34 votes

When it's time to put your dog down?

She is a mixed breed (more pinscher) and is perhaps 16 or 17 years old.

She simply doesn't eat anymore. She went to the vet when this started and they found nothing. Gave her some appetite injection, she would eat for two days and stop. Went again and same thing.

I changed vets and he did blood work and everything was fine. He examined her throat with his hands because he didn't want to anesthetize a senior dog for a scan. He discovered a throat and ear infection. Treated and she started eating again, but only for a few weeks. She never gained her weight back.

Now she is only losing weight and not eating, it's been five days since she last eat something.

She sleeps almost all the time and is so thin and her back is so curved that when she drops her head to drink water her rear legs go up and she falls. We had to put the food and water up so she doesn't have any accidents.

She is so frail it's breaking my heart. I'm so afraid.

Update in the comments below, but I'm going to put it here too

Updating here: it happened today.

She got a little better and we didn't had the courage to do it when I made this thread. She was eating better.

But now she started having difficulties lying down and standing up. She would fall, couldn't lie down by herself. I had to help her.

This night her bed was a little wet and I figured she might have pissed while lying down.

Talked to the vet and she is gone forever.

But I didn't had the courage to watch and be with her during the procedure. I am dying inside because of this. I loved her so much, she was with us for almost 18 years...

I will never see her again.

Thanks for everything Meg and sorry for letting you down.

16 comments

  1. [7]
    patience_limited
    Link
    I'm so sorry you have to go through this; it's one of the hardest responsibilities for a pet owner to fulfill because you're their family. At the same time, we know intellectually that every...

    I'm so sorry you have to go through this; it's one of the hardest responsibilities for a pet owner to fulfill because you're their family.

    At the same time, we know intellectually that every creature has a life span, and all the indications are that your dog has reached the end of its natural life. Your heart will beg to differ.

    My experience, from forty or so years of pet ownership, is that when an very elderly (16+ years is very elderly for most of our four-legged companions) pet stops eating, it's time.

    You can make the error of trying to prolong the days you've got together indefinitely, at the expense of your dog's undergoing more painful medical procedures. But there will be an end.

    The greatest gift you can now give is to make that end painless, in the company of your love and some comforts your dog is familiar with. If you can, bring your dog to the vet with a well-used blanket or bedding, or anything that says "home".

    Also, please remember to take care of yourself - if you can, have a partner, friends, or family go with you. Losing a beloved animal companion is as bitter as losing any other family member. All you can do is remember the joy and love that you've shared.

    My thoughts and care are with you in this hard time.

    26 votes
    1. [2]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Here in Ontario, Canada, there are actually several mobile veterinary services available that will come to your house for just such occasions. We opted to do that a few years ago for our last dog,...

      If you can, bring your dog to the vet with a well-used blanket or bedding, or anything that says "home".

      Here in Ontario, Canada, there are actually several mobile veterinary services available that will come to your house for just such occasions. We opted to do that a few years ago for our last dog, Bella, when it was her time (she had an enlarged heart and was suffering increasingly frequent seizures as a result). It was the best decision we could have made under the circumstance, IMO.

      It wasn't easy (it never is)... but we got to spend a few quality hours with Bella in the morning before the vet showed up, when she arrived she fed Bella lots of treats and got to know her a bit first, and once Bella finally got used to her and calmed down, the vet gave us all the time we needed. When we were finally ready she injected Bella with a sedative to put her to sleep, followed by the rest. Bella died happy, comfortable, in a place she was familiar with, surrounded by loved ones, and AFAIK without any stress whatsoever.

      I don't know if the same type of service is available elsewhere, but if it is, I highly recommend it.

      15 votes
      1. Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I'll second the at-home service, we have a few here in Michigan as well. We used it recently for two kittens who had developed dry FIP and there was nothing anyone could do for them. It was...

        I'll second the at-home service, we have a few here in Michigan as well.

        We used it recently for two kittens who had developed dry FIP and there was nothing anyone could do for them. It was horrible and heart breaking, but at least we didn't have to stuff then in a carrier for another trip to an unfamiliar place after 2 months of blood draws, MRI scan, and a spinal tap.

        9 votes
    2. [4]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      When I was younger, my stepmother's dog was approaching the end of his life when he was roughly 17 to 18 years old. Poor old Lucky had gone blind, and at one point he had actually damaged his eye...

      When I was younger, my stepmother's dog was approaching the end of his life when he was roughly 17 to 18 years old. Poor old Lucky had gone blind, and at one point he had actually damaged his eye from running into something. That was in addition to the hip displatia inherent to his breed and the pains of extreme old age. Even so, my stepmother refused to have Lucky put down. Watching that dog blindly wandering around the house in constant pain was a horrible experience; I loved that dog too, but seeing him like that was too much; he was a real-life zombie, except he quite literally couldn't hurt a fly.

      It may seem like it's cruel to put down your pets. But in reality, it's far more cruel to make them suffer every day like that. Let me just say that there are far more terrible details I could go through, but I don't want to talk about them because there are just some things that you are better off not knowing. I know that a lot of what I'm saying sounds cruel but it really does come out of a place of love.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        patience_limited
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I've had older pets go through long periods of more or less treatable illness - hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney failure. I managed to see that they had good, active, comfortable lives, until...

        I've had older pets go through long periods of more or less treatable illness - hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney failure. I managed to see that they had good, active, comfortable lives, until they were clearly in decline.

        But I still deeply regret putting a cat through months of chemotherapy for cancer. Ultimately, that was about my needs, not about being a compassionate caregiver and companion. We can't speak with our animals, not really, and it's easy to project our own desires and wishes when trying to understand if they have an acceptable quality of life. I'd like to think I could do better if I had to make those decisions again, but I understand that none of us are really capable of setting aside the desire to fight the loss of loved ones.

        7 votes
        1. [2]
          rogue_cricket
          Link Parent
          I agree re: your needs versus the animal's needs. I struggled with kind of the opposite thing, worrying that maybe I had been too hasty. I had a cat who developed a cancerous stomach tumour and I...

          I agree re: your needs versus the animal's needs. I struggled with kind of the opposite thing, worrying that maybe I had been too hasty. I had a cat who developed a cancerous stomach tumour and I made the very difficult decision to put her down rather than put her through treatment... she started life as a stray so we weren't sure how old she was, but definitely older than twelve and maybe as old as sixteen.

          The vet assured me that she wasn't in a lot of pain yet, but told me that it would only get worse. She had stopped eating and you could see the bulge of the tumour by the time we took her in. I worried at the time I did it too early and that she might have had a bit of life left in her yet, but in retrospect, I also believe that in order to be 100% certain I would have had to see her suffering more. So it would have been trading in my peace of mind for her quality of life. It is so so hard to make the right call.

          Having pets can be so bittersweet, they're such a source of joy and love but their lifespans are so short. RIP Snoop Lion. :(

          7 votes
          1. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            It was the right time. If she had stopped eating, that meant eating was causing her discomfort or pain. And not eating, itself, was only going to make things worse.

            She had stopped eating

            It was the right time. If she had stopped eating, that meant eating was causing her discomfort or pain. And not eating, itself, was only going to make things worse.

            3 votes
  2. seizethegoddamngap
    Link
    It's time. I'm in tears for you. I've had to put two dogs down, and it's incredibly hard, but there's just no quality of life anymore for your pup. Give them as fantastic a last day as you can, a...

    It's time.

    I'm in tears for you. I've had to put two dogs down, and it's incredibly hard, but there's just no quality of life anymore for your pup. Give them as fantastic a last day as you can, a cheeseburger with all the fixings (if they will eat it), and be with them at the end. I will never ever regret being with my 2 dogs when they were put to sleep.

    Now I'm going to go hug my pup for the rest of the night and will send good vibes your way.

    18 votes
  3. Algernon_Asimov
    (edited )
    Link
    I feel you. I've been there. When my cat turned 17, he started developing health problems. The first one was able to be medicated. So I, a needle-phobe, started giving my cat daily injections....

    I feel you. I've been there.

    When my cat turned 17, he started developing health problems. The first one was able to be medicated. So I, a needle-phobe, started giving my cat daily injections. However, some months later, he developed another health problem which was unable to be medicated. He started losing weight and becoming frail. And he kept looking at me with those sad, sad eyes.

    It's heart-breaking watching your beloved pet go through this. I'm getting a bit teary-eyed just at the memory of it.

    And then there's the big question of "when". When is the right time? How long do you let them suffer? That makes it even worse. I watched my cat get worse and worse every week, every day, always wondering if today was the right day. Then, finally, after one particular night, there was no more doubt.

    I'm sorry you're going through this. Give her lots of hugs. Remind her that she's loved. She needs that right now - and so do you.

    I'd like to offer one suggestion. Does your vet make house calls? Mine did. When the time came for my cat to take his last sleep, he was able to do so on my lap, in the comfort of his home. No stressful trip to the vet. Just calm and peace at home. Find out if you can do that for your dog. She'll appreciate it, and so will you.

    And, now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get a tissue.

    EDIT: Wow. It's been over 9 years and those memories still get to me.

    15 votes
  4. vivaria
    Link
    We had to put my (18-year old) cat down last year. My line was crossed when our options narrowed down to "have to give her medications to keep her pain-free and okay and functioning" and "regular...

    We had to put my (18-year old) cat down last year. My line was crossed when our options narrowed down to "have to give her medications to keep her pain-free and okay and functioning" and "regular surgeries/treatments/vet visits to keep her alive." At that point, I was worried we were putting her through a lot just to squeeze a little more time out for our own personal needs. It felt wrong to hold her and shove meds down her throat. At that point, it wasn't a quick bit of first-aid and then she's back to normal... instead, it felt a little "Weekend at Bernie's"-ish where her time had already come, but we were forcing her to go along with our own plans like a marionette...

    So, at that point, we did our best to transition from resistance to acceptance, and spent a lot of time focusing on appreciating her and the time we spent together. We reminisced about the life she had, and how lucky we were to spend as much time with her as we did. We did our best to make sure her last moments were as pleasurable and comfortable as possible. Just... doing the best we could to cope with grief, and making sure we acknowledged we were acting in her best interests instead of ours. It was messy and confusing but that's normal and okay.

    This guide seems to resonate with what I experienced, and could possibly be helpful for you, too: https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/coping-loss-pet

    15 votes
  5. [4]
    crdpa
    Link
    Updating here: it happened today. She got a little better and we didn't had the courage to do it when I made this thread. She was eating better. But now she started having difficulties lying down...

    Updating here: it happened today.

    She got a little better and we didn't had the courage to do it when I made this thread. She was eating better.

    But now she started having difficulties lying down and standing up. She would fall, couldn't lie down by herself. I had to help her.

    This night her bed was a little wet and I figured she might have pissed while lying down.

    Talked to the vet and she is gone forever.

    But I didn't had the courage to watch and be with her during the procedure. I am dying inside because of this. I loved her so much, she was with us for almost 18 years...

    I will never see her again.

    Thanks for everything Meg and sorry for letting you down.

    12 votes
    1. [3]
      ohyran
      Link Parent
      <3 If you where here I'd hug you, but you're not. So this is the best I can do <3

      <3 If you where here I'd hug you, but you're not. So this is the best I can do <3

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        crdpa
        Link Parent
        Thanks. It means a lot. I know it was the right choice, but I can't help feeling guilty.

        Thanks. It means a lot. I know it was the right choice, but I can't help feeling guilty.

        1 vote
        1. ohyran
          Link Parent
          :/ yeah. Guilt is horrible but speak to your vet, family or a therapist and all of them are sure to say the same thing: you did the best thing by your dog. As horrid as it feels, it was the right...

          :/ yeah. Guilt is horrible but speak to your vet, family or a therapist and all of them are sure to say the same thing: you did the best thing by your dog. As horrid as it feels, it was the right choice.
          But grieve, then remember all those awesome years you two had. How happy she was with you, and you with her. You where both part of that equation - your for her and she for you. Which makes "you" as precious, relevant and wonderful as her.

          The hard part about being human, is that we sometimes have to do the choices that are the best, not the ones that makes us feel the best - its what makes us human sometimes. That we have to make these choices and then cope with the grief of them. It's why we got tear ducts and friends to hug.

          <3

          2 votes
  6. ubergeek
    Link
    This is my rule of thumb for all of my pets: If they are not enjoying life, it's time. Dogs want to do dog things, like chasing rabbits, eating everything they see, getting belly rubs, etc. If...

    This is my rule of thumb for all of my pets:

    If they are not enjoying life, it's time. Dogs want to do dog things, like chasing rabbits, eating everything they see, getting belly rubs, etc.

    If they arent, it's time.

    7 votes
  7. Diet_Coke
    Link
    Really sorry to read this. The pain you are feeling about your furry buddy is the weight of all the love you have for her, coming down on you at once. IMO give her the best day she can possibly...

    Really sorry to read this. The pain you are feeling about your furry buddy is the weight of all the love you have for her, coming down on you at once. IMO give her the best day she can possibly have, whether that means just being curled up on the couch together or whatever she can handle. Then ease her transition to the best of your ability. If you have the option, be with her when the vets do their thing so you can comfort her one last time. Again, really sorry to read this. It's never easy, but that's only because you really love them.

    7 votes