When It’s Time For Euthanasia

When my beloved dog began to falter, lose his appetite, and became lethargic, I consulted my vet who had been taking care of him for 10 years. She said, “You’ll know when it’s time for euthanasia because you’ve been so close to your dog all these years.”

Dog euthanasia, or as most people prefer to call it – “putting a dog to sleep” – can be a very emotional time for any dog owner. Facing the mortality of a beloved pet dog is not an easy responsibility to accept, especially if you have been very close to your canine companion for many years. Although the sudden death of a pet – from a heart attack for example – can be traumatic, some owners would prefer this rather than having to make the choice of euthanizing their pet or not.

There are two very good reasons to consider putting your pet to sleep:

1. Illness
2. Old Age

In the case of a serious and incurable illness such as cancer, the decision to humanely end your dog’s life is often times the hardest. The tendency is always to prolong the life of your pet as long as possible, even when your life-long companion becomes extremely ill and is suffering terribly.

As dog lovers, we consciously or subconsciously equate making the choice to put a beloved pet to death with doing the same to a parent or loved one who is terminally ill. This seems strange to those who have never loved a dog, but anyone who has spent years with their pet understands the emotional connection.

Growing old is a natural part of life for humans and animals. But when your dog reaches or has surpassed the normal lifespan for its breed and begins to show signs of serious deterioration, you should begin to prepare yourself for the eventuality of euthanasia. When your pet can no longer manage to go outside to take care of its bodily functions and begins to lose interest in eating – especially if it has always had a voracious appetite – these are signs that your pet is reaching the end of its life.

As difficult as it is for a dog’s owner, deciding when it’s time for euthanasia and making the decision to put your terminally ill dog to sleep, is the kindest and best decision for your faithful companion. The actual procedure is painless and your dog will no longer suffer with daily pain. The welfare and quality of your dog’s life should be your main concern when making the decision to humanely put your pet to sleep.

Some questions you should ask yourself that will help in making the decision of choosing to euthanize your pet:
1. Does the cost of your pet’s medical treatment make it impossible for you to provide the care needed?

2. Is your pet’s medical condition getting worse with time?

3. Are any medical treatments your dog is undergoing, or has undergone, improving your pet’s medical condition and lessening its pain?

4. Is your pet’s medical condition no longer responding to treatments or therapy?

Your responses to these questions can help you make the right decision. If you answered yes to all the questions, you should at least discuss euthanasia with your veterinarian.

If, after consulting with your vet, you come to the decision that it’s time for euthanasia, you will instinctively know it is the humane and best thing for your pet. You may want to consider “In home euthanasia.” This is an alternative to taking your sick pet to the vet and saying goodbye to a life-long companion, then leaving the animal hospital alone without your pet by your side as you had done on every prior visit to the vet.

Spending the final moments of your dog’s life in your home where you two have spent so much time together is sometimes the most comfortable setting for many dog owners; and it also can be best for your pet.

If in-home euthanasia is a choice you would like to make, ask your vet if he or she will come to your home to administer the euthanasia solution.

There are some factors that you need to consider if you do decide on in-home euthanasia:
What will you do with your pet’s remains? Will they be buried? Cremated? Disposed of by the vet?

Will restraints be required to calm your pet while the needle is inserted into its vein?

Can you afford the cost of the veterinarian coming to your home?

Are you prepared to deal with your pet should it become defensive about the procedure?

Should you decide to put your pet down at home, do everything you can to make it a comfortable, loving atmosphere for your companion. Putting your pet to sleep at home can be the best solution to ending the life of one who has meant so much to you because you can be with your pet until the very end. But make certain that it is the best choice for the pet as well.

The advantage of choosing to have the procedure performed in your veterinarian’s office is that the staff is trained in the protocol of pet euthanasia and will know how to care for your dog during the procedure and will be respectful of the last moments you spend with your pet.

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