How to Know if it is the Right Time to Euthanize: Dog Owners Respond
We have an informative article on Petplace called “When to Consider Euthanasia in Dogs” that we promoted in our newsletter. We received some wonderful emails back about different thoughts and experiences we wanted to share with you.
If you are facing this difficult decision, I hope you take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your pain.
To read the full article – go to When to Consider Euthanasia in Dogs.
Owners Comment on If It’s the right Time to Euthanize
1. Patches just sat and stared at me. I looked back and said, are you telling me something
My wonderful Sheltie, Patches, suffered from Cushing’s disease from the age of 11 but medication worked for her until the summer after she turned 14. I was more than willing to spend over $60./month for this medication because she was part of our family.
That summer, the symptoms really started to affect her: toward the end of the summer, I had to bathe her everyday because she smelled so badly due to her skin problems. The medication affected her eating so I’d take her off the meds (after talking w/ the vet), then put her back on them – I wound up going home at lunch time from work to hand feed her. I told her, Patches, you can now have anything you want to eat! So, I’d send my son to McDonalds when I thought she’d eat a burger or chicken; I’d cook her steak (when we’re having a burger!); give her Cheerios or scrambled eggs in the morning. Anything to get her to eat, but then she just basically stopped. This was in early November.
One night, I was in bed and as always, she was on the floor next to me. Patches just sat and stared at me. I looked back and said, are you telling me something? Yes, she was telling me it was time. I took her to our vet the next morning and he said we’d done everything we could, that the medication was no longer working and there was nothing he could do to get her to eat or drink. I had already known this and we made plans for the vet to come to my house the next day to euthanize Patches.
Of course we spent the rest of the day just holding her, loving her so desperately. The next morning, I woke up and thought, well, maybe we should wait a week. But when Patches woke up, she could hardly walk and almost fell in to the wall, and I thought that God is telling me that yes, this is the correct decision. My husband and two sons where home when the vet and his assistant came, and we all touched Patches as the doctor administered the shot. It was over in about 10 seconds and yes, we all were crying, even the vet’s assistant who had taken care of Patches over the years and the doctor even had tears in his eyes. It was the gentlest passing for the most wonderful dog.
I could not let her leave us so we buried her off our porch and marked her grave with a stone and other symbols of our love for her. We call it Patches’ Memorial Garden and even 4 years later, I go out each day to say good morning to her. In hindsight, I now wish I had considered having her cremated because we are thinking of retiring and moving and it breaks my heart to think of leaving her.
I was so blessed to have a doctor who would come to my house to administer the shot, so that Patches didn’t have to worry about getting in the car and going to the doctor’s office. She was surrounded by people who loved her and while it was heartbreaking to say goodbye, I told my children that they always showed Patches how much they loved her, and we gave her such a good life. Plus, living as long as she did with this disease was proof how well she was taken care of.
I think if you know your dog, you will know when it’s time. And don’t feel guilty to go this route! My daughter was away at college at the time and asked, why couldn’t she have just died in her sleep? I said, Patches would have, but it would have taken a week or longer and she would have suffered. What if she had died alone? This way, we were with her, comforting her, loving her.
Didn’t mean to write such a long email and of course, I’m crying! She was the very best and I know we did the right thing when it was time.
It took me three years to decide I wanted another dog and I decided to be noble and adopt a dog instead of buying one, as I did Patches. We adopted Scruffy who is part terrier and part Pomeranian and has many issues, we learned too late – we fell in love with him and have probably spent more money on training him w/ a professional than if I’d bought a purebred! But, as I read somewhere, he may not be the dog I would have particularly chosen, but he is the dog that God chose for me. As I work, he is at my feet, as Patches used to be, and I now wish I’d gotten another dog sooner. I was so heartbroken about my Patches though and didn’t think I could go through that pain again. I now think that they give us so much during their lives that it is worth the pain when it’s time to say goodbye.
Thanks for listening.
2. The Best Advice I Got
The best advice I ever received came from a friend in greyhound rescue (where we far too often deal with terminally ills greys with cancer); she said to think of the three things your dog loves to do most in the world, and when he / she can no longer do two of them, it’s probably time …
3. We Faced This Difficult Decision A Year Ago
We faced the very difficult decision of letting our beloved Maltese cross over the “Rainbow Bridge” a year ago. It was extremely difficult because he was our first baby and most definitely an integral part of our family. He had been diagnosed with late stage Cushings disease and had not been eating for days had to be carried outside and couldn’t stand to drink water from a bowl. We tried to give him water from a dropper, but he was not interested. I sat with him on my lap nearly all the time for two days. When I looked into his cataract eyes it was as though he were
hanging in for us. It may sound crazy, but I spoke to him and said, “It’s okay Kramer, you can go now, we’ll be okay here without you.” We both seemed more at peace after I communicated this to him. The next day we took him to the vet and I was hoping that the vet would tell us what to do, but apparently the decision is left up to you. When the doctor examined him he said, “It doesn’t look like his condition will improve and his quality of life not good and will only get worse.” We then knew it was time to say goodbye. My husband and I stayed with him through the injection and said goodbye. We have two daughters and they were both heartsick also. We missed his prescence so much that within weeks we began a search for another dog. We adopted a Maltese for which we were his fourth home. He is just wonderful!!! We all know he can never replace our Kramer, but he is making our lives full again in his own way. I hope this helps anyone who is facing this terrible time with their dog. I was wishing at the time that there was a compassionate person who I could have communicated with. God Bless….Christine
4. Chloe was my Child, My Sister, My Best Friend
In March I was faced with this question. I had a Black Lab named Chloe she was an amazing friend and family member. She was my child, my sister, and my best friend. She was 14 years old and I had her for ten amazing years. She was so sick but I wanted to keep her until the end of time. The vet we have used for years is very honest and I trust them with all my animals.
They said that Chloe was in alot of pain and that it would never go away she was old and couldn’t keep holding on and that it would be a painful life to live for her. So we put her to sleep. I’m still crying as I write this. It was like my best friend was gone. I have two other dogs and three cats. But when one passes you can’t just let it go. Thank you for this article I now know I did the right thing and its a little easier to know that chloe is better and happier now.
9. We are Putting My Childhood Pet Down Today
I am just writing to let you know this article came at the perfect time. I opened this email at noon. And today at 3:30 we are going to be putting my childhood pet down. We have all struggled with what to do. She will be 15 in November. She is def, she doesn’t eat anymore, she sleeps 22 hours out of the day, she can’t control her bowel movements anymore and we think this is the best option for her. She has pretty much given up. She has chronic ear infections so she is always in pain and the vets said the only way to help them is with a very expensive and painful surgery.
We don’t want to put her through anymore pain than she already is going through. She has lived a wonderful life and has given us more than anyone could know. I am crying as I am writing this because I still am not ready to say goodbye even though we all know it is the best thing for her. I was so worried that putting her down would cause her pain but after reading this article I know what to expect and know she will not be caused anymore pain. I am so thankful I got this when I did. I now feel it is the right thing to do and hope I can cope a little better knowing she is in a better place and no longer suffering. Thank you so much for the article. it really did come at the perfect time.
10. I Lost Both My Pets within 9 Months
Hello. I lost both of my kids within nine months of each other. Sadie Alexanda Midnight Shadow got sick suddenly. I rushed her to the vet only to find out she had fast going liver cancer. There were know outward signs until that fateful day. The shock set me into a tailspin which I still feel the grief to this day. She was my little girl. She was Samoyed, chow and german shepherd mix. She was solid black. She was with me every minute and was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night. It was and still is very hard to wake up and not see her there.
Sabrina’s Ruby was a staffordshire boxer mix. one week after Sadie died I found out Sabrina was suffering from cushings. I went into a lot of debt to keep her quality of life up until 9 months later she couldnt eat anymore wlithout throwing up. She was on that expeslive chemo drug but, you know I would do it all over again to have her back. On the day I had her put to sleep, my beagle had a eplectic seizure. Sabrina played with him gently htat moriing. I took them both to the vet and found out that Sabrina was in liver failure and IL had her put to sleep. I didnt want to see her go through all the biopsy and treatment that could follow.
My vet from 25 lyears ago put it this way. ” They give lot of good years and we have to be wise enough to know it is their quality of life at ese times and not ours to think about. I will not let them suffer. I love them too much. Ora-belle was the only dog I question to this day, but they assured me it was time. She had congestive heart failure and was falling alot. I put her and Sidney to sleep together in 1991. They said it was time and I couldnt hug her anymore. Her chest was to sore. She was eatting and drinking. It was a hard one to call but, I couldnt let her suffer anymore.
Thank you for your newsletter and time to let me tell you how much I loved my dogs.
11. We Miss Her
Our 9 1/2 year old Golden Retriever, Sugar Baby, was diagnosed on November 5, 2007, with lymphosarcoma, when we found what we thought were swollen glands in her neck. It was actually her lymph nodes.
We opted against chemo, because Sugar sometimes had very bad reactions to different medications, but we decided to try K-9 Immunity. For a little while we thought this was helping, but in the middle of January, Sugar began not eating her dog food. So we started making her food – chicken & rice. That worked for almost a week – then she quit eating. We brought her BEST FRIEND, Shadow (a black lab mix) to visit on the Thursday before, and they had a great time. They played almost like puppies again, and Sugar ate Shadow’s dog food (like a piggy). But on Sunday, Shadow had to go home.
Monday morning Sugar would only eat the chicken & rice (8:30 a.m.) By 9:30 a.m. she began vomiting that up, and continued to vomit all morning. That afternoon we went to the vet. He gave her a shot to stop the vomiting. It didn’t. We were up all night. The next day, Sugar spent the day with her vet. We thought it was under control. But that night we were up all night again. She was still not eating anything, and taking very little water, but she continued to vomit just about every hour on the hour. She got very weak, and when she needed to go outside to potty, she would have to rest before coming back into the house. (It was raining, and Sugar didn’t like wet grass – but she laid down to rest until I could coax her back inside.) The next morning we went for another shot. It didn’t do any good.
She was laying on the floor, looking at me with SUCH sad, tired, and pain filled eyes. At 2:30 p.m. I got my husband & he carried Sugar to the truck. We drove to the vet’s and waited for him to finish a surgury. We waited in an exam room, on the floor with Sugar between us, hugging on her and kissing her, and talking to her. Believe it, or not, the whole time we waited for Dr. Tom, there was no further vomiting.
I couldn’t have made the decision any sooner – I had trouble with it anyway. But I believe we waited a little too long. Sugar’s circulation was already getting bad, and Dr. Tom had a little getting a working vein for the shots. The whole time we talked to Sugar, and petted and kissed her face. Then it was over, and she suddenly looked so small. But the sad, tired, hurting look was gone. She finally looked relaxed.
So, I know we did the right thing. The right thing for Sugar. We miss her terribly, though.
League City, Texas
12. You Don’t Want to Make the Decision Too Soon
I’m writing in response to your article “When Is It Time To Let Go Of Your Dog”.
Less than three weeks ago I had to make this decision. Your statement that you don’t want to make the decision too soon is entirely true. Please let your readers know that perhaps it is best sometimes also to get “a secon opinion” from another veterinarian as to whether or not a dog is treatable and whether or not it is too soon.
My experience was in the small town where I moved to a year ago, in the eyes of the clinic here it “was time” to put my siezuring Miniature Pincher down, and they refused to give her any more treatment or medication. I didn’t feel at all comfortable with this vets advice. I called my long time vet who was now a three hour drive away. His diagnosis was take her off the anti-siezure medication – she had sever toxicicity symptoms. Without treatment, it took five days before her symptoms began to subside. I then traveld three hours to take her back to my home city, a three hour drive, back to see my long time veterinarian there.
She was still showing severe symptoms and was also severely dehydrated at the same time. (She did this every time I brought her back from this small town vet clinic – she would drink, and drink, and drink. I just thought it was the medication! )
My long time veterinarian gave this ten pound dog two huge syringes of fluid twice that day! This helped her immensly. He tested her and watched her. He said he would NOT recommend putting her down. Just take her home and watch her. She improved greatly within days. I called and told him how improved she was.
Two months later – she was active, happy, playful, had a great appetite. The day before I had her put down, she was very playful, eating well, and had never shown signs of even being in any kind of pain! No reason to euthanize!
She started to seizure. I administered the rectal diazepam – she stopped for @ 20 minutes – then began again – I administered more rectal diazepam- but had only one dose left. There is a country vet here who also holds the same opinion of euthanizing dogs. He is only open 1/2 a day. I called him asking if he could give her a shot. He said he could, “but it won’t last” he said. I knew what he was saying. Fearing that she would begin siezuring again later in the day(she had done this before), having no medication left to give in case she did cluster again, the clinic refusing to give her medication two months ago, unable to speak to my long vet on the phone as he was out of the office – I took her to the country vet, and he euthanized her. She was only 10 years old.
The point is – it just did not have to happen that day. Maybe another day, when she was ill enough, but not when she was playful and happy one day – and euthanized the next. The pain is very great, knowing that I let her be euthanized too soon, and because a doctor refused to treat her. Let your readers know, sometimes a second opinion is good thing.
13. Did I Make the Right Decision?
As with many of us, I have been through life’s most difficult times as well as experienced life’s many joys and pleasures. Back in 2002, soon after we lost our first puppy Max to bloat, a very painful time, we got up the nerve to get another puppy. He was a five month old black male Labrador retriever. We named him Saber. After our first tragedy with poor Max, I couldn’t help but baby my new dog and spoil him rotten. He went everywhere with me and as he grew we became inseparable. He was always there for me and me for him. Then was the time of my divorce, a period that separated me from my best friend. Life at that time was like living in a far off distant and alien land. It was depressing to be without my children, my home and of course Saber. I’m sure that he was just as confused and depressed as I was. I then met another women with her own children who shared similar interests such as the love of dogs and all animals. I was so happy when my Saber rejoined me with his new home. Everyone loved Saber. He was very trusting and protective of others that I let into my life and my new wife and step children adored him. He was always a part of the holiday festivities and the vacations north to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Early in 2002, during a routine vet visit for his annual shots, I had expressed my concern of the masses that appeared under his arm, on his chest and near his groin. But both vets said I had nothing to be alarmed about since they were believed to be fatty cysts common to older dogs. To get further assurance, I had went to another vet in town for a second opinion and I got the same answer. So, putting my faith in these experts and in God, I began to put my own mind at ease. That is until later that same year. It was right after Halloween of 2002 when I noticed that Saber was having more difficulty than usual walking. I took him to two the different veterinarians. They both believed he was suffering from arthritis and moderate hip displaysher. He was on strong anti-inflamatories. But within a weeks time, Saber lost his ability to use his hind legs. We had to move him around on a stretcher. I kept bring him back and forth between these two different vets saying that there was something more serious going on inside his body. But I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. I was advised by one of the vets to consider euthanasia. I would not here of it. It was not an option for me or for him. I believed Saber wanted to live and to run, eat, play and love like he’s always done. I wasn’t giving up on him. But deep down inside me, I felt that was going to happen anyway.
The night before Thanksgiving, I went out for my wife to the grocery store and to pick up pedialite for Saber to restore his electrolytes. Saber was back home with my family resting on his blanket near the fireplace. The weather was very cold that night with a steady mix of rain and ice. I got a call when I was at the store from my wife. She told me to come home right away. She said something was really wrong with Saber. I rushed home and found him in a comatose state. His eyes were open but he was not moving. We moved Saber onto his stretcher and my wife and I rushed him to the vets. They said he was severely dehydrated. I b egged them to put him on an IV to get the fluids into him.
The vet with his assistant said that was not possible since no one would be around shortly due to the Thanksgiving holiday the next day. I told them I would take him to the Acton emergency animal hospital. They told me he would never make the ride. It was 42 miles away and the rain/ice mix was still coming down heavy. They told me that the best gift I could give to my friend was what I was dreading all along. My wife couldn’t bear it. She left the room. As Saber lied still and quiet with a blank stare in his eyes I had asked the vet for a pair of scissors and clippers. I removed some hair nail clippings from my pal. As they vet put the needle into his leg, I bent down and hugged and kissed him on the face. I could have sworn I saw a tear in his eye. I know there were plenty in mine. It will be six years this coming November since he has been gone. Every year on the anniversary of his passing, I light a candle for him and place next to his urn. I have plenty of pictures and fond memories. Even now that I have another dog in my life, I miss him dearly.
Did I make the right decision? I think back and ask myself to this day, could I have done more to save him or regardless was it Saber’s time, as fate had it, was he was going to leave us anyway. Was it too late. If Saber had been struck by a car and I was told that he was suffering and would not make it, I would have put him at peace without hesitation. But is there is hope for your pet, not hope for the owner, I say try your best.
14. It Breaks Your Heart
It will break your heart, but when the time comes, do not let your dog go alone. They have kept you company and sat with you through everything in your life and would never leave you, do the same for them. This anonymous pets prayer says it all…
If it should be that I grow frail and weak, and pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done, for this the last battle can’t be won
You will be sad – I understand, don’t let your grief then stay your hand
For this day, more than the rest, your love and friendship stand the the test
We’ve had so many happy years, what is to come – can have no fears
You’d not want me to suffer, so, when the time comes, please let me go
Take me where my needs they’ll tend, only stay with me until the end
And hold me firm and speak to me, until my eyes no longer see
I know in time you too will see, it is a kindness you do for me
Although my tail its last has waved, from pain and suffering I’ve been saved
Don’t grieve that is should be you, who has to decide this thing to do
We’ve been so close through all these years, don’t let your heart hold any tears
Smile, for we’ve been together for awhile.
One final thought, although you can never replace your friend, an empty house does not help you heal…
I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter…the cast-offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I was angry. “God,” I said, “this is terrible! Why don’t you do something?” God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly. “I have done something,” He replied, “I created You.” Always remember having a pet is a lifelong commitment. Take care, and know others thoughts are with you in your journeys.
Sandy Hook, VA