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How to Determine a Dog's Quality of Life

Updated on September 20, 2011
Quality of life signs to look in dogs, phila67,
Quality of life signs to look in dogs, phila67,

Assessing Quality of Life in Dogs

Owners who are questioning when a dog should be put down, will often hear veterinarians discuss about quality of life. Quality of life is all about making the pet as much as possible comfortable. Owners and veterinarians therefore can assess together how the quality of life of a dog can be increased, courtesy of medications and lots of tender loving care. When the chances of a good quality of life are poor, often euthanasia is considered.

Euthanasia comes from the Greek language which means ''good death''. A good death is therefore, something to be considered when a a dog's life appears to become too distressing and intolerable. This humane and peaceful procedure is therefore the best option in this scenario.

While a veterinarian may give some opinions of when a dog should be euthanized, it really ultimately comes down to the owner to make such decision. Only owners know their dogs best and therefore only they can make this informed decision. Veterinarians and veterinarian staff may direct towards one option or another, but it ultimately really is the dog owner's decision. Yet, this remains the most difficult decision a dog owner may have to face.

A Helpful Scale for Dog Owners in Need

The most common feelings affecting dog owners considering euthanasia is fear, insecurity anger and guilt. Fear takes place because it is humane to fear the loss of loved ones, indeed, the death of a dog is one of the most distressing situations owners may face. Insecurity takes place because dogs, having been spared from the capacity of talking, must rely on dog owners to be their main decision makers. And guilt, perhaps because in a corner of a mind of every dog owner there is always space for hope that the dog will miraculously get better.

To help owners out, many veterinarains have a quality of life scale, so dog owners can rationally assess their dog's personal situation. This scale can help dog owners make decisions or at least open up a discussion with their vet to see if more can be done.

An Example of a Quality of Life Scale


Is your dog in obvious pain? Has he been benefiting from pain relievers? Does she have trouble breathing? Pain is one of the main considerations when assessing the quality of life of an animal. While there are many effective pain relievers, at times, they may not be sufficient, or the side effects may outweigh the benefits.


Eating is essential for life and dogs that have lost appetite need to receive nutrition. How well is your dog eating? Does he need to be force fed? Can he eat on his own? There are some medications that may increase appetite and some foods made for dogs that need extra nutrition (Hill's A/D, Nutrical) In severe cases, a stomach tube may be inserted.


A dog needs water more than food, so adequate hydration is crucial. Is your dog drinking enough? If you lift up the skin over the shoulders in a tent, does it spring back quickly or does it take time or worse remain lifted? Fluids injected under the skin may help be a great way to supplement water. Some dog owners may learn how to give fluids at home.


Is your dog's coat dull and smelly? Is the coat matted? Is your dog's mobility affected so much that he lies on its waste after elimination? Can your dog control its bladder and bowel functions? A lack of hygiene is often seen in sick, debilitated pets and this can significantly affect quality of life.

-Joy of Life

How happy is your dog? Does he still walk? Does she still enjoy time with you? Is he still interacting with your family? Look for signs of joy and general happiness related with enjoying life.Dogs that appear depressed, lonely, anxious or fearful may be in pain or have started to give up on life.


Dogs rely on their legs a lot. Unlike humans, dog cannot live using a wheelchair or a cane. In nature, dogs that have loss their mobility eventually die. Questions to ask are: ''How much can my dog get around? Is his mobility affected by seizures or other nervous system disorders? Can she get up to relieve herself? Dogs that have painful joints may be helped out with medications. A sling, harness or cart may be helpful in some circumstances.

-Being Bright and Alert

One of the most common things veterinarians look at when they assess the level of health in an animal is how bright and alert the animal is to its surrounding. Indeed, a dog that is withdrawn and lethargic is not a dog feeling well. Signs of brightness and alertness includes response to noises, lifting up the head, ear movements, tail wags etc.

-Assessing Days

This is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind. Is my dog having more good days than bad? Marking on a calendar how your dog feels each day may be helpful. A bad day of course is characterized by the dog suffering, either from lethargy, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting or simply pain. Good days are when your dog responds to you, is alert and active, demonstrating a general willingness to enjoy life.

This is just an example of a typical quality of life scale. One of the first most interesting and and thorough scales was crafted by Dr. Villalobos a veterinarian in order to help dog owners and veterinarians to come to a decision or at least a discussion and thoughts. HHHHHMM stands for Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Mobility and 'More Good Days than Bad''. To see the actual and original scale with points assigned visit this Link.

In the midst of several uncertainities, there are not many things in life as certain as death. And when our beloved dog's time comes close, as much as we would want to post pone death and keep our loyal friend with us, it is unfortunate than eventually, that dreaded time will come. With quality of life in mind, most owners can make the best decision for their dogs.



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    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Thank you for such a tender and thoughtful article. I cannot live without my dog, I am a senior and she is my best friend, this is something I can't think about, my heart feels pain.

    • dawn 6 years ago

      I found this article informative. The tender tone was very appreciated. Those who truly love their pets know how hard this decision is, even when you know there is no other option. This article showed that people need to see what the options are so as to make an informed decision based on love.

    • Dave 6 years ago

      I never thought my beloved Golden Retriever would get lodged in every corner of my heart the way he has. Facing these decisions seems to be the hardest thing I have encountered in my life. Thank you so much for the insightful points in this article. Because he is still eating, drinking and controlling his bowels, I have hope that he has more time left. Thank you so much for caring enough to post this article to help pet owners like myself, wife and three boys who have loved this wonderful animal for 13 special, memorable years. Please all pray for "Pal" and all the other aging pets out there who are growing old. Thanks, Dave in Nevada

    • Carrie DeSha profile image

      Carrie DeSha 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thank you for a realistic, sensitive piece. I lost Abi, an 8 year old red nosed pit bull and the love of my life in October 2009. I am convinced I did the right thing to end her suffering from a brain tumor. Still, that decision was the most agonizing experience in my 35 years. My love and support go out to anyone struggling to provide the best for their dogs.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I can not imagine the pain of having to put a beloved pet to sleep. Their quality of life is so important.

    • west40 profile image

      west40 6 years ago from Canandaigua, NY

      Thanks for this hub - I am going through this right now with my 10 year old Golden Retriever Bailey. A new young vet at the practice I take her to, worked on the "hotline" during vet school and told callers to pick 4 things that your pet "loves" to do and when they can't do two of them it's time. I found this to be good advice.

    • Amy 6 years ago

      This article is helpful. I am currently facing this decision. I have a 14 year old diabetic mini schnauzer named Thumper. He has been diabetic for 4 years and recently reached 84 units of insulin per day. He is quickly losing bladder control and often vomits his food. He still shows so much love and dedication to me which makes this decision near impossible. I know the time is very close but it's so hard to let him go, but I won't let him suffer either. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who are facing this decision.

    • FUELHOG 6 years ago

      Just put my mini schnazuer to sleep today..It was very difficult decision. She was 12 years old and diabetic and completely blind in both eyes..My heart goes out to each and everyone of you who are facing this decisions....

    • Lindsay  6 years ago

      My husband and I are dealing with this decision right now. Our 11 1/2 year old Australian Shepard has been an amazing dog. My husband has had him since he was a puppy, and he was only 18. This decision is so hard, and I am trying to be supportive and let my husband make the ultimate decision, but I also won't let our dog suffer. He still shows so much love and joy when he sees us, but his arthritis and wimpering through the night is unbearable. I loved the advice someone put about picking two out of four things your dog loves to help you make the decision. Our dog loves to play at the beach which he can no longer do and go on walks...he stops after tinkling and refuses to walk any further. I think it is time. This is hardest decision we have ever had to make.

    • Lisa 6 years ago

      I, too, am faced with this decision for a 16-year old Aussie named Hannah - the love of my life! She has been the best dog and friend ever and I can't imagine my life without her. She is ailed with arthritis and slow to get up. Her eyes are telling me she is "tired" and ready for heaven! She can no longer go on walks, play at the beach nor does she respond to my voice. She will live in my heart forever!

    • Rachel 6 years ago

      I too am currently facing this heartbreaking decision with my 12 year old long haired chihuahua. I very much appreciate the information provided in this article. I am so scared at the thought of losing him, however, he has struggled with congestive heart failure for over 6 years and I feel that it is time to let him go. I am so sad and afraid for him and the thought of losing him is one of the scariest things I have ever dealt with in my life. Please think of my "little man"...Leroy Brown, my best and most amazing friend!

    • Fiona 6 years ago

      Jasmine, our 16 and 1/2 year old golden lab is not doing very well. We have been facing what all of the other posts have been facing, and I think the time has come. This article has helped me realise that this is that middle ground time, it is not too soon, but we have not let it go so far we are being cruel. Jasmine has been with us through the birth of our kids, their growth, and I feel like we are losing a family member. It just seems so wrong that we have to make a decision on when her time ends.

    • Brenda 6 years ago

      Today I made the most difficult decision of my life, letting Annie,our Golden Retriever of 14 years go. I came on here looking for confirmation of the decision that was so hard to make and realize it was time, still not easy by far, but her joy for life was gone. My heart breaks for all of you who have to make this decision. Annie will be in our hearts forever.

    • Lisa roger 6 years ago

      I had to make the agonising decision of putting my beloved Rhodesian Ridgback, Sherman, to sleep last Friday. His back legs packed up 3 months ago - he weighed 9 stone and it was a struggle for me to help him around the house and to the garden etc but without question I helped him because he so wanted to live for me because I had just lost my mum and without him I don't think I could have coped. We cannot under-estimate how our beloved dogs ease our pain or help our moods. I tried my best for Sherman and he tried his best for me to stay alive but his time was up and he needed to leave. My heart goes out to people who are going through what I am but also to those who have to make that decision

    • gav 6 years ago

      ZAK,Our 11 year old alsation has now lost the use of his back legs and after reading the posts of the other dog owners it has helped me relize that putting him to sleep is the right thing to do even though it is heart breaking since ive had him so long i know it would be selfish of us to let it drag on.But I Know he will be in our hearts and memorys for ever

    • Rina 6 years ago

      I have had my pomeranian since she was six weeks old. She is now thirteen, and cannot hear, and is slowing down. I have to make this decision and it is tearing me apart. I know in my mind it has to be done, but my heart won't let me.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA


      You do have to accept this is going to happen, that's how life is, but you do not have to make this decision tomorrow. Try to enjoy your days with your dog to the fullest, she will let you know when her time has come.

    • erthfrend profile image

      erthfrend 6 years ago from Florida

      This was truly a wonderful article. I had been through this situation with one of my dogs that we had for many many years and all of the things you mentioned, my husband and I had gone through for a long time with our dog. That was our main concern, his quality of life, and we realized that with the way he was he would eventually let us know when it was time. He definitely did that and we had a vet come to our house to put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing to do but because we knew it was his time, it was also a relief to know we were able to help him in that way. He was ready and after all the years of happiness we shared, this was our final gift to him.

    • mother2gigi 6 years ago

      I have read all the articles above and it still has not sunk in. I have a 17 year old poodle who is now blind and deaf. She still is active, runs and gallops, but we have to pick her up and take her down the stairs so she won't fall, she always lets me know when it is her snack time, breakfast and supper time. Sometimes she wonders around the dining room and living room. My husband thinks she should be put down, I know in my heart she should be put down, but I do not know if I can let her go. I have had to put two of my other poodles down, but one had liver cancer and the other one had a stroke, it was totally different. This time my dog is still eating, drinking, running, she just can't see or hear. Is it time?????

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      If she does not seem in pain and does not look like she is suffering then I would say she is having more good times than bad. Dogs cope pretty well with deafness and even blindness, so there are chances she is still leading quite a decent life. Keep an eye on her and evaluate carefully: she should let you know when she has begun giving up on life. Here are some helpful links:

      Best wishes!

    • kelly 6 years ago

      we put our collie retriever mix to sleep 15 years ago. still painful to think about.

    • lulu 6 years ago


      So sad, my dog Miller(golden retriever) is almost 12 and today i came home from an errand to find him lying in his own feces, after cleaning it up and reassuring him

      i find myself here needing some reassuring, when do i do the thing that i know is inevetitable, what about my other dog who's heart will break when her life long friend is gone?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Lulu, generally, it is up to the owner to figure out when that time comes. Often it is when dogs have more bad days than good and are living poorly and do no longer show signs of being interested in life.

      If you have another dog that is attached to this dog, your best bet is to take this dog along for the euthanasia appointment. This way your dog will sniff the dead body and will not be searching for his life long friend all over the house..wondering what happened to him

      It is a terrible choice to make and often the most difficult, sending best wishes your way.

    • trish 6 years ago

      I have never posted anything before. I am struggling with letting go of my 9 year old poodle. He has cushings

      disease and is now besides not having any bladder control

      not eating and the once thirsty dog is drinking little

      and throwing up. His legs give out and he sometimes

      needs help outside. I know it is time but I pray every

      night for god to take him so I don't have to make this

      choice for him!!! It hurts so much to let him go. I am

      constantly cleaning and feeling guilty. I do not think

      I can ever do this again.

    • Als 6 years ago

      I am also facing this decision and don't want to face the decision. I too am praying for him to die naturally. My 14 yr old labrador's legs have given in completely now but his heart and mind are strong. We have been waiting for him to tell us the time is right but still he's bright and keen to be with us, wagging his tail at us. He has started barking now to ask for help getting up and the past few nights this has happened in the early hours of the morning. My husband and I vary from feelings of uncertainty to thinking now is definitely the right time but can't seem to make the appointment. I keep thinking of my children and how they would react. Really I need someone to tell us what to do. This is the hardest, most painful decision ever. I love him so much.

    • Sarah 6 years ago

      My elderly parents are in the same situation, they have a 17year old westie who is blind and confused, his legs have gone and he barely knows us. It's the hardest thing my parents have had to decide, I will miss my four-legged brother x

    • Ange 6 years ago

      Putting my dog Maxi down in 2 hours.. This is the worst

      feeling.. I know it's time, he has more bad than good days now.

      He is 15, I just can't imagine not seeing his beautiful face every day..

      I am a blubbering mess.. Don't no how I am going to go at the vets..

      I want to b with him though . He's been there for me!!

      I am just watching him now have a peaceful rest in the air con..

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      The worst feeling, yet we want to spare them from pain and further suffering.. sorry to hear about your friend, RIP Maxi, sending you a virtual hug.

    • paula15 6 years ago

      my 9yr old german shepherd has heart disease,cancer and a mammary tumour.the tumour can be removed but she suffers with her heart and weve got to the point where we cannot afford the drugs any more(£100) a month.i don't want to put her under anymore stress as she doesn't like the vets or strangers,so we haven't had the tumour removed.she is still eating,wants affection and sometime plays but has alot of trouble with her breathing,the tumour is now huge would it be kinder to put her to sleep

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Sorry, this is something only you can ultimately decide, to make a rational decision read my article above in its entirety and follow the link to the scale for getting an idea of her quality of life.

    • paula15 6 years ago

      had my wonderful dog Maisie put to sleep today.she was only 8,a german shepherd.i know i made the right decision but i miss her so much it hurts.she died in my arms and just before the injection went in she turned her head and licked my face,i hope she was saying thank you or i love you.i will miss you forever Maisie xxx

    • Jessica 6 years ago

      I don't know what to do. My 14 year old Border Collie was supposed to be healthy. She was at the vet a couple of months ago, blood and xray's came back perfectly healthy. She's gotten a little slower in old age, which is normal.

      But this week we've been sleeping in the living room so she doesn't have to go upstairs because she's almost fallen down them a couple of times. As the week has gone by she's been getting worse. First her front legs were weak and then she wouldn't eat when she's always had a huge appetite and now she can't stand up by herself and her back legs are very weak. She always looks exhausted.

      What I'm having trouble dealing with is that she's still alert, her eyes are clear and she's still drinking a lot of water. How am I supposed to take her to be put to sleep when she's looking at me like why did you bring me here? Her quality of life isn't good, she can't do anything she loved. She can't even stand up by herself and she can barely walk but her in her eyes she's still there.

    • sara 6 years ago

      After reading this article, my husband and I decided that it's finally time to put down our dear, sweet whippet, Alpha. He's been in renal failure for more than a year. He was doing pretty well until a few months ago when he began a steady decline. After reading this, I realized he can't much of anything that he once enjoyed. He can't dig in the garbage when we're out, he can't take walks, he can't jump on the couch...he can't even snuggle up with us as he doesn't have the strength or energy to move very much. I wake up in the night to check on him and turn him so that he doesn't get uncomfortable lying on one side for two long. I could barely speak when we called the vet, but we finally made an appointment for the day after tomorrow. I'm just sitting with him and petting him, and hope he knows how much we love him.

    • Brad 5 years ago

      Thankyou so much for this article. I had to put my dog Mitch down tonite. He has been such a loyal friend for the last 14 years. Unfortunately in the last few years he has gone deaf and started having seizures, where he would lose control of his legs and become severely disoriented. They would normally only last 2-3 minutes. The vet checked him over and apart from that he was in great condition. Last week he had a ten minute seizure and it took him a while to come right. The vet did warn us that most likely the seizures would become more frequent and longer. Tonite he had one that lasted nearly 30 minutes and during the seizure he also vomitted, urinated and deficated on himself. My wife and I discussed it and as much as I hated having to make the decision, I hated the thought even more of my best friend having one of these terrible seizures when we weren't around to help him. The vet was wonderful. I was a blubbering mess as I held him, thanked him for being such a wonderful friend and said goodbye as the vet administered the injection. He went to sleep peacefully in my arms. I will miss him and love him the rest of my days and I hope he is somewhere running around madly like he used to with his wonderful smile.

      Thankyou again for this article. It gave me some assurance that as hard as it was to do it, it was the right thing to do.

    • meredith crosby 5 years ago

      Thank you for this article, my nine year old pitbull StellaBlue and I are faced with this horrible situation. She was diagnosed with lung cancer on Saturday after almost not making it through the night Thursday because she could not breathe. She will not play with my other dog, will not let me take her on a walk, just goes to the bathroom and comes back inside to lay down. She is eating and drinking but not dog food- she has always loved people food. Your article helped me to understand she is on her way to needing to be put down. I think every dogs quality of life is different, mine loves to play, she cannot anymore- It is just so hard to make the right decision, I hope and pray she goes in her sleep but in the back of my mind I know I am going to have to make the decision for her because she will fight for me forever- still do not know what is right but I am getting closer to knowing what is best and right for stella

    • YadiG 5 years ago

      I'm also struggling with letting my 11yr old Cocker Spaniel go as he has Thyroid and although he's eating and still active - i don't want to put him through an intense and expensive surgery if he may not survive it. I feel sooo hurt, but at the same time is it wrong that i feel i should put him down? I'm sooo confused! I've been cleaning after him since December when this i found out about his condition. I've been in out of the vet with him getting that area drained and getting antibiotics. I can't take it anymore as he continues to bleed from that area and 1) i feel horrible and 2) its a $4k surgery, i can't afford and has no guarantee that he will survive it or Thyroid will go away for good. :(

    • joanne harding 5 years ago

      I too have had to make this very difficult decision. I just hope it's the right one at this time. My 12 yr old beagle was dx w/kidney failure this week. Her blood results are all very high. She won't eat and seems depressed. She sleeps more and is incontinent, I can live w/ that but not sure I can w/out her. I will be taking her to the vet this morning-by myself and don't know if I can go thru w/it. Just had to do the same w/my cat 6 months ago. She had a tumor in her neck that spread into her mouth and eventually effected her eye-there was no other choice-was very sudden. I am struggling w/the fact that I will not see my beagle's big brown eyes and switching tail as I arrive home from work everyday. I hope she will not be angry w/me as I hope I am making the right decision for her. I dread the look I will get from her as she enters her eternal sleep.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      We always recommended to have somebody accompany for euthanasia appointments, any way you can have a friend come with you? I am sure your dog will not be angry with you, she will leave this world peacefully and finally leave the pain behind. She had a long life with you, cherish her memories, sending a virtual hug.

    • Laura 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for the sensitive, insightful article; it helped me regain my rationality at a time when my heart seems to be dictating everything. After months of putting it off, I'm putting my puppy boy to sleep tomorrow. He's 12 with hip dysplasia and seizures. I still remember the day I found him whimpering on my doorstep, abandoned. We clicked right away, and I was the only person he ever really trusted. I still can't believe I'm doing this, but to prolong his suffering is wholly selfish of me. All the thoughtful comments are reassuring me that I'm doing the right thing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Rebecca  5 years ago

      My dog, Ferdi is a lovely golden cocker spaniel who was bought for me when I was a five year old by my parents. He's been my best friend ever since. I'm 19 now, and he's 14. He's not really himself anymore, he doesn't respond to his name being called or any noise for that matter. I don't think he can see that well. He doesn't do much other than sleep. He still get's very excited about going on walks though, and when he notices me coming back through the front door when i've been away at university for a while he runs at me as if he was 2 again - with such excitement that he pushes me to the ground and licks me madly. He has got a little aggressive and bit me for the first time in his life last week (but then followed me about for the rest of the day guiltily). What hurts so much is that I am scared to even give him a hug now, because he's been very grumpy. Sometimes he seems bright & happy, and other times he seems very depressed & just stares at the floor or sleeps. He still drinks, and he still eats. I can tell my parents are considering putting him down but I know that its not time to say goodbye yet, he still has life to live and he still has days where anyone could mistake him for a puppy. But I know the time is getting closer. I think I know him better than anyone in my family. The thing is, even the thought of him not being here makes me break-down. I know it's stupid but I think somewhere in me I just thought he's always be here. I can't remember a time without him, and I don't want to be in a time without him. It really will be like I'm losing a family member, my best friend. It's like this quote:

      "A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his."

      I have been through quite a lot in the last couple of years, I've lost people close to me. But nothing will prepare me for losing Ferdi.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      It is extremely difficult to come to terms with a dog getting close to the end. Try to cherish the most you can these days, and when he is gone, be fond of his memories. Remember dogs live in the moment, so try to live your days with him to the fullest. Best wishes.

    • Donna 5 years ago

      Hayley our Golden Retriever has been with us for 13.5 years and was diagnosed with cancer 4 months ago. She has been a beautiful and loyal friend to us, our other dogs, cats, kids and grandkids. Tomorrow we will let her go. We know she will be a doggie angel waiting for us on the Rainbow Bridge. We only hope that we are worthy. Going to miss you sweetie!

    • Re 5 years ago

      My husband and I put our 81/2 year old blue nose Mystique to sleep yesterday.I'm having a hard time with guilt.She had a rare pancreas cancer,had surgery but it didn't work.We had her in predison and it help but also made it hard.We feed and gave her sugar shots to help with her glucose every two hours.Kept her comfy.

      It's hard cause she would look at us with so much love.She would wag her tail(not as much as before)but she would just lay around all day.She would eat and drink.But she'd have trouble walking and started falling every time she went potty.Her breathing was short and she sounded congested.I just need someone to say I did the right heart is broken.She just looked at us when she left this world so sad.I love you Mystique and I'm so sorry baby.I just didn't want you to suffer.Was it the right time?My vet said it was the best thing we could do...but I'm doubting myself.:(

    • Cindy 5 years ago

      I had to make the most heart breaking appointment today and I'm in tears as I type this. Our 13 yr old pug, Winston, will be put down on Friday at 4;30 P.M. He has been in failing health and is diabetic, he has numerous tumors & no bladder or bowel control. His hearing and eyesight are gone and his joints have knots on them from arthritis that makes it difficult for him to walk. I know that to prolong his life & the misery he is in is selfish. After reading all the grief that others are feeling and after actually listing all the things Winston has to deal with, I have come to a peaceful conclusion that what I must do is right. Thank you for making the information in your article available. Thank you for giving people the opportunity to write about their grief and being able to share it with others.

    • janice 5 years ago

      I have just finished reading all the comments about people having to put their beloved dogs done.iI to have a wonderful little dog name Brucie.He is a dandy dinmont terrier.He's 14 yrs. old and has cancer of the lung,bladder stones,diabetes and has lost his eye sight.the vet calls him a miracle dog.he is not eating well and is depressed.Reading all of the little stories about every one else and their little guys and girls has made me realize that the time is getting very close.I to have prayed and ask father God to take my little guy so i don't have to make that decision,but i know that i will know when the time is right after reading all the other comments.And I know how hard that decision will be.thanks to all of you.

    • Danielle 5 years ago

      Alexdry - thank you for this and your other articles on euthanasia. I have been through this once before with our beloved black Labrador "Snowy" who lasted til a ripe old age of 17. I have been haunted with the feeling that perhaps we 'called it' a little too soon. While she was not really moving from her bed, she still had a 'spark'. Now, though, my 15 year old big Bichon Frise "Lucky" has his spine giving in. He is on steroid anti-inflam and I am praying he will respond over the next week. If not, I know the decision is coming thick and very fast. Your advice: "they will tell you when they are ready" is so helpful. I think I know the look. I will wait for him to tell me. To all pet owners on the forum agonising over this moment - bless you all for caring. Your pets have had a charmed and loved life. Remember that, rather than their last moments.

    • Patty 5 years ago

      Our 20 year old pappion seems ready to be at the end of her life. The articles have been very helpful. Now we have to make the decision that will be so painful. Little Angel is a rescue dog we got when she was 8 years old. She was terribly abused and looked like a drowned rat. Her companion, Ginger was 6 mo. old, when we got Angel,but we had to put Ginger down in Feb of this year at the age of 12. Angel has never been the same. We will give her all the love and attention right up to her last day.

    • Rodolfo 5 years ago

      I had to put down my Rhodesian Ridgeback who had a brain tumour.I knew his time had come because he was so lethargic and didn't even want to go on his beloved walks anymore.i cried.what a beautiful breed of dog in appeearance and personality.

    • Cricket - Born July 10th 2001Nov 5 years ago

      Our cricket was 10 years and 4 months when he died. He had a Tumor which burst opened. We took him to the Vet they suggested to take it our but no guarantees as it could come back. Cricket also had a tumor on his hip plus several mini ones. We were dressing his wound on the opened tumor every day plus giving him the antibiotics which was prescribed by our Vet. Our little baby was breathing heavy on firday night and slowly he was leaving us but made sure he did say good bye to every one of us. He was such a nice Angel which could not be replaced but the blodd did not stop . did start bleeding where the Vet has

    • Alicia 5 years ago

      Our beautiful 13 year old shih tzu Rocky , has become totally blind and we believed also kind of deaf, and is constantly barking. He had some kidney disease that was property treated.

      We are doing everything recommended to try to ease his blindness. His appetite is very good and he wiggle his tail when he hears our voice but will not follow any order. We use several commands but shih tzu are rather cuter than intelligent and most of the time it takes forever for them to learn a command.

      After reading your beautiful words I know this are not goo days for him . He needs somebody to be with him 24/7 to reassure him, which we are trying to do. How long does it usually takes for a dog to know his way around his home? In the meanwhile, for the last week, he is constantly laying down, will walk only if forced, and is constantly barking and I don't know what to do , how much time should I give him to adapt to his knew situation?, thanks for your advice

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      When dogs lose their vision and hearing, they sort of become apprehensive and very clingy. I do not know how long it may take to adjust to this new situation but I would imagine it may take some time. I will refer you to a website that offers tips for blind/deaf dogs:

      Best wishes

    • Rebecca 5 years ago

      I have a 18 year old male staffy (cross)i love him soo much im 22 and ive known him since I was 6 ive grown up with him but he is blind and deaf he needs help everytime to get up he crys and he wonders around like his stressed he has got a tumour but its not cancerious should I put him down? I love him and its going to be soo sad amd I wanted to get through one last christmas with him or am I just being selfish should I put him down? I just feeel really bad about doing it

    • Rebecca 5 years ago

      Also he still eats although his become fussy and he still smells things but thats about all he can do he hasn't wagged his tail in about a year :-(

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Rebecca, I am so sorry, I really cannot give you advice on this. It is ultimately something you will have to decide. All I can say is that many owners claim their dogs gave them ''signs'' that they were ready to go.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      So sorry your Sheba is going through all this. I know it is overwhelming, and having worked for a vet, I have seen the toughest looking guys break down because it hurts, and our dogs bring out all our emotions because they accept as for who we are and we have no fear showing our true emotions to them.

      If you are considering putting her to sleep, consider that some vets may also come to your home for the procedure. Many vets recommend bringing the other dog so he/she can accept death and sniff it, rather than carrying on looking for their faithful companion around the house. Ask your vet on their policies about bringing other pets. It is tough, one of the toughest decisions most dog owners make but unfortunately, one that eventually all dog owners will have to make at one point or another.

    • sam 5 years ago

      Hi . Im sitting here with my boy. Ben who is a 17 yr old staffy . What an amazing boy he has been , my best friend allways there to wag his tail when I come home from work . Unfortunatly old age is taking its toll on him . After reading all the posts on here last night I made the decision to take him to the vets today . Ive cried for several days at the thought of letting him go . But I love him so much I cant afford to be selfish , he is struggling to walk and off his food he even looks sad , doesn't want to go for walks anymore and I dnt want him loose his dignity , and certainly dont want to watch him fade away before my eyes , its been a tough decision and man tears have been shed , my daughter who is an only child would tell people she had a brother called ben lol , but forget to mention he was a dog which brought many smiles to people , what a character he has been , the most amazing boy . I love him dearly and will have many more tearsto shed . But thank you for the comfort I received when reading im not alone . Thinking of all who have to make this decision . Just think of you're little friend and you will make the right decision , sam x

    • Carolyn 5 years ago

      Today is one of the saddest days of my life. Chelsea, my shepard mix can't stand any more. Her back legs won't hold her up and there is sadness in her eyes. Arthritis and 15 years have taken a toll on her. She's a fiesty one with mind of her own. All she really wanted was love and understanding. I'm not degrading her 1st 3 owners, but maybe a kinder hand would have made her a different dog. When she growled at me I would put my arms around her neck and my head next to hers and hug her and told her how much I loved her. I became her "Mom" when my mom needed back surgery in 2006. Mom adopted her in 8/2003 and my mom didn't want her to go back to the shelter (Chelsea had spent too many days and nights there)so she became my second "girl". She became Holly's best friend. Holly is my shepard mix. Holly was younger (only about 15 mons) bigger and had a lot more energy than Chelsea. Chelsea got a concussion because Holly tried to play too roughly. But Holly always looked out for Chelsea. If Chelsea wandered too far in the yard, Holly would be right nest to her. At the vet's, Holly would check Chelsea after the vet was done to make sure that she was OK. This is my tribute to my "Cupcake". She will meet my other "loves" at the rainbow bridge. Spike and Kazooty and K.C., Scruffy and Pumpkin(Chelsea was never fond of cats, but I know they will all get along in heaven)will romp and play together and exchange stories of their lives with me. Chelsea I love you and will miss your dog dance to distract Holly so you could steal her treat. The last 5 1/2 years of my life have been better because of you. Chase those deer and lay in the sun. I love you.

    • ali 5 years ago

      I just had to put my 11 years old Cocker spaniel to sleep. She was suffering from a liver disease. She was under all kind of antibiotics for two weeks. Her liver was torn apart form the disease and antibiotics. I don't even know how to start tomorrow. I always started my day with greeting her and taking her out for a walk.

      Everywhere I go is a memory. God help me through these nights.

      Is there a heaven for dogs? I certainly hope so.

      You know, She and her memories were part of my life on this earth. Now that she is gone, part of my life is gone.What happened to that now missing part of my life?

      god bless.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      I do believe there is a heaven for dogs! My hub on dog euthanasia has a beautiful poem and video of rainbow bridge, you can see it here:

    • Esther 4 years ago

      Today is the hardest day of My Life :'( My 15 1/2 year old Border Collie. The Man of my life! best friend!! soul mate for years. been through all My & (Children's)up and down! of life. I got My Little man, Cheeko at 3 month old. what a great joy He brought My Children. Now for the past three years he has been dealing with bad hips, hard to go up and down stairs, can not walk far, has water around his heart & lungs, has heart mumer,can not hear,he was peeing blood in his urine, had infection. his narrowing in his throuth is shrinking :( through all this his been such great dog in the three years of all this, then year 6 month's ago he got lump on his gums! more awful news cancer of his gums, now has spread to the roof of his mouth, hard to eat treat all has to be soft, bleeding pain now sleeps all day, the coughing breathing is getting so hard :( I see Cheeko suffering, but He does not want to show it seems to go on his own to deal with the coughing gaging vomit. This is breaking My Heart and my Soul Mate, Cheeko's Pappa, Best Buddy!Is also finding this hard! to see Cheeko gaging hacking struggling Is so very hard for Us.So today is the day after a very hard weekend, whatching Our Cheeko going through all this and on so much med's his on is not helping him any more. He take pills for his heart, pills for cough, pills for the water around his lungs and heart, pills for pain & for the cancer infection for bad breath and bleeding!! :( My poor little Cheeko the Man :( I think,& talking with My Partner,love of My life now, & My Three Wounderful Children it is time to let Our Little Man Cheeko can Rest In Peace :( still in all Our Heart, be in our home forever! Never forgotten, always been so loved, by His Family, Nonnoies, Friends! We Love You CHEEKO The Man XO

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      What a wonderful dog and what a wonderful life you have given this boy!

    • LuMon 4 years ago

      I lost my best friend to lung cancer. She was 14 and 9 mos. I had all tests done to confirm the cancer before she rested peacefully. She will forever be in my heart and i feel like all my memories of her are good ones. Please you know your dog. If they are not feeling well act quickly. Cancer acts quickly once there is symptoms. Don't let your animal suffer. i had to go to another vet hospital to get her quicker tests. i was not willing to let her wait. She was not eating an couldve starved to death had I waited for these doctors. Within one week of her first cough and knowing she had this horrible illness I gave her peace and i will see my best friend again one day!!

    • katiee 3 years ago

      I have been crying the whole time I've read all the comments its been hard reading due to i cant see with all the tears welling up in my eyes.It has been 6 month since i put my best and loyal pug tubby down . he was 11 and a half . He had terrible allergies that caused his body to rash into scabs on his belly and neck . he had to eat special food and was on alot of expencive meds.he began to have tumor growths on his legs. when he was three months old he was very lethargic . I took him to a drs appointment i was told by two different vet hospital drs that tubby would have a very short life 3 weeks to 3 months was his life span. i was told i could take him to WSU and the doctors there may be able to help him . he had a shunt his body was basically poisioning itself. I was told no guarantees to save his life and if he only had one shunt he would fine but if they found more no promises . the surgery was done and only one shunt . his quality of life was extended . I was so happy i cried even after the surgery when everything was good. during the time i put my tubby down i went threw a divorce of 24 years i had to sell my dream home and my dog was not going to adjust to a move his eyes were going bad and he always had free rain in the house and yard .his last month he would always feel his way around . and slept a bit more . he still had a spark of life in him but as my life was going i just knew he would not be able to adjust in hotels after the house sold . i decided to give him piece and put him down .I have regrets of putting him down when i did he let out the saddest sigh ever like awww no . It haunts me! My daughter was with me and says it also bothers her she said she watched his face and the memories of it are awful . we are both christian and continue to pray however whenever we speak of him we both cry. i feel like i should be over some of the grieving process but i am not . I feel so guilty and i miss him so much . i was a stay home mom for the most part of 24 years and tubby followed me every where and i mean ever where .

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Putting down a dog is never easy. Please don't feel guilty. If it makes you feel better, please keep in mind that vocalizations are normal and respiratory gasps may take place a minute or two after the loss of consciousness. This is not evidence of pain in the dog or consciousness, it's only a physiological response occurring when the brain is deprived of circulation.

    • Suzanne 3 years ago

      Doing searches to help confirm my decision for my almost 15 year old Golden Retriever Dukey. He can't get up, he can't walk. I raise his back end to help him walk and relieve himself.. its becoming too hard. Since he can't get up and walk around the house, he just lies in one spot all day, nearly 24 hours.. but with not a lot of cash to spend ... hoping I can find a vet who can facilitate. Thank you for this article and for the dozens of comments.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Suzanne, it's never easy. I am sorry Dukey is going through this.

    • Ardeth 2 years ago

      My Sheltie is nearly 16. He has been the best dog we have ever had. He cannot see or hear anymore but he is still eating and sometimes runs around like a puppy. It's not time yet, but I fear it will come sooner than I want it to.

      The article was very good.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I think it's just never a good time for us, we want our dogs to live long and never leave us. It's sad their lives are so short. I can't recall a time I was ever satisfied of the time frame of the passing of my pets. I always wanted more. Please, another week, please another day, please more hours. It's the biggest downside of owning pets, but we must also cherish all and joy they filled our lives for many years and for this we will be eternally grateful.

    • Marilyn 17 months ago

      I too wanted to thank you for the article on euthanasia. We had to put lu lu down. She was thirteen diabetic needing two injections a day she hated it. She then became blind and really never adjusted to it. We have cried until our eyes burn. I am sure that there is a heaven for special dogs and finally she can see.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 17 months ago from USA

      My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. I too believe that once our pets separate from their ailed, old physical bodies, they can finally live pain free and watch us from the above.

    • patti 17 months ago

      my pookie is 16.5 yrs old he was diagnosed with canine dementia hes blind,can't stand to eliminate falls over in stool and lays in it, bloody stools,so difficult to come this decision never had a dog i have 2 bicheons and pookie is my boy! He will be going to rainbow heaven tommorrow he has left paw prints on my heart forever!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 17 months ago from USA

      What a wonderful age your beloved Pookie has reached! Cherish all those wonderful memories. So sorry you must go through this. Sounds like you enjoyed a wonderful time together.

    • Kerri 16 months ago

      My beloved Princess is 11 now. She has been the best ever! We got her at 4 weeks, and have had many great and joyous years. She's had some arthritis issues with her back end but mostly healthy. About a month ago she started acting funny, slowing down and in the last couple weeks has stopped eating and now isn't drinking either. She has lost so much weight is weak and has raspy labored breathing. Never before has she pottied in the house and the last week when I get up for work she has gone on the floor. She is sad and I know she has "the look" in her eyes as if she's saying "I'm tired mom." I am SICK over losing her and not sure how we are going to cope without her or how I will try to detach from our other dogs for fear of going through this again. I've cried for the last 2 days. I made the call this morning, kept the kids home (they want to be there with her for her final moments). We go at 3:15 and the time is going so quick. My husband wants to prolong the end but she is suffering. I will always wonder in the back of my head if I should've waited it out. She's not vocalizing any pain but she's slow to get up and that's if we can get her to get up at all. I am so sorry for everyone who has experienced this and hope that I can eventually get passed the guilt and the empty sick feeling in my heart. I LOVE YOU MY PRINCESS AND ALWAYS WILL

    • Mickey & Crash 10 months ago

      My loyal companion 10 yr old Great Pyrenees has been diagnosed with multiple tumors on neck hip and abdomen. Surgery would only be exploritive; considering his age. I also was given euthenasia as a peaceful alternative. I have bawled and begged others for advice. Ultimately I googled my concerns and found this page. Can't say thank you enough. I felt selfish for wanting to prolong his time with me. He has had more good days than bad. He has been barking and wagging his tail more than not, so I am going to hold on a little longer. I pray we will reunite past the rainbow bridge. He is my best friend and has shown me more love than any human. Thank you again.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 10 months ago from USA

      This is the toughest decision most of us dog owners must make at one time or another. I am glad to hear this article at least helped you out.

    • william 8 months ago

      My little girl Paisley, shes a shih tzu and has been with me for 10 years. We do everything together and now we found out her liver is failing and I'm going to loose her. I can' get up in the morning with out seeing her or even want to. It's more pain than I've ever known, im 66 and all I can do is cry each day. Love is a four legged word. Please say a prayer for Paisley and to give me the streintgh to do the right thing when the time is on us, bless you all Love William and Paisley

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      Poor Paisley, it's so sad when our dogs age and start getting sick! Sending you positive thoughts and strenght.

    • Dog lover 8 months ago

      For Paisley, check out these home remedies for dogs with liver problems:

    • Joan 6 months ago

      Thank you so much for all comments. I am facing the big decision now. My Yorkie has cancer and still eating and renting but sleeping a lot. He has lost a lot of weight and the vet said it was a fast cancer that spreads quickly,

      Thank you all

    • Kasey 6 months ago

      I love your articles. You obviously love animals and they are one of your passions. I do too. I will note that this article my lead people to hang on to their pets longer than they should. Is your dog lying in his body waste? Is he so dehydrated that you may need to inject fluid under the skin? Do you need to force feed your animal so that they get nutrition and eat? I have an old dog myself. He is about fourteen. He has swollen gums on each side athisvery back bottom teeth. I'm sure thats painful and I have to have them removed. Its very costly. Until then I've been giving him antibiotic occasionally to keep infection out and pain down. My dog also has arthritis. But after reading this article I definitely know that it's not time for him. One man commented on here that he couldn't love without his dog. That was sad for him and the dog. If your dog seems more unhappy and Not energetic then more than likely it's time.

    • heythere26 6 weeks ago

      This is about my cat but it could apply to a dog as well. I was heartened to see that after reading your article Kasey felt confident in her decision that the time had not come for her dog.

      Unfortunately I had the opposite pressure to euthanize my cat even though he was still eating, pain was controlled and he was mobil.

      Hopefully IF I encounter the same situation with a vet intent on premature euthanasia I won't end up giving the vet permission to do something I will soon regret.REGRET EUTHANASIA

      11/28/2016 12:00am

      Because of Dr. Kevin’s defense of a vet in this clinic to refuse to euthanize a pet that appeared healthy I arrived at the clinic with confidence that given the current state of I’m Here Max I would leave with some helpful herbs.

      My treating vet and I were in agreement that I'm Here Max would have his usual quality of life with the administration of pain medication due to an inoperable cancer which had spread to his jaw.

      He was never a playful cat during his estimated thirteen years, nor much of a lap cat .He liked to warm himself by the heater and meowed only in the morning when he wanted his wet food. He used the cat litter without urging and his weight had stabilized when medication for hyperthyroidism was started. In short, other than being in the house most of the time rather than being mostly outside and sleeping more due to the pain medication his life was much the same as before cancer of the jaw progressed.

      I didn't find it a problem to wipe the occasional drool but he started to bleed on the left side of his gum line two days before the appointment I had made with the holistic vet to obtain herbal medication to slow the cancer in his jaw.

      As I recall when I asked if anything could be done about his bleeding from his jaw by removing the three teeth which had become loose, the vet told me that the cat would lose his teeth on his own so she wouldn't remove them but had good results with jaw removal.

      I had stated from the beginning that I didn't want jaw removal, radiation or chemo so I'm not sure why the subject was brought up because she did state that this wasn't an option at this point.

      I had not brought I’m Here Max on a 45 mile trip to discuss Euthanasia. The vet I saw brought up the subject and seemed intent on having me agree that this was the only humane thing to do.

      Much as I would miss him and that he required no more care than a well cat I bought into the guilt trip that I was being selfish to keep him alive when he had a terminal cancer.

      That day I was initially relieved that I'm Here Max would be safe from any future suffering due to my "selfish desire" to keep him alive for an estimated 1 month or so.

      It was less than two hours later that I realized that I had made a decision that was neither good for my cat, I'm Here Max, or for me.

      I had pain medication on hand and an 24 hour Emergency Clinic within a half hour drive with an indoor cat who NEVER meows so I felt confident he would let me know, if I missed other signs that the time had come. In addition I had him under the care of a vet who supported hospice as a good option for I'm Here Max and me.

      While others may not have the same support I had, I also had to contend with other opinions that "You're being selfish to keep your cat alive in pain" and "You can't tell when your cat is in pain".

      I believe that I’m Here Max would be still alive, albeit for not much longer, if I hadn’t made that trip for herbal advice and hadn’t allowed myself to be hooked into a guilt trip that I would cause suffering to my cat if I didn’t comply with what the vet had suggested as the moral thing to do.

      How would I have liked this appointment to go?

      Well as I had stated that surgery, chemo and radiation was out and that I wanted a holistic vet to confer with my vet on alternative treatment in the care of my cat with terminal cancer. I would have liked the vet to support my efforts to keep my cat as long as possible until it was obvious to ME and the treating vet that the time had come.

      I would have liked her to note that I’m Here Max had gained weight, was eating on his own although less at a time and more often, walked from the living room to the litter box in the hall, and was paid attention to and to .

      My cat wanted nothing more after being examined than to get in his carrier and be safe. Unfortunately I fell for the guilt trip and agreed with the vet, initially greatly relieved to believe I had done the right thing.

      Two hours or so later I was greatly saddened as I realized that “putting my cat to sleep” was the wrong decision for me. It was the wrong decision for I’m Here


      If the pet is not in pain don't let this guilt trip influence your decision to end his life sooner than it needs to be

      While sick cats find hiding places healthy cats do too.

      Cats aren't silent in pain. They want YOU to do something,

      Euthanasia can NEVER be undone.

      I would hope that when someone appears at this clinic with a cat that is currently eating, mobile, using the cat litter even if the cat has a terminal illness, that the vet will focus on what the client is here for so that there will be no regrets of ending a pet’s life sooner than it needs to be.

      This would apply to a dog as well who has a terminal illness.

      Along with your article I hope relating my experience will give a pet owner who finds themselves in my position to gather up their pet for however more time is left with a reasonable quality of life and bring that pet home

    • Joan Simpson 2 weeks ago

      I wrote about my 15 yr old poodle who has been blind and deaf for the last two years and functioned pretty well. Just before Christmas I think he had a stroke. Legs are weak and his head leans to the right. Daily he has had a seizure and loses his urine at that time. Not eating much but drinks water a couple times a day. I plan on taking him to the vet tomorrow. I feel that it is time to put him to sleep. He was always so full of life even though he is blind and deaf. Am I doing the right thing?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 weeks ago from USA

      Sounds more like old dog vestibular disease, please see your vet so he can give you ideas on how this can be treated and prognosis. Usually, it's time when there are more bad days than good, but it's ultimately a personal choice. Owners know their dog best and can tell if their dogs are still enjoying life.

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