When to put a dog to sleep
A dog owner's toughest decision revealed
Working at a veterinarian hospital, I inevitably received those 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 that straight heart-aching, black or white answer they were ultimately craving for. As I listened to them compassionately, in the midst of their sobbing for help, I always faithfully stuck to my personal opinion that as owners, it was their ultimate choice since they knew their dog best, having lived and rejoiced with him or her for so many years. I always advised the "It's all about quality of life" philosophy and suggested them to rationally check if their dog had more bad days than good.
These were those compassionate owners truly concerned about their dog's over all wellbeing. They were trying their best to cope with the idea that their dog's life was coming shortly to an end and were gathering their emotional forces to be prepared for their final day.
These were clients dealing with their pet's chronic diseases for years and willing to do all that could have been possibly done to help their pet manage sickness as comfortably as possible. When their dog's days were getting close to an end, 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...
Vet explains when to put pet to sleep
When to Put Dog to Sleep?
As dog owners, we all would love if our dogs could live much longer lives. For some occult reason, when dogs turn geriatric, it just feels as if their lives have come to an end too soon, and way too too abruptly. The years spent together seem to have passed much too quickly and in such a merciless manner, that it just seems yesterday when they were prancing around in their early puppy-hood stage...
We all as well would 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 on relieving most of the 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 talk, the process of putting a pet to sleep would be much easier, but since dog's have been spared the gift of voice, we must read into more subtle signs depicting physical deterioration. Here comes into place my personal advice of ''owners only knowing their pets best.''
Only owners are ultimately 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 is just that something in their behavior, (that perhaps only owners may perceive) that will suggest they are ready for the Rainbow bridge. It could either be a look in their eyes, an expression on their face or the simple lack of a tail wagging.
However, regardless of personal opinion on when to put a dog to sleep, I must admit that as a veterinary assistant, I have seen some cases where the euthanasia procedure seemed to be done at a too premature stage or at a too advanced stage.
I have seen owners go for the procedure right upon diagnosis of cancer or kidney failure. In these cases, the dogs may still have had a few good weeks or even probably months. Yet, owners may have not been able to afford the financial burden that comes along these diseases or may have not been able to withstand viewing the physical deterioration of their best friend. Some perhaps simply wished to spare their dog from any suffering at all...
In other cases, the dog seemed to have gone way over the stage of "admissible deterioration", in an unnecessary spiral of mental and physical pain. In these cases, I know the owners very likely were unable to "let go" and tried their hardest to hold on to their pet as long as they possibly could until their dog was only a lifeless shadow.
The way in between is in my opinion, "the golden way to go". If you are debating over whether it is time to put your dog to sleep remember to cherish every day and every moment with your dog, because those very last days will always be in your heart.
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 for 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 euthanesia procedure, you may see your dog look into your eyes for a last time almost to say: "Thank you owner for loving me so much" then she will take a deep breath and peacefully drift into better life, looking over you for many years to come..
What Happens When a Pet Dies
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....
For further reading
- Pet Gems: An alternative to Cremation and Burial of Pets
Your pet has lived with you many special moments and you have eagerly cherished memories of your pet's day to day life from the day you have met. Yet, pets come with a very dreaded drawback which...
- What happens during a pet's euthanasia appointment
If your dog or cat has arrived to a point where his or her body is frail and there is nothing that more that can be medically done, your vet may suggest to schedule a euthanasia appointment. As sad as...
- How to Determine a Dog's Quality of Life
Quality of life signs to look in dogs, phila67, morguefile.com 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...
Was it easy for you to determine when your pet was ready to put to sleep?
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
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?
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.Helpful 28
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?
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.Helpful 22
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?
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.Helpful 10
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?
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.Helpful 9
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?
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.Helpful 7