signs to put dog to sleep

How to Spot the Signs to Put Your Dog to Sleep

Having a dog that is sick, old, failing or diagnosed with a chronic condition or cancer can be difficult. A common question posed to veterinarians is “what are the signs to put a dog to sleep”. Below we will review the quality of life and signs of when it is “time”.

Considering Quality of Life in Dogs

It can be difficult to consider the quality of life and know when it is time to let a pet go. Quality of life is a term used to describe the value of various facets of life that provide and allow for a good life. This can vary a lot from individual to individual and is influenced by prior experiences, cultural and social backgrounds, goals and values. What one person may define as an acceptable quality of life may not be acceptable to another person. Quality of life is a personal judgment.

When looking at the quality of life, it is important to consider the underlying problem that is leading to the question in the first place. There may be moments of a poor quality life but depending on the underlying problem, some problems can be treatable. For example, a dog hit by a car may be in pain and have a poor quality of life at that moment. But with treatment, the prognosis may be good. On the other hand, a very old dog with cancer that isn’t eating, losing weight and having difficulty walking likely has a poor prognosis and quality of life that is unlikely to improve.

What are Signs of a Good Quality of Life

If you are considering the quality of life, some guidelines to consider as you evaluate your dog include:

There may be natural good days and bad days in dogs with chronic conditions. In general, if your dog has a diagnosis and is receiving treatment but is not able to do the things that they enjoy on a daily basis, that is not a good quality of life.

Signs of a Sick or Dying Dog

The signs of a sick dog can vary depending on the underlying illness. For example, dogs with heart disease will often have trouble breathing, lethargy, and weakness. Some general signs of a sick or dying dog include:

IMPORTANT: The signs listed above are vague. Generally, signs of a dying dog include a combination of signs. Only one sign can be normal in some dogs. For example, some dogs will hide when frightened. But when you combine a dog that is weak, not eating, vomiting, losing weight and hiding, then that is a problem.

Signs To Put Your Dog to Sleep

At some point, you may realize that your dog is no longer having a good quality of life and is not enjoying life. Sometimes signs can be obvious such as inability to walk or difficulty breathing.

Some guidelines to consider as signs to put a dog to sleep include:

If your dog is experiencing any of these signs, speak to your veterinarian. Medication may help or it may be time to either begin hospice care or consider euthanasia.

What If You Aren’t Sure If It Is Time?

If you aren’t sure about the quality of life please see your veterinarian. They can help you evaluate your pet’s condition and provide an opinion on the quality of life. The decision to euthanize is yours but if you aren’t trying to consider the ups and downs, prognosis or condition, a veterinarian’s educated assessment can be helpful. Speak with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding the diagnosis or treatment of your pet’s disease.