How to Make the Tough Decision to Euthanize Your Pet

Euthanize Your PetOne of the toughest responsibilities of owning a pet is deciding if circumstances warrant euthanizing your pet. There are many factors to consider, but analyzing your pet’s quality of life will help you in making the decision.

I’ve had several requests from readers for an article on this topic.  Personally, I must admit to finding the topic a very emotional one to even contemplate, so I was pleased to get someone else to write this one for me. …

So here is a step by step guide to assist you if you are considering the ultimate decision for your pet.

If you and your family have found yourselves in the difficult position of wondering whether or not to euthanize your pet, follow these steps:

Step 1: If you suspect that your animal’s life is nearing its end, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get a professional opinion on the prognosis of your pet. The veterinarian will be able to talk with you about pain management options and ways you can make your pet more comfortable, but ultimately the decision to euthanize will be in your hands.

Step 2: If your pet is ill, consider the factors that will contribute to his care and attention. Do you have the time, resources and finances to care for your ailing pet? If you’re unable to spend quality time with your pet through his illness, or if you are unable to afford the medications required to keep him comfortable, you will need to keep those considerations in mind.

Step 3: If your pet is in pain, you need to consider how comfortable you can make your pet during the time he or she has left. If the vet is unable to provide pain management, or if your pet is nonresponsive to the pain management, you may need to consider euthanasia sooner than later.

Step 4: If your dog is not in pain but you fear he is no longer getting enough enjoyment out of his life due to his age or othEuthanize Your Peter health factors, begin journaling his activities. Make a commitment to journal his activities for a week, making note of his appetite, sleeping habits and exercise or activity level.

Step 5: Before you analyze the journal, determine with other family members what criteria you need to see in order to determine if it’s time to euthanize. For instance, if your pet slept for 20 or more hours a day, would you consider that sufficient evidence that he is not experiencing a high quality of life? Or, if he is excited to greet you at the door but remains inactive throughout the rest of the day, is that enough activity to warrant that he is enjoying his life? Only you and your family members can create and answer questions such as these.

Step 6: Gather decision making family members to analyze the journal and come to a consensus as to whether or not it’s time to euthanize your pet. Allow the opportunity for all involved family members to share their thoughts and feelings, however try to keep emotions out of the final decision and instead focus on what is best for your beloved pet.

Step 7: If you make the decision to euthanize your pet, decide whether he or she will be cremated or buried. Begin collecting special memories of your pet, perhaps a paw print or a few final photos.

Euthanize Your PetAbove all else, spend as much time with your best friend as possible, making him as comfortable as possible until the time comes to mourn his life. Also, although you will be heartbroken, don’t forget to spend time celebrating the life of your beloved pet and the special memories you’ve shared together.

This article was written by the authors at pet super store an online pet shop that carries dog beds, patio pet doors, and dog houses.

And remember, if your dog could write a Will, this is probably what your dog would bequeath to you.

About Brigitte Smith

Brigitte Smith is an entrepreneur with a love of dogs and a healthy lifestyle. Brigitte is passionate about holistic health alternatives for dogs, most of which are today suffering foreshortened lifespans in the wake of a lifetime diet of commercial pet food, and further contributed to by unnecessary over-vaccination and chemicals and poisons applied topically and internally. http://HealthierDogs.com is one of Brigitte's sites dedicated to dog health, and in particular dog food reviews.

9 thoughts on “How to Make the Tough Decision to Euthanize Your Pet

  1. Malinda

    Thank you,
    My wolf dog has osteosarcoma and I do believe he is suffering dispite all efforts of pain management. It’s time to let go.

  2. Nancy Horkey

    We recently had to make this painful decision. Ming, my 13 yr-11 month old SharPei had cancer. My neice in law is a vet in another town. She gave me some great adivce.
    “Make a list of Ming’s top ten favorite activities and check how many she is still doing. Is it 7 then it might not be time, is it 3 of them, what 3 are they and is that the quality of life she need/or happy with.” Ming was doing 1 or 2 at best and one of those was just sitting with us….so I had to make the appoitment that day and now she is happy and out of pain in heaven with our other male which we lost 4 years ago….so I hope this helps someone let go of their best friend. I know it is hard but a very unselfish act.

  3. diana

    tomorrow morning I’m going to put down my precious dog ‘livvie’. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I am absolutely heartbroken and frightened at the prospect of having this control over another living thing. Obviously my fantastic vet ‘Merideth’ has been a beacon in many dark moments during this process. Her kindest and professional words were ‘you will know when it is time’. Remember that if this is not the process you wish to proceed with, please keep your loved pet hydrated, you’ll probably have to hand feed and you will have to clean up after them. When I say cleaning up after them, I mean your pet will have no control over its bowel movements and will become incontinent. Make sure you have plenty of handy paper towels to clean up and warm towels to soothe away any uncomfortable situations. As painful as it is in making life and death decisions, you must be intuitive to this wonderful soul who has lived your life with you and do what is best for them. I’m am being brave for the love of ‘livvie’ who has given me so much joy and I want her no pain and I will hold her until she ends.

  4. Brigitte Smith

    Diana,

    Thank you so much for your very helpful and thoughtful comments.

    Regards,
    Brigitte

    Nancy,

    Thanks for your input also. I have heard that suggestion several times (to tally up the dog’s favorite activities, and see how many of them the dog still enjoys).

    I personally am not a fan of that approach in and of itself. Some dogs seem perfectly content, even though they can no longer do most of what they used to enjoy. After all, when people get elderly, they also can no longer do many of the things they used to enjoy when they were young, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have no, or little, quality of life.

    If a dog no longer enjoys most of the things he or she used to AND seems unhappy, worried, or uncomfortable, then yes, it may be time to think about the option of euthanasia.

    But a dog can be bed-bound pretty much as Diana describes above – where the dog can no longer get up by themselves and become completely incontinent of urine and faeces – but still seem content overall. In those circumstances, I believe it is perfectly valid to decide to allow nature to take its course and allow the dog to pass away without intervention.

    I think the question to ask is this – are you holding on to your dog’s life for your dog’s sake, or your own? If you are doing it for you, then you may be being selfish, and need to carefully consider the euthanasia option. If you believe that your dog is content, no matter how reduced his or her quality of life seems to be to you, then allowing your dog to pass away in his or her own time may be the right thing to do.

    A dog will simply stop eating and drinking if they have had enough of living. Hand feeding is fine (and can be essential sometimes), but when the dog decides he or she no longer wants to eat even with assistance from you, then that is the dog’s decision, and you will know that the inevitable is coming.

    As Diana and her vet say, YOU as the owner and companion of your loyal friend for numerous years will know when the time comes to euthanize (or not as the case may be).

    By all means consult with your vet to ensure that your dog is not suffering. I certainly suggest that you do that. Not to do so at any stage would be terribly irresponsible. But the decision should be yours, and yours alone.

    Regards,
    Brigitte

  5. deb

    My buddy of 15 years has experienced so many life changes with me. Most recently we have tried to adapt to apartment living but Gilbert is not adjusting. He has lost most of is vision, his hips are displacing, and he is sleeping except for bathrooming and eating. Glibert is a rescued at 9 month and has been suffering with separation anxiety all his life, and now that his vision is going it is worsing day by day. Poor little guy (Jack Russell), howls and cry’s when there isn’t a familiar body close by. I placed him in day care for while I am at work and he isn’t socializing very well… So even there he is howling when not sleeping.
    I am finding that my own quality of life is diminishing because of the limitation that are created by Gilbert’s needs. I find myself staying home alone and not living because if I choose to leave, Gilbert stresses out and howls. My heart is weighing heavy, because the thought of ending his life to benefit my own feels extremely selfish, especially since for 14 + years I have given the very best of me and my time! I am also feeling torn of how to continue my own quality of life when Gilbert’s needs are increasing and directing my decisions.
    I am taking the suggestions listed above and listening to feeback.

  6. Brigitte Smith

    Deb,

    I was hoping someone else would come up with some encouraging words for you.

    Perhaps Gilbert’s situation is now resolved one way or another.

    I completely understand your heavy heart. I have experienced a similar situation. I dealt with my situation by telling myself that although my dog may have been taking over my life while she was sick (and dying), I owed it to her to allow her to take over my life for that relatively short period (when compared to her lifetime, or my own).

    Either way, the decision is very difficult and I don’t envy you if you are still grappling with it.

    Regards,
    Brigitte

  7. deb

    Brigitte thank you for your words and understanding; the decision was difficult but now I know that I have made the right decision for Gilbert and I. The website and the words of the members brought me clarity through this period. I willing gave Gilbert all that he ever needed and Gilbert gave me unconditional love. The past year had been troublesome but he deserved all that I was able to bring to him; it was time. Little doubts and guilt will always reside but I imagine that is because of the deep love I felt for him.

  8. printer

    A dog will simply stop eating and drinking if they have had enough of living. Hand feeding is fine (and can be essential sometimes), but when the dog decides he or she no longer wants to eat even with assistance from you, then that is the dog’s decision, and you will know that the inevitable is coming.

  9. Brigitte

    Absolutely, “printer”(?) – I couldn’t agree more. It happened with one of my beautiful dogs. But what was particularly heartbreaking was that very close to the end she seemed to change her mind, and wanted to start drinking again, but too late. Maybe she didn’t change her mind. Maybe she just needed some water to ease the transition. But it was quite distressing (for me).

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