When It's Time to Let Go of Your Dog

A caucasian woman holding a dog

You are probably concerned about your dog's quality of life, whether your dog is senior or merely has health difficulties. You could be thinking to yourself, "Should I put my dog down?" When is it OK to say farewell to a cherished pet?

It might be difficult to make the decision to put a suffering pet to sleep humanely. Euthanasia is, in fact, one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make for your pet. This question does not have a "one-size-fits-all" response. When it comes down to it, the decision is based on facts in part and "gut instinct" in part. Your attachment with your dog is really strong. You are the expert on your canine buddy. When your pet stops having fun, you'll notice. Finally, you'll probably know when it's time in your heart. However, there are several factors that might assist you in making your selection.

Euthanasia Due to Illness or Injury

Something must be done to ease a pet's suffering when his or her quality of life begins to deteriorate due to sickness or injury. A major medical condition, such as a terminal disease or a serious accident, will have an adverse effect on a pet's quality of life. Loss of food, lack of interest in playmates, toys, or other people, reclusive behavior, increased pain, and despair are all common indications of low quality of life. Euthanasia is often considered after alternative possibilities for increasing quality of life are exhausted. A talk regarding euthanasia with your veterinarian and family is necessary in a number of scenarios.

  • Chronic or terminal illness: A dog with a terminal disease may temporarily respond to treatment. However, the dog may eventually stop responding to all available treatments or even get worse because of treatments. Consider keeping journal or log of your dog's daily behavior, energy level, appetite, etc. When you are noticing more bad days than good days, it might be time to start thinking about euthanasia.
  • Old age: Various health problems tend to come with old age, so it is important that your senior dog visits the vet often and on a routine. If your pet is slowing down, and your vet cannot determine a specific, curable condition, you may just need to offer supportive care. An elderly pet can still enjoy life, but when you see a more dramatic decline, you will know the time is near.
  • Major injury: If a dog has a serious injury that is considered untreatable, your vet might recommend euthanasia. Usually, these are traumatic injuries that cause pain or impede basic functions like mobility and control of bodily functions. Sometimes, good nursing care at home can help maintain the quality of life for the injured dog. In other cases, the suffering cannot be relieved, and euthanasia is the most humane choice.
  • Financial issues: Veterinary care can become very expensive, especially long-term care. If the cost of treatment is causing a hardship for your family, that does not mean euthanasia is your only choice. Start by speaking with your vet about your situation and ask about less costly options. There are also some cases where financial assistance or financing (such as CareCredit) is available. However, in some cases, the only option left is humane euthanasia.

Euthanasia Due to Behavior Problems

Some dog owners are considering euthanasia due to unmanageable behavioural issues. While the majority of behavioral issues may be controlled over time, there are rare instances where euthanasia is the only option. Euthanasia, on the other hand, should be a last option. Before making a permanent and irrevocable decision that you could regret, seek the advice of a competent dog trainer or behaviorist. A trained specialist can assist you in determining if the habit can be changed or if euthanasia is the most compassionate and ethical option.

Making the Final Choice

You may decide that euthanasia is in your pet's best interests after some serious soul-searching, heart-to-heart discussions with your veterinarian, and candid family discussions. It's common to experience tremendous feelings of guilt and despair.

Spend some time chatting to your dog if you have the opportunity. Some people may find this unusual, but a pet can pick up a lot just the tone of your voice. Furthermore, speaking aloud may assist you in processing information. Allow time for family members to say their final goodbyes. Consult your veterinarian about what to expect before, during, and after the euthanasia procedure.

Following that, the mourning process will commence. Consider doing something special to honor your one-of-a-kind and cherished buddy. You made your decision because you love your dog, and she would most certainly thank you if she could.