was holding her @ home while she peacefully went to sleep. It felt great to finally know she was in heaven and no longer in pain. Please think about what I’m saying, don’t hold onto your dog and have her suffer a worse death or broken bones because you will regret not letting her go peacefully.

    • Darla says:

      Yes it is time! The dog is suffering!! How can you look at him and not want to end his pain. He’s no longer having a life! He’s sticking it out for you. Dogs will do anything for the ones they love. They want to please you and even if he’s not crying it doesn’t mean he’s not in pain. They will suffer for you because that’s what dogs do. They are so loyal to their loved ones and they will carry on as long as you let them. My dog was put down on Oct. 21, 2013 @ home where she was most comfortable. She could no longer walk due to a spinal problem. I was told she wasn’t in pain, but I believe she showed signs of it. They are so special & will hang on as long as you’re happy. She was getting so bad that she would start pooping while laying down and she would hold her urine all day so she wouldn’t have to go outside. Her front legs would knuckle under her & when her back legs gave out it was so hard to see her trying to get up and walk 5 feet and just plop to the ground, her legs spread eagle. She would also lose her balance & fall over on her side and needed help to sit back up. I also put off putting her to sleep because I couldn’t bear the thought of being without her. She was my best friend and I did all I could for her to get better, but it wasn’t meant to be. I prayed for god to take her so I wouldn’t have to end her life. She was such a trooper, she would use all of her strengh to get up & come into the bathroom to be with me. I loved her so much & it’s very quiet and lonely in my house now. I’m single & I live alone so the thought of her not being around gave me major panic attacks. I’m having a friend stay with me so I don’t go crazy with out her & the memories of her being here are torture. She used to follow me wherever I went & when she stopped doing it I knew she was bad off. I guess what I’m saying is that watching her suffer to please me broke my heart. She’s given me so much love & more that I decided she deserved not to suffer anymore, that my love for her was stronger than my need to keep her around to please me. They deserve to go out with dignity. Please don’t make him suffer 1 day more just to please you. Let them go before theyget worse and have to suffer a more painful death. I thoughtbecause my dog was eating & drinking that she must be ok, but I think it was a sign of anxiety. She just layed in 1 spot & would cry because she didn’t want to have to suffer to get up. She looked so sad & to me she had given up on life. What did she have to live for besides keeping me company? I had a vet come to the house & I held her until she was gone. It was so hard letting her go, but she looked so peaceful. I got to spend time with her afterwards & it may sound morbid, but I got to hold her & say all the things I wanted without anyone rushing me. I’m very happy with the way she left this world and now she’s in heaven running and jumping painfree & she’s happy. You will not regret doing the right thing. You will be happy that he’s no longer suffering.

    • John Alexnder says:

      I put my little girl (Shiloh) down this morning and it is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is amazing the strength I had because of my undying love for my pup of 15 years. I know she is now not in pain and suffering and wanted to stop it and told me with her eyes when I looked at her. No doubt I will never stop thinking about her,but I know now that she is in a better place. I would suggest being there when it’s over, it is hard, but your love will carry you through. I will always be glad I was with her in the final moments. I know, too, that one day I will hookup with her in the next life. At least I hope so for I know she went straight to heaven.

  70. Amanda says:

    I am so torn and incredibly heartbroken. I got my baby about 10 years ago from a pet rescue center. At that time, they couldn’t pinpoint exactly how old she was but guessed 1 or 2. According to her records, she will be 13 this February. Over the past few years, we have struggle with hotspots. She will sit and gnaw at herself until her hair is no longer there and she is bleeding. The past 2 months it’s got a lot worse. It’s constant. She always has a hotspot. I cannot even calculate how much money I have spent on this one problem. However, she has now developed other problems… She cannot see out of one of her eyes. She is hardly walking and when she does, she’s wobbly and she has also started urinating and having bowel movements in the house. I know in my heart she is not the dog she used to be. My struggle is that fact that majority of these behaviors (wobbly walking etc) has only been for the past week. She has also stopped eating and will occasionally get drinks of water. I have done so much research and spent so much money on quick fixes because I cannot afford another vet bill and I am terrified if I’m giving up on her too soon. I’ve read so many other posts of owners not having to do this until their pet was 14-15-16 and she’s not even 13 yet. I go back and forth every day… should this be the day? Has she suffered enough? I can’t do this. I CAN do this. It is a constant struggle because I love her so much. I look in to her eyes and want to cry because she looks sad. I am agonizing over this decision.

    • Trina says:

      You have to say to yourself “I want the best for my furbaby” the best for her is to be at peace and to be free to run around doggy heaven like she was a pup again. No more suffering. I had to put my 15 yr old pup down the day I seen him glaze over…I can tell he turned the corner and was suffering, not able to walk, eat or drink. I called a vet to come have him put down immediantly, it was so painful…I watched him take his last breath. Now I am in the same boat again with my 13 yr old she has Vestibular disease on her 2nd round, can’t walk, eat and loosing weight. I think the hardest part is pushing myself to make the move. And how am I going to stay composed on my way into the Dr.’s office? But I know in my heart it has to be done. I hope I helped you a little in your decision?

      • Patricia Smith says:

        I came online looking for answers. My labXcollie, nearly 16, is in exactly the same situation as your best friend.
        All I can do for you is empathise because I know the pain you feel.
        6 months ago she had her first bout of vestibular disease. Amazingly after 4 days she recovered, practised, practised walking in a straight line. Her head tilt straightened. We had her back!
        Then last week it happened again. But this time she no longer has the will or determination to do anything. She sleeps all day, struggles to get out of her bed to wee/poo – on the kitchen floor. I don’t mind cleaning up. It’s the least I can do. But today she can’t even be bothered to eat. I made her mashed up casserole, but she just licked at it.
        In my heart I know she is ‘fading away’ and I wish she would just pass away in her sleep, preferably when I’m holding her…..but that is selfish to excuse me from making this heartbreaking decision. The one you are facing too.
        I wish you well and hope we can both find the strength to do what must be done because we love them so much.

        • Trina says:

          We put Blossom down last Thursday. I brought her in to our vet and stay close to her the entire time until well after her last breath. I didn’t want for a moment her to be afraid and to know I was with her. I know she is in a better place, able to walk on her own, eat, play and all without pain. I hope that the life she had with us was full of fun and love. She is missed very much. She has joined our other two dogs Koal and Honey. My remaining 3 year old “Kona” thinks Blossom is on a long walk and keeps wanting to go by running to the front door and sniffing her leash. We just give her extra love and attention to get her through. Good luck, its not easy but whatever happens it’s for the dogs sake.

    • Darla says:

      Hi Amanda, my name is Darla .. I’ve written 2 posts on this subject, maybe you have read them. I know exactly how you’re feeling. One day you think ok it’s time to let them go and 20 minutes later you’ll think oh she’s not that bad yet maybe tomorrow. The age thing bothers me because most of the ages on here are 13-17. I’d say that’s a really good long life and that their dog deserves to be let go peacefully. MY DOG WAS ONLY 7 YEARS OLD. She was diagnosed with IVDD at age 6. I didn’t think she’d make it to 7, but she kept holding on. She had a disease that involved her spinal cord. The first signs that somthing was wrong were she wouldn’t jump off the bed. She used to play with my brothers dogs and they would chase each other around the room jumping on the couches then through the bedroom on the bed & so on. One day I heard her crying so I went to check on her. I found her on the edge of the bed tail wagging, but she was afraid to jump off. I thought it was her legs bothering her. This continued to get worse where she wouldn’t jump on or off the bed, she wouldn’t jump in or out of the car & so forth. I wanted to bring her to the vet, but everyone said no I’d be wasting my money. What a HUGE MISTAKE that was! I’ve learned that I should always trust my instincts and when I feel that somthing’s wrong I should do somthing about it. Anyways, when I finally did bring her to the vet I found out she had a herniated disc in her NECK!! The disc was inflammed & was pressing down on her nerves causing her front paws to knuckle under and cause her to fall down. She was in major pain & I didn’t even know it. They put her on anti-inflammatorys and pain meds. They helped for awhile, but she kept getting worse. Soon she was not walking @ all. I thought I’d have tp put her down, but the vet put her on Prednisone for 3 weeks and it was like a miracle! First she started to crawl, then she would take a few steps & fall and pretty soon she was walking well enough that she could go outside to potty. Everyone was so excited! That lasted for awhile, but as time went by she would get bad again. She had good & bad days. Everyday was different.. The ups & downs were so stressful. I’d be so happy and the next I’d be down again because she kept having setbacks. Anyways, sorry I’m getting carried away again. I could talk about her forever. By the time her birthday was coming I really thought she wouldn’t make it, but she did & more. Her b-day was Jene 26th & she made it until my b-day Oct.6th. I had her put to sleep on Oct.21st, 2013. At the end her back legs gave out and she could no longer handle her bowel movements. She could hold her urine all day into the night because she was afraid to go outside. She couldn’t hold herself up to poop or pee. She would just fall & end up laying in it. She would take a few steps, lose her balance & fall over on her side & wouldn’t be able to get herself up. It was heartbreaking to see her like that! I knew in my head that it was time for her to go, but In my heart I wanted to hang on to her. I finally knew that she was holding on to please me and I couldn’t stand the thought of her suffering 1 more day because I was to afraid to let her go. I made the appointment for a vet to come to the house. As the day came closer I would have panic attacks where I felt I couldn’t breathe, but when I looked in her eyes & saw that she no longer had the happiness or sparkle left I knew it was time. I was being selfish and I felt so guilty. What was she living for? She couldn’t walk, run, go up & down the stairs, her dignity was gone because she couldn’t control her bodily functions and she couldn’t play with her doggie friends anymore. It was heartbreaking & I couldn’t stop crying. I even cancelled 1 appointment with the vet cuz I couldn’t handle the thought of not seeing her anymore. I finally decided that she deserved to be set free of her agony. I had a vet come to the house where she was most comfortable. She layed on the bed and I got to hold & comfort her as she drifted off to sleep. I had soft christian music playing, my mom was with me and I got to say goodbye taking all the time I needed with her. I flt so proud of myself that I loved her enough to put my feelings aside & do what was best for her. You have to decide when you think your dog has suffered long enough & give her the best gift of letting her go. Please don’t make them suffer just because you can’t stand the thought of life without them!! They are the most loyal, loving, compassionate creatures that love you unconditionally and they will hold on as long as you let them because that’s what they do. It’s their nature to want to please you even if they are suffering in agony. Please give them the best gift in return for all they’ve given you and let them go!! You will not regret it. I know that she’s finally happy & painfree in heaven waiting for me & until I see her again I will be adopting a new dog and giving them all the love I can to give them the chance for a happy life. My Snickers would definately approve because I’ve got a lot of love to share. I pray that this helps clarify things for you. You will get through it and feel good about your decision. Good luck.

  71. Michele says:

    I am finding myself in the same boat as all these animal lovers. My ‘old pup’ Jingle is going to turn 16 Nov the 8th. He is a shihtzu mix. He has be on prednisone for quite a few years because of a growth on his spinal cord. This has given him a good quality of life, which I am so grateful. My Jingle is now partly blind and deaf. I find he eats and eats and drinks and drinks and he’s certainly not overweight, but on the contrary very skinny. He’s been puking mucus which gives him a bad odour then I need to bathe him which he absolutely hates. He stands and stares and often looks confused, I put him on my bed every night and he’ll sleep like a babe all night long. He has fallen off the bed a few times, I just need to pick him up and put him back on and he’ll fall back asleep. I must say his breathing is so weezy :( Yet he can fall in the puppy mode especially when I’m cooking turkey or ham…I’m at a point where I don’t know if he’s suffering and don’t even want to pick up the phone and talk with my Vet since I know I’ll probably end up crying like I did 2 years ago when I finally had the courage to make the final decision to have my 19 year ‘Belle’ (a beautiful black cat) put down. The pain and guilt are hard to handle after such decisions. I love my Jingle, but I’m believing I will be doing him a favour yet I just can’t get myself to do it. Another obstacle is the fact that I’m heading out for a weekend and I have to have him dogsat by a good friend…I just don’t know if that will be hard on my old dog. I’m sitting here writing this and deep down in my heart I know what should be done, then again he’s been my shadow for almost 16 years. This is rough…but as the Vet who sent us the challenge of writing about our situation says … writing it out often might bring some kind of relief. Maybe yes, Maybe no.

    • Dee says:

      Michele….I too have a Shih tuz thats 16 yrs old and is doin the same thing as ur Jingle’s…..and im havin a tuff time to make the right decision……This breaks my Heart…….

  72. Jessica says:

    So when I woke up this morning my angelo was waiting for me at the puppy gate as he always used to. He was very active today. ( well active in his own way, he was never much of a player) He walked around alot today and followed me all over as he used to. He has been eating a ton and driving soooo much water still that now I wonder if his kidneys are ok. He was having such bad diarrhea and after I gave him the meds for that yesterday, he hasnt pooped once today and hes eaten a lot. He did go for about 2 days with out food (his choice) so maybe hes just catching up? The last time he pooed was yesterday after noon. I started his lasix again for the fluid in his lungs/belly i guess that will take a day or two to kick in. Im just worried that the meds will make him sick again. Its suck a double edged sword. I know what i need to do. its just when is the issue? Today he seems sooooo good. but then again i dont want to wait until its really bad.

    for everyone else’s posts, it seems so clear to me for what should be done. Maybe bc its not my dog. But then when its me and my dog i can’t figure it out. I wish i could block out emotion and see it in black and white. I love my poor ang more than anything in this world and he deserves the best, and im trying not to be selfish. But i keep picturing me taking him to the vet for the final time and it tears me up. I cant imagine life with out him. How do people cope after this? i cant even begin to imagine a life with out him. Ive lost my mother to cancer and it wasnt even this hard. I will not have anymore dogs. Everyone says i will change my mind but no matter how much of a great life we would have together the end always comes and i cant deal with it. Hopefully ang can hang on a bit longer without suffering so i can spoil him a bit longer. i feel for everyone of you out there going through this. I have no true advise for this bc i have always said to everyone i know if something happens to me, to keep me alive as long as possible. But then I wouldnt want to make my pet suffer bc of my own beliefs. life is so hard sometimes.

    • Vicky says:

      Hello Everyone,
      I am sitting here reading all these posts and sobbing like a baby with my 15 year old ‘Precious’ tea-cup poodle by my side. Over the last couple of years, she has had two operations – one for tumors on her stomach and one for a large tumor on her female organ. She was on death’s door for both of these but came back amazingly each time. A few weeks ago, she stopped eating and was falling over – couldn’t keep her balance. I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with liver disease. I got all the meds and read posts about people who had successfully treated the disease so I thought I would be able to save her again. It seemed to work for awhile but she’s becoming weaker and just stares into space, obviously very confused. Her balance is bad and her hearing has been all but gone for quite a while. She walked off the bed last night and fell to the ground so I’ve brought her doggie bed in to our bedroom so she can just sleep on the floor. She can barely get up the stairs inside our house and I have to pretty much carry her out to the back yard to go to the bathroom yet, she can have good moments too. How do you know when it’s really time? We had to put down our other dog a couple of years ago but that was obvious since he had just had another seizure and was crying out in pain. I couldn’t even be in the room at the vet – my daughter was there with her boyfriend while my husband held me in the waiting room as I cried. I said goodbye and that was it. But Precious is my little girl – I’ve had her since she was 6 weeks old – and I can’t imagine being without her. I guess a decision will have to be made very soon. Thanks for all your posts. It truly helps to know I’m not alone. God bless all of you for loving your babies so much.

      • Dee says:

        Vicky….Your not alone…..Im reading everyones posting too…..which helps me know im not alone with my problem with my furbaby…..

  73. Liane says:

    I just said goodbye to my doggie Chloe, yesterday. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. She was a black miniature schnauzer, our first baby, she was 15 years old. She was mostly deaf and couldn’t see very well either. She had been having problems with incontinence, mainly at night so I started putting a diaper on her and that helped but she hated the diapers. She was slower going up and down stairs and we got her started on rimadyl for possible arthritic pain. I knew the day was coming when I would have to say goodbye and tried so hard to prepare myself. She started having trouble with the tile kitchen floor, her feet would slip out and she would not be able to get back up again. Sometimes she would pee and then lay in it. I always felt bad for her but would help her up and give her a bath. Then last Thursday she went outside like usual down the deck steps, I kept telling my husband that pretty soon she won’t be able to do the steps anymore and we will have to start letting her out in the front yard. This time she did not come back up the steps and I had to go looking for her. She was sitting on the patio so I carried her up. She was having a lot of trouble standing with her back legs. She didn’t seem in pain, just couldn’t really control the back legs. So I brought her to the vet and she said that she thought it was probably neurological because she would sometimes stand with her paw flipped under instead of on the pads of her feet and she wouldn’t instinctively flip her foot the right way. She said that we could do an xray to see if she had a back injury but the treatment for that would be surgery and I would never put her through that. I cried and cried at the vet and told her I would call her after I spoke with my husband. I brought Chloe home and agonized over what to do. Friday she struggled and fell over a lot but would still eat really good. Otherwise she was mostly in her bed. I carried her out to go potty and a few times she fell over trying to poop. I made the decision to have the vet come out Monday. Then I agonized over the decision all weekend, wanting to cancel the appt because I didn’t want to let her go. She seemed better on Saturday and Sunday maybe because she was getting all the attention and treats, I was so close to postponing it, but I thought of what would happen if I did, if she would have suffered. I keep telling myself that I did the right thing because she could have had a much worse death and wasn’t really living. I think it’s hard for me to really see how bad she was, I’m in denial and I have to keep reminding myself over and over that she was 15, she lived a good long life, she had a good weekend with me before she left, I held her and petted her and gave her all the food she wasn’t allowed to have before. She died with a belly full of bacon. Still I agonize over my decision. Everyone I have lost before has been sudddenly, my father and mother, but with this I made the decision. And I know people say that it is a loving one, I still feel such guilt and grief. Please respond with your thoughts. I could really use anothers perspective.

    • Liane says:

      I also kept thinking that the decision to do it would have been easier if she looked like she was suffering but then I would not want that either. So I could have waited until she was obviously suffering and then the decision would have been easier for me but it would not be easier for her. I made the hard decision to do it before she got to that point and so I don’t think she suffered too much but now I am suffering terribly. Better me than her I suppose. How do I deal with this pain?

      • Janet says:

        Years ago my sister in law took my mum’s pet dog to put down without my knowledge, I was away on holiday at the time. When I found out I was furious. After some thought I realised it was for the best he was aged eighteen. He was blind and deaf and hardly able to walk and we didn’t know if he was in pain or not, the truth is he had no quality of life. He passed away peacefully. I would never have had him put down even if he was in pain, so who was just. While we were all grieving he was in peaceful bliss. Guilt is a normal part of grief In time you will remember all the fun you had together.

      • Karen says:

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I need to put my 15 year old Lily to sleep due to kidney/liver problems. My rationale was to wait until she was in a lot of pain that is visual to me, but after reading this website and your comments in particular, I realize I am making the right decision by letting her go now and not waiting until she is in more pain. She is barely eating, doesn’t take her meds and just lies around. I realize now that she is showing me she is in pain by not eating and by refusing her meds.

    • Deidre says:

      I feel your pain and grief. Your situation is very similar to the situation we just experienced with our dog. We put out dog Spike, a toy poodle, to sleep three weeks ago tomorrow. He had turned 15 years-old in August. He was almost totaling blind and could not really hear any more. He also had trouble on the tile floor and starting having accidents in the house for about the last year. For some reason he starting waking up around 3:00 a.m. every morning to go out, I would take him out and then go back to bed. Some times I could hear him downstairs running into things, because he couldn’t see, for 1/2 hour or more. I would feel bad for him. I knew that sooner or later he would come back upstairs, go back to bed and then sleep until noon before he would need to go out again. For the last year or so he slept most of the day and I hope that he wan not in pain. When he would get up some times he would limp for a few minutes, but he seemed to be able to walk it off. My head tries to tell me that it was the right decision to put him to sleep. The vet said that his quality of life was not there. But my heart just won’t listen. I think maybe there was more that I could have done and maybe I should have waited. I miss him so much. I gave Spike a special meal the night before and extra treats and he did seem peppier than usual. I also thought about canceling the appointment, and some times I wish that I did. But I guess that would have been the easy thing to do for me, but not for him. It would have just been postponing what eventually would have to be done. I wanted him to pass on peacefully in his sleep on his own and naturally. But I read somewhere that that seldom happens. Plus I would not have wanted him to die alone or when I was at work. Everyone says that time will help heal the pain, right now that is hard to believe. If it helps any, I also read that putting your dog to sleep one day early is better than one day too late, and that waiting until they are in obvious pain in too late. I want to believe that some day we will be reunited. There is a poem called the Rainbow Bridge out there, maybe if you read it you will feel better. May time ease your pain and may memories of your dog Chloe make you smile.

      • Liane says:

        Thank you so much for your story. I am sorry for your loss. I think that no matter what, it’s always going to feel like we let them go too soon unless we wait until its too late and then we would feel bad that they suffered. Maybe even worse. Either way it hurts. It hurts so much because we loved them so much.

  74. jessica says:

    I adopted a chihuahua about 5 years ago from a shelter. I was told he was 5. After further investigation he was really 8 or 9. He came with the beginning stages of luxating patellas and i now know his “trachea issue” was beginning signs of CHF. Regardless i love him to death and he is my child. Recently he has taken a turn for the worse. The vet put him on lasix and enalapril. I think the meds hit his body to hard and he began throwing up and having major bloody diarrhea. He didnt want to eat or drink at all. The vet gave him fluids and meds to help the diarrhea and vomiting. They have seemed to help a bit and now hes drinking and eating on his own. I had to stop the lasix for a bit to get his system straight again and its only been 2 days and his cough is back and really bad. All he wants to do is sleep and hes been drinking tons of water but he drinks so fast he chokes almost. His back legs are shot due to weakness and also the luxating patellas. He peed earlier and just laid in it. thats the first time hes ever done that. it makes me sad to see him this way. He also cannot hold himself up to poop. I have to help him. the vet says hes not ready to give up on him yet. That if we can get these meds at a good place he can feel good again for maybe 8 months at the most. Is it worth it though is my question. I dont know if hes in pain. I think he was but he does seem to be ok now. He just lays in his bed all day/night, needs help getting up and down. Im so torn. No i dont feel like he has a great quality of life right now. But, will he if the meds work is the question? should I try it? The vet sent me home with an iv and fluids and shots for vomiting. That just seems a bit extreme to me. I have an amazing vet dont get me wrong. He wants to help as much as possible. I just dont know if im comfortable with all of this. I cant sleep at night bc I’m always checking on him to see if hes ok. literally im up all night with him. Im so stressed over all of this. Any advise would be very helpful.

  75. enrique olmos says:

    Hi there everyone. Like every comment posted I sure hope someone can tell me what to do with my cute all black mix dog who has finally made to 17 yrs old. We got him when he was a puppy around 1996.

    He is facing two things: right hind leg has some type of arthritis that leg is getting weak he does not put full weight and he also has a tumor I am sure its small in his right nose.

    He is still eating and does not walk much only stays in front of house he does feces and urinates in that area.

    I know he is uncomfortable he goes in circles more often not every minute. Many of you would say I am mean to keep him. but this dog has been the most unique dogs I have had.
    I wanted to give him till the end of October but it appears I am mean to keep him alive. He still eats, I give him a combo of raw food from primal pet foods with this antibio to control this infection he has in his right nose due to this tumor they say. I have no money only holistic methods and the best organic food I can give him which is why he is still hanging in there.

    Can someone tell me maybe you need more details to help me in this situation. like I said he is eating but I control it now. his right hind leg is starting to get weaker gradually by the weeks. I love him I wish God can put him to sleep when he is physically asleep. I love him I love him but I don’t want him gone. help please.

    • Marsha says:

      I am going thru the same thing with my miniature schnauzer Chewbacca aka Chewie. He is 17 and does the same things..walks in circles. He can’t see much and is deaf. I love him so much I can’t imagine life without him. I don’t want him to suffer yet I know he is just existing. He still eats and drinks as long as I keep him in his home environment. He poops and sometimes falls while pooing. I read your post and i feel for you because i am going thru the same things. I wish god would take him in his sleep so I don’t have to make this decision. I can’t even think about taking him to the vet and putting him to sleep. My heart is so broken. I wish i could help you with words to say but i will say you are not alone. We have to do what is best for our best friends. It is so very hard but it can’t be about us. It has to be about our beloved friend. We can’t let them suffer. We have to let them go to the Rainbow Bridge where they can run and play and not have no more pain.

      • enrique olmos says:

        Well Marsha thanks for your reply it is saturday 938 am as i read your comment. So lately this week my dog is appearing to be getting slightly worse he still eats. i give him organix dry food. and i do my best to force a meatball size dogfood with an antibiotic i have some left with a arthritis/pain reducing supplememnt by “I and Love and you” dog food brand. His rear right leg is getting weaker and his nose infection caused by a tumor does not abate. so yeah i am thinking this Monday to put him down. Oh my. thanks marsh hope the best for you in your decision. your last stmts are true. good day.

  76. Diane says:

    My Lasha Apso is 11 years old and has gone totally blind. Her biggest joy in life was looking out the window and now she sees nothing. She has now become so dependent on me. The problem is we are moving from up north to down south. She will be in a new home, and will not have the ability to look out the windows anymore. The other problem is we have to board her for two weeks while we get moved down there and she has been boarded before, but not being able to see so now nips at people. So the decision is ours but how to we know we are doing the right thing. I don’;t think she will do well with a new vet and a new groomer. Any advise

  77. Laura says:

    Thank you for writing this. I am struggling with whether or not we should put our dog down. He is only 4 1/2 years old. He was diagnosed with Wobblers Syndrome 2 years ago and we’ve been managing it with steroids for 2 years. Six months ago he lost control of his bowels and now he seems to be having the same issue with his bladder. He can’t stand up on the hardwood floors on his own. In the mornings when we come downstairs we find him laying in his urine and feces. For our sake, putting him down would be “easier”, but, according to the vet, he’s not in any physical pain so it makes it hard to decided when.

    • Karen says:

      Your pet does not seem like a very happy camper. I don’t think you would like to lie in in your own urine or feces or not be able to stand properly.
      I think it would be best to let your dog go and take him out of his misery. I have just made the very difficult decision to let my 15 year old dog go due to kidney/liver issues; she is not eating much at all. My vet said she is not in extreme pain, but is miserable and not comfortable and that it would be best for everyone not to wait until she is in a lot of pain. Your dog could be in pain and is not able to express it. I think dogs show their pain by their actions and change in behaviour.

  78. jen says:

    I have a 10.5 year old chocolate female…she has developed a tumor under her shoulder which is making it hard to breathe and get up and down. She recently has stopped eating.She will only eat special treats. Her breathing is heavy and today she started to cough..almost like she is choking or gaging.. my husband and I are so not ready to let her go, I know its selfish of us, but its holiday season and it would be so hard.. any wise words would be greatful..

  79. Benji says:

    I just read all the feed backs and it sure helped me be a lil more comfortable with my situation with my dog.I have a 15 yr old female pit bull that I’ve had for 13 yrs.She’s has been a really good doing over the years and is loved by people and other dogs .Well my situation is she started to having seizures every 3 months 3 years ago.Then it was occurring every month and she has had 3 in the past 24 hrs.Usually when she has seizure she ok after 1 hr and drinks her water .Today was the first time that she didn’t drink her water or eat .Also now she has a problem getting up and sitting down…My other dog knows that there is something up with her and doesn’t want to be really near her.I can sense that my other dog knows that this her time to go to dog heaven.My plan is to take her to the Vet tomorrow to euthanize her.Thank you for the encouraging messages that people shared about there dogs.

  80. Nanette Franz says:

    My little ratty died approx. a month ago, in my arms. I could kick myself for NOT having her euthanized when I took her to the vets 2 days before. I have euthanized all my previous dogs when they became too ill to function. This dog was such a baby, I made one final push to make her better and it did not work. She seemed better for a few hours and then crashed. Her brother has now developed the same issues and while i’ll be able to control the symptoms for awhile, maybe yrs, who knows, I have come to the conclusion when he becomes too ill, I will not have him poked, prodded and cut open to see what’s up. He’ll be put to sleep, quietly.

  81. scott leckelt says:

    I got my dog 14 yrs ago from the pound. She has been my best friend and has been so loyal to me I have actually had girlfriends get annoyed at how much she sticks to my side. This yr has been a bad yr for her. Her sight is fading, she has a bad leg that she limps on constatly even with the treatment I have her on, bladder problems and she cant keep still. She passes all day and all night panting and she is starting to stair off into nowhere for minutes at a time not even looking at me when I call her name. Some times I have to walk up to her and tap her to get her out the daze. But yet every day when I come home she is still the first ti meet me at the door. It breaks my heart to see her like this but its so hard for me to make the choice to put her down. I feel like I am keeping her around now for my benefit. I just dont know what to do…

    • Christy says:


      I totally understand! I am so sorry that you are having to go through this right now. I hope that you can find peace with whatever decision you make. I am still trying to decide what to do, or when to do it. It is so hard letting go of someone you love so much but I know it’s sometimes the best thing for them.


    • Crystal Friedrich says:

      The pain I feel when I think of her not being around goes from numb to heart wrenching. I literally feel my heart being pulled, I can feel the rush of adrenaline as the pain reaches a peak then declines, then my breathing becomes labored and the process starts again.
      I love her so much, my Maddy girl. She’s been a constant in my life for almost 13 yrs. She was there when I thought I had no one, no one to love or to love me. Then there she was. A gift to me and later a gift to my children who got to see her through their own eyes and love her in their own way. I have pictures of both of my babies in their bassinets with Maddy by their side. Cherished photos that will always warm my heart. She loved us, loved all who came through the door. If you sat in her spot on the couch, well move over and she’ll rest her head on your lap and paw at you to pet her.

      Through all the tough times of her back pain I would drop everything to take her to the vet, to skip an electric bill to pay her vet costs, anything it took, I did it. Later when her accidents turned to loss of bowels, I took care of it and I did so till the very end. At times I would be mad, upset, inconvenienced by the whole thing but I would look in her eyes and know that she felt bad and couldn’t help it. I was mad at the situation, never her.

      I’ve always wanted a dog and when I had the chance in life to have one, I was so very blessed to have her. She’s been the best friend I needed during sad times and during good. She loved me, followed me, and I hope will be there waiting for me when my time comes to leave this world. It’s true, the hardest decisions are the right ones,, that’s why it’s taken me so long to get to this stage, this end of the road, this grand finale- this final good-bye. I rather think till we see each other again and I can throw a ball that she can actually run and catch,, those were the days.

      I love you Maddy.

      • Marcy says:

        I feel your pain, I have had my little oscar for almost 13 years, he has been my constant companion, the one who has been there through good and bad times, when I have been sick, sad, tired or just had a bad day. He’s been there. We gave him to my son when he was six yrs old, now my son is 18, he has grown with oscar by his side.

        Oscar has started declining this year, starting with back legs arthritis, and his breathing being heavy. He can hardly go for a walk around the block anymore, which was always his favorite thing. He is always laying down, hardly eating except for his favorite treats and drinking lots of water.

        I know in my heart what needs to be done, but I don’t know yet when to do it. He looks sad, tired and he gives me a look of sorrow and then I feel he is ready to go. Reading all of your posts lets me to know I am not the only one dealing with the terrible heartache that I am feeling now. I feel sick to my stomach and so much pain just to think I will not see him again, my husband and son don’t want to deal with the decision of putting oscar down…..

        He has given us so many years of happiness, love and companionship. How do you deal with this??? I don’t want to see him suffering anymore. When is the right time? Thank you for sharing all of your stories.

        I will always love you Kiki…

    • Darlene says:

      Scott, I’m also trying to decide what to do. My Snickers is only 7 yrs old and diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease. It’s damaged her spine due to a bulging disc from her neck. She was diagnosed 1 year ago and it seemed she was getting better for awhile, but lately all she does is lye in 1 spot. Her back legs are giving out which makes it torture for her to get around. I know I’m keeping her around for my sake and it’s not the right way to treat someone who has given you so much love unconditionally. It’s my turn to show her that I love her enough to let her go. I can’t stand watching her suffer, but when she looks @ me with her big brown eyes and puts her face next to mine when I’m on the floor with her, I think maybe, just 1 more day I’ll put it off, but it’s been a month of putting it off and it’s not fair to her. Think of it as giving her/him the last loving gift in return for all they’ve given you and let them go peacefully with them in your arms. That’s what I will be doing. Hope this helps.

  82. Christy says:

    Randy and Daneen, Thank you so much! I am so sorry for your losses! I truly appreciated your words of kindness, it helps a lot.

  83. Christy says:

    I am really struggling with the decision on whether or not to put down our 17 year old Blue Heeler. She has been a part of our lives for so long but she has been having more issues lately and I would love some advice from anyone who has been through it. She has had bladder control issues for about a year but it is controlled by medicine. She just got through a really bad absess in her ear and she has always had skin issues but they are getting bad. She itches all the time and has little hot spots/ sores on her legs and feet. We have had her on steroids and other things to try to relieve the itching but it no longer works. Those all felt like dealable things to me but now she is having difficulty with her legs. Its probably in her joints, maybe arthritis… She almost has “seizures” in her legs and they give out completely. She is also very stiff and I think it’s hurting her, at the very least she is uncomfortable. Especially at night, she is up and down all night and cries sometimes. She is not active anymore, she doesn’t play but she seems happy to lay next to me and just sleep or get petted. i don’t want to put her down to early but I don’t want to make her suffer. Do you feel like you should put a dog down when they are uncomfortable? or wait until you know they are in pain? It’s kind of hard to tell for sure with her most of the time. Thanks for any input!

    • daneen says:

      I can completely relate. I just went through exactly what you’re going through 11 days ago with my 16 year old black lab mix. I am heartbroken and devastated because I miss her so much, but I am at peace knowing I did what was best for her. she needed to be ok more than I did. I felt like I knew but I went to my vet and he confirmed. so I had them come to my house and held her, rested my face on hers and let her go. I cry everyday because I miss her but remain eternally grateful for 16 years. if your baby is uncomfortable at 17, she’s only going to feel worse as time goes on. best we can do is love them enough…. easier said than done I know, if I didn’t just go through it I might have had something different to say… today I’m going to pick up her ashes and bring her home. but in reality, she’s always home to me. good luck to you. one of those times in life someone can say I know exactly how you feel and mean it…

    • Randy says:

      Hi Christy

      I had my yellow lab of 14 years put down on September 12 and I miss him very much. We had so many years of wonderful times together and I firmly believe that he is much happier now then he has been for the past two or three months. He is running and playing again now like he did when we was in his prime, and my son even had a dream that he came to him. His tail was wagging and he was kissing my son a lot, he appeared as if he was a lot younger and seemed to be telling my son that we did the right thing by him. My Sam was having trouble getting up and losing bladder control, the things that he used to enjoy for hours like playing in the sprinkler and swimming he could only do for a minute before he had to lay down again. He still loved to be petted and loved on and would climb up in bed with me when he was able to do so until the last. I know what you are going through. I hope that you can make the right decision for yourself and for your dog with all the love that you two have shared.

      • Liane says:

        Hi Randy! Thank you so much for your post. I just said goodbye to my dog Chloe, yesterday and the pain is unbearable right now. I liked that your son had a dream about him and he was happy, I wish that would happen for me so that I know she is ok. Chloe was 15yrs old and although I know it was a very long life, I still didn’t want to let her go. She couldn’t see well and couldn’t hear, started having incontinence issues so I would put a diaper on her, which she hated. Then one day she couldn’t control her back legs very well. She could manage on carpet ok but kept falling on the kitchen floor. I could have kept taking care of her and carrying her around, I would do anything for her but I chose to let her go and the decision is causing me such agony. I keep telling myself that I did the right thing, I gave her lots of love and attention and all the food she normally couldn’t have before she went. The vet came to our house and I laid in front of her face and petted her head the whole time. Still I am a wreck, I can eat or sleep. I miss her terribly, she is everywhere I look. I don’t know how to deal with this. I keep praying to God to send me some kind of sign or dream to tell me that she is in heaven with him and my Dad.

        • Randy says:

          Hi Liane

          It still really hurts :( I started crying when I read your post. I am absolutely sure you did the right thing, such love as you have is the most wonderful gift of all.
          I went out and got a puppy and it helped me. I still think about my Sam a lot but the joy of a new puppy gets my mind off of it.
          I know my Sam is with my other dogs now and they are all playing together and I am sure that the day I die I will see them again. Be comforted and I hope you know that you are by no means alone with your feelings.

  84. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience of putting your dog to sleep. I know you are helping others who have to make this difficult, heartbreaking decision.

    Walking my dogs today, I met a woman who recently put her dog to sleep. She said it was the worst experience she’s faced yet, because her dog loved her so much. But, she said she wanted to spare him pain…so she let him go.

    • Elise Hokman says:

      It’s been a week and a half now, since I euthanized Ike. It’s amazing how many friends he had. I still take Molly and Baboo out and have been stopped on the street daily…”Where’s Ike?” (I do not know the names of most of these people). Each person has a fond memory of Ike that they shared..or a characteristic of Ike that they enjoyed most. He is missed by many..and that gives me comfort that yes, I made the best decision.

  85. Megan says:

    I had to make the decision to put our 13 year old Maltese to sleep today. He had a hernia and couldn’t poop, the poop accumulated around the anal area. At first the vet gave him some laxatives to see if it would alleviate what we assumed was constipation, but for the past week he began crying whenever he needed to go. It was really sad seeing him that way. He hardly showed any signs of pain before.

    When I took him to the vet today, I wasn’t expecting to hear that the best thing would be to let him go. They explained that they could operate on him, but whenever he would need to poop the stitches would rip and he would end up the same as before. It was almost like he knew that something was going down because he stuck to me like glue and didn’t want to move. My mother and I took a while and finally decided that maybe it would be the best thing for him, but the look in his eyes I’ll never forget :( I feel like the decision might have been to hasty :/ Maybe he would have been okay if we decided to go with the operation.

    Initially I didn’t want to stay when they put him to sleep, but then I thought, why should he be leaving this world with strangers around him… It was so quick, quicker than what I expected… His eyes remained open throughout and he couldn’t look at me. I stood there telling him that we loved him and will miss him and that he will be with our other two dogs in doggy heaven… And it was almost like he made peace, he just had a look of acceptance on his face. And then, it was over. I cried as I left the clinic, like I ran away after doing something so terrible. I always thought I was a strong person, but having to make that decision was so hard and I can’t stop thinking about his face and his eyes and how they became cloudy.

    I just feel like maybe it wasn’t my place to make that decision for him, but reading the comments above, I now know that he couldn’t make that decision himself and I am certain that the veterinarian knew exactly what she was talking about. Why have your pet live in agony?

    What made it worse was that our other two dogs saw me taking Gino and that I did not return with him. They ran around the house looking for him. I wonder what they must be thinking…

  86. jamie says:

    We have two great babies. Jack and Hachiko are the loves of our lives. Jack is a 12 yo black lab. He was close to death’s door when we made the decision to have a major operation (we couldn’t afford)14 months ago tumors (benign) and spleen removed and has been doing great since. The best money we ever spent. His 10 month old buddy keeps him hopping. She is 1/3 of the size of Jack but what a bundle of wildness and cuddle power. I know we only have so long with these loving animals and although Jack is great today . . .reading all these frantic dog lovers posts brings pain knowing soon we will have to say good bye to our big boy. Hachi is small terrior/lab mix rescue very important in our lives. She is happy, active, athletic and loves to start up trouble with Jack. Mouth wrestling and then cuddlng together. Hoping we get years more together with our beautiful babies. Thanks for this posting.

    • Darlene says:

      Why are you on this post? This is for people who have to make the painful decision to put our best friends to sleep! How insensitive are you? I’m glad your dogs are healthy, happy and will live for many years, but that does not help help me feel any better. My dog is 7 yrs old and very sick! I have to make the hardest decision of my life of when to put her down. Are you on the wrong site? If you are not, you are very insensitive.

      • belle says:

        I think she is just saying that she had that decision at that time to put to sleep or operate. She chose to operate although Im sure she was also advised against it and it worked out for her. I am glad she shared as I was in the same situation. She is just saying it can be the right or wrong decision and what you decide is ok either way. I know we all have to go some time but they are so dependant on us and that’s what makes it hard. Realistically you never know how its going to work out so you just have to do what you think is best its all you can do. Good luck everyone and may you find peace for yourself and your pet. x

  87. Diana Rojas says:

    “9/20/13 Last night Charlie took his last breath of life. He passed on peacefully with me by his side. It happen naturally and for that I am thankful, I didn’t have to make the decision to put him to sleep. It is not easy, I miss him so much. As I said goodbye to him I told him how much I love him and how thankful I was for everything he has given me. Bye, bye my boy I will forever hold you in my heart.”

    “9/25/13 I got Chalie’s ashes they are inside a beautiful wood box, it came with a his Paw Print rock and printed poem from him talking about our life together. This was beautiful and didn’t expect to get so much, really glad I decide to get him cremated at this Bird and Animal Hospital. It’s still hard, I’m missing him so much, but I know he is better now and we will see each other again, Love You my boy. Thank You for your support, it was really nice being able to write to you on this blog. Blessings to you <3

  88. Jennifer says:

    I am the owner of a Maltese who will be 15 in December. She’s got arthritis and has some difficulty with steps but can manage them most of the time. She no longer jumps up on the furniture. She still eats and drinks normally. She’s been having accidents in the house more and more often the past year, which is my major complaint about her. She mostly just lies around the house or hides under the bed. While she moves more slowly than she used to, I really don’t know if she’s in any pain or not, she’s just a sad old dog. My husband and I have discussed putting her down but he’s totally not on board with making that decision. I had to put my childhood dog down when I was in college but she had a broken hip and couldn’t stand so that made the decision a lot easier. With my Maltese I just don’t know when the right time will be. I find myself praying that she just passes peacefully in the night and we never have to make that decision.

  89. lulu says:

    our old lady is a 12yr black Labrador who hubby and i have had since she was 6wks old…we have no kids so her and our 1yr black lab pup are our kids lol.
    anyway recently dee started wetting herself (despite being on propalin syrup for continuance)..she would go out for a poo but seemed to be afraid to pee .otherwise bright ..eating and drinking…and sleeping lot.not been keen to walk for months but continued to love her twice weekly swim outside with her life jacket on!took her t vets 2wks ago to have her pts …lift her out car and she zooms into the vets,wagging the tail and has a wee in the grass!obviously we now have a dilemma as she looks so well!so we start a course of tramadol in case she is in pain.2 weeks of painkillers and she appeared happier…until Mon this week …having to be carried out to the garden for the toilet (ok for hubby and i who are strong but she weighs 40kg and elderly in-laws can’t lift her!)…refusing to go down steps…struggles to get up..panting more….wet in the morning(despite being out for wee before bed and she has never messed in house even when a puppy !)3 times now she has put her head down to sniff before going for a wee…gasped and then taken off at speed as if something has caused pain…and not done a wee!her back end is wasted away and she has recovered from liver failure 5yrs ago but we are now at the stage where i think she is suffering and the rainbow bridge is beconing.i was a vet nurse for 12yrs and i assisted with putting dogs to sleep every day and it never made me feel as sad as this!my horse had to be pts last year..we had him 8yrs but he broke his leg so we had a reason for his demise.dee feels so different when she looks at me with her big brown trusting eyes and waggy tail…it just breaks my heart that the final decision is mine….and yes i used to say to others like me…it is the last thing that you can do for your dog….but it doesn’t make it any easier!tomorrow the vet will come to the house and put her to sleep underneath her favourite rhododendron bushes where she sleeps the day away!:(

  90. daneen says:

    I have been struggling with the decision to make the call for my 16 yr old black lab mix. she was diagnosed with cushings last year and I opted not to treat it due to her age. I was having laser treatments done on her legs for the arthritis but have stopped that since about April. she won’t go down the stairs at all anymore after a few stumbles/falls so we have tarp, shower curtain liners and puppy pads all around. actually have had that for the past year be ause the stairs were sporadic. not sporadic at all anymore). she still eats all of her food and loves it. she plays with my other dog who is a playful little (albeit old) puggle and sge barks with strength. she drinks and pees alot (symptom of cushings). getting up and walking becomes more and more strained. I’ve had to hold her up twice to poop in the last couple of weeks. she has little tremors and has gotten so skinny and lumpy… god as I’m writing this it’s helping me realize I’m doing the right thing. I’m just having such an incredibly hard time knowing she’s so coherent. I literally was crying to her earlier saying just tell me! I’ve never had to do this, Ive always said I love her enough to do what’s best for her. but it’s been so difficult convincing myself that the time is now. I kind of feel like dr kervorkian. this is the most miserable thing I’ve ever had to deal with on my own. total wreck.

    • Laurie says:

      Dear Daneen,

      My heart goes out to you as you make this decision. I’m glad that writing has helped you see that putting your dog down is the right thing to do. It’s an act of love and compassion, and she will rest in peace.

      Blessings and sympathies,

      • Daneen says:

        I am so conflicted… she’s been good last night and this morning. I don’t know I really feel like she is telling me it’s time, it’s more me not wanting her to suffer. she walks, stumbles sometimes, def eats her food, ESP when I put in boiled chicken and broth. she’s pooped fine based on the evidence of it being together on a pad, drinks and pees alooooooot, sometimes not so much on the pad. she’s just so coherent. uncomfortable definitely. something neurologically is going on… one eye closes sometimes and the tremors are small and happen occasionally. she doesn’t really give me kisses anymore but it’s like she wants to sometimes. (we’re smoochers). I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know if ill ever know! this is the most difficult dilemma I have ever known. :(

    • Lee Ann says:

      We lost or 11 year old sheltie/cavilier King Charles cross a month ago. IT has been terribly hard. She was also still loving her food and us but had gone completely blind and her eyes were really swollen and bulged out. I had many sleepless nights worrying about her and just thoughts of putting her to sleep made me unbearably sad. She was starting to wander outside and get lost in our house where she had lived since she was 6 weeks old. Then, one day she died a painful death.
      I knew she was failing but because I couldn’t put her down, she suffered and it haunts me. WIth hindsight I know the kindest think I could have done is put her to sleep instead of letting her live in confusion and end up dieing a hard death.
      It helps me to keep a notebook and each time I think of something about her I made a note. It helps me to remember the wonderful things about her and know I won’t forget her.

  91. Brenda says:

    My husband and I are in our early 60s. We had to put our beloved shih tzu Cocoa to sleep October 2011. He was 11 years old. We had rescued him from a shelter when he was 5 years old and we had over six wonderful years with him as a member of our family. He was to the point that he couldn’t see well and was having walking into doorways and furniture, he couldn’t hear very well, and he wasn’t eating much. His legs were getting to the point we had to carry him outside to potty and he would huddle where we put him down like he had no idea what he was doing there and waited until we picked him up and carried him back inside. Sometimes he would look at us like he didn’t know who we were. It was a hard decision to make. We missed him so much–and still do.

    We decided last year to rescue another shih Tzu from a shelter. This time we adopted what we were told was a 2-3 years old, figuring we would have a lot more years with him. We were told he only had one eye due to owner neglect. He had been adopted, but returned in less than two weeks–the shelter said because the people said he was “vicious” towards their young children. He was just returned a couple days before we found him. He was being treated for a severe ear infection at the time of adoption, but that was all right with us because we fell in love with him, and he didn’t seem vicious to us. I re-named him Riley because he refused to respond to the name the shelter told us he had. He fit in with us with no problem.

    Late spring I noticed that he was starting to be not quite himself, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He would have times when it seemed like he was breathing so hard even though he doesn’t do anything but lay around. He got where he didn’t like to go outside and play and just would go out to potty then right back in. He even started going potty in the house occasionally. He wasn’t eating like he had been, and was starting to get snappy and growly.

    I took him the vet in July because he was due for his yearly shots and got so many shocks that I’m still trying to take them all in. Our “2-3 year-old” baby is actually a senior dog of 10-11 years. He also has a bad case of heartworms that the vet said he probably had when he was at the shelter because we’ve been giving him heart worm preventive ever since we got him and the vet said it was very advanced. He also has a dislocated hip that probably happened when jumping off the chair or bed, and that will require a surgery that my husband and I can’t afford. He seems to have adapted to the hip problem all right for the present time, and he doesn’t seem to be requiring much in the way of pain medication at the moment.

    I take him back to the vet on Tuesday. We were thinking of starting his yearly shots then–because of his problems and all the meds he was being hit with at first the vet felt it was best to delay the shots. I think we’ll wait because he will be starting the second round of Doxycycline for his heartworms–one month on, two months off for at least a year is what we were told. The medication hits him hard and he is totally out of it the whole time he is on it. Hopefully his anemia will be better. He just sleeps almost all the time, and when he’s “up” he just lays on either my lap or my husband’s lap. He will only go outside when we force him to go out–literally have to carry him outside and sit him down. I will sit outside with him for an hour or more and he will just lay there on the ground. He sometimes potties outside, but the last few days he’s been doing it all in the house–our bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room–no room has escaped. I don’t know if he can’t hold it or what the problem is. He doesn’t give any indication that he needs to go out, which is why we take him out every couple hours. He also has times when he “spits up”–I have never changed the food he is on, so it’s not from a change in diet, and we don’t feed him people food. No quite sure what that is about.

    I am having such a struggle right now. We don’t want him to get into the shape that Cocoa was in towards the end, but also don’t want to be reading more into his problems than what there is. And much as we love him, I have to be realistic and consider the financial aspect of it. I don’t feel it’s fair to make him suffer because we can’t afford the surgery that he needs on his hip. I’m so torn because I don’t want to see him suffer like Cocoa, but I also don’t want to make a “hasty” decision. Especially when all of a sudden he will have a “good” day when he will eat well and actually pick up his ball (which we can’t throw for him because we have hardwood floors and don’t want to risk him damaging his hip further by sliding on the floor). It’s so hard to get the thought out of my head that maybe I’m just being selfish by thinking that maybe putting him to sleep would be the best for him. Am I just jumping the gun and being selfish? I want to do what’s best for him–I hate that he has such a poor life right now. I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that Riley is so old!!

    • Laurie says:

      Dear Brenda,

      What a shock, to discover the dog you thought was so young was actually a very different dog! That on its own is difficult to comprehend, much less the thought of putting him to sleep. So much to handle at once.

      I don’t think putting Riley to sleep is jumping the gun or being selfish. It sounds like he’s not enjoying a good quality of life right now, and the medications and treatments to make things “better” will actually cause more stress, confusion, and pain.

      You’re making the decision to put him to sleep based on how he’s enjoying life right now…and I believe that’s the most important place to come from. That’s how you know it’s the right thing: you put your own feelings aside, and do what’s best for your dog.

      I don’t want to encourage you to make any particular decision, but I do believe that putting a dog to sleep is an act of love and compassion. It’s our final good-bye, a gesture of mercy and faith. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable with the decision you make, and that you know in your heart you’re doing it out of love for your dog.

      Blessings and sympathy,

    • Lee Ann says:

      I don’t think you are being selfish if you put your elderly dog to sleep. Is many ways it would be the kindest thing you could do for him. it will be much harder on you than it will be for your little dog. It sounds like he didn’t have the best life or care before you adopted him. You gave him a wonderful life and good care in his later years and all the time you had him.
      He has a lot of health problems and none of them make him feel good. The resources to keep a dog alive longer than God intended can be terribly expensive and miserable for the dog, too.
      I had the same feelings you express with our wonderful old dog. We loved her and she was our little girl. We suspected she was suffering, but couldn’t be certain so we just kept loving her and taking the best care of her we could. We just couldn’t come to terms with putting her to sleep.
      Dogs don’t show pain unless it is terrible. We would see her limping across the yard but if we talked to her she would stop limping and wag her tail for us. Her quality of life just wasn’t what it should be. She was blind and would run into furniture and walls and doors and we helped her navigate all the time. Often times she seems very confused and scared. Because she was blind, she ended up having an accident and dying a hard death. We believe she got confused and lost. Now, I realize that the kindest thing we could have done is be with her as she wnet to sleep. She wouldn’t have had to suffer would have had a painless end and been pain free.
      I suspect that if your dog is getting crabby and has had a personality change, it is because it hurts and is miserable. I have found studies that explain how dog’s brains fail much like humans with Alzheimers Disease and that could explain some of the behavior you describe.
      There are so many sweet healthy dogs that have never had a chance at life and will be euthanized or spend their lives in kennels without a family and they have so much love to give I think your resources would be best used to adopt a homeless dog that can still enjoying life and is able to contribute to your quality of life, too. With your kind hearts, you deserve a companion that is enjoying life and your home and that dog will be so lucky and happy to have you.

  92. Darlene says:

    Today my 16 year old long haired dachshund was put down. I stayed with her by her side just like she has been by mine for all these years. She was at peace and feels no more pain. When she got incontinent I knew I could likely live with that, put her in a pen and get puppy pads. But when she would frequently fall over and not be able to get up and then pee all over herself and lay in it, I knew it was time. She will be missed by the whole family but mostly by me. She was my little shadow.

  93. Amy says:

    My german Sheppard mix, Buddy is 12the years old. My husband keeps telling me its almost time. Buddy has arthritis in his back legs and cannot walk very well. We have to make him go outside most of the time ans he is starting to go to the batgroom ib the house. He is eating fine and seems quite happy when laying down. I’m not sure what to do. I have not really been through this before.

  94. Kathy says:

    I’ve never had kids, I’ve only had her – My Mosa Girl, short for Hermosa, a chocolate chesapeake bay retriever……..I’m hurting so much knowing that it’s time and I just can’t make the call to the Dr. She used to eat a bone in minutes, now it’s weeks, she used to run miles with me, now it’s a few steps to the pool, she used to bark, now she grunts, she used to “go potty” now she can’t control her urine….but she still has that adorable face that lights up when she see’s me, she still watches my every move, she still does her tricks for her treats, she knows she makes me so proud………uggghhhh

    She has been so special to all those that have gotten to throw the ball for her, take her for walks and just give her that Snoopy rub she loves so much! She’s been there for me for over 12 years, 12 years of A LOT of life. I pray that she will go in her sleep, but realize I’m being selfish by wanting to hold on so that I don’t have to make the decision. I am in so much pain, my heart actually hurts, literally hurts. My eyes are filled with tears but somehow finding this website and letting me write down my thoughts is helping me know that I am not alone when it comes to how humans can love animals so much. I am grateful she has taught me the power of friendship, love and to always spend the day like it’s your last. God give me strength over the coming weekend to make the call to the Dr. I’m gonna need it……….thank you for listening.

    • Michelle says:

      I put my little girl to sleep tonight, was the hardest thing ever, had breathing difficulties and many panic attacks but in my heart I knew it was the only thing I could do, she had cancer (although 6 weeks ago you would never have known as she ran for miles) she was in pain, she tried to greet me at the door but just staggered to the porch, she stopped eating even the tastiest morsels of food today so I just knew. She is wrapped in her blanket in the garage at the moment and I have this urge to bring her out and cuddle her but she has gone, so tomorrow will see her burial, she was a special dog and as sad as I feel I was honoured to have her in my life for so many years and this was my last act of love and kindness, although I didn’t want to do it, I had a fab vet and he sedated her before the final injection, she had no idea what was happening other than me kissing and holding her, today will be with me for the rest of my life but it had to happen. I hope as tough as it is you are strong and make the right decision for your dog and best friend. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  95. Randy says:

    We put our Sam down this morning. He actually was able to get up today on a few occasions, so it was easier then I thought it would be from that standpoint. The doctor was wonderful and he examined Sam and told us that there was nothing that could be done to restore his quality of life.
    The thing that really hit me is that he told us that we are the only ones who could really tell what to do, and asked us if he had given us a sign. The answer was yes, Sam looked into my eyes yesterday with an expression that I had never seen before. It was not sad, or begging for pity, or anything other than to tell me that it was over. I knew what he was telling me. He looked at my son a little later the same way.
    It was still very, very difficult but when it was over I felt more relieved than anything else. His suffering was over, and he had all the love that it is possible to give his whole 14 years of life. When something hurts this bad, it is like when you get a really bad cut, the feelings go numb. That is where I am now, I am sure the feelings will come back soon and I will be a mess.
    I gave him one final gift of love by sacrificing my feelings for his good. I miss him so much and it has only been 5 hours. He will take his place with the ashes of the 2 other dogs he spent most of his life with, in a cedar box on my bookshelf. I hope that they are together again.

    • Michelle says:

      I did the same with my girl tonight and I feel for you, it was my last act of love for her, it hurt but she deserved to be pain free, and yes I saw the look too so I know what you mean. Love to you and your family xxxxx

  96. Randy says:

    I have a 14 year old Yellow Labrador Retriever that has had a wonderful life but the past couple of months he has started to go down hill. He has had arthritis for years and has been taking medication for it but yesterday he just could not get up. He finally did but it was a huge effort and today he it is like he is telling me that it is time for him to go. He seems to know. He has lost bladder control for the first time last night and today it is worse. He always loved to play in the sprinkler and would spend hours biting it and letting it soak him so we thought we would let him do that one last time. He finally was able to get up and he went out in the yard and went over to the sprinkler and looked like he was having fun for a minute, and then he came back in and laid down. I love him like a son and I am crying a lot. But I know that his quality of life has deteriorated over the past 24 hours to the point that I could never forgive myself for his discomfort. I called the vet and told them today and we will go at 8:00 in the morning tomorrow. I will keep him as comfortable as I can until then. All of a sudden he just really went down. I knew this time was coming but I did not think the process would just accelerate so fast. My son and my wife will go with me tomorrow, I will need help getting him into the car.
    Some people ask how can you go through this? The answer is simple, I have had 14 wonderful years with him and there is nothing in life that is worth more than that. I love him so much and he loves me even more.
    I have a Golden Retriever that is 4 years old and he is going to miss him as much as I do, so we will go out and look at puppies. I will have another dog but this one has touched my life like no other has or ever will.
    I hope that when the day comes for me to leave this life that I will see him again.

    • Laura says:

      I was glad to read your comments. I have a 14 yr old yellow lab and we have been trying to hold on to her for too long. She falls and can’t get up and is on meds for pain and seizure. I know she isn’t happy most of the time. I think we need to let her go but it is so hard. You put it into perspective and I think we will visit the vet soon too.

      Take care

    • Patrica scott says:

      As I sit here reading your stories I watch my 15 year old lab mix Sadie I,m having a had time calling my vet in my heart I think it is the right thing to do she will be my fourth dog to go to heaven in the past four years and I hurt so much only people who love animals will understand the pain.I was up with her most of the night she just could not get comfortable unless I was rubbing her when I stop she would restless please dear god help me through the pain we all go through when letting our loved ones go to a peaceful place.

  97. Victoria says:

    I always told myself that my dogs will live forever. I wish I hadn’t. The time is here where I’m left with the dreaded decision is it time? My girl is going to be 15 in a couple weeks. She’s a Dalmatian. My first dog ever, had her since I was four. She’s so healthy, except her arthritis. She can walk, but its crooked and she looks crippled. She now can’t stand up on her own and constantly needs a family member to hoist her up, she whines and whines until we do. then she’s up and falls several times before she can keep her balance. I know just with the fact she can’t get up on her own is a red flag, but I can’t do it. Somedays I say yes, it’s time. Then I see that she’s pretty healthy and I feel like I’m going to cut her life short. She sits outside and smells the air, the grass, enjoys life. I’m sitting here crying my eyes out as I’m typing this. I just don’t know what to do. I love her so much. All she can really do is sleep. No more walks, no more playing, no more chasing squirrels. I know it’s time, but I just can’t do it. This is my first baby.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Victoria,

      I am so sorry for what you’re going through. It’s such a difficult decision, especially since our dogs love us so much. They rely on us for love, security, food, safety…putting them to sleep seems like a huge betrayal.

      And, what will happen to us when they’re gone? Lonely, sad, less love, less acceptance. It’s a bleak existence.

      But….we can’t keep our dogs forever. They feel pain, confusion, and old age. They can’t make the decision to leave this earth on their own. They need us to love them and take care of them and even make this terrible decision for them.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you as work this through.

      Blessings and sympathies,

    • Tom Cool says:

      People make the mistake of thinking that a pet is their baby. A pet is a friend. Have a real baby that looks and thinks like you and you will know the difference.
      As for your pain, understand that there is no happiness in any relationship in this world without an equal amount of unhappiness when it is gone. Try to love in a detached way because that is the only way that works.
      By being attached in your relationship with your pet, it takes a long time to balance out the happiness that you had.
      I don’t make up the rules. I have to live by them like everyone else.

  98. Kevin says:

    We’re struggling right now. Milo, our 14 y/o miniature dachshund still wags his tale and comes to us for love and a pat on the head. He can’t see very well, his eyes are cloudy, he can’t hear us very well, he wanders around confused a lot of times, and now recently he’s lost most of his bowel control. We kennel the dogs at night and he has started going in his kennel, his bed, on the floor. The whole family is afraid it’s time but we feel guilty because we’re afraid we’d be putting him down for our convenience. I know he’s old but he wags his tail and still loves us. I need advice. Please.

    • Kevin says:

      I forgot. He also goes on barking jags at night, sometimes for hours. We let him out, we see if he wants water or food. It looks like he’s scared and confused. He’ll stop if I let him out of his kennel and let him lay in my lap while I sit on the floor but I just can’t do that all night. I work and have to get at least some sleep.

    • Darlene says:

      Kevin, I also have a miniature dachshund that will be 15 in November. She also can’t see well or hear well, wanders around confused and goes to the bathroom wherever she is. She also cannot bend her back legs very well so walking is awkward. She still eats but is losing weight, she weighs 7.5 pounds down 1 pound from her usual weight. She has started throwing up white foamy mucous material quite often, particularly after she drinks water. She doesn’t seem to be in pain but she doesn’t wag her tail any longer either. I am at the point of making the decision to put her to sleep but I can’t force myself to take her to the vet. I need advice also

      • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

        I wish I could give you the advice you need about putting your dog to sleep! The problem is that I don’t know how your dogs feel or how much pain they’re suffering. Maybe they’re not in pain at all!

        Even if I knew exactly how your dogs feel, even if I was a veterinarian…I couldn’t tell you if you should put your dog to sleep. It’s a decision you need to make for yourself, for your dog, and for your family.

        I do know that dogs are very good at hiding their pain. They don’t walk around crying or whining — unfortunately.

        The other thing is the dogs’ quality of life. What has changed – what made you search for information on putting your dog to sleep? Something has changed for you and your dog. You need to look at what is different, what is making you think you might need to say good-bye.

        Kevin, I don’t believe that putting your dog to sleep because he is soiling his kennel means that it’s for your convenience. It’s gross to clean up, yes. But it’s painful for the dog to have to do that. We know dogs don’t poop where they sleep, and they often don’t like to go near their homes – much less in their beds! So I honestly think that if you put your dog to sleep based on what you shared…it’s not for your convenience.

        Darlene, it sounds like your poor mini dasch is winding down. One of my dogs is 7 pounds, and losing 1 pound is HUGE at that weight. Vomiting is a problem, and that she can’t walk well….it sounds like she is literally on her last legs. How do you want her to spend her last hours on earth? How bad or sick does she have to get before you let her go?

        Please know that my heart breaks for you, and I wish our dogs could die in their sleep. But sometimes we have to make the decision for them – it’s our final way to show our love and compassion to them.

        In peace, compassion, and love,

  99. Eileen says:

    My dog scooby is only 3 we thought he had an acl but turns out its bone cancer. We do not want to amputate and chemo as prognosis doesn’t look good much longer than one year. I am very confused and torn with what to do. As much as I love him I do not want him suffering. He walks around on three legs obviously in pain but he still runs up to greet us wags his tail still wants to chase the neighbors cat and loves to go out and walk. However it’s clear that he lays down much more and sometimes doesn’t want to get up to follow us around like he usually does. He is uncomfortable at nigh he iltosses and turn trying to get comfortable and sometimes he sits up and stares at me I. The middle of the night. I just don’t think it’s time to pit him down but I so t want him to suffer. How do I know ? I’m so confused.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Oh Eileen, I am so sorry to hear about Scooby. Bone cancer is terrible, and chemotherapy is even worse.

      What is the root of your confusion? As an objective bystander, it seems to me that putting him to sleep is the most compassionate, loving thing you can do.

      Of course, it’s easy to say this when it’s not my dog. But, I wouldn’t want either of my dogs to suffer for one second longer than they have to. I believe dogs have spirits and souls, and I’ll see my dogs in Heaven after they pass. Or, I’ll go first and wait for them up there!

      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I’m sorry I don’t have any words of wisdom or comfort to give you. It’s such a difficult decision, and anything I say seems insignificant and meaningless.

      Blessings and sympathies,

      • Eileen says:

        Hi Laurie thank you for taking the time to write back I appreciate that. I guess I wasn’t clear with my post I am so distraught it’s hard to articulate. We are going to put him down this has been decided. I’m confused about when to do it. He seems happy still despite his discomfort but who am I to say his level of pain. I just don’t want to put him down if we still have time with him but my first concern is scooby. So I guess what I’m trying to say is how so we know when.

        • Laurie says:

          Dear Eileen,

          I’m sorry – I can’t tell you when would be the best time to put Scooby down….I’m not a veterinarian, and even if I was…I suspect nobody can predict exactly when he might take a turn for the worse.

          But now that I think about it again…I think that you’ll know when it’s time. If he’s okay right now, then maybe you take it one day at a time until he tells you when he’s ready to go. Maybe you’ll have a solid and real sense that it’s time to say good-bye when something happens, which I can’t predict right now. Maybe he’ll yelp, or not sleep, or…I don’t know. But he’ll give you an indication that he has had enough.

          In the meantime, did you read the article I wrote for another reader. She asked for help mentally preparing to put her dog to sleep, and it may help you, too:


          Please stay in touch, and let me know how it unfolds. Keep taking deep breaths, and trust yourself and your dog to work together to end peacefully.


  100. Tina says:

    Hi, I’m crying sitting here writing this after reading all the other comments and your description of putting your own loved puppy to sleep. We have two dogs a 3 yo male rotti who touch wood has had nothing but happiness in his life and a 2 yo female rotti who has been tr

    • Tina says:

      Through more than most dogs in their life. She was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia before she turned one and underwent an elbow operation which unfortunately didn’t do too much to help. Just before her 2nd birthday she tore her right crutiate and tore it again before it healed so had two ops on that. Now we think she may have torn her left :( she can’t play like our other man and if she does she suffers. We have her on a jd dry, get her regular cartrophen injections and she has a daily anti inflammation tablet – we are torn about whether we put her through another operation with an extended period of heightened pain or if we make the excruciatingly painful decision of putting her down. She’s so young and like one of our children but we hate worrying all the time about the pain she might be in and having to hold her back from being a normal dog incase she does more damage to herself :(

      • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

        Dear Tina,

        I’m sorry you’re going through this with your girl. It sounds like a very difficult decision that you need to make…and you have to keep her best interests above all health.

        I don’t know what death is like…but I believe it’s not painful, scary, or worse than life. You know how all accounts of near death experiences are so positive and hopeful? That’s because maybe death is in some ways better than life.

        Of course, I don’t know anything. I just think it’s important to take comfort in things that make us feel better when we are facing something we don’t know anything about – like death.

        I don’t know if this makes sense, but I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

        Blessings, let me know what you decide,

  101. Lori says:

    My husband and I are dog lovers. At the moment we have two affenpinschers which we rescued. One is 13.5 years old and the other is about 11 years old. They both use to be very content with life, but of late, they seem to be irritated all the time and barking for no reason, having accidents in their own beds, nipping, etc. The oldest, Pebbles, has problems with her back legs which are extremely stiff and don’t bend easily, and is having breathing difficulties. The younger one, China, has a very tender tummy and doesn’t always eat. We have a brand new grandbaby and am nervous about him getting nipped. I feel it would be too hard on them emotionally to rehome them. Is it wrong to contemplate euthanasia….I have never contemplated it for any of our past dogs because of behavioural issues. I feel like I am playing God.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Lori,

      In my opinion, I don’t think it’s wrong to think about putting a dog to sleep when she isn’t enjoying the same quality of life as before. I know euthanasia isn’t a solution to certain problems…and I can’t tell you if you’re on the right track or not.

      What do you think about Pebbles’ and China’s ability to enjoy life? Are they as happy as they were a year ago, or even six months ago? Is life the same joy it was before, or is it a chore for them and you?

      Have you talked it over with your veterinarian? I’ve often talked things through with vets, and have found it very helpful. You might even consider getting a second opinion from another vet….but trust your gut above all else.

      And remember, just because it’s a difficult decision doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one. Sometimes we know it’s the right decision because it’s so difficult and painful.

      I’m sorry I can’t give you more helpful or specific advice. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as you make this difficult decision.


      P.S. I hesitated to say anything about God because I don’t want to offend, but to me God seems to take a lot less control over our lives than we do! God allows so much freedom of choice, freedom to let both good and evil roam, freedom to let live and His creatures unfold as they choose.

  102. Claire says:

    Hi , I have a 7 year old Shetland female dog. She recently undergo an operation because she has got at her gums. After the operation the vet said that it has spread down her throat and it is aggressive so it will likely come back very soon. True enough after one month it appeared again. The only thing we can do is to undergo chemotherapy and my family does not want to do it because it’s painful. Therefore now we are just trying our best to spend time with her and making her happy. I could tell that she is in pain as she sometimes pants a lot and also having nightmares such as barking in her sleep. The thought of it makes me tear or sometimes cry. So please tell me what I should do to be mentally prepared for it as I know one day I need to put her down.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Claire,

      Thank you for being here, and for asking this very important question. I wrote a whole article for you, because I have so much to say!


      I hope it helps you as you think about putting your beloved dog to sleep. May she rest in peace, and may you be strong and brave as you move forward.


      • PH says:

        Ugh! There is nothing to prepare you for this, I was with him through the entire ordeal. I loved Willis up all night, slept with him and tried to play with him all morning, I even made him a T-bone steak. My guy never got table food, ever. I feel like he got to leave this world with a bit of dignity, but I also feel that he was trying really hard and I gave up on him. We tried crating him because of the accidents in the house and after 2 days of that he completely stopped and being blind it was tough for him, so he’d sit and face a wall when he needed to go out (he was trying to be good).. So, when I say it was like he was really trying, that’s what I mean. Will this guilt end?

        • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

          Yes, PH, your guilt at putting him to sleep will end! You did the right thing. No matter how hard he tried — and dogs will try and try and TRY until they are exhausted — he couldn’t overcome this. You were the leader and the loving caregiver, and you took charge by making a decision he couldn’t make. You proved your love and compassion to him by making the most difficult decision ever, and I am 100% sure he is happier and more peaceful now than he would be if he was with you right now.

          May Willis rest in peace, and enjoy his freedom! May he be chasing rabbits and squirrels (but never catching them), and enjoying all the treats his tummy can handle (without getting sick!).

          In sympathy and with hugs,

  103. PH says:

    My westie is 14. 2 years ago he started having tremors and we put him on a low dose of prednisone which seemed to lesson the tremors, but also spaced him out. The past two years he has really declined in the quality of his life, he has stopped jumping on the couch, stopped playing with his babies about 6 months ago, sleeps most of the day, is pretty much blind and deaf, he walks into walls, can’t hold his pee all the time now, but tries! The vet said the tremors were a beginning of dementia and with the loss of senses he’s confused. He was going to the bathroom in the house much more than he has the past week, which is once, but we took him off of the prednisone 3-4 weeks ago. He’s eating about 1/2 of what he normally would but drinks a lot of water. We decided to put him down this coming Monday, but this week he has been coming out when I get home, searching for me and licking my wagging his tail. It’s like he knows. I know his quality of life is not what it should be, it’s hard when you don’t see visible obvious pain.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear PH,

      It is difficult when you don’t see visible, obvious pain in your dog, isn’t it? And when dogs seem to get better, it makes us question the decision to put our dog to sleep.

      My thoughts and prayers will be with you tomorrow. Cherish this moment, for that’s all any of us really have.


  104. Sue says:

    My fellow dog lovers, it has been 4 days since my beautiful boy Barney went to sleep. I have had such a mixed bag of emotions and questions.
    Did I give up on him too quickly? I then recall the look in his eyes when I said goodbye and know he didn’t want any more pain, it would have been for selfish reasons to try and prolong the inevitable.
    Why did it have to happen so quick? One weekend he was playing as usual then he’s gone? I then thank my blessings that we did not have to watch him suffer for a long time, as always Barney was being faithful and caring.
    Luckily I still have my other boy Basil, he has been such a comfort. I thought he would be pining too much but he is good, eating, enjoying walks and play. I sometimes see him staring in the air and think he must be thinking of Barney, his best friend. But then I think Basil knew well before we did and has prepared himself.
    My other question is did I do the right thing having him in a communal cremation? The chance was there to have his ashes and I didn’t take it. Was I not so heartbroken as others who do this? I did though keep a lock of his fur. I take it out every night and kiss it, I can still smell him.
    Having never had kids we look on our boys as our kids and Barney was my “first born”.
    I am in shock, I am in mourning, I am in tears. But what’s more important to remember is Barney is at peace, until we meet again.
    Missing you terribly my boy.
    I am in my late forties, have never used the Internet for any social networking, never been on Facebook, twitter or whatever, but since I found this forum I have appreciated the channel it has given me. Thank you Laurie
    Thoughts with you all. Xxx

  105. Elise Hokman says:

    I have been having this discussion with myself for months now. Ike is 17 lab/shepherd mix..a big ole black dog rescued from a puppy mill at 6 weeks. Just when I get to the point of saying ‘ok, it’s time’..he comes back!
    He has a ton of tumors which affect the mobility of his front leg, his hindside is stiffening up and his tail is always down now. One day he will be incontinent, unable to maneuver the 2 steps to the front door, and seem lost and confused and then not want to take a walk. Then I will come in from work, and he greets me with a big woof and a smile and gingerly gets up for his walk. And he will be like this for multiple days in a row.
    I asked my son what I should do (I have already taken him to the vets..the vet gave Ike pain meds to make him comfortable and said it was up to me) and my son said ‘Ask a perfect stranger on the street who has no investment’. Well, today, we were on our very slow walk, and a lady passed by and stopped me. She said..;how old is he’ and I told her..She said..it is so hard to see them when they get old’ and she proceeded to tell me how she had to put her 15 yo dog down.
    But, I can’t let go…I cry thinking about it. I love his grins and his nudges..Then I get angry..why couldn’t he be ‘sick’ with cancer or something..because the decision would be so much easier for me. Just getting old shouldn’t be a factor. We all get old (I’m getting old too). Aaargh…It’s so so hard!

    • Elise Hokman says:

      Ok, after the last few days…Ike has just been getting worse. He is struggling…so hard. Ever since I first wrote to this column, I have thought daily about what to do. Despite his happy grin when I arrive home, despite his love of dinner…his tail is tucked so far under, I tear up when I watch him. I have been having to help him stand up, I have to clean him up daily (and he’s 95 pounds) and I cannot ignore his look especially when we go out. I lost another dog, age 17, when I lived on the mountain…he had had a stroke, got out of the house..and went to the forest never to be seen again. Ike has that look…like ‘I need to go away’…and it just hurts my heart. So in the morning, I call the vets, clean him up and take him to the office. I told my kids (all adults) this evening…My wise son said..’We will all be sure to celebrate his good, well-fed, and long life’. Ike deserves to run again…

      • Elise Hokman says:

        I took Ike into the vet’s office this evening. The doc has been Ike’s vet for half his life and knows him well. After checking him out, the vet was very kind and concerned about our comfort. I sat with Ike while he was euthanized…it was a peaceful exit and an end to the suffering. My heart hurts…

  106. Audrie says:

    I want to thank you for this website. I, too, was looking for a sign, and now I have it here among fellow dog lovers who share with me the kind of grief that comes only after incredible joy.

    My Aussie, Scout, is 16 this year. She’s been like a sibling to my daughters who both came after. Scout was my first baby. She has comforted me through the loss of two other dogs and a painful divorce. She’s lying at my feet this moment because she knows I’m sad. We will have to say good-bye tomorrow.

    Scout has been on pain meds for arthritis a couple years, but she still had some wonderful days up until the beginning of summer. She became incontinent. She took shorter and shorter walks until she barely bothered to venture off the porch. She started to follow me around the house every time I left the room. Last month she lost the ability to climb steps. This morning she couldn’t stand.

    It’s past time, I know, but her check up last month seemed very promising, blood work was good and no signs of organ failure. I was expecting hidden disease so much that I ignored her obvious physical atrophy. I know now what she’s been trying to tell me. Her patience has always been one of her strongest features.

    My daughters are with their father this weekend. They have all said good-bye, tearful but content that we have loved her well. I am so grateful for these few hours alone and that she is alert enough to share with me the peace in the house just now. I think that perhaps I will feel her presence in every peaceful moment I enjoy the rest of my days. This is her gift to me.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Elise,

      What interesting advice from your son! He sounds like a very wise person. Maybe that’s why so many readers ask for help here; I have very little emotional investment (there is no such thing as NO emotional investment, because I have 2 dogs and my heart feels the pain of having to make this decision. Plus, I’ve made the decision to put a dog down before…I definitely feel the pain!).

      It is a very difficult decision, especially if your dog is healthy. But, I also think it’s an incredibly compassionate, loving, and thoughtful act of service and surrender.

      I believe that putting a dog to sleep is about making sure the dog is comfortable and taken care of. He is resting, and not struggling with his body or your emotions. I honestly believe it’s a final act of love and care.

      The problem is that we have to put our emotions aside, and do what’s best for the dog without letting our human emotions color everything. That’s impossible, of course…but it’s a sacrifice we have to make if we want our dogs not to suffer on this earth.

      What if his life after death is better, happier, more peaceful, and more fun than this life? What if you will be reunited after you pass, and it’ll be so much sweeter and deeper than it is now?

      That’s what I like to believe.

      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you make this decision.


    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Audrie,

      Thank you for sharing this time with us. It sounds like you are at peace with your decision, and you will say good-bye to your dog with both love and sadness.

      You are giving her a beautiful gift.


  107. julie coons says:

    My Walt is 14 years 9 months old. He came into my life after my Dad passed away. I feel he was sent to me by my Father. He and my father are so much alike! Walt has loved me more than anyone else has. I love him so much! As a hospice nurse I assist people with this process. Why can’t I do this for my puppy? He has congestive heart failure and has started to pass out. That is so painful to watch. He has quit eating completely. He still drinks. He has been vomiting small amounts of bile and having bouts of diarrhea. Tail wagging is rare. He can still follow me around and lay down by where I am. There is no bounce in his step. Please help me.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Julie,

      I wish I could give you a big hug! I believe working as a hospice nurse is different than putting a dog you love to sleep, for two main reasons: you make the decision about when the dog goes, and you are more attached to your dog than to your patients. We have a very strong and special connection to our dogs, and our relationships with people are different. They’re strong and special too, of course, but our dogs rely on us and love us unconditionally. People don’t give us what our dogs do.

      And, as you alluded to, your dog symbolizes your dad’s love and presence in your life. Saying good-bye to your dog is akin to saying good-bye to your father again. You’ll have to grieve both your dog’s death and your dad’s absence in your life.

      I encourage you to talk to a counsellor, and get support as you walk this journey. I think it’s incredibly emotionally stressful to let your dog go, and it may trigger other emotions related to your work as a hospice nurse. Not only will this affect your emotional state, it could affect your work with the hospice patients.

      Will you talk to a counsellor, or even a coworker? Please don’t struggle through this alone.

      I think it might be good to find a way to let your dog rest in peace without thinking and feeling like you’re losing your dad forever. I encourage you to let your beloved dog rest in peace, and hold on to the memories of both your father and your dog.

      They will always be with you. You may not be able to touch them, hug them, or see them…but you can still feel their presence and energy, if you believe they are with you in spirit. They are close to your heart and soul — they are part of you now.

      Listen to what your dog is telling you. It sounds like he’s ready to rest in peace…and your final act of taking care of and loving him may be to let him go.

      With love and hugs,

  108. Tanya says:

    My husband and I are struggling with our 9 1/2 yo OES. For the past year I have been noticing behavioral changes. Spacing out, nightmares that result in growling, barking and sometimes snapping in the air. On rare occasions even standing up and growling blankly. He is my husbands first dog and his best friend. But my husband has a new job (a little over a year) where he travels. Leaving Jack, our OES, with me and the other pups. Jack is full of life when Ed is home. He plays with the other dogs, cuddles with both of us. But when Ed leaves, he sleeps. He doesn’t play. He doesn’t want to go for walks. He doesn’t want to cuddle. The vet has also said he has muscle atrophy in the shoulders, spine and hips , along with arthritis. She is also very concerned with his mental stability. His “night terrors” have become frightening, to the point that I keep him separate from the other pups, in fear that he might snap at them his sleep. I feel like Jack is putting out a front for Ed. Doing what makes him happy. Mustering up all his energy for Ed. We are at a point where I feel like it may be time to let Jack relax, no more fronts. But Ed is holding out hope that the night terrors will stop. Even though 2 vets have informed us that he has something wrong neurologically and will continue to diminish. He may not be physically suffering but mentally and emotionally, I feel he is. I want to do what’s best for Jack. But Ed wants to keep his dearest friend around as long as he can. I just hope it isn’t long enough for Jack to hurt another dog in the process.

    Sorry this post is so scattered, sadly its how my mind is working right now…

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Tanya,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, and of course it’s no problem about scattered thoughts! That’s how you feel, and it’s really important to let it all out as it is. It’s a safe place here.

      It’s always difficult when a family member refuses to let the dog go. It’s hard enough to make the decision for oneself and the dog…but when a loved one is dragging his feet, it’s more painful for everyone. I’ve read comments like this before, from other readers.

      I think your husband doesn’t see the dog at his worst, and is fooling himself by trying to believe it’s not as bad as it is. He hasn’t had the same chance to see how your dog is suffering, and is holding on to the belief that things will be fine — or at least won’t get worse.

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I agree with you, that your dog is suffering emotionally and mentally. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, that your husband is able to let your dog rest in peace.

      Blessings and sympathies,

  109. Colleen says:

    I’m also struggling with this terrible decision. My sweet little schnauzer, Maddie, has had dibetes for a little over a year. Twice daily injections of insulin have helped, but she’s not responding well, and not regulated at all. She is now blind, and very jumpy and scared. She’s been urinating in the house if she’s alone for more than an hour. I’m up with her several times a night. I’m exhausted all the time. She seems so u comfortable, but still eats well.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Colleen,

      It sounds like Maddie isn’t enjoying her life right now…and neither are you. It’s a terrible decision, but putting her to rest may be the kindest, most loving thing you can do for her. I don’t know – I’m not saying it’s time to put your dog to sleep – but if she’s not enjoying life, it’s hard to see her continue to suffer.

      Have you talked to a vet?


    • TRISHLA TAYAL says:

      I put my beloved dog to sleep on 9/3/13.She was in pain but I think I made the biggest mistake of my life and if can take it back that day and that moment back I will find some other options.More opinion,more help.Please take your time and don’t make any decision while you are so upset to think straight.Please please don’t let anybody talk in to you that what is best for your baby.Give yourself some more time because you can never go back.I have promise myself not to go through this option again even if some body put a bullet to my head.It is not my decision to made.It’s up to God.I can not bring my precious baby back but you still have a chance.Please do everything in your power and let God do the rest.

      • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

        Dear Trishla,

        I’m sorry you regret your decision to put your dog to sleep. I believe you made the best decision you could at the time, with what you knew and felt. I hope you can trust yourself, and believe you did the right thing.

        That said, however, I do agree that it’s important to trust God to take our creatures at the right time. It’s such a difficult thing to comprehend, though…because we don’t want to let our dogs suffer, and just hope God takes them soon.

        I don’t think there are any “right” or “wrong” answers. We all just need to make the decision that makes the most sense for us and our dogs.

        Thank you for being here.

        Blessings and sympathies,

  110. Brittany says:

    We have a 6 y/o rott boxer mix. She had two torn acls which we decided to not do surgery. She has been doing well and still runs around and plays. Our recent issue is she has severe anxiety. So bad to the point she is destroying things in our house, she is getting out of the house through windows and into neighbors yards. All this while we aren’t home. We are gone 8-12 hours a day between work and school. We have run out of ideas. She has escaped from being corralled up in one area of our house and obviously a doggy day care will not work. We can’t decide if we should put her down or not. We know she can’t be happy like this. :-/

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Brittany,

      If your dog isn’t happy and there are no other solutions…what a sad, difficult dilemma! It seems so unfair. Not just to her because she’s young still, but to you.

      Have you talked to a vet about anti-anxiety treatments? There may be some natural ways to calm her down. I think there are pheromes or something that are natural, which calm anxiety and fear in dogs. I don’t know – but it may be something worth talking to the vet about. I’d also get a second opinion, because different veterinarians have different ideas for treating anxiety in dogs.

      Let me know how it goes, and I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers!


  111. Tia says:

    I have to say….I should never have began reading this at work because the tears are just flowing after reading people’s stories. I’m so sorry for everyone’s loss. My dilema? I don’t know how to let go. It’s been a rough few years for us:

    We lived in a nice size home, big yard and cared for 7 dogs. All of us were military and deployed at any given time so it was easy for us to love all 7 of our babies. I had 3, my roommate had 3 and another had 1. While deployed our Collie/Sheppard mix had a stroke (I believe) and couldn’t get up for days. My son found him like this. I slept with him, stayed with his every move until the decision was made to put him to sleep. Dallas was 14. The decision devistated my kids and it seemed to effect the other dogs as well. His owner was deployed when the time came but she was on the phone with me the whole process.

    A year later, a normal day of going to work…I let the dogs out as usual, gave them all kisses and was out the door. I didn’t even make it to my work before my phone rang and got the call about my Dobermain, again from my son finding her. She was playing outside, came in and it was said, she had a stroke and died almost instantly. She hung on, it seemed, till I got home and then fell asleep. She was 12. Again it was devistating for everyone.

    Now, the time has come to make a decision about my Saint Bernard. He is 11. Everything I’ve read shows he’s lived a great life and above the average life span. He has severe arthritis in his back legs, bad hips and struggles to get up, especially since some of the areas are hardwood flooring. Today my son called me at work in hysterics because he couldn’t get him up to go upstairs. I told him he just needed to rest because alot has happened in the last 24 hours and it was mainly his nerves (my roommate moved out with her 3 dogs.) I know the time is coming to make the decision but I feel like I just layed the other two to rest and the time has come again. I’m sure many call me selfish for hanging on but I just don’t want to let go. When he gets up, it doesn’t seem as though there is a problem eating or drinking. He goes upstairs but just alot slower than his younger days and he likes to lay around. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I’m ready to let go…..He’s my “old man” and I’m just trying to be strong for my kids. My husband gives me the look like “it’s time” but he’s not the animal lover like I am. Am I crazy?

    • Tia says:

      RIP Thunder….XOXOXOXOX you will be missed. I love you.

      • Sue says:

        Tia I am thinking of you and Thunder. Rest assured he is in a happy place. Maybe he will meet my boy Barney. Bless you, it’s so hard. Xxx

      • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

        Dear Tia,

        It’s such a difficult decision to make, because you love your dog so very much. Saying good-bye to a dog is one of the hardest things an animal lover will ever do – especially when she’s been through what you have! It doesn’t get easier, does it?

        When the time is right to put your dog down, you’ll know. Maybe it’s not this week or next week…or maybe you’ll be ready sooner than you think.

        Another pet owner once told me that our dogs tell us when it’s time to go. We have to listen to our dogs, to their signals and messages. We have to try to see past our own “noise” – our fears, grief, dread, reluctance, and pain.

        What is your Saint Bernard telling you? Is he ready to go, or does he want to stick around for more time with you all?

        Blessings and sympathies,

  112. Paula says:

    I’m shaking as writing this – need to make a decision regarding my 17 year old little girl Kimmy, a football mad, fox poo rolling, smelly, feisty little Jack Russell.
    She has a heart condition which is managed with vivatonin – which causes her to have weasing attack infrequently for several minutes.
    She has rotten teeth which causes her to be quite smelly, but I don’t really care about that….what I do care about is the twice yearly gum infections that cause her to lose her appetite and have anti biotics …
    I always said as long as she shows joy with petting and still has her appetite and remains continent – I would not need to make a decision.
    The trouble is, she is now wondering around aimlessly, sleeping 80% of the time, constantly hungry, partially blind and deaf – so jumps alot if you approach her – she has also started defecating in the mornings in unusual places, even though her food and toilet timetable has not changed at all really…..Not at all sure what to do for the best – I love her so much, but do not want to be selfish about this – my son is leaving for uni this week and he gives her so much love when I’m not there, as I work full time – it seems intolerable to lose them both at once …..but cruel to not at least consider doing what is best for her :(

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Paula,

      It sounds like you’re facing not only a difficult decision, but a huge change in your life! That’s two life changes – your dog and your son.

      How is your dog’s quality of life? Does she seem happy and well to you? Even if she’s not in pain…does it seem like she has a life and body that makes living worthwhile?

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this, and hope you’re able to find your way to a decision that makes sense to you. Sometimes, loving our animals is the hardest thing we ever do, isn’t it?

      If you feel lonely or depressed after your son leaves and after you make your decision, please feel free to come back and spill your thoughts.


      • paula says:

        Thanks :)
        This forum has been a great comfort for me.
        I have made the appointment for this Friday (13th) my son has already left for uni and I am using this week to say my goodbyes.
        As the days go past – although beyond sad, I am becoming more and more sure that my decision is correct …..
        The only thing I will ask is that I have requested a sedative to give to Kimmy before taking her on Friday (she hates going to the vets and I can only liken it to going to the dentist as with her it mostly has been to do with her teeth……) anyway, I cannot comprehend taking her on this final trip without her having a sedative to calm her and – the vets are humming and haahing – and as yet have not got back to me ??!!!
        When I asked the receptionist why, she gave me a speel about it depends what chemicals they use on the day and whether it mixes !!!!???? I don’t understand this answer….. do you?

        • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

          Hello Paula,

          I’m glad this article and forum have been helpful! It doesn’t make putting your dog to sleep easier, but at least you’re not totally alone. And, I’m really glad you’re becoming more and more sure you’ve made the right decision.

          I have no idea how sedatives mix with the drugs they use for euthanasia, but I know that the euthanasia drugs have to be fairly specific in order to work properly. I think they have to give the right amount for the dog’s weight, and if the dog has other drugs in her system, it may affect how she goes to sleep.

          I would trust the veterinarian on this….but I also think it’s important to find a way to make sure Kimmy is calm when she goes to the vet for the last time. Or, talk to the vet about a home euthanasia. It’s such an awful thing to consider, isn’t it? I’m sorry this is happening.

          What about if someone drives you to the appointment, leaving you free to calm Kimmy? Or, park 3 blocks away so she doesn’t know what’s happening until the last moment?

          I’m sorry I can’t give you better advice. I don’t know what else to suggest.

          I’ll continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and hope that things unfold to make it easier for you and Kimmy.


          • paula says:

            Got the sedative – very very sad but still going through with it on Friday – IT IS hard but my son and husband are coming to the vets with me and now I am just spending quality hours with my best girl.
            Thanks to all for your words & experiences – my heart goes out to you each and every one of you x

  113. Tina says:

    My grandmothers little dog got mauled last week by 2 big dogs. The vet did not want to put her to sleep, said “it would be like putting her to sleep for your own convenience” and since the dog was young, (5 years old), and because it was ‘survivable’ – supposedly. But shouldn’t it be up to the owner? She got infected while on antibiotics, and also needed to be restapled. Of course this is expensive, and she could still die anyway. Are some vets tricking naive pet owners into thinking they MUST pay to fix a dog that is going to die anyway? Why would they put this little dog through so much suffering.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Tina,

      I understand how you feel! I knew a veterinarian who refused to put any dog to sleep, and he guilted pet owners into keeping their dogs alive no matter what the cost of surgeries, medications, and complications. It was awful, I really had a hard time with that guy. He was the only vet in the place I lived – a small island in BC – and thus we all had to put up with it.

      I don’t know if veterinarians trick dog owners – I think it’s that some vets think they must preserve life at all costs. Some owners feel the same way. I’m on the other end of the spectrum; I don’t fear death, and think it is truly “resting in peace.”

      Yes, I think putting a dog to sleep should be up to the owner. I also think dogs shouldn’t have to suffer even if we have the medical technology and medications to keep them alive until they’re 30.

  114. Tom says:


    I am in turmoil.. I have a 16 year old Lab/Chow mix. He has been an excellent friend. Always desiring to please and it seems I have never had to really tell him anything twice… A tennis ball was his only toy, anything else he would look at me as if I was completely insane. If it didn’t bounce and I didn’t throw it in the backyard, it was a pointless floor decoration and obstacle to him.

    Over the course of his life, he has never had any issues, always a healthy friend, always there through everything I went through as well.. over the past couple years he has gone down hill some, as expected for an aging dog. He had idiopathic vestibular twice (30 days apart) and the first time I nursed him myself (after the vet visit).. IV fluids under the skin twice a day, syringe feeding of AD food multiple times, he recovered only to take a 2nd case 30 days later. That time I decided to let the vet nurse him. for the past year to year and a half he as been “fine” so to speak.. he doesn’t walk the same which the vet told me could happen after vestibular, but he has adjusted (as they said he would).. walks with a slightly splayed leg stance, can’t do #2 without kinda walking at the same time, etc… He can still come down the basement stairs, but I hold his collar to ensure he doesn’t take a tumble or go too fast, but going up has gotten much harder for him.. To the point that I carry him up most of the time just so he doesn’t have to struggle and fight, or fall back down. He’s always been there for me, and I’m always there for him.

    He has shown obvious signs of arthritis, and after maintaining a joint health supplement I have noticed he gets around surprisingly much better.. He even looks happier that he can get around better. He use to occasionally whimper when going to bed, but hasn’t seemed to be in any discomfort at all. I worry because he has always been a strong willed friend, and wonder if he is just hiding the pain I worry he is in, but pray he isn’t..

    He doesn’t play anymore, sleeps pretty much all day… He gets up, eats, drinks, wanders around some, gets some loving, goes out, comes back in and goes back to bed.. Occasionally he tries to get in the middle of my other 2 dogs play sessions, but ends up getting knocked over by the “young pups” so to speak, but still seems to show who is 2nd in command of the pack.

    I am about to move to Charlotte with an 8 hour drive ahead of us and just don’t know how he will take the stress and drive. I don’t want him to suffer.. I often wonder if he is, or not.. I know the time when I feel he is in pain I want to ensure he doesn’t suffer by any means.. I never know if putting him down is the right or wrong thing to do if he “seems” ok to me or if I am just hoping he is ok as not to put myself through the pain of loss…

    I don’t really know what is the right or wrong thing to do, I don’t want to short him life, love, and happiness nor do I want have him suffer for my own happiness if he really is suffering. I don’t know how to determine if he is “happy” or really “suffering” at this point… He looks at me with the same perky eared face with a half smile and pant (as he has always done due to the “chow” hair), but is that just me wanting to see “happiness” when it may not be??

    I love my friend with everything I am, and I never want him to suffer if I have any way to prevent it, but I have to face the reality he is 16 years old.

    Truly troubled,

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Tom,

      How did you feel after writing everything out? Did it make your decision any more clear? It sounds to me like you love your dog with all your heart, and you think it may not be in his best interests to do the eight hour drive. Also, adjusting to a new home, new routine, new walk, and even a new veterinarian may be so stressful for your beloved dog.

      I can’t tell you it’s time to say good-bye to him. I know that it’s very difficult to determine if dogs are in pain, and I know that the stress of moving to a new home is almost as hard on dogs as it is on humans! And, I’ve read that our beloved dogs need us to let them leave this world in peace and without suffering. They can’t make the decision on their own.

      It’s a heavy decision, but I know you have his best interests at heart. No matter what you decide, it’s out of love for him. Knowing this, is there a “wrong” decision? No….unless you’re acting out of selfishness because you don’t want to face and grieve his death. And I agree, maybe it is time to accept that he is 16 – which is really old for a dog!

      If I were you, I’d talk it through with a veterinarian. Something tells me that you know what you should do…it’s just a question of accepting it.

      In sympathy,

  115. sue says:

    With the most heartbreaking sadness we had our gorgeous loving golden retriever put to sleep today. He was 24 days away from his 15th birthday. He has been our constant companion since he was ten weeks old. Never been ill all his life but suddenly went downhill and found out he had advanced liver cancer. He hasn’t eaten for several days, even his special treats, and that’s not my Barney!
    I looked at him and knew it was time to let him go. Me and my hubby devastated and our other ten year old retriever is beside himself.
    I hesitated to go and say goodbye before the vet did what they had to. But I went and I am so glad I did. I told him how much he meant to everyone and to wait for us at Rainbow Bridge.
    Dreading waking up in the morning, the first one in almost 15 years that his happy face and wagging tail will not be there to greet me.
    Bless you Barney, couldn’t let you suffer my boy.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Thank you for being here, Sue, and sharing how Barney left our world. I know he’s resting in peace, and even though it’s difficult for you…your dog’s soul is light, free, and eating all the treats he can stomach!


  116. Diana Rojas says:

    “My Charlie,
    As I write you this letter you are sleeping on your bed by my side. You have being in my life, by my side for the past 12 years. Thank you for all those years.
    You were there by my side when I was sad and crying. You will look at me with those eye telling me everything will be fine. You were there when I was happy and smiling. Moving your tail and smiling with your eyes.
    You always wait for me every night until I get home even if I am gone for a night or more.
    You don’t go to bed until I do, you will wait by my side when I’m working late.
    You never go out for a walk if I am not going, even thought you love to go for walks.
    You are always happy to see me, if I’m gone for a minute or for a month.
    I know you love me, you are my shadow and follow me all day long. the only thing you love more than me is food, oh yes you do love food more than me :)
    You see my boy I’m writing you this letter because your time with me is coming to an end and I want to tell you what a wonderful companion you have always being. I don’t want to think about that moment. I don’t want that moment to be here. But my boy that is the cycle of life. I love you my boy and I’m going to miss you. Thank you for all your unconditional love.”

    My 12 year old beagle is having seizures and there are tumors all over his body. I know the time has come for him to rest, but it’s so hard to let go. He still eats and seem to be ok but it hurts when I see him having those seizures. Today he had one and can hardly walk now, they are getting worse and are happening more often. English is my second language, so pardon me if my writing isn’t perfect. Thank you for letting me post this letter for him here. I feel I needed to do something like this.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Diana,

      Thank you for sharing your letter to Charlie with us! It made me cry, and the love you feel for him gives me shivers. He has had a wonderful life and relationship with you, and he knows how much you love him. He also knows that it’s time for him to rest in peace.

      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as you say good-bye to your beloved dog.

      In sympathy, with hugs,

      • Diana Rojas says:

        Last night Charlie took his last breath of life. He passed on peacefully with me by his side. It happen naturally and for that I am thankful, I didn’t have to make the decision to put him to sleep. It is not easy, I miss him so much. As I said goodbye to him I told him how much I love him and how thankful I was for everything he has given me. Bye, bye my boy I will forever hold you in my heart.

  117. shirley says:

    i have a 15 yr old raterior,when he was 3 he was atacked by a big dog had a puntured lung,and tore up pretty bad but he pulled threw,now he has diabeties,losing weight,not eating drinks alot of water and has cateracts as well i dont know what to do the vets said his kidneys are great but has a heart murmer,i dont want him to suffer hes been a part of the family and dont know when it time to let go. thank you what do u think

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Shirley,

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through with your terrier. He’s so young, and it seems so sad to put him to sleep. However, if he’s in pain and not in good health, then maybe it’s best to lay him to rest.

      What does your veterinarian recommend? Often, they want the owner to make the decision, so they don’t really say one way or another.

      Is your dog in pain, and how is his quality of life? If you think he’s suffering or in pain, then putting him to sleep might be the kindest thing to do. If he’s not enjoying life – and if his health could get worse – then it might be best to say good-bye. I know that finances can also affect our decision to put a dog to sleep — sometimes we can’t afford to pay for surgeries and medications that could go on indefinitely.

      I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you what you should do. I feel for you, my heart breaks for you and your dog, but there is no easy answer I can give.

      Let me know what you decide. It often helps to write it out, even when you’re in pain. Especially when you’re in pain!


  118. jackie says:

    I put my 12 year old yorkie to sleep last week and I am devastated and torturing myself wondering if I done the right thing? he was still eating well, able to walk but was turning vicious, had a rasping cough, panting and pacing the floor constant.did I do the right thing?

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Jackie,

      Yes, I believe you did the right thing! Absolutely. Your poor little yorkie was probably in pain — pacing the floor, panting, and coughing are signs of illness, if not outright pain. Can you imagine how it would feel if you were panting, coughing, and pacing? I suspect he was turning vicious because he was in pain. That’s what happens to me when I’m hurting, I get mean and irritable.

      Please take a deep breath, and know you did the best thing for him. It was time for him to go, and he is now resting in peace. He isn’t suffering anymore.

      Unfortunately, it’s your turn to suffer! It’s time to grieve your loss, to say good-bye and let his little soul go. Grieving takes time, and your pain will come and go. But, don’t add to your pain by beating yourself up for doing something that ultimately saved your dog from more distress and discomfort.

      Here’s an article I wrote about coping with guilty feelings after putting a dog to sleep:


      I hope it helps, and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


  119. Our miniature poodle Chanel, turns 16 years old in a few weeks. I prayed this decision would not be here this soon. I too like some of you who have commented, have been this route before. That does not make it one bit easier. It leaves only practical lessons and leaves the heart still being heavy. It’s not right to have to make such a decision.

    Our vet spoke with me at our last visit just a few weeks ago when she was due for her vaccine. He gave me ideas to objectify the process to the degree a person could. He started the conversation letting me know that he would not be debating any decision. That was so helpful. Unfortunately now those 2 or 3 objective points my husband and I agreed on have come to pass. I called the vet this morning. And took time now to select and order an urn for arrival in a few days.

    We have loved this award winning show girl for all this time. She didn’t care for the pomp and circumstance after 6 months! Many wonderful memories through all the years. Some funny. Some warm. Some inspiring. Some just every day little things. Many moments documented in photos and videos. My heart is breaking right now because we will need to shortly say goodbye.

    She’s lost a lot of weight. Her dementia is progressing. I don’t at all mind the diapers but that’s just not right for her. She has no interest in any play. She sleeps 80% of the time. When she is awake, she roams around wondering just what is she supposed to do. She can’t walk down the stairs anymore – she took a big tumble a few months ago. When she is out doing her business, she will often lose balance and fall. This morning she fell for the third time coming up the outside stairs and cut her nose in the process. Even her treats don’t make her light up anymore.

    When you say this is “the most loving thing you do,” it helps as best any words can help right now. I read somewhere that sometimes helping our loved pets into that long, forever, big sleep might be just what they would want. I hope so.

    Thank you so much for this timely post.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Patricia,

      Thank you for sharing Chanel with us! I have a miniature poodle, too. She’s 3, and I hope she’s with us for as long as Chanel was with you.

      It sounds like Chanel is ready to go. My heart breaks for you, but I believe she would be much happier if she was resting in peace. Her suffering will be over, and you will love her until the very end.


  120. michael says:

    i cannot express the grief i am feeling at this moment. my best girl, Cinnamon, a 15 year old lab mix has deteriorated to the point she is unable to do anything without assistance due to neuropathic problems.

    Doc is uncertain where/how the problems began, and has been heroic in assisting and advising us on caring for them.

    we have managed her disease for over 2 years, but recently, she has developed problems with food and water consumption. Feeding a couple of pieces of kibble at a time, we can get enough food in to sustain her, but water is a problem.

    i cannot determine she’s in pain, that hasn’t been an issue, if it were, and was uncontrollable, we would have euthanized her long ago… but we’ve carried on best we can.

    this morning is the time, i am about to go through the process of getting us ready to go and in a short time, she will be gone from us. we are going to try to go for one last walk, one we’ve taken each day for the past 15 years, as far as i am able to get her. We will have one last piece of fruit and a little breakfast, then a drive to the Dr.

    this is extremely sorrowful for me. i’ve euthanized pets before that were terminally ill and in pain, i’ve had several pass on from natural causes, but this is the first that is completely healthy, medically, but has lost coordination and become invalid.

    it never occurred to me 15 years ago when i brought her home that anything like this would ever happen. i will hold her while she leaves as i did when i brought her home from the dump at 6 weeks old.

    i won’t be alone when i arrive home, i have 2 other lab mixes i’ve rescued, a 10 year old and a 5 year old. both are presently healthy and fit, but all i can think of when i look at them, is the sorrow of losing them, down the road.

    thank you for listening to me and after reading what i’ve written here, i hope you consider my frame of mind if its difficult to make sense of.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Michael,

      It’s such a sad and difficult thing to do. You are saying good-bye to a cherished member of the family, and it’s heartbreaking.

      I hope everything went well today, as you said good-bye to your beloved Cinnamon. I also hope that you are able to grieve her death and let her go, and let yourself love your other two dogs as if they will always be here with you.

      Great love brings great sorrow…but I’d rather have the love and companionship of my dogs. I cherish every moment with my two dogs, knowing that one day they will be gone. It’s a bittersweet relationship.

      But, nothing in our world is permanent. Acceptance of this impermanence – we are all just passing through – helps me cope with the thought of losing my dogs.

      I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you grieve the loss of your dog.


      • mich says:

        Cinnamon has gone, she rested her head in my lap and i tickled her ears while the Dr. administered the medication. it was gentle and easy. she fell asleep there, as she has done so many times before. i hope i pass as easily when my time arrives.

        i feel much better about that part. i didn’t want her upset or scared and by herself.

        i spent the afternoon cleaning and clearing her living quarters. i have become to hate the pens because of having to watch her struggle and battle this illness.

        i divided the room between my other buddies and am happy that they will be able to move more. it may be my imagination, but i get the idea they miss her when we do our routine things like walks and bathroom breaks. i noticed one going in and out of cinnamon’s den. i wondered how much they realize.

        the pens seem so big and empty now, before, we were crowded, by it seemed cozy and close. i would sit with them and play, after our jogs, it was a pleasing place to be. the cedar bedding always smelled nice and kept the dogs smelling good.

        so many small things we’ve done for the past 15 years are now no longer required. like this morning, i’m up and awake because i’ve had to take her out to the bathroom at this time for the past several years because she couldn’t hold it as long as the other dogs.

        Cinnamon’s remains will come home to us early next week, she is being cremated and they will be buried next to her brother, he passed from a sudden and unexpected heart attack 2 years ago. his passing hurt us deeply, but it was a natural death, not one that i feel i am responsible for.

        thank you very much for the opportunity to express my feelings and get them out. i don’t do that very well in person with people that know me.

        i know from past experience that the hole in my heart from losing cinnamon will never close. however, it will scar over and toughen somewhat. sorrow will still find me when things remind me of her, as sorrow for losing other pets rises from time to time.

        life goes on and its a battle to keep up and keep one’s sanity. we must carry on.

        bye for now

        • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

          My heart is so sad for you and your two buddies. Life will be tough for awhile, as you get used to life without Cinnamon.

          May her sweet soul rest in peace, and her memory bring warmth and joy.


        • Patti says:

          Mich, I’m in tears as I read about what you’ve gone through. It is heartbreaking and so unfair that these precious pets are with us for such a short time. My Killer is 18 1/2 years old and I’m battling with the idea of having him put to sleep. He’s a Jack Russell/Shelty mix. He has arthritis pretty bad. He is, for the most part, blind and deaf. Even though he wants to eat all the time, and I feed him a lot, he is skin and bones. If he had no fur he would look like a walking skeleton. He paces constantly when he is not sleeping. I have given him tramadol for his pain but then he gets so constipated that I almost think this is worse. Plus, it’s almost impossible to get the medication into him. He would be too traumatized if I were to restrain him to put it down his throat and he somehow finds a way to separate the medication from any food I give him and it is spit out. He falls a lot and if he is not on carpet he can’t get up, sometimes losing control of his bowels and/or bladder, probably from panic. He started having seizures about a year ago, and to my knowledge, he has them about one or two times a week. I work during the day. I am so worried that he will be alone during the day when I’m gone when he dies. And I’m also worried that he will suffer and I won’t be there to help him. My husband says that the day he doesn’t eat is the day that we have him put to sleep. He does find pleasure in eating but I think that is the only thing, besides my love, that he finds pleasure in. I’m so torn. I don’t want him to suffer any more than he already is, but I also don’t want to jump the gun. I would love feedback. I’m so thankful to be able to express my feelings in a forum such as this. I know that nobody can tell me what I should do but suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

  121. Linda says:

    Thank you for this post. I am preparing to put my 19 1/2 yr old poodle to rest. I have been down this road with her before, but she always bounces back. She has suddenly become very thin, but still has a big apppetite. She has been incontinent of urine for several yrs, but medication helps. She wakes me throughout the night to let her out. I am 62 yrs old and feel like I am taking care of an infant. I have put dogs to rest several times, but this is the most difficult. I know it is time, but then she begs for food and wiggles her little butt and wags her tail…….so hard. :-(

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Linda,

      Thank you for being here and sharing how you’re coming to this decision to say good-bye to your dog. I love how you said “putting to rest”! That’s such a beautiful way to think of it, and so true.

      Making this decision could be the final act of love you do for your beloved dog.


  122. marilyn drury says:

    I have a 12 yr old cocker-poo who I love with all my heart, but has had health issues over the years and as well as vistabor syndrome. Both back legs need hip replacement and is haveing difficulties getting up and walking. His still eating well, but a lost feelings of urination, so must be adament about getting him outside after drinking. I dont know if his in pain, what do you think?

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Dear Marilyn,

      I don’t know if he’s in pain, but I imagine that if he’s having trouble getting up and walking…wouldn’t there be some side effect? I can’t tell how your dog is feeling – as you know, it feels impossible to know if a dog is in pain! – but if walking is a problem, then maybe he’s nearing the end.

      I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful. Have you taken him to a veterinarian? That’s the first step in deciding if it’s time to put a dog down. Even vets don’t always know for sure if dogs are in pain…but at least you can talk through this decision with someone who is experienced, and who can look at and touch your dog.

      I wish I could be more helpful! I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you make this decision. Come back and let me know how it goes.


  123. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Dear Gail,

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you make this difficult decision about putting your dog to sleep.

    Sometimes, the best way to show our love for our dogs is to let them go. It’s so painful for us, but sometimes we have to sacrifice ourselves to take care of our beloved dogs.

    Let me know how it goes.


  124. Bella says:

    Thanks for the great post! I truly agree with the fact that it is good to put animals to sleep if you see them suffering through pain. Euthanizing is a great technique but when performing at home you need to sensible enough to decide when to euthanize your pet. I found some really good information on a pet euthanasia related website(Lastlovingdecision.com) which can be helpful to you people as well by Dr. Carr Kelsey.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Thanks for your comments about putting a dog to sleep at home, Bella. Deciding when and where takes some time, and often dog owners feel guilty about the decision. That’s an important thing to remember: doing what’s best for your dog may be the hardest thing for you to do.

  125. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Dear Karen,

    I hope your experience with your dog and the vet went ok. It’s such a difficult decision to make, especially when we love our dogs so much. Putting a dog down seems like a betrayal…but it may be the best thing you can do for her.

    Let me know how it goes – I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers!


  126. Karen Fadely says:

    I found your web page because I am so torn about my 14 yr old chocolate lab mix that my son and I rescued as a 5 week old puppy. She is one of 3 dogs I have and the one that has been through so much with me. When my son was in Iraq, she cuddled with me and guarded our home with vigor. Many times she saved me but I can’t save her and now in the last few days after losing weight rapidly, she has a hugely swollen abdomen and rear leg. She doesn’t move much but doesn’t excessively pant or show signs of pain but lies around more and doesn’t get up to go out with me like she use to so I hate to kill her but if she is in pain, I don’t want that either. We are on our way to the vet in the morning but I’m still unsure about what to do. Thanks for giving me food for thought.

  127. Renee says:

    Informative post…Laurie. I hate the thought of putting an animal down, but I also hate the thought that they suffer. God gave man dominion over the animals. Genesis 1:28 We have a responsibility to care for them and sometimes that means taking them out of their misery.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Renee! I wish it was easier, but I agree that we sometimes have to put a dog to sleep to end his or her misery. Saying good-bye is so difficult. I’d rather think of it as a last final act of love and care.

  128. Adrienne Dupree says:

    I do not have pets but I did have a dog growing up. I can’t imagine how hard it is to have to actually put your dog to sleep. I hope this article helps people having to make this hard decision.

    • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

      Thanks, Adrienne. Putting a dog is such a difficult decision, but it may be the best, most loving final act of love and compassion you can give your dog.

      • Gail says:

        I am also struggling with that painful decision..my black is 14 yrs old and has such a hard time getting up..sleeps or just lays there most of the day..she eats really well..but her hips have just given out on her…pants a lot and has a raspy cough….I just wish she cough just go in her sleep….such a hard thing to let go…

  1. October 26, 2013

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  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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