Situations in Which You May Have to Euthanize Your Dog

While some dogs die of old age in the comfort of their own home, many others happen to reach such a situation in life in which waiting for them to reach that state is more suffering than happiness. 

Oftentimes, it can happen that a dog becomes seriously ill, gets critically injured, which can result in a significantly diminished quality of life as they grow very old. In situations like these, it might be time for you to consider if having your dog euthanized in order to spare it from pain and suffering is a better option for your pet. 

Even just thinking about euthanizing your dog can be extremely painful, but sometimes, doing so is the only way to ensure that your dog doesn’t suffer anymore. Through talking with your vet, your friends, and family, and by doing the research necessary, you are going to be able to make the right decision. That’s why, in this article, we are going to talk about this serious topic, in order to help you understand your options better.

Have you noticed a drastic change in behavior? 

Tracking behavior changes can oftentimes be quite a hard task, mostly due to the fact that these changes, in most cases, happen gradually. Having that in mind, it’s important for you to be vigilant if your pet is experiencing health issues in order to be able to notice any changes. We’ll talk about different aspects regarding significant changes in behavior later in the text, but right now, it’s important that you get to understand how to approach assessing these changes.

How to track down these changes?

It might be easiest for you to spot them by having a journal in which you are going to write about how your pet is feeling (regarding the situation in which their health is compromised – you don’t need to do this if your doggo is healthy). Start by tracking down the most prominent behavior aspects – all of which we are going to talk about in the following text.

It should be mentioned though – sudden and short-lasting change in behavior isn’t a clear indicator of whether you should euthanize your dog, but if the changes happen to worsen over time and progress as well, then, they might be a sign that your pet is suffering.

Monitor your dogs’ emotional state

If there are indications that your dog’s days might be over, it is imperative that you keep an eye on their emotional state. Try to see if your pet still enjoys the activities that they do and if so, be sure to take time for such activities.

The most obvious sign of your dogs’ emotional state being bad is crying and whining. These most usually tend to be signs of either pain or discomfort. Hence, it is essential for you to track how often your dog is showing these signs. On the other hand, some dogs may even become aggressive and defensive when they are feeling pain. 

If your dog is having a lot of mood swings from crying to anger, the probability is high that something is wrong. Regular erratic emotions like these are a reason enough for you to take your dog to the vet, if nothing, in order to determine if there are any temporary solutions to ease your pets’ pain. 

Are their eating and drinking habits affected?

Keeping a journal is especially useful when it comes to this factor due to the fact that it’s easy to determine. Have in mind that it’s not unusual for a dog to occasionally skip eating or not eat as much as usual. The moment where you should get worried is if this problem persists for more than three or four days, which is a good time to contact your vet – in extreme situations, feeding tubes might be necessary.

On the other hand, excessive drinking and eating might be problematic as well. When it comes to Cushing’s disease in dogs, they tend to have increased appetite and thirst. Nonetheless, if you happen to spot that this is happening, it’s necessary for you to ask your vet for an opinion – especially if it’s Cushing’s disease due to the possible complications.

Does your dog express pain and discomfort?

If you happen to notice that your dog is in pain, among other symptoms, it’s vital that you consult with your vet in order to determine whether he would benefit from any pain pills.

It’s important for you to have in mind, no matter how hard it is, that if your pet is suffering for quite some time with no hope of things getting better, you need to take everything into consideration in order to relieve your dog’s suffering, even if that means that it may be time to think about putting the dog to sleep.

Is your dog experiencing problems with mobility?

Decreased mobility might be a pretty dire sign that an animal is in a bad state, and if you happen to see that your dog is experiencing severe problems with moving around, it might be the time to consider euthanization. 

On the other hand though, if mobility is the only problem that they are experiencing, and they aren’t experiencing pain or sadness, mobility alone should not be the sole reason for euthanization. Instead, try and help your animal to move, think about different tools that are going to help them move around, or just carry them around, get them outside, help them experience the world as similar to they did beforehand. Losing mobility doesn’t need to mean losing joy.

How to know when it’s time?

After assessing all of these factors for quite some time, and if the situation isn’t getting better, or if it’s just getting worse, it’s time to think about steps that may follow. 

The best way to start is to talk to your veterinarian. They are the best-qualified person to help guide you to make a good decision as well as to get through this difficult process. Have in mind that, in some cases, your veterinarian is able to tell you definitively that it is time to euthanize your pet. In other cases though, you may ultimately need to make the decision based on your observances.

Should you choose to wait for a natural death?

This is quite a tough question, as it depends on so many different parameters. The most important one though may be the extent of suffering that your pet is experiencing. If the suffering is constant and having in mind that natural death can take a long time, euthanizing your dog might be the only way to spare them the suffering, even though it is an extremely hard decision to make.

How to say goodbye

The only right answer to saying goodbye to your dear pet is the one that makes sense for you.

Be there for your dog. Pet them, conjure up their favorite meal, enjoy your time with them – they are still there after all. The key to pushing through this is to understand the situation, and yet to be able to make the most of these moments with them, whatever they may be.

When it comes to whether you should be there when it happens, we know that it is painful, but your dog would probably appreciate you being there – but it is your choice in the end. 

Focusing on the good memories

In the end, after your dog has been euthanized, you need to try and think about the good things. This animal was more than that, it was your friend, your family, and nothing can take what that means away from you. The cycle of life dictates that these sad departures happen, but it also dictates many grand, wonderful memories, and by focusing on them, your friend will always be with you. No matter what.

Tim Hanson

Tim Hanson (32)

Contributing writer at Preferable Pups!