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awomanscorned's avatar

When do we put our dog to sleep?

Asked by awomanscorned (11261points) November 13th, 2010 from iPhone

She’s 17. Gets really swollen with fluid and is on meds that constantly make her pee. It’s hard for her to walk around but she still wakes up every morning to patrol the yard and then goes up the stairs to sit on the deck and watch the yard. We’re getting worried about her quality of life though because sometimes she’s too tired and stiff to get herself ou of the cold. And sometimes doesn’t want to eat. Some days I think, today’s the day to take her in. Then an hour later I’ll see her walking to a patch of sun in the yard. I don’t want to find her dead in our yard or garage. I’d rather she die peacefully. When do I take her in?

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53 Answers

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chyna's avatar

When she has no quality of life left. It sounds like she still does right now.

preVenger's avatar

I have heard many vets use this as a guideline: Is she having more bad days than good days?

nicobanks's avatar

The end is clearly coming, but it sounds like you’re not there yet. If she refuses to eat for several days, demonstrates no comfort in your love, and demonstrates no interest in her environment, then the time has come. But if you trust your vet, you might ask about letting her die on her own. (If you don’t trust your vet, find people online to have this conversation with – experts, I mean, not flutherites.) Is it really more peaceful to go to the vet’s and be put down? Rather than dying in the comfort of your own home?

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rooeytoo's avatar

@noelleptc – Let those who believe in suffering suffer themselves.

I personally believe it is your duty as the owner to do what is best for your dog. When she no longer has interest in food then call the vet, have her/him come to your home and do it there. Tranquilize the dog first, then the euthansia. It is the kindest thing you can do. I hope someone does it for me when I am suffering and if I can’t do it for myself.

Coloma's avatar

Better a few days/weeks too soon than too late.

It is impossible to gauge if she is in a state of chronic pain as animals mask their conditions well.

Does she moan and/or yelp sometimes when she moves around, gets up?

I’d go by her eating habits and the other helpful guidelines shared by the other posters.

The best to you, it is always sad to lose a pet but you do not want her to suffer, so, you must be strong for her sake.

OwlofHappiness's avatar

As hard as putting dogs down are, (I’ve gone through it, it’s tough) you have to really think about what is best for your dog. Ask yourself some questions. Is she in pain? Which way would she be better off? What is the best thing for you? I know you’ll make the right decision.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, good advice about the home euthanasia.

I had a great vet out to put my beloved cat Gadwicke down last May when he was in heart failure.

Well worth the couple hundred dollars to have them euthanized in your arms in their comforting home enviroment.

The stress of transporting a dying pet to the vet is not an option for me.

All of my animals have had the final housecall. ;-(

nicobanks's avatar

@noelleptc I respectfully suggest that you may be thinking of your own peace, not hers.

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Jeruba's avatar

When there is no other option. When you have no doubt. I have found that when that moment comes, you know it.

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nicobanks's avatar

@noelleptc Fair enough.

@rooeytoo You’ve misinterpreted my intentions/meaning, and I think you’ve been unnecessarily harsh in your judgment of me. If you’re interested in having a reasonable conversation about this, I’m up for it. Otherwise, I’ll leave it at that.

preVenger's avatar

Lack of appetite. Heavy breathing. No interest in what goes on around them. Pottying on themselves. The signs will be there for you. Hearing that she sought out a patch of sun and that she likes to watch what is going on…she may not be ready just yet. I put down an 18.5 year old dachsie in March. The vet came to the house. I played the rainbow bridge all morning for her. She was smiling when she peacefully passed.

ps…my name is Noelle, too : )

tinyfaery's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba. You will know when it is time. There is a lot of good advice here. If your dog still seeks your love, eats and isn’t in terrible pain, there is no reason to euthanize. Enjoy her, and treat her extra special. Make her last days as good as you possibly can, until your interventions are no longer helpful to her. :(

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Cruiser's avatar

I agree with @Jeruba…you will know when the time comes….even more so, she will let you know when it’s time.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’m sorry you’re having to think about it at all, but as others have said I think you’ll know when it’s time. Enjoy your friend for now and get some pictures for later.

I don’t think those who mentioned not euthanizing the dog were saying let it suffer. Just that she didn’t seem to be there yet and to let nature take it’s course if possible. Dogs have been living and dying long before the option of a house call from the vet came along. Yours still seems to find things she enjoys.

With a question like this we all have our own personal experience, either with our own pet or a person we love, and that’s going to affect our opinions. Deciding when it would no longer be better for something to continue is one of the hardest and most emotional decisions we have to make.

I hope in the end there’s no decision involved, but I’m sure with the advice from others you’ll make the right one if needed. Good luck.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Jeruba, as usual, has a great answer. On balance, when the poor animal whines and cries when she moves, or yelps for no apparent reason, she’s ready to go. You’ll know.

Zyx's avatar

@noelleptc Depression in animals is a very real thing and it’s really one of the only things I feel justifies euthanising an animal. Like you said, if she still get’s excited her life is still worth living. That’s not to say boring animals don’t deserve to live…

Most things die most peacefully when they die naturally by the way. This is no guarantee of course, since a doctor can circumvent most complications, but most things just go to sleep and never wake up. What’s more peaceful than that?

Tamara's avatar

That will be when the pet is suffering and when you know it is time to put the dog to sleep. Euthanizing a beloved senior dog is probably the most traumatic experience you’ll ever face in your time because you loved your dog well, you can’t avoid the pain that comes with such a loss. But the fact that such losses are painful doesn’t mean you also must subject yourself.

And just in case you don’t want to make the drive to the animal clinic due to the sorrow by looking at your dog knowing it is it’s last day, there are vets who will come to your house and perform euthanizations. On the other hand if you are thinking about putting your dog to sleep yourself in your home first consult with a vet. If I was in your situation, I couldn’t end the dogs life in my home. I don’t know if you could do it knowing it would be a challenge for me of choosing yes or no since it is not my job compared to the vets that euthanize pets daily.

Blueroses's avatar

Gosh, I’m sorry @noelleptc. It is such a difficult decision and my heart aches for you.
Perhaps this might help?

Big hugs for you.

submariner's avatar

I agree with preVenger about the concrete signs that would show that your dog is ready to pass. It sounds like she’s not ready to go yet. My dog showed those signs one morning and passed on her own in my arms that night. She was 15 and her health had been deteriorating for the previous three months, but I’m thankful that I didn’t put her down before she was ready to go.

I haven’t tried the vet’s housecall, but it sounds like it might be a good idea for some.

I’m not sure why finding that your dog died in her sleep would be so terrible, as long as she went peacefully. I’ve heard that some dogs try to hide when their time comes. We can’t be sure what this means, but maybe some prefer to be alone in their final moments.

Mikewlf337's avatar

When the dog has no quality of life left. When the dog is suffering constantly. I had to put my dog to sleep at 11 because she had cancer and was in constant suffering. It was so hard watching her suffer in terrible pain that coming to the decision to have her put down was easy. I still cried when she died. If your dog still has quality of life I would not have her put down. I prefer to let them die naturally. To me putting a dog down is playing God. I will only euthanize a pet if they are in tremendous suffering. 17 years old is very old for a dog. I had a German Shepherd mix live to be 20!

preVenger's avatar

@noelleptc The Christmas stuff hasnt really started for me yet. Though, it does get really old answering the age-old question, “Were you born on Xmas?” no. February. Some brave souls will burst into song. Also, a little unnerving when I hear choirs of angels singing The First Noel over the loudspeaker when out shopping : ) We all have our little crosses to bear.

I had a great dane with kidney problems. His bed was basically his diaper for the night. I did blanket and towel laundry for two years. I knew it was time when he no longer watched me cross the room. His tail no longer thumped at the sound of my voice. And, on the way to the vet on his last day, I stopped at Arbys and got him a roast beef sandwich. He didnt want it. Tears streamed down my cheeks. It gave me some comfort that it was absolutely the right time.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I think it’s sad when anyone dies, but children and animals hit me especially hard. Neither of them can tell you what’s wrong, just look at you with eyes full of suffering, and with that hopeful look that you can make it all go away. : (

Plucky's avatar

I truly believe that, when the time comes, you will know. I’m sorry you are dealing with this. There isn’t much else I can add to what others posted.

Blueroses's avatar

I do get the not wanting to “find”. I alternated between wanting my boy to go in his sleep and contrasting that with “I don’t want to find him dead” (read, my guilt of not wanting him to die alone). What you won’t know, until it happens, is that finding the ‘shell’ can be a peaceful thing at the end of life. Relieving you of making the hardest decision.

CaptainHarley's avatar


True, and the same is true of humans, only you are not allowed to end their suffering, so that when they finally do die, it’s almost a type of guilty relief that they are free.

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chyna's avatar

My heart goes out to you. This is a very hard thing to do. I hope you have someone with you, you will need their support. {{{hugs}}}

funkdaddy's avatar

@noelleptc – So sorry. Take good care of her and remember the good times you’ve spent together.

rooeytoo's avatar

I always get them a steak and let them have it bone and all then hold their paw when they go.

Just make sure the vet tranquilizes the dog first! It only happens rarely that a dog will have an adverse reaction to the euthansia drug but when it does it is not a nice way to remember your dog’s last minutes on earth. Sometimes vets don’t like to be told how to do the job, but you are the customer and you can have it your way.

submariner's avatar

“If there are no dogs in heaven, then I want to go where they went.” —Will Rogers

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Mikewlf337's avatar

@noelleptc I’m so sorry. You are doing the right thing. :(

rooeytoo's avatar

@noelleptc – good on ya, it makes me cry just thinking of you and your pup

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Mikewlf337's avatar

@noelleptc She’s at peace and without pain. Still I am sad to hear this. Again I am so sorry.

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tinyfaery's avatar

My condolences. :(

Coloma's avatar

Awww…—sniff sniff—-, always so hard to say goodbye.

Peace to you.

Cruiser's avatar

Sorry for your loss @noelleptc

amyborne's avatar

So sad. Can’t think of my dog getting old. I feel for you. :(

rooeytoo's avatar

I just lost my big Red dog last week. This poem helped me.

You’re giving me a special gift,
So sorrowfully endowed,
And through these last few cherished days,
Your courage makes me proud.

But really, love is knowing
When your best friend is in pain,
And understanding earthly acts
Will only be in vain.
So looking deep into your eyes,
Beyond, into your soul,
I see in you the magic that will
Once more make me whole.

The strength that you possess,
this why I look to you today,
To do this thing that must be done,
For it’s the only way.
That strength is why I’ve followed you,
And chose you for my friend,
And why I loved you all these years…
My partner ‘til the end.

Please, understand just what this gift, You’re giving , means to me,
It gives me back the strength I’ve lost,
And all my dignity.
You take a stand on my behalf,
For that is what friends do.
And know that what you do is right,
For I believe it too.

So one last time, I breath your scent,
And through your hand I feel,
The courage that’s within you,
To now grant me this appeal.
Cut the leash that holds me here,

Dear friend, and let me run,
Once more a strong and steady dog,
My pain and struggle gone.

And don’t despair my passing,
For I won’t be far away,
Forever here, within your heart,
And memory I will stay.

I’ll be there watching over you,
Your ever faithful friend,
And in your memories I will run,
….. a young dog once again……

Author unknown

chyna's avatar

@rooeytoo So sorry for your loss.

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Blueroses's avatar

Oh, @rooeytoo
I’m sorry. It’s a design flaw that dogs don’t live as long as we do. Or, they don’t have as much to learn here and they’re done with this life sooner.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Blueroses – I think you hit the nail on the head, they simply don’t have as much to learn!

Thank you all for your kind words. It is a week now and I can talk about him without crying. He was getting so frail and demanded so much attention, it is a bit of a relief that he is gone. Now the other 2 can always go with us in the car, it was a chore getting the big dog in and out. And I know some will consider this crass but it is the way my head works, I am thinking about the next dog we will add to our family, what kind will it be and how old will it be when we find each other. I grieve mightily but when I am finished, I am ready to move on. But Red will always go with us, in spirit and his ashes too. His collar and tags have been retired and a lock of his fur is kept with a lock from other dogs I have loved and lost. I know, I am a little nuttso, but I am harmless!

FrankLiso's avatar

I’m very sorry for your loss as are most of the people that responded. You’ll know when it’s time because, you’ll look at your dog and you will see the pain and fear in their eyes. And you can’t bare watch them suffer anymore. My Maggie had stage 4 Cancer of the spine I didn’t know it until two weeks before she past. I can’t tell you the guilt I felt for not knowing there was anything wrong with her. In those last two weeks, the pain she felt couldn’t be hidden and that’s how I found out. She didn’t want to leave us, And having the Vet come to our home to let her sleep in peace was one of the hardest decisions of my life. It’s been three years, I’m still upset, I still miss her everyday. But, I did the right thing for her, I loved her like a child and always will. So, do it when you know it’s the right thing to do.

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