Making the decision to put your dog down is probably one of the most difficult decisions any of us will have to make.
In order to know when it’s time, it is important to know the signs of suffering. It is also important to know when all treatment options have been exhausted.
When It’s Time—The Signs of Suffering
There are a few tell-tale signs that your dog is ready to transition.
Prolonged lack of appetite
Absence of joy or happiness
Inability to ambulate
Restlessness, pacing, constant state of anxiety
Unrelenting pain, reluctance to move, crying, moaning, panting, and aggression when touched
Hiding and avoiding human contact
If your dog has a terminal illness and the symptoms can no longer be controlled with medications, then it is time.
If your geriatric dog starts to show any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you have him or her seen by a veterinarian ASAP. There may be something you can do to manage their condition before they deteriorate further.
When It May Not Be The Right Time
The Aging Dog
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of humane euthanasia. The best we can do for our dogs is prevent arthritis by supporting their joints before they start to show symptoms.
This is accomplished by: A high quality diet. This could be a raw diet, a human grade dehydrated diet, a fresh whole foods diet or a balanced home cooked diet. Avoid highly processed diets such as dry kibble. Joint supplements such as high quality omega 3s (green-lipped mussels or krill oil), joint supplements (chondroitin, glucosamine, curcumin) and high quality probiotic. Annual or biannual check-ups that include blood work, urinalysis and sometimes radiographs Avoid over-vaccination. Pets in their geriatric years should not be vaccinated. End stage arthritis often requires a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and daily pain medications.
Check out my blog article on arthritis for more details.
If your dog is suffering from arthritis, and you have not tried any or all of these treatments, then it may not be the right time for euthanasia…
Acute Injury or Illness
As an emergency veterinarian, I see daily cases of acute injury or illness. These scenarios have different considerations than that of the aging dog.
The majority of dogs that come to me with acute injury or illness can be fixed.
However, there are other things to consider. One is the quality of life afterward and the long term prognosis. The guardian must be willing to put in the effort necessary to care for an animal during the recovery phase and must be willing to manage any permanent disabilities.
Another consideration is expense. If expense is your limiting factor, then consider options for financial assistance. My non-profit Healing Haven Animal Foundation was started for the purpose of helping owners afford urgent, life-saving care for their pets. Finances should not dictate the life of an animal. Purchasing pet insurance is the best way to avoid making financial decisions for your dog.
I do see dog guardians feel obligated to elect humane euthanasia if they feel their dog is suffering. However, in the cases of acute injury or illness, I urge owners not to rush to “end their suffering”. If they can be fixed, their pain can be controlled during the healing process.
I tell owners, “if you could ask your dog if he wants to fight for his life or just give up, what do you think he would say?” Younger dogs with acute conditions would often choose to fight, in my opinion. And I believe they deserve that chance.
Just because humane euthanasia is an option for dogs, doesn’t always mean it is the right one.
When the Time Is Right, How Can You Ensure the Most Peaceful Transition?
Home Euthanasia is by far the most peaceful way to help your best friend pass without fear or stress.
I started a home euthanasia business several years ago after providing the service for a friend’s aggressive dog. The experience of allowing this dog to stay home in his own bed surrounded by his loved ones was so beautiful. He did not become aggressive because he did not feel fear. This was a much different scenario than if he had been taken into a clinic.
After this experience, I felt the need to offer this service regularly. Now I have a busy home euthanasia business that provides many dogs with the peaceful transition they deserve.
You may be thinking, “what a morbid job.” Yes, I admit it is sad. I often have tears in my eyes on my way home. However, it is also rewarding to offer support to dog guardians going through this, and it is a privilege to witness the love in the room when a dog is peacefully let go.
When we bring a dog into our life, we know that at some point we will have to say goodbye. It’s the heartbreak of loving a dog.
All we can do is keep our dogs as healthy as possible, be equipped with the knowledge to know when it’s time, and then provide the most peaceful transition possible.
And when you do make the difficult decision to let your dog go, do it without regret. Your dog is grateful for the difficult decision you had to make to ease their suffering.
If you would like to discuss humane euthanasia, please feel free to reach out to me. I can help you decide if the time is right or if there is more we can do. In-Home Euthanasia
By Dr. Loudon|2022-06-01T18:33:22-04:00June 1st, 2022|Pet Health|Comments Off on The Hardest Decision You Will Make for Your Dog