Adrienne is certified dog trainer and former veterinary assistant. She has taken several courses on hospice, end-of-life care for dogs.
End of Life? A Dog Owner's Hardest Decision
Working at a veterinarian hospital, I inevitably received many dreadful phone calls from owners asking if it was time to put their beloved dog to sleep. Unfortunately, I was never able to give them a straight black or white answer they wanted.
As I listened to them compassionately, in the midst of their sobbing for help, I always faithfully stuck to my personal opinion that it was the owner's ultimate choice since they knew their dog best. These were compassionate owners, truly concerned about their dogs' wellbeing, trying their best to cope with the idea that their dog's life was coming to an end, gathering their emotional forces for that final day. These were clients who had been dealing with their pet's chronic diseases for years and were willing to do anything to help their pet manage sickness as comfortably as possible.
As veterinary staff, we suffered as well since we have seen these dogs for many years and grew emotionally attached to them. We found ourselves in tears many times, hugging the owners as the pain and sorrow seemed to seep deep into the animal clinic.
It's a difficult conversation for everyone involved.
When to Put a Dog to Sleep?
As dog owners, we all would love it if our dogs could live much longer lives. Even if they've lived a long life, when dogs turn geriatric, it just feels as if their lives have come to an end too soon. The years you had together passed much too quickly, and it just seems yesterday when they were prancing around in their early puppyhood.
We all wish our dogs would pass peacefully in their sleep as they put their head down on their favorite pillow for the last time. Unfortunately, many pets suffer as they age, either being crippled by arthritis or, even worse, debilitating diseases such as cancer. As we work our best to relieve their pain through the miracles of modern medicine, there comes a specific moment where we can clearly see our pet's bodies turn frail and eventually give up.
If dogs could tell us what they wanted, the dying process might be much easier, but since they have been spared the gift of voice, we must interpret the subtle signs of their physical deterioration.
Listen to Your Dog—Only You Can Know When It's Time
Only the owners are capable of knowing how their dog copes with physical pain and how they respond to everyday life. It is in my belief that at a certain point, the dog itself will express it is time to go. There will be some perceptible change in their behavior, a shift that perhaps only the owners may perceive, that will suggest they are ready for the Rainbow Bridge. It could be a look in their eyes, an expression on their face, or the simple lack of a tail wagging.
Don't Do It Too Soon or Wait Too Long
However, I must admit that as a veterinary assistant, I have seen some cases where the euthanasia procedure seemed to be done at the wrong time, either too soon or too late.
I have seen owners opt for the procedure upon learning a diagnosis of cancer or kidney failure. In these cases, the dogs may still have had a few good weeks or even probably months of life left in them. However, owners may not be able to afford the financial burden that comes with a disease or may not be capable of witnessing the physical deterioration of their best friend. Some simply wished to spare their dog from any suffering at all.
In other cases, I have seen dogs kept alive long past the stage of "admissible deterioration" in an unnecessary spiral of mental and physical deterioration. In these cases, the owners were unable to "let go" and tried their hardest to hold onto their pet as long as they possibly could . . . until their dog was just a lifeless shadow.
The middle road is, in my opinion, the "golden way" to go. If you are debating whether it is time to put your dog to sleep, remember to cherish every day and every moment because these very last days will always be in your heart.
In the End, Your Dog Will Let You Know
When your dog's time comes, he or she will let you know it is time to cross the Rainbow Bridge in a leap of faith. Dogs, unlike humans, do not fear death because they live in the moment. Do not worry about your dog; he/she will be in a better place and, best of all, will be eternally pain free.
Very likely, if you stay for the euthanasia procedure, you may see your dog look into your eyes for the last time, almost as if to say: "Thank you, owner, for loving me so much." Then she will take a deep breath and peacefully drift into a better life, looking over you for many years to come.
Vet Explains When to Put a Pet to Sleep
The Rainbow Bridge Poem
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together . . .
What Happens When a Pet Dies
More About Quality of Life and Euthanasia
- How to Determine a Dog's Quality of Life
Owners who are questioning when a dog should be put down will often hear veterinarians discuss "quality of life." Here is a list of questions to help you assess the quality of a dog's life, their level of comfort and happiness, and what specific issu
- What Happens During a Pet's Euthanasia Appointment
Learn what to expect at your pet's euthanasia appointment. Understand the origin of the term ''to put to sleep'' and how the procedure is carried out.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a twelve-year-old lab mix. He is having accidents in the house, and he paces a lot and acts like he can't hold it at times. He has a good appetite and drinks a lot of water. He acts like he is hungry a lot. Most of the time his feces is solid but he has diarrhea at times too. I just found a small lump on his stomach. The vet gave him his shots last month and was surprised that he so old and healthy, and said that he can tell he is very happy. Do you have any ideas?
Answer: It sounds like your dog needs a closer evaluation. Mention to your vet the symptoms you are seeing. Accidents around the house and increased drinking may be due to many causes such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, lower urinary tract infection, and Cushing's disease. Have the lump on the stomach aspirated to rule out cancer. Diarrhea should be mentioned too. If your vet is not willing to conduct testing consult with another vet.
Question: I have a very sick dog, and I don't know why. She's nine-years-old, has not eaten and barely drank anything for five or six days. She's been throwing up and has diarrhoea. What do I do, what could be wrong?
Answer: Your very first step is bringing your dog to your vet. There may be chances your dog may just need some medications to help heal her digestive tract, and she may be dehydrated from all the vomiting and diarrhoea. This is concerning. Because of her age, she may dehydrate and get weak quickly. Finding the underlying cause is important.
Question: I have a four-year-old pit mix, he has suffered from skin allergies for three years. His skin is absolutely raw frim scratching and rubbing. He has seen 3 vets, had many medications, creams, steroid shots, changed his diet. Nothing helps. He cannot go outside to play, we go on short potty walks and that is it. He cries, whimpers and isn’t as active because he is so miserable. Should I have him put down to ease his suffering?
Answer: I am so sorry your dog is going through all this. It sounds like he is miserable. Has your dog seen a specialist by any chance? If not, look for a board-specialized veterinary dermatologist. You can find one by searching the directory on the American College of Veterinary Dermatology website.
Question: I'm struggling with what to do with my dog. He will soon be thirteen. He is a Bichon and Shitzu mix. He pees in the house and is a constant barker whenever anyone comes over. I have stage four cancer, and the last thing I need to do is clean up after and deal with him. At to the point, I don't even like him anymore. I feel bad about wanting to put him down, but I don't see any other option. No one wants to adopt a senior dog that pees in-house and barks. Do you have any advice?
Answer: It must be very challenging dealing with all this, and you need to put your health first. Your dog for being the mix he is is still fairly "young" after all. Some dogs of this mix have lived even up to eighteen. The peeing and barking can be due to anxiety, or there may be an underlying health issue. It may be worth consulting with a few local rescues, animal welfare groups, and animal sanctuaries and telling them what is happening and what options they have to offer-if any.
Question: I have a cocker spaniel service dog. I’ve had to retire her because she has horrible arthritis in her hind legs. I can’t bring myself to replace her while she is still here, and it’s breaking my heart to watch her suffer. What can I do for her instead of bringing her to the vet's office?
Answer: There are many products that work well for arthritis. Lintbells makes a product known as Yumove that can help it just takes a bit to be effective. Adequan injections have helped many old dogs. If it's getting close to her time, you can see if there are any hospice care veterinarians in your area that can provide pain meds to help improve a bit her quality of life. Many will come to your home. Several vets will also come to homes to put a dog to sleep when the time comes. There are also mobile vets. I am so sorry it's heartbreaking for sure.
Question: My Pug is 13-years-old and suffers from arthritis, he is very stiff at times and struggles to walk. He sometimes has a sad look in his eyes and I can not tell if he is telling me that he is in pain. He lost quite a few pounds last year but he still loves his food. Do I need to put him down? How would I know?
Answer: This is a very personal decision and only you really know your dog best. Having said that though, there are several products that can help your dog if he is stiff and in pain from his aging joints. Your vet can prescribe pain meds and/or you can even try some supplements. Is your dog on any glucosamine? Both my dogs got pretty good mobility in their last years using YouMove by Lintbells. There are many great products. If your dog is losing weight, consult with your vet to determine why. Cancer is sadly rampant in older dogs so you need to find out if there is something else going on. While it is true that old dogs lose muscle mass and some may become finicky eaters, losing quite a few pounds deserves investigation.
Question: What should I do about a senior dog who has been growling at my toddler as I've been told she's too old and sickly to be rehomed?
Answer: You may want to confine your dog away from your daughter. Use a baby gate with a fine mesh net at the bottom so that your daughter can't stick fingers through it or use crate or play pen. You may want to take your dog to the vet as it sounds like she is having several medical problems that may be related to the signs you are seeing. If she is not feeling well, her threshold for aggression may have lowered and hence the behavior towards your daughter. She may also have cognitive dysfunction or problems withpainful arthritis in her spine or legs which may be causing the accidents in the house.
Question: I'm sorry to say, but my dog at home is suffering a lot, and everyone in the family agrees he should be put down. Everyone except my father whose dog it is. We've tried talking to him about it, and he refuses to listen. Day by day the dog gets worse, but we can't just take him to the vet without my dad's permission, and we don't know what to do now. How can we reason with my dad that his dog needs to be let go?
Answer: Since your father has the last word, how about having a vet come to the home for an evaluation of the dog? In that case, the vet can assess the dog, see if there is anything else that can be done to keep him from suffering from pain and comfortable and have a talk with your dad about the quality of life. No decision needs to be necessarily taken that same day, just an evaluation. I think Lap of Love offers consultations, but any mobile vet may be able to offer a service as such as well.
Question: My dog is 13 years old! He has lost significant weight over the last 7 weeks. We still has energy, has an appetite but doesn't care for water as it causes him to vomit. He has two lumps on his stomach and his stool is loose with blood. In addition, he will poop out just blood! He still has energy and life in his little body but he can't be comfortable! I believe this might be the end. Any advice?
Answer: Your best bet is seeing your vet and finding out what is the underlying cause for his discomfort. I know these vet visits can be scary at this age, but only by knowing what is truly going on, you can can gain the best insight on what can be done to improve his quality of life. There are chances that he may just need some medication to help ease his tummy problems. Bloody poop can be due to many things and many can be fixed. Giving ice-cubes can help dogs who throw up water as they lick them slowly rather than gulping down the food. Ask your vet about ways to hydrate him without causing him to vomit. He may need some fluids under the skin.
Ashleigh on October 21, 2019:
My dog (Troy) is a Boxer cross Akita, and is 15 years old. He has started to struggle over the past few months with arthritis, and it can take a while for him to sit down and get up. We can not take him for his walks anymore which was his favourite part of the day, (along with meal time) because his back legs collapse, and it's a struggle to get back home. He is a big dog, and is too heavy too carry. In addition to this he poops and urinates in his bed daily, and I have seen it happen where he will try and make it to the back door to go outside but doesn't get there in time. Its really sad because he still gets very excited to see me, gives me lots of affection, and sometimes will even try and bounce around with excitement when I go to give him a treat. I'm not sure what to do, because I can see he is trying to fight it some days and other days he looks so distressed. He is on pain killers at the moment, which seem to be helping a little. I'm just not sure what to do, I wouldn't ever want him to be in pain.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 28, 2019:
Tyler, only your vet can really determine what may be going on and based on findings suggest what you can do to help your dogs.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 20, 2019:
Betty, please have your dog see the vet. Lab are prone to a condition known as laryngeal paralysis and this can cause bark changes and choking. Also increased drinking and increased urination can be seen in dogs with diabetes, cushing's and other disorders.
Betty on July 18, 2019:
our lab is 15 starting to bark a lot looking for food all the time drinks a lot of water and pees a lot he barks as if he is chocking and when i bring his out he has to rest a lot only bring him out for about 10mins 4 times a day
tyler on July 18, 2019:
My dogs has been blind for long time now, but they both show signs of fatigue, loss of appetite, and tiredness. As well as one of them is always in a snuggle near the door and is always sleeping now. And the other dog when I go to walk him he had a lost of balance and collapsed on the floor about two times now. What do I do? and Whats wrong?
Kiah on June 30, 2019:
My dog 5 years old and has type 1 diabetes. His blood sugar hasnt leveled out yet so one day itll be very high in its 20 and 30 and the next day it could be very low. He always laying down and hardly has any energy. The topic of putting him to sleep has come up a lot lately because we can no long aford putting out 500$ or more a month for him and we dont want him suffering. Some days he seems perfect and other days its hard to watch and look at him. My heart want to put him to sleep so he can be in peace but i also cant let go and have the fear of making the mistake of letting him go to soo . I dont knon what to do.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 23, 2019:
Mandypants99, so sorry to hear that. Cancer is so common in our breed. Lost my girl last August at 11 to cancer. It's so tough. I think you did good to have extra days with her to spoil her and take pictures.
Mandypants99 on February 07, 2019:
I have a Rottweiler she is thirteen years old and has a growth in her belly it’s been there for some years and she has got by fine with it . Recently it has grown to the size of a small football and she is breathless a lot and eating very little.. I got the vet out to her yesterday and wanted to put her to sleep there and then because there is a risk of it bleeding out but I’ve asked for a few days with her so he is coming back on Monday to do it
Lilton on January 15, 2019:
I have two sisters. Pitbulls. Same age. 9 1/2. Yrs. Both are not doing well , as stated in your presentations owners now their dogs. Names. Stanby come air force. And. Back up. Buffalo police. They noth was comfory to me. On my bad days retireds detective. I seen few things. Not good in life it stick with. So went back to college. My dogs gave me reason keep going and i now snout to moved back to alabama. In few months. My mother under hospice , so do i push the dogs a little more or be a man and say thsnk upu for services and moved on. Or see. About anothet options. I do love my dogs
Josh diaz on November 22, 2018:
I have a black lab in which he was diagnosed With diabetes. Hes been drinking water also being asleep have noticed that he can not walk properlyHe has not eaten
for the past 5. I have been taking him daily to the vet for ivs. What is you recommendations.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 04, 2018:
Jeff40, if you are debating, something to consider may be an ultrasound to better see what is going on. An ultrasound is non-invasive and can be done without sedation in most cases.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 04, 2018:
Terry, if you haven't already, a consult with a board-certified dermatologist may be insightful. They say if you have seen the vet for more than 2-3 trips and the issue is still unresolved, then it's time to see a specialist.
Jeff40 on October 16, 2018:
My Shepard mix is 13 years old. Over the last few months she gradually started turning down her dry food, then we fed her only wet with chicken and rice or lamb. Last week her appetite really went downhill. We brought her to the vet and they said her pancreas was large and either had pancreatitis or cancer which they were leaning more toward. She’s been chewing at the spot on her belly where her pancreas is to the point where there’s no fur and it’s bleeding. Last few days she’s only been eating half a chicken breast, but drinking lots. She just lays around all day getting up twice to pee.Is she too old for treatment? Im not sure if I’m making the right choice by putting her down. Do you think she’s in a very high level of pain?
Terry Stanley on October 14, 2018:
We have a 4 yr old rescue pit mix, he has been to 3 vets, taken many medications, creams, steroid shots, changed his diet but continues to have large areas of raw skin. It itches so badly that what he can reach he chews, rubs on it constantly.
I mean it is blood red all around his neck, his stomach, his legs, just raw skin.
The vets says that it is an environmental allergy so he doesn’t go outside anymore except to potty. He whines and cries a lot.
We are at a loss, he seems very miserable 24/7.
Is it time to consider putting him down, his quality of life is not what it was the first couple of years. This has been going on for 2 years now.
Patty Paris on September 29, 2018:
I have a 16 yr old rescue part lab/golden/part who knows what he gets very confused and will go behind a chair and dig andand not be able to figure out how to get out I found him in the dark laundry room sitting there he wouldn’t come out. If u startle him he is like a grumpy old man has always been like that. We love our 16 yr old rescue boomer but I don’t know what to do. Is he suffering mentally which can be as sad as suffering physically
Ryan on September 13, 2018:
My wife and I adopted our first dog, an adorable 6 year old deaf Corgi from a shelter about 11 months ago(almost a year) she spent her earlier years as a breeder in a puppy mill but from the day we brought her home she was our dog. When we took her for her first checkup we later found out that she was closer to 10 years old and unfortunately has mammary cancer and a bad infection in her mouth. Despite this she was a lovable little lady that loved attention and belly rubs.
About a week ago she had a full day of vomiting, later that day she started to bleed from her backside and had an accident in the house so we rushed her to the emergency clinic. Later that day we found out that our little girl was suffering from stump pyometra which my wife and I just can't afford to have the surgery to prevent this from happening again. We got her some pain and antibiotics medication to help and she has stopped vomiting but she has started sleeping all day and when she is awake she is crying, she has stopped wagging her tail when we pet her, she will not touch her food, and she is lethargic on walks. There are times when we see our lovable attention craving little girl but I'm not sure how much more my wife and I should put her through.
Every day I've been searching the internet for articles and message boards to try and find a little guidance on what we should do next. I'm not sure if her current behavior shift is due to the medication or just suffering. We love our little girl so much even with just knowing her for a year she's changed us so much for the better, but I'm just not sure if we should put her through any more or if it's time to let her go off to rainbow bridge.
Your article really gave me a lot to think about with our current situation and for that I can't thank you enough. The poem at the end brought me to tears every time I read it. I've made a list of her goods and bads and I noticed that there were twice as many bads but I'm hesitant because there are still some goods. Am I prolonging her suffering and just keeping her here for my sake?
Cherilyn911 on July 02, 2018:
My pet became dehydrated while I was out of town....I gave her a supplement that upset her stomach. She was treated first with sub q fluids several times (not the right treatment for dehydration which I did not know at the time). She finally went into the hospital and was treated with IV. Her condition improved, and she came home. She still was not eating drinking on her own due to gastrointestinal issues. I gave her food and water with a syringe, but I don't think she was getting enough. She was fine for a day or so, but then she started pacing and seemed distressed. I didn't get her back to the vet quickly enough and collapsed.
Instead of taking her to the emergency hospital I took her to the local vet...mistake !! He wasn't sure she would survive (due to the collapse). She was out but snoring, heart rate fine, blood pressure a little low and at one point moved her head). He said even if she survived her quality of life wouldn't be good etc. He was adamant that I should put her down so I agreed.
A few days after she was gone I got her blood test, all signs point to dehydration. Her kidney values were up, but she was not in stage 4 kidney failure (plus I have heard kidney values can temporarily increase due to dehydration)
I have been sick since this happened...I believe she was just severely dehydrated and could have been saved. I am heartbroken. I feel responsible...not sure I can ever accept this. She was the love of my life.
I regret not taking her to the hospital when she immediately started pacing. How do I every get past this ? She didn't deserve this.
Please make sure you have all of the facts before you make a final decision.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 01, 2018:
Mary, contact your local shelter, they may have less expensive options for you. So sorry you are going through this.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 01, 2018:
Sandy, so sorry to hear about your situation. You can try to apply for Care Credit or call around shelters that can help and offer low cost vet charges.
sandy Armen on May 31, 2018:
My dog just out of nowhere srarted panting not eating I am on Disability and have had her for 12 years this money hungry vet I took her to said she had a uterine diseas I only had fifty dollars on me he said she was critical but wanted to charge me over six hundred dollars surgery bloodcwork X-rays sonogram but would not make it thru surgery she was walking when went in He graves her back legs and pulled them real hard this is a 12 year old six pound Pomeranian she is my device dog he said if you don't have money just take her home to die.I worked all my life in Methodist Hospital 7 Days a week can't help I am very sick with RA chronic pain back surgery so had to get on Disability that pays rent water and electric can not afford all my meds and there is no were would help me put the baby girl Madison to sleep is there any one that cares she not eating drinking water can anyone Help me
mary on May 29, 2018:
my 15 yr old pekineses had massive stroke 2 days ago cant move or eat dont have money for vet i know god can do miracles but reality is i dont think shes going to make it i dont know what to do for her do i just leave her like this till she passes she doesnt seem to b in any pain ive been trying to give ger water in a syringe but dont know if its doing anything
Lillian C on May 10, 2018:
my dog has been diagnosed w/diabetes & cushing disease & brain tumor!! Im not coping very well with this! I feel helpless like im letting him down not being able to afford all dr recommended! He looks very sick, wobbles when he walks & now going to restroom in the house. I don't have the heart to put him to sleep! What do I do???? I know its best but I guess im being selfish & I don't want to depart.....
Mark. on April 29, 2018:
I rescued my dog from the RSPCA rescue kennels back in Sept 07.
Straight away there was something there, he knew I was the master for him, How the years so quickly passed on us.That poor dog has seen so many changes in our once quiet lives together we have moved house 4 times, found a Mrs Master OH and along came 2 small things to pull on his ears and grab his tail, but he tolerated this for the throwing of food from the high chair which my daughter thought was a great game so did Max.
Now am struggling with the reality that it is my dogs turn tomorrow to take a trip over the rainbow Bridge. To say I'm gutted is an understatement this dog NO part human part dog friend if mine Max actually saved my life now I must give his.
He is a 15 1/2 year old Colly x Shepherd and the most loyal, loving gentile, fun dog I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
We have climbed mountains together, kept bad guys from the door, looked out for my kids and had an seemingly endless work schedule.
My mate would come to work with me every day jumping straight into the truck to take his pride of place that is before he just slowed down. Eyes full of tears and a nose full of snot how quickly those happy memories come flooding back. Everday I have had with my friend has been my ultimate reward.
I will miss you so Much Max.
My heart goes out to all of you dog/ pet owners who have been there.
Thank you pet Helpfull for allowing me to share my story and read others.
A devastated dog owner.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 22, 2018:
So sorry Joseph. Dementia is a terrible condition and sadly it tends to get get worse with time. So sorry for your loss.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 22, 2018:
Rhoda, so sorry for your loss. Stop by on my other hub "Understanding Dog Pain During Euthanasia" it explains some things that may happen during euthanasia. It sounds like a reflex. If you read through the comments there are owners witnessing the same thing.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 22, 2018:
Thanks for your comments Stef5. Your dog sounds like a great fighter, best wishes for a speedy recovery from the dental cleaning.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 22, 2018:
Hospice care sounds wonderful. We have some vets offering this now in the area. They come to your home to provide pain meds and relief as needed. Thanks for your thoughts. I discuss this option in my article on pet natural death vs euthanasia.
Joseph on April 17, 2018:
We had to say good bye to our 15year old jack russell yesterday...
It's the hardest thing ever he had dementia that over the last 6/7 weeks had got much worse. He had started weeing and pooing without knowing he was doing it...
We're still blaming ourselves as he seemed fine on the day... The house don't feel right without him here
Rhoda Friend on April 16, 2018:
So sorry, Ginger Ross! I understand because I just had to put down my German Shepherd, too. Still crying at random times and trying to come to grips with it. Hugs, Fellow German Shepherd Lover.
Rhoda Friend on April 15, 2018:
Yesterday, I said good bye to the best friend I've ever had, next to my husband and daughters: Buddy, a beautiful German Shepherd.
Buddy and I bonded instantly when he was 7 years old.He knew me better than I knew myself, and often would be waiting for me to go outside, back to bed, or out in the car when I hadn't even consciously thought I was going to do that.
The hardest part was that from the neck up, he was still Buddy. His ears would come forward, and his eyes would get soft when he saw me. He would try to leap playfully when he knew we were going for a walk. Try, but he couldn't, because he had severe hip dysplasia. We went through every pain medication and natural medication/procedure--CBD oil, massage, MSM, and more. Finally, it was obvious he was in constant pain, and then started vomiting and diarrhea--probably from all the pain meds. There was nothing more I could do. Three vets confirmed this.
I planned for a few days in advance, fed him all he wanted of his favorite foods and treats, and took him for one last walk. Then, we went into a nice room and the vet gave him a strong pain med/sedative and he went to sleep, though he would still open his eyes and look at me.
Finally, the vet gave him "the shot." That's the other thing that was hard. Previous dogs I have had to euthanize simply went to sleep. Seconds before he died, Buddy's eyes opened, his head came up, and then he flopped over. I can't get that scene out of my mind. If he was conscious/suffering, it was very quick--less than 3-5 seconds--but I am tortured wondering if he had a last moment of consciousness and thought, "My mama is killing me."
It's tearing me apart. Has anyone ever seen this? If so, what caused it and was he conscious? Thanks for any information you could give.
Stef5 on April 12, 2018:
In my experience, it’s time to put a pet down who no longer wants to eat anything. It seems to be one of the very last joys to go. In my mind, a pet has a will to live as as strong as we do, but they will also accept their fate very gracefully. If I would have followed the advice of the public or even some vets, my now 16 yr old dacshund wouldve been put down 3 yrs ago when he had a ruptured disc and lost the ability to walk. No one knows your dog like you do! After many laser therapy appts and a K9 wheelchair my dog got a new lease on life and he coped with his obstacles, overcoming them easily as dogs tend to do. At Today he has dental surgery and is recovering like a champ. I think hes going to feel even better tomorrow than he did yesterday. Never give up on your dog! And dont sweat it too much, enjoy each day and every moment as your dog does, when its time I promise you will feel it in the most loving part of your heart.
SkyeBleu on April 09, 2018:
10 years ago I was on a committee planning the vet tech curriculum for a local college with various people from the veterinary field. Including a long practicing vet and an RN who worked in hospice care for humans.
One very interesting subject we discussed, was hospice for pets. If a pet was starting the process of passing due to old age or even a disease where the pain could be eliminated or controlled, there was no reason not to keep you pet at home and be a part of their passing. It does take some work, but you and your pet have the opportunity to be together thru the end. Putting a pet to "sleep" at times is necessary due to the severity of the immediate situation, but it is heart rending and leaves you with questions of whether you were right or wrong often for years. Many times it is for the convenience of the owner, not all owners truly love and bond with their pet.
Consider at home hospice care, I have personally taken care of two of my older dogs in this manner and it was lovely. I still grieved (grieve) for them, but I had time to accept it and gave them wonderful care. They passed peacefully and my Veterinarian was very supportive. This is just something that worked for me and my dog babies, perhaps it will work for you someday.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 05, 2018:
So sorry Ginger Ross for your loss, dementia can have a big impact on the dog's wellbeing.
Ginger Ross on March 25, 2018:
Today it was the worst day in my life when I had to put my 7 years old German Shepherd to sleep, he was such a beautiful boy and a good boy up until weeks ago he lost his mind for dementia. Hubby and I are still blaming ourselves for letting him go. Hope he forgave us.
dave on March 09, 2018:
Julie thank you for your comment about Mikey. Indeed, I come to this site almost every day even though I do not have a computer, for it is still the only way I have been able to make myself feel better. For Mike was put to sleep too soon and still every day since March 12, 2017 I have regreted that day as I was not prepared and never got to tell him I loved him and how much he meant to me. The vet was not Mikeys regular vet and they did not know mike nor me and that alone was a mistake. They should of had the maturity to know my head was not in the right place that morning and to have told me to wait and think about it. I lost everything that day when Mike died. For I am not a doctor as to help you with your decision concerning your beagle, but if he has cancer, the choice is left up to you. But I would think that you as the loving guardian of your dog , would not want to wait till your dog dies
naturally for that would be , to me, too much suffering on your pups part. You are fortunate and blessed to have another dog with the both of you, for Mr. Chunk can help with the healing of your heart and at the same time continue on with the great heart of Denny once he slides away. Since you mentioned that your other dogs had died naturally, euthanasia on the other hand is VERY fast. But your dog knows you love him and thats what matters most. I hope every thing goes well for you. Thank you.
Sarah on March 06, 2018:
Hi Dave, I’m having to make this decision now. But as I read your words, I know it’s time. She’s very sick; she’s ready. ...Regrets are the worst, & I find they don’t have to be rational. I saw my grandfather @ 4:30am, before my first class & again after class & I still beat myself up that I didn’t go back at around midnight like I promised. I thought I’d go at 4:30am to get just a few hours of sleep, & he passed. I’ll always regret it. Forever. However, I did see him twice that day. I fed him his last breakfast. I called & made my uncle speak with him. We snuggled, held hands, laughed & he rolled his eyes about stupid piache cartoons a nurse put on for my PhD grandfather. Many don’t get even that opportunity. I call my regret irrational, bc I really did put lots of effort to love & be there & care for him despite particular changes I would make. We all do the best we can in the moment. You have to forgive yourself. I do too. One thing that helped me was I was able to keep my promise to him for my nona when she passed. I helped care for her until the end, & we were all there for her through her last breath. Maybe you can find a way of healing through doing something in memory of your pet mike. Volunteer to help with lonely animals not as lucky as him, or maybe your vet or friends will have other suggestions. You may also find something cathartic for you to do for him in order to say a healing goodbye now. For my nona, we released doves. For my dog sofie who I plan to snuggle today
Amy on March 05, 2018:
My dachshund is 17 yrs and 8 months he has rapidly deteriorated smh he won’t eat or drink he’s weak, took him to the vet today she suggested puttin him down I’m so hurt because I don’t want to end his life I wanted him to go naturally I don’t want to see like a murderer but I also don’t want him to suffer, he has this lost distant look in his eyes like he’s jus tired of life ugh I’m so distraught I don’t know what do to
AMorrison on March 04, 2018:
My 16 yr old dog sleeps all day, waking to eat and drink, she doesn't seem to be in any pain but whines now and then. She does try to make it out side to pee but now she is peeing in the house. I think it's time to put her down because this is not going to get better. The vet tells me she is old and has some health issues with kidney, she can't pick up her head again health issues, she can't see well and or hear. I don't know what to do. Is it time?
Julie on March 01, 2018:
Dave, thank you for sharing your love of Mikey. I know how hard it is, questioning everything you did, but Mikey knew you loved him and you will be together again one day. I’ve had four beagles or beagle mixes in my life. I’m on here looking for something to tell me when it’s the right time to put my baby Denny to sleep. My previous two dogs passed naturally. Yesterday a suspicion of lung cancer was confirmed and I’m devastated. I’m alone too and wish I had the input of someone else. Please know you did all you could for Mikey and the pain will never go away, but eases a bit each day. Do consider opening your heart to another baby. I did when my baby Casey passed four years ago and it helps. I feel like Casey passed so I could rescue Mr Chunk. I know when Denny goes soon that Mr Chunk will help me. I think it is harder when you don’t have another dog to give your love to and share your life. Take care.
dave on February 21, 2018:
Thank you for your reply message concerning Mikey my beagle dog . Its been the first time I have had anyone give me a response and I sure do appreciate yours. Just to see some words written about Mike and my situation was comforting. Again thank you tremendously !
Martha on February 20, 2018:
Hi Dave, If you can read this I want you to know how sorry I am about the loss of your beautiful dog Mike. Reading your story I can see how much you love and miss him.
I know he loved you very much and doesn't want you to grieve any longer for him. You have suffered enough and you need to let him go so he can rest in peace.
You are a loving human and out there somewhere there is a dog or cat who needs you. Just keep yourself open and they will find you. Maybe you can go to the animal shelter and rescue one, they will be lucky to have you and you will find a new friend.
Please know you did nothing wrong. You saved Mikey a lot of pain and suffering, you did the right thing. Let him go in love and light but keep the hope of meeting him again at the rainbow bridge where all of us will be reunited with our best friends.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 17, 2018:
Dave, I am so sorry. Nothing in life really prepares us for this. We are taking away their pain and letting them leave this world so they are pain free, which is the ultimate gift of love. Don't let your mind play games and make you fall into a guilt trap when you did nothing wrong. It's normal to shut down and be in denial the day of. I have seen this many times, you are not alone. I don't know how many times I had to help owners sign papers and put the right date because they were in total shock and denial. Some owners didn't have the courage to be with their pets in the same room their last moments. Some pets were simply dropped off. We were the ones petting them and talking to them in their last moments. You were there with him instead. He had you near him and he could hear and smell your reassuring presence with that strong beagle nose. He felt your presence and that's what counts. There is no right or wrong way to deal with loss. We all deal with it differently. Your Mike was deeply loved and I am sure he doesn't you want you to to grieve him this way. Dogs are so special in that they have their own philosophy of life which is living in the present and cherishing each day. Embrace how luck you were to have each other! You have had him for 17+ years which is remarkable for a dog. Lucky boy he was! The other day, I heard the most sensible logic come from a person helping out a grieving fellow. I will rephrase it for you. Basically, the only way to have avoided this depression you are feeling was if Mike was never in your life. Basically, Mike never existed. Instead he was born and matched up with you, and what a wonderful companion he was! You were so lucky to have had each other! Therefore, let's try to change things around. Rather than mourning, start cherishing his life, he was so worth it. Tell him how blessed you were to have had him and that even though you miss him terribly, he filled your life with so much joy and he will be forever in your heart.
dave on February 13, 2018:
I wrote a comment a while back about my seventeen and a half year old beagle hound Mikey. Its now been eleven months since the day I rushed into a vet thinking he was not feeling good. Ive gone over and over in my head every detail of where I made the mistake of letting him go too soon. Its like I was two separate people that morning March 12, 2017. This writing is the only solace I have. I do wish someone would help and give me some feed back for I have been my hardest critic and I have been suffering from
VERY deep depression beating myself constantly inside my mind about Mikeys death that day.
One of the biggest issues is that while sitting in the room that morning, the vets assistants were picking and probing on him and I didn't sit there and comfort and pet Mikey while all was taking place. Even when after signing the paper, I didn't sit there and pet mike. Then they had him on the pillow pad and carried him backwards out of the room as I was facing Mike . His eyes flew open wide looking at me as like " where are they taking me dad "? And all I remember is that I sat there looking at him with my eyes welled up as I should of gone over to him and loved on him. I hate myself for that. Once they brought him back into the room they had put a catheter in his leg and laid him on the pad. I got down on my knees where my face was at his beautiful old beagle face and the vet went fast and administered the anesthesia then the euthanasia. Then he said he's passed. Mike was gone. How could I have just left I hate myself for all of this. From there I got up and left to cry outside which I did for two weeks straight. I was afraid to cry in the room for I was so afraid the vets would have told me to be quiet. Because when I cry I wail tears for ever. I cry now all the time for I miss Mikey SO much . As right before he was administered the shots, that is when I was told that If I didn't have 400 dollars then I wouldn't get his ashes. I didn't know that. For I didn't even have the money to put him down. He had to be cremated communal and I didnt get his ashes. I know where they put his ashes there in a small fenced in area and they wont allow me to even open the door and go in there. They wouldn't even allow me any of the soil in the fenced in area.
I didn't plan right from the beginning for before all this happened I couldn't even "think" about putting Mike down.
I don't have a computer at hand to go on line to have read all the information about the subject of putting a dog to sleep. I have always done things in life by ear. And never being able to talk about it. I am alone and have no one in my life. I love you Mike . My heart is so tremendously broken with out you with me. I can not reside from the inward pain of all the mistakes I made when we were together. You were a much loved dog and companion to me for all the seventeen and a half years we were together. You are my love for eternity Mike. Please forgive me and help me heal as I am troubled day after day for not doing any of this right. I love you, signed dad
Martha on February 12, 2018:
When my 19 yr old Chihuahua stoped eating and drinking and i knew the time had come. I held her and kept her comfortable she passed peacefully in my arms. I would never put her to sleep unless she was suffering.
dave on February 11, 2018:
Mike the beagle hound was seventeen and a half. I cannot live without my dog. He was put to sleep on March 12, 2017. I made the mistake of putting him to sleep to soon for him and for myself. Every day my life has gotten worse. I am alone now and I miss Mike so much and I blame me for putting him down that i really do not want to go on. Its dreadful everyday.
He literally meant so much to me that depression has taken over the life I have left. I rescued Mike at the age of one and a half. I named him Mike because he was the archangel that saved my whole life. He was the apple of my eye. He used to make me so happy. Now all thats left is dread in my heart mind and soul of how it ended. Psychologically I am so depressed and I keep spiraling downward. The is no miracle as Mikey was a lovable, shy most loyal and faithful dog and I messed up putting him down when I did. I am a wreck emotionally now and no one to ask for help.
If this written comment Mike could see, I would be so happy and truly grateful to know your still with me. Your beagle nose, ears, eyes and face, I miss every day for you and I rescued each other . I apologize to you mike for all the mistakes I made . I am deeply sorry . I can only hope God would keep alive your spirit for I realize now that you were truly put in my life to help save it. Mike please forgive me for letting you go too soon. I love you .
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 07, 2018:
Julia, what proof do you have that dogs do not have souls? What brought you to this page? The thought that dogs have souls and there is an afterlife for dog and humans is very reassuring to people who suffer and have suffered losses. Nobody should take that away from them. Most dog owners hope to meet their dogs or loved ones one day. Being a skeptic is fine, but until we pass on, we don't know anything about what happens next. And for the record, dogs are animals but humans are animals too. Actually, dogs often show more humane traits than humans do!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 07, 2018:
Aj Chitkara, maybe see a holistic vet or a vet that can provide hospice care in your home.
Aj Chitkara on January 30, 2018:
For 3 weeks my 9 year old lab is bedridden. Eats but painful state. Has severe spondyloarthritis, no response to analgesics. Painful decision to put him to sleep. Daily a ray of hope on his slight movement and decision gets difficult. Please help
julia on January 29, 2018:
i appreciate your sympathy and advice...but come on....they are not human...they are animals!! they do not "cross over" to another side as they are not human, therefore, do not have souls. So, be honest with yourself and other....they are not watching over you....nor do dead humans.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 25, 2018:
Lynne so sorry for your loss. It's truly devastating and heart wrenching. Stumpy had a great, long life with you.
Lynne on January 23, 2018:
I had to have my Jack Russell Stumpy put to sleep on 31.12.17 he was 16 and a half, he stopped eating and couldn't walk properly so we took him to the vet for blood tests he had a very low blood count and they suspected a tumour maybe on the Liver. He was drinking loads of water but wasn't weeing, it was heart breaking to watch him go down hill so rapidly. We could see in his eyes he was trying to tell us how bad he felt so we had to make the hardest decision of our lives. I was destrort and crying and telling him i was sorry and that i loved him we were all in a state my husband never cries and he's a big strong man but he did that day, my two sons and their girlfriends were there too it was awful!! but i know we did the right thing for Stumpy because he was so miserable. Love you stumpy my little mate xx
dave on January 08, 2018:
ten months have passed since , Mikey the beagle hound was put to sleep. I am a 58 year old male and I cry almost every day for him. Mikey was seventeen and a half as I rescued him at 1 and a half years old. The absolute wonder, charm and gods unconditional love Mikey taught me as I loved that dog SOoooo much. I miss him beyond compare and I have had the hardest time moving on without him.
The day he went into the vet on March 12 2017 I just waned to see if his stomach was ok. Once there, I had no idea what evidently was to transpire. Not being able to afford anything , The vet said theres nothing else that they could do because I couldn't afford to pat anything. They put Mikey to sleep and literally to this day I have been in shock that he is still not with me. All because vets are too damn ridiculously expensive. The vet lacked mature experience I later realized as he should of told me to go and think about
it before agreeing to put him down. For MKike was not that bad sick, yes he was old but they should of asked me if I had really prepared to go on without him as I could of walked out with him that day and loved on him for another week so to be able for myself to say good bye. But because the vet lacked the maturity in his expertise , all they saie was if you don't spend money theres nothing we can do. As I have been an emotional wreck ever since he was laid to sleep. Mikey I love you forever . My wonderful beagle pup. Love dad
Louis Williams on December 30, 2017:
My 12 year old German shepherd was diagnosed with cancer the Monday before Christmas, did everything possible to try to save him, cancer is insidious, That final drive to the vet, was the longest and saddest of my life, May my sweet dog have plenty of friends and find his happiness in his afterlife. .
Bri on December 26, 2017:
My dog is 14, and doesn't have the energy like he use to I have to help him on the couch he frequently pees everywhere inside even within the same hour if I have taken him out. We love to just lay down and cuddle together but that is just about all we do. And sometimes he bites me really hard to the point where I am screaming and he won't let go. I don't know what to do.
Melissa barrett on November 24, 2017:
My mom dog is really sick we don't have the money to put her. Down what other ways can u put her down at home with out u seeing a gun
Susan Anderson on October 29, 2017:
I have found your advice most helpful. My devoted cocker spaniel Nell is now 15 years old. She has walked beside me since my son died aged 24 years old. She has given more to me than I have her.
Nell came into our life's when she was seven weeks old.
She is now nearing the end of her life and it's breaking my heart.
I hope that Nell will fall asleep one night. She has been a devoted friend to me.
sonia escobar on October 09, 2017:
my dog is a Chihuahua is about 18 or 19 years old don't eat well pee and pu an bed but now she smell very bed
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 25, 2017:
Michelle, I am sorry about your dog, you can try to look for a vet specializing in palliative care. Some vets offer hospice care in your home to reduce pain and suffering.
Michelle on September 15, 2017:
My dog has osteosarcoma. Even if he gets a surgery, the rate of recovery is really low. He is 10 years old and the doctor said that he may not be able to wake up from the anesthesia. I don't want him to go but i don't want to see him suffer. I don't want him to feel any kind of pain. When I go outside, he would always follow me but now, he doesn't even try to get up. He is always lying down and he seems so weak. I don't know what to do. Help!
Cassandra on August 23, 2017:
Onix Adams is her name, she was about 8 months old, when she came into our lives, she was jet black with a white chest. Now the time has come to tell sweet Onix good bye. In November she would be 14 years old. She was a strong dog, actually very shy, did not like to go anywhere without one of our other dogs. About 7 yrs ago she started having seizures, and has been on meds ever since. But now, she has become confused, not sure how much she can see or hear. In the past month she falls alot, hard for her to walk at times. She has always been strong. Of course we would love to keep her forever, but at times she labors with her breathing. So good days and bad, which makes it difficult to decide. But her quality of life, is what we want for her. When she is sleeping, she seems fine, but in the day, her labored breathing, and behavior which seems like she is panicking, we think due to sight and hearing. We recently moved, and she is not familiar, so that makes it difficult for her too. Sweet Onix, We we love you, but think it's time for you to cross the rainbow bridge and be with Chase, lucky and Sara, all the dogs we have loved and Onix spent her life with. 14 Yrs. Where have they gone, it seems like it's passed far too quickly. I hate to make that call to the Veterinary office, she has not even been to the new vet location yet. I am upset for her, a new place, and this is the stage in her life. It is devastating. All I can do is tell her how much she is loved, and thank her for all the love and companionship she has given us. Onix Adams is her name, our lives will never be the same without her.
Leah on August 19, 2017:
hi my german shepherd is 13, has a hip problem, going blind, going deaf, has a hard time getting up, cannot not go up more than 3 stairs, has a very weak bladder and starts peeing on accident in the house (she's potty trained), and at random times (even when just laying on the floor) starts to do what sounds like wheezing she has never done that before. she drinks a bunch of water even if it is cold. So what should i do with her? Leah
Ann on July 30, 2017:
I have had cats all my life, and I know you shouldn't but some just cling to your heart a bit longer, as a vet told me it us a gift we can give our pet that we can't unfortunately can't do for humans thank you for the advice though
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 09, 2017:
So sorry Pattie, it's the ultimate gift of love. Sad that our beloved dogs get old and suffer from such ailments. She had a good life and was greatly pampered. xoxo
pattie on April 06, 2017:
we are very sadly putting our Doxie /Jack Russell to sleep today she has full renal failure, 3 slipped disc and anemia lost 4 lbs cant eat or drink just diagnosed two weeks ago meds helped a bit but devastated do not want her to suffer she is 12 years old She is our little wonderful best dog ever GODs got her heart broken but its the righr thing to do Praying Blessings Healing and comfort for all Pattie
Janet on March 18, 2017:
My Dachshund is 16. I rescued him from a crack house at about 4 months old. He was shut up in a bathtub with a glass door, no food, water dripping, in his on pee and poo. I didn't know if he was gonna live for several weeks. Bottle fed him every 2 hours for almost 3 weeks. I remember when he looked at me and I knew he was going to live. Was supposed to foster but ended up adopting him. For years, he went every where with me in my hoodie hand warmer. Mom called us Kanga and Roo. He has trachea collapse and is so old surgery would most likely kill him. Raw honey has soothed for a while, now we are to raw honey mixed with liquid Benadryl to quiet coughing. I'll be almost ready to make the call then he does a "puppy moment" and my heart breaks. I know it's coming just not sure when and how I'll make it through it.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 29, 2016:
Your vet can provide you with advice, but the decision of when to put your dog to sleep is ultimately yours. No vet can tell you what to do. When we had clients we always reminded them that they know their pets best and therefore they can should ultimately make the decision. When the bad days outnumber the good, then it's a sign that that time is coming near. With your dog not acting ill, I hope you get to enjoy many more happy days. Spoil her as much as can and take loads of pictures. My best wishes.
Esther on December 28, 2016:
My jackrussel is 9 years old and was diagnosed with chemodectoma and i was told to put het down. I cant i am not prepared for this and nor is she. It has only been three days after the diagnoses and she has not been ill please help me
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 15, 2016:
I am so sorry Caroline, aging is never nice to witness, especially when it affects a dog's body and mind. We all wished our dogs could live forever, instead they are there to teach us a valuable lesson: to enjoy life to the fullest as it's all destined to end. Owning two senior dogs myself, I cringe at the thought of having to make one day that decision. Yet, it's the ultimate gift of love we owe to our dogs when life is no longer a source of health, joy and happiness. I send you hugs and wish you strength at this difficult time.
Caroline1961 on October 15, 2016:
My Lucy Belle has been diagnosed with Kidney failure, and we have tried to treat her with K/D Science diet, which she gobbled down, this gave us hope. We also started on IV fluids with vitamins, and some other things to help her, again, we had hope. Now, within the last two days after starting treatment, she is apparently suffering from dementia. She has lost her sight, her hearing, and now doesn't seem to know us anymore. She won't let us hold her, or comfort her in any way. She bumps into things, gets stuck behind and in things around the house, and growls and tries to bite us when we try to help. Her mind is gone...and it is sadly apparent, so her quality of life is over as well. We've had to make the decision no one who loves their fur baby wants to make...but it's not about us, it's about her.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 04, 2015:
You'e not alone, many dog owners claim it to be the toughest decision of their life. Yet, I must say there are also cases where owners regret not haven put the dog to sleep earlier and then the dog got worse during the night and no vets are on call and the dog suffered and they couldn't get out of their mind those last moments. Death is never nice whether it comes naturally or not, but we seem to feel bad about it regardless. So sorry for your loss.
James Packard from Columbia, Missouri on February 04, 2015:
I put my dog of 10 years to sleep about two years ago, and I'll never forget the hopelessness I felt after she was gone, and there was no way to bring her back. I've always felt euthanasia is wrong - I still do. She couldn't walk on her own anymore because of bad hips and I know it wasn't healthy nor comfortable for her to live like that anymore, but I'll never be okay with the notion that we made the decision to end her life, and scheduled it on a calendar. I just can't come to accept having that kind of power. Very difficult.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 18, 2014:
If you were trying to avoid him from living in extreme pain, rest assured, you made the right choice. Many owners who have waited too long, wished they made the decision earlier and spared their dogs from all the pain. It's a really tough decision, as we really don't know how our pets really feel nor we can know how they will feel tomorrow.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 18, 2014:
If you were trying to avoid him from living in extreme pain, rest assured, you made the right choice. Many owners who have waited too long, wished they made the decision earlier and spared their dogs from all the pain. It's a really tough decision, as we really don't know how our pets really feels nor we can know how they will feel tomorrow.
Jim moriarty on October 18, 2014:
Thanks a lot. I have been agonizing over whether I put my dog to sleep too soon and you pretty much confirmed that for me, How I will be able to live with myself after murdering my beloved bsby boy I dont know. I only wanted to have him avoid living in extreme pain along with everything else he was dealing with. I am a pile of manure of a human. I only hope he can forgive me for the premature death.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 09, 2014:
Unfortunately we cannot reverse aging, we can sometimes make it more bearable, but as you may already know the process is unavoidable. We all will age whether we like it or not and health will deteriorate at a certain point too. You are not giving up on her; rather, you are trying all the options you can to see if you can help her feel better. It's hard to accept but a point may come where even vets run of options. It happened to me last year with my 15 year old cat. Too many problems, her body was calling it quits. She had a good life, but we all would like it to last more. I hope the eye specialist can come up with something for her, best wishes.
Zoe on February 09, 2014:
Going through what all you are now. My beautiful poodle is 16 years old. We have had her since she was a 7 week old pup.
Poodle was special from day one, such a loving girl with a huge personality. So many things went wrong with her over the years and she beat them all. Pancreatitis, heart murmur, put her hip out aged 14. Watching her diet has helped her pancreatitis, we took a risk on getting her hip put back in, paid off, had a good year with her. Heart has been under control for years on medication.
Her sight and hearing started to go a few years ago. Now she is totally blind and deaf. To top it all off, aged 15 she got dementia. Vivitonin has helped that. It's stopped her vocalising and pacing all night.
Now it's one infection after the other. Currently it's her eyes. The vets have said they can not treat them any longer. So she is seeing a specialist for that. It's likely she will need to lose an eye eventually. I can't do that to her at her age.
I love her so much and would do anything to keep her with us.
Here's why I am thinking it's time, though: poodle is now sleeping almost all day and night. When she is awake, she's spinning in circles, thumping into things (probably how she wound up with ulcers in her eyes) and getting stuck in corners. Last visit to the vet, heard her heart has sped up again. Also looks like she's starting to get trouble with her leg as it seems to "give out" on her when she tries to sit. She's generally not steady on her feet. Then there's the eye infections. She's had them in both eyes for over a month. She has dry eye and apparently the drops needed for that have made the ulcers worse.
She's very quiet compared to how she was. She still eats and she'll still have a cuddle, but she doesn't seek us out for them. I don't know if she's actually forgotten us, but she does seem confused and lost. She's still poodle and we love her, but she's a shadow of the poodle she was.
I love her and I can't stop feeling like I'm giving up on her, but I know her chances are getting worse and worse. It does not look like she is beating her eye infection, for a start.
She's off to the vets early next week. I will talk to them about how long she has left and quality of life. I think I know deep down I will not be bringing her home that night. Still hoping for a miracle.
Lisa from WA on July 18, 2013:
Luckily, I've only had to go through this once and, at the time, I was too young to actually make the decision. When I was in 8th or 9th grade, my family's chihuahua, Cookie, suddenly began acting abnormally (I don't remember the details now). I held her in my arms while we begged my dad to take her somewhere to get checked out and as we drove to the emergency vet. Almost immediately, we were told that it would be best to let her go, which my dad agreed to. It's a decision he regrets even today.
At the time, my family wasn't doing too well financially. He didn't realize until later that the vet didn't really provide any alternatives, other than to wait and see if she survives the night or to just let her go. He chose the latter, figuring to save her the pain since there didn't seem to be anything else we could do but now my dad feels like he should have waited and gotten a second opinion.
Whatever the case may be, it was a tough decision and hard to go through. I think it's great that people have come here to share their stories and find some solace. If there's anything I took away from my own experience, it's that, like you say in your article, you should really treasure every day with your dog.
Dean on June 20, 2013:
Well this is the hardest decision for any owner and their family to make. We have a beautiful great dane who is 6 in August. 2 weeks ago we found a large lump in her neck that seemed to appear over night. Samples were taken by the vet, 3 of them, and medication was prescribed. None of which worked and our baby girl looked sad as to which she is normal a bubbly energetic bundle of joy. She was referred to the hospital were a biopsy of the lump was taken and the cavity was drained. A strong pain killer and anti-biotics were prescribed (Friday) again over the weekend so help with the pain and attempt to clear her body up. By the Monday Honey had deteriorated majorly, unable to walk around without help of picking up her back legs, barely eating, drinking lots of water when told to, no tail wagging and struggling to stand up. We received the results of the biopsy saying it was not cancer but the cause of bacteria is unknown.We have now got her on different anti biotics and that will be 4 days of the new meds. To date Honey is falling over when bending to pee in the garden, she cannot climb on to the sofa where she lies without having to have her bum lifted. She trembles and kicks in her sleep, her lungs are filling up with fluid, she pants drastically and all through this time shes had a temperature of 103.5+. Compared to the way she jumped in beds, couches, the back garden wall, barking when the door bell rang, greeting people at the door as they entered and constantly eating and wanting the toilet and drinking 24/7... My dog has no life left in her and her puppy dog eyes break my heart at the best of times but it's like life is a struggle at the moment for her and I cannot bare to see her suffer. The only thing putting me off is that the lump was not cancerous and if its an infection then why can't the vet prescribe me with medicine that actually works! I don't want to put my dog to sleep with having a thought of one medicine could have saved her and treated whatever she had wrong. Xrays of her chest and mouth came back clear so really don't understand what this could be. She is sick of the site of us holding her jaws open to squirt her tablets down a liquid form and has now started vomiting them up today.
Only wish I had a clearer answer and looks like tomorrow shall be the day if we cannot be told she will get better I'll have to let her go :(
This dog was on my wishlist as I was diagnosed with cancer twice and shes been there from beginning to end of my treatment and beating cancer and yet at 5 years old she is having a really bad time with infection that somehow cant be treated!
Darin Finch on March 10, 2013:
For the most part, I think my 14-year old black lab, Jack, is still a happy dog. On the surface that should mean that it isn't time to consider putting him down. However, I'm really struggling with this topic.
A synopsis of his situation: can't do stairs (I built him a handicapped ramp so he can go outside); very little range of motion in his back legs due to massive arthritis; his back right leg bows out when he walks (this is brand new so it hasn't been diagnosed by a vet); bad allergies cause him to lick and bite at himself (we can usually manage this with medication); mostly deaf and somewhat blind. That's all bad, but his spirits are generally good. He likes to go for short walks and to be around people. He'll play with a ball for a few minutes and is good with our kids.
Here's the problem. Due to nerve damage, the vet says that Jack doesn't know when he is defecating. He can't feel it. So, Jack is pooping in the house around 5 days a week, even though we are letting him outside more than twice as often as we used to.
Here's my dilemma. If I put him down, I feel like I am being irresponsible to the dog because he is still a pretty happy dog. If I continue the way things are, am I being irresponsible to my family? The constant defecating in the house has to be causing an unclean situation. Ultimately, the defecation situation is not going to get better.
This is our first family dog, so I would appreciate any feedback you experienced owners can provide.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 13, 2012:
It's never easy, no matter how many dogs you have and how many times you have gone through it. All you can do is cherish the good memories, take care.
Ali on September 12, 2012:
My heart goes out to all of you. We are about to put our 12 yr old Airedale Murphy to sleep. My heart is so broken right now. I've had awhile to prepare for this but it has not made it any easier. My husband and I do not have any 2 legged kids so our 4 legged babies are truly our babies. I cannot stop crying even though in my heart I know it's for the best!
yessi on August 10, 2012:
Thank you this helped me a lot I had to put my dog to sleep and it really hurt me to let him go I was there with him till the last minute n saw how his head went down and heard him cry. I had him since I was 5 years old and now I'm 23 he was such a good dog who loved my kids n loved to sing I'm gonna miss him so much but now he is in a better place and not feeling any type of pain
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 30, 2012:
I am happy this place is helping you, feel free to post at any time, kind regards.
flysmummy on March 29, 2012:
we found out from the vets yesterday,that the tumor is not in the neck of the bladder,which is good in its own way,because this means he can still go to the toilet without any problems,hopefully he will start hes new tablets today to help him along we have to see the vets today about these,weve had our morning walk which he still loves,and drifts of into his own little world and just wonders of into a huge field,all i can do is take each day as it comes,hes still jumping on the bed at night for a cuddle and a sleep and is still loving basking in the garden in the sun,im so glad ive found your page,it makes me feel like im not alone during these times x
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 28, 2012:
Sorry to hear that, whether it happens during a dog's senior years or during youth, the thought of losing our canine companions is always devastating.
flysmummy on March 28, 2012:
we have just found out my beloved fly of 13 yrs has bladder cancer,this come as a total shock for us all,and even tho hes still with us,i find myself crying because i really dont no how long he has with us,i for one will not see my boy suffer in pain,when the time comes i no in my heart we will have fought until the bitter end,he will be put to sleep at home,he really isnt fond of the vets,and i wont have him stressed out,im trying to stay brave but it really hurts knowing my boy could be gone in a matter of weeks or months,i keep telling myself 13 is a good age for a dog,hes actually older than my father in law in doggy years,but this still doesnt take away the pain im feeling right now,at the moment all his vital organs are working fine,so for that i am thankful,he wont stop eating,weve changed his diet to a low card high protien diet no salt and no sugar,weve found out this feeds the tumor,i wont put him through chemo,the storys ive heard about them damaging his vital organs are enuf to put me of,so for us they way forward is a health diet plenty of exercise,love and cuddles,im trying to be positive and im usually fine until i look into his eyes,but for now all i can do is enjoy every moment with him like it could be our last ;-[
sarah on March 24, 2012:
just called emergency vet my lola was fine until this week or at least i thought which shows she is a trooper. She has lost weight rapidly this week and as she was eating her food as normal i thought she had worms the pet shop told me it would take three days but friday she stopped eating, i've checked on her this morning and she is bleeding and looking so sorry for herself, never in 9 years has she looked at me like that, i know she wants to go!!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 20, 2012:
heartbroken, sorry to hear about your loss.
heartbroken on March 20, 2012:
Today I lost my dog Rosie. She was a black lab cocker mix. She died of bone cancer. She was 11 years and 4 months old. The vet came to the house and that was very comforting to me. Rosie died very peacefully with us around her. She had familiar smells and heard our voices before she died. I hurt so bad, but I also know that Rosie is at peace now.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 25, 2012:
I find that seeing the vet first may help dog owners a lot. While many vets would not give an opinion on such a delicate choice, they can offer treatments to make life a bit more bearable or they may simply make it clear there is not much left to do. When working for vets I saw many dog owners debating what to do come out the appointment with a clearer idea; they either scheduled the appointment to put the dog down or took home some meds in hopes of buying a bit more time..best wishes, here is a helpful hub:
RoughneckRoxanne on February 25, 2012:
I'm taking my 10 year old Standard Poodle Roxanne to the Vet Tuesday when we have the $.the breed's life expectantcy is12 n I didn't know until now how bad she had gotten bcuz I left her n the care of my Dad bcuz I had to move to a place where "no dogs allowed". Everytime I visit her she just lies around, gets out of breath so easily bcuz she's very overweight (gained after spaying). I found out she's been seizing in her sleep (possibly epilepsy), vomiting occasionally, she had an abscess on her back for yrs that burst last week n is still oozing, n now her tail is very swollen, seems infected which I discovered when I visited and bathed her 2day. You can tell she's in pain. I feel awful. If I had been able To take her w me she wouldve been n good care. I love her so much n regret not being able to love her the way I used to since I had my daughter 2 yrs ago. All I want is 4 her not to be in pain. She's aging so fast. Is it time to let her go?
Tracie on February 25, 2012:
To lilash84: SHAME ON YOU!!!! Do you not realize that all the people here are grieving the loss of their pets? This hubpage here is to help people come to terms with having to put one of their pets down! And, here you come, trying to scam them out of money during these difficult times! Don't you have respect for anyone?!?!
To everyone on here who has had to make that extremely hard decision, I feel your pain. I'm so sorry that you all have had to go through this. As responsible pet owners, unfortunately, that's something that we might all have to face at one time or another :( I hope all of your babies are playing and having a ball while waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge!
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
This one is for all the rescue dogs and animal rescuers!
Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before.
But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.
It wasn't long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often.
He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness. Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again.
As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge.
With no place else to turn to, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly and infirm. They weren't playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting.
One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn't understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for awhile to explain it to him.
"You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge."
The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?" As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person, and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life.
"Watch, and see," said the second animal. A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed her towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.
"That was a rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of her work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn't place on earth across The Rainbow Bridge."
"I think I like rescuers", said the first animal.
"So does GOD", was the reply.
heartbroken on February 17, 2012:
To alexadry: Thank you so much for your comments and prayers. It is appreciated. I know I have to let go of her, but she will be in my heart forever.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 16, 2012:
I am terribly sorry to hear that...bone cancer is devastating, this is the toughest decision, I really cannot make it for you, but I can provide you with a guide on quality of life:
A vet visit at times may help owners make better decisions as they may offer advice on how to make life better or they may give a hint that time has come and a final appointment may be made. Keeping you and in my thoughts are prayers, for at least giving you strength for this tough time.
heart broken on February 16, 2012:
My dog is dying of bone cancer. She does still eat and drink, but can no longer walk. I use infant diapers on her when I am at work. I am broken hearted and I don't know what to do. She still barks when my husband comes home and wants to be around us. She is a black lab/cocker mix. My husband is more ready than I am to put her down. Help!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 05, 2012:
She should definitively see the vet. With kidney problems you will see increased drinking and urine that appears diluted. However, older female dogs may also suffer from incontinence which can be easily treated with phenopropanolamine. Also, it could a urinary tract infection which will clear with antibiotics. There is hope this something treatable or at least manageable. best wishes!
gerryberry66 on February 04, 2012:
I want to know if my dogs kidneys are going? She will lay there and go to bathroom right there on her bed and not even get up. She was good for all her years until this year. She is 12 years old. Now she is messing in the house all the time. She will come in to the livingroom and pee in front of me. Like she can't hold it? I just don't know if that is a sign of getting old?
Becky on January 24, 2012:
Our dog, Bear, will be 19 years old on July 4th. He still eats and drinks good, goes to the bathroom and still walks, but lately he has slowed down alot. He is now totally blind and deaf. It breaks my heart to see him running into furniture and walls. My husband let him out the other night to potty. Kept waiting for him to come to the door but he never did. He had wandered down the street and had fallen into a ditch and couldn't get out. When he's not asleep he paces in the house, runs into furniture and gets stuck in corners or behind furniture. He has started tilting his head to the left and also holds his tail that way. He hasn't wagged his tail in a long time. I don't know what to do. He has just starting crying a little bit when he lays down. I know it's probably time but like all of you, he is a major part of our family. I don't know if I can put him to sleep. I keep praying that he will just go to sleep and not wake up.
Jim on January 14, 2012:
I lost my golden retriever to an agressive heart tumor, cancer last night. I was thinking about putting having him put to sleep when suddenly, he went into cardiac arrest. He was only 5 years old. I am so heartbroken
and miss my Aslan so much.much.
Eli on January 13, 2012:
my two dogs sprinkles and vakita(mother daughter) just ate rat poison maybe last week, we didnt know at first until sprinles(mom) started showing signs that she was sick...we took them to the vet two days ago and the vet said sprinkles had eaten rat poison but vakita wuz okay so we thought she might just be depressed about her mom since dogs especially younger dogs can be sentimental...vakita died yesterday morning 1/12/2012...her mom is still alive but she is in bad condition and i think her lungs might still be filling up with blood little by little because her breathes seem to be getting smaller...sprinkles is next to me right now and its so hard seeing my dog like this because in her eyes i can see she is in pain and knows something is happening but she doesnt want to leave yet because she tries so hard to walk at times but cant and she still tries to wag her tail when she sees us...there is a greater chance she will die than survive even with the vitamin k shots the vet gave her...i dont know if i should tell my sister( by the way my sister was alot more in love with these dogs than i was) we should put her down or just let her last day be laying down in my sisters room( which was a privelage in both my dogs eyes since my parents dont allow them inside but for now they are) where she knows were here with her and let her die in her sleep?...