Social Question

OpryLeigh's avatar

If you have had to make the heartbreaking decision to have a pet put to sleep, did you choose to stay with the pet when it was euthanized or did you leave it in the vets care?

Asked by OpryLeigh (24337 points ) September 14th, 2009

If you haven’t had to make that decision what do you think you would choose to do? What are the reasons for your answer?

I can understand why many people would choose to leave at the point where the vet is about to put their pet to sleep. It is heartbreaking to watch a beloved animal be euthanized but personally I choose to stay with the animal (dogs in my case). I figure that any human would want a loved one there in their final moments and even if animals don’t necessarily think like us I would rather be there and know that my pet didn’t die alone. I know that this is putting human emotions on animals which I so often tell people not to do when it comes to things like training etc but for my own peace of mind, I stay.

Just a side note, regardless of what I would choose to do I would never judge anyone for choosing not to stay if they found it too hard to do so, so please answer honestly

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62 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

We have always stayed and held them in our arms. All but the last time, when they wouldn’t let us. This was not at our vet’s but at the Animal Rescue, where a well-meaning neighbor had sent our old, ailing cat, thinking he was a stray, thus putting him out of reach of our care and medicine. It took us three days to find him, and by then we were too late to save him; he was literally killed by kindness.

Jude's avatar

When my g/f had to put her two cats down, her and I both went in. My girlfriend held onto the both of them (at different times) while they were lying on the table, and the vet then gave the injection. As hard as it was, she wanted to be there (I was there to support her). I did the same with our family dog who passed away a few years ago. It was extremely hard, but, I felt that I needed to be there.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I had to put my cat of 10 years to sleep about 5 years ago. She was like my baby. I’d have never dreamed of leaving her alone. She died in my arms. I don’t know how I drove home, I was crying so hard. I took her home with me.

rebbel's avatar

We had to make a decision like that once and we chose to ask if the vet could come to our house, instead of us going there.
We really wanted our pussycat to ‘go’ in it’s own surroundings, and fortunately the vet went with that.
He came and he gave her two injections, while she was laying on my girlfriends lap.
She went quietly. Leaving all her bodily fluids on my girlfriends legs.

ubersiren's avatar

Gosh… I haven’t had to do this yet, but I would have to hold my cat if she had to be put down.

@rebbel : What a great option. I’ve never heard of that.

Tink's avatar

I would choose not to be there when it was being done, I’ve recently seen my dog die in front of me and I wouldn’t want to go through that pain again.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@rebbel We have done that with a couple of our dogs too. I usually find that vets are very accomdating to your wishes in such situations.

rebbel's avatar

@ubersiren We really appreciated it, yes.
I’m pretty sure most vets would understand such a request and gladly provide that service.
@Leanne1986 True that.
Great you could do it like that too.

jamielynn2328's avatar

I had a pot-bellied pig when I was sixteen. One day I went out to feed him before I went to school like I always had and he was comatose. He was only 5 months old. I took him to the vet and found out that his bladder had exploded. He had poisoned himself from the inside out. I was a hot mess to say the least and I just couldn’t stay in there with him. My brother did it for me though, so that made me feel better.

I’m not sure what I would do in the situation now that I am older. I think that if the pet was awake I would stay so that they would feel my comfort.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@jamielynn2328 Oh, how sad. I’m sorry.

cak's avatar

((((hugs)))))

I stayed with my pets, when I could. One passed away when I was in the hospital. I decided they stayed with me as long as they possibly could, I’d do the same for them. To me, my pets are family and I just feel it’s part of what family does. However, for those that decide not to stay, it’s okay. They know you love them. I understand, too. The pain is almost unbearable.

Jude's avatar

(off topic, sorry. —@cak good to see you posting again.)

cak's avatar

@jmah – thanks. I feel a bit human, it’s between med time.

dalepetrie's avatar

One time I was confronted with this decision. Right after Christmas 2003, I was at work and I got a call from my wife. One of our cats who was 17 years old and who had been getting shots for diabetes for a couple years at that time stood up and then fell promptly over while my wife was watching. My wife had owned this cat since she was about 16, and had even seen her born (we still in fact had the mother who lived a couple more years to be 20). She seemed half paralyzed, so my wife brought her to the vet, we spent a ton of money on what amounted to them keeping an eye on her, and basically they said she’d either start to come back a little in the next couple days, or if she didn’t, she never would. She didn’t come back, and she was unable to eat, move around, go to the bathroom…my wife took her home, made a bed for her, spoon fed her, gave her fluids (she had worked at a vet hospital before), kept her alive, but it really started to seem like she was in misery. It was New Year’s Eve 2003/2004, and we realized that this cat could hold on in a nearly vegetative state indefinitely, and that it simply wasn’t fair to put her through this. We didn’t want her to die, but we couldn’t let her suffer just so we could keep her alive. So, we brought her in while my son (then just over 2) was taking a nap and a friend stayed at the house. My wife held her and I watched as the vet did the injection. My wife was there cradling her, petting her and re-assuring her, saying it was almost over. I couldn’t believe how fast it happened, the needle went in and her whole frame just relaxed. We left her there to be cremated, and as soon as I got to the parking lot I sobbed uncontrollably. I’d known the cat for 9 years at that point, but it was hard to see her just slip away. It was probably the hardest I’d ever taken losing a pet, and I attribute a lot of that to being there. But I was there for my wife and for my cat, and as much as I’d like to not have that image burned into my retinas, I wouldn’t do it differently if I could do it over. It was unquestionably the right thing to do, period.

Adagio's avatar

I had to have my dog put down in 1993, she was 13.5 years old and several days beforehand had lost the use of her back legs. I had owned Lily since she was a puppy. I sat on the floor in the vet’s surgery and cradled Lily on my lap in my arms. What I remember most about that experience was the split-second between life and death, the suddenness was shocking.

dpworkin's avatar

I had to have two dogs euthanized, and I stayed with each of them and held them in my arms. I’m very glad I did.

knitfroggy's avatar

My parents had to put our 15 year old lab to sleep a couple years ago. My mom asked if I could take her because she and dad were just unable to do it. I told her I didn’t think I could either. My husband said he would take her, but he was going to leave her there. They would just put her in a cage until they got around to putting her to sleep. I told my husband that I would take her then, because she was such a good dog and didn’t deserve to be scared and uncomfortable the last hours of her life. He didn’t want me to take her because he knew I couldn’t handle it. He came home and handed me her collar and said “I will never do that again.” with tears running down his face.

When my mom had her 13 year old Chihuahua put to sleep she didn’t tell anyone she was doing it and took the dog herself and did it. The vet’s assistant had to drive her home.

Dog's avatar

I am not only with them but hold them regardless of size.

chyna's avatar

I had to put my dog down last summer. I only had minutes to decide as I thought she had bronchitis (as diagnosed by another vet) but was actually a huge tumor on her esophogus. Tears were streaming down my face and I just could not go in and watch her die. I still feel bad that I wasn’t with her.

PupnTaco's avatar

Thank you for this question. I’d never thought it was an option to be with one’s pet…. our dog is 12 or 13, going deaf, and I know it’s only a matter of time. I’ll be there for her.

YARNLADY's avatar

She used to be very afraid at the vets, so I stayed with her until she laid down and went to sleep.

dpworkin's avatar

@PupnTaco If, like me, you live in the country, you sometimes will have the good fortune to let your dog slip away and die by his/herself. My darling Lucy just started spending more and more time away from home, and one day didn’t come back. We found her curled up as though sleeping in her favorite spot. I feel good about that. Of course, we knew she was in no pain or discomfort…

casheroo's avatar

I was working when my family dog was put down, it happened suddenly. I always left for work before my family woke up, I was 16. So, apparently when my mother got up, our dog could not walk and he had been fighting Cushings and Epilepsy his whole life. He was 13. The rest of my family watched and held him when he was put down, because it was his time and he shouldn’t have suffered. I would have been there if I could.
My cat Tigger was 17 when she was put down recently, she always weighed less than 10lbs but was closer to 4 or 3lbs when she was 17. She refused to take any medication for her thyroid, and we tried different kinds. It sucked.
My other cat was taken to a shelter because he peed on everything pretty much from the day we got him. We had him until he was 12 and I couldn’t take him in to my apartment and my parents were fed up (and they tried EVERYTHING to get him to stop) I know they took him to a kill shelter, and I begged them not to. It was heart wrenching.

I will be there for my pets if anything happens to them. I currently have two cats who still seem like kittens to me, but they’re 3 years old.

boffin's avatar

This same subject made Post Secret Sunday.
The “secret sender” suggested that you stay with your critter…
Sound like good advice…

tinyfaery's avatar

This made me cry.

Dog's avatar

The way I see it my pets have been there for me faithfully. They do not judge me and love me unconditionally. They have given me joy all their time with me.

The very least I can do for them is to give them a dignified and painless death with me there telling them how much I love them.

I only hope when my times comes I too have such a dignified and graceful passing.

filmfann's avatar

I was with both dogs when they were put down. My wife held our cat when she was euthanized.
My wife was quite sweet about it. She told me that after the doctor gave her the shot, the cat said “Meow” then died. I asked her what she expected the cat to say.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’ve luckily never had to choose in this situation, but i stumbled upon this postsecret yesterday, and it’s something to think about.
i thought about what i would do after i read that ^ and i don’t know. i suppose i would stay. but just thinking about it makes me cry.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@tinyfaery – Me too.

My first cat is like 18 or 19, very bony and not strong, but still gets up, eats, uses the litterbox, sits outside on the terrace, and generally seems to enjoy life, just at a much slower pace. She’s had some kidney problems in the past few years, even coming close to not pulling through, but my mom was diligent with administering an IV and the kitty pulled through. Anyway, I know her time is coming and it makes me really sad. She’s been my friend for so long, such a good and loving one at that.

If I had to make the choice, I’d want to be there with her in her last moments.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@boffin and @tiffyandthewall It was that very Postsecret that gave me the inspiration for this question because only a few weeks ago my Aunt and I were talking about how different people dealt with the death of a pet.

Everyone’s answers have been great, thank you for sharing what cannot be easy for all of you.

tedibear's avatar

I’ve only had to do this once and I stayed with my dear cat through the shot and until she was gone. The vet kindly allowed us to stay as long as we wanted to in the exam room. I think I made it for about 10 minutes and then had to leave. That was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Not just being there, but having to make the decision that she was too ill to have any real quality of life. I cried on and off for a week, as well as any time that the subject came up after that. Even now, it makes me very, very sad to remember.

Jeruba's avatar

Making the decision for the first time to let a pet go, for her sake, when she was suffering, no matter how hard it was for me to do, was one of the first real grown-up things I had to do. Morally, internally, subjectively, it was a bigger decision than quitting school, taking a job, quitting a job, returning to school, getting engaged, or breaking the engagement. Those were all about me, and this wasn’t. It took adult maturity and strength. Nothing was ever quite the same afterward.

irocktheworld's avatar

A couple years back,I saw my puppy die and it was a horrible thing.It was a Sunday and the vet was closed and our puppy was sick and starting crying and whining and all and we didnt know what to do but just let it die.My whole family and I were praying and hoping that the puppy would stay safe and live but it turned out that i saw it die right in front of me.It was bad and I do NOT wanna go through that again.:(

tedibear's avatar

@Jeruba – Your post made me remember something. I was with my mom when she passed. Quietly, in the hospital with my sister and I holding her hand While it was difficult, I didn’t make the decision for that to happen. Just like you said, it was a huge decision to determine that my cat was suffering and that I had to make the right choice for her. And that I had to be selfless enough to let her go.

I’m a little tired, so I apologize if the above paragraph seemed like babble!

OpryLeigh's avatar

@tedibear39 it didn’t seem like babble. Thank you for sharing that.

Amurph's avatar

You stay. You stay because they’re spent their life with you and loved you when no one else did. You stay because they are a part of your family. You stay for a million little and big reasons. It’s hard, it’s supposed to be hard. But that’s life and that’s what you owe for love.

Evelyns_Other_Zebra's avatar

In 2000 we had to but our dog of 9yrs. down. My husband just could not do it himself. I had my brother in law take me and my dog to the vet and i stayed with my dog holding his head in my lap petting and comforting him. He passed quickly and quietly with his head on my lap. That was the hardest thing i have ever done. I vowed to never do that again, but now that i have another little dog, if i ever have to but her down, i will be there with her holding her in my arms,

CaseyWVU10's avatar

Stay with them…they are probably confused and scared and having you there as the one thing they understand and love is probably the most loving and comforting thing you can do for them. I have had to put down 4 dogs and every time, we stayed there, hugged and kissed them until they left us…i wouldn’t have had it any other way and I would have regretted not being in the room with them.

tinyfaery's avatar

Two zebras?

Dog's avatar

@tinyfaery I think the much-exalted spouse of our Madagascar hissing cockroach-loving Zebra has joined us on Fluther!

tinyfaery's avatar

I know.

Val123's avatar

I had to put my 14 year old Snuffy down….I stayed with her. The room was at a level where the windows looked out from a vantage point where the bottom of the window was right at chest level. I held Snuffers up so she could sniff the air for the last time. I’ll never forget, the assistant came in, said, “We’ll take the dog now.”
I said, “I want to stay with her.”
She looked at me like I was nuts, and yelled back to the Vet “She wants to stay with the dog!” with a….sarcastic overtone. That was distressing.
Then, the vet came in , we turned away from the window, I put her on the table, and he gave her the shot…I glanced up and said “How long?” he said, “Any second..” and just as I glanced back down she sank and the light went out of her eyes…and I started sobbing “No. No. I take it back. Please. No. I’ve changed my mind. I take it back. No. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry….No…..”
I had brought her in wrapped in a Power Rangers sheet that….held memories for her, for my kids. Afterward the assistant came in and snapped, “Here’s your sheet.”
I said, “No. I want to leave it with her.”
Assistant snorted and dismissed me non-verbally, again, like I was nuts.

I had just started a new job, did this on my lunch break, while the kids were at school, and so then I had to go back to work and be professional.

Jeruba's avatar

@Val123, I am shocked. We have never been treated any way but sensitively and with great patience at the office of a vet or at the humane society. I believe I would have let the vet know later on how callous and rude this particular assistant was. She should not be in a position to work with people who are undergoing the heartbreaking loss of a pet.

chyna's avatar

I’m with Jeruba on this. Not only has the vet cried with me, but so did the assistant. They have acted as if they knew my pet as long as I did and loved them just as much.

casheroo's avatar

@Val123 I’m so sorry about that experience :(
I’ve seen dogs brought in to be put done, and cried with the entire waiting room. It’s so sad :(

Dog's avatar

I worked with a Vet and held beloved pets and cried with the owners. I have never heard of such treatment. Unfathomable

Val123's avatar

Thanks for the lurve, guys. Thank you. It really means a lot….the first I’ve ever had about it (but, then again, this is the first time I’ve told anyone…...) But this was thirteen years ago, too late to complain now. Even the vet seemed exasperated with me. Maybe because he was about a hundred years old himself. Snuff’s can still bring tears to my eyes. It seems like that for at least three years after, I’d hear her nails clicking on the floor as she came to hang out with me….I still miss her. I have a zillion stories I could tell about her! Wish she could meet the dogs I have now. (She’d come to me, look at me intently and I’d hear her saying “WHAT have you DONE to this HOUSEHOLD????!!” LOL! She worried about stuff like that!!)

http://www.fluther.com/disc/62707/are-there-times-your-dog-can-make-a-complicated-thought-theyre/

I still have her collar. I put it on my squirrely Dutchess dawg when she needs a collar. I’ll always have her collar.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Val123 I know what you mean about still hearing her nails clicking on the floor long after she has left this life. We used to have a Rhodisian Ridgeback who died in 2003 and for a long time after she had passed away I could still smell her every so often. We used to use a special shampoo on her that I haven’t since used on any of the other dogs and that is what I could smell. It was weird but strangely reassuring. I am also very sorry to hear about your treatment from the vet and his assistant. I have always been very lucky with the vets who have cared for my animals. Lurve for sharing :)

Val123's avatar

@Leanne1986 It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it….it sure doesn’t seem like a hallucination but…I don’t know what it is. Kind of like hearing your kids call you when they’re not even home….sometimes I hear one of the kids call me in the voice they had when they were, say, 9. My youngest is 22 now…

MissAnthrope's avatar

We just had to put my 20-year-old cat to sleep. She was the first mammal pet I’d ever owned, and I had dreamed for years before of having a cat or a dog (always had goldfish or parakeets). She arrived in my life in a very random manner; my friends and I found this beautiful but emaciated kitten wandering the streets of San Francisco.

She went across the Atlantic when my mom moved to Italy and she really, really loved it there. She could go outside when she wanted with no worry about cars or anything, she would walk on the beach, get her picture taken by tourists, or just soak in the sun on our terrace.

She’s been ailing the past few years.. actually, almost died due to renal failure, but my mom nursed her back to health. She was put to sleep the day after my birthday, ten days ago; she was having renal failure and was dehydrated because of it and the vet recommended that it was time.

I really, really wish I could have held her as it all happened, that I could have been the one to guide her out of this life. I am grateful, though, that my aunt came over before the vet appointment and spent a good amount of time holding her, talking to her, and thanking her for being such a good kitty. She even got one last tour of the beach and the sea, carried in my aunt’s arms.

Val123's avatar

@MissAnthrope She had a wonderful life. She was a very lucky kitty.

Sunshine2u's avatar

I just a few months ago I had to put my beloved best friend of 14 yrs to sleep. His name was Nash and he was a black lab. I stayed with him and have never ever cryed harder in my life. I would do it again because he did know I was there and he died in my arms knowing he was truly loved. I cant write anymore on this right now.

Val123's avatar

@Sunshine2u Tears for you, dear…..

Coloma's avatar

I have always been with my pets in their final moments.

The last was my beloved Babby Goose.

She was an 11 yr. old White Embden goose that I had since she was a tiny gosling.
The vet came to the house and I held her on my lap, first the little gasmask and then the injection. Just a killer :-(
She was one of the dearest creatures ever.

Val123's avatar

@Coloma Ahhh…..

Jewel's avatar

I recently had to make the decision to have my friend of 20 years put to sleep. The decision alone nearly ruined me. When the time came, I stayed with him. He was always a nervous wreck in the vet’s office, and fought them.When I would comfort him he would try hard to calm himself, so I held him and tried to soothe his fear. It helped so I haven’t regretted my decision to stay, but it was one of the most distressing things I have ever been through. I suffered terrible guilt along with the awful grief over the loss of such a dear friend. 3 months on, I am finally able to talk about him without breaking down.
I think that I will always choose to be with my pets if it becomes necessary to have them put down in the future. I owe them that comfort.

manolla's avatar

I have a cat, I never knew that people have to put thier pets to sleep? !!
Can anyone please explain to me why someone would need to do that? Ohh now I wish I never had a pet !!!

chyna's avatar

@manolla The reason someone would have to do that is because the animal is too sick to have any quality of life. It’s the humane thing to do, but a very hard thing to do.

manolla's avatar

@chyna Thank you for clearing that doubt for me, I guess that most of you are very brave, to go through all that suffering just to show your pets how much they are loved in thier last moments.

I can’t imagine going through all that, I hope that my cat runs away from home before anything like that has to happen, then I will just not think about it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@manolla All you have to do is take it to the pound. You don’t have to stay with it, or be involved with the final hours.

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