Dog Euthanasia: When Is It Time?

After hearing your veterinarian’s diagnosis that your dog has a chronic condition, disease, or cancer, you may be wondering when is the right time to consider dog euthanasia?

When Is It Time to Euthanize Your Dog?

Usually when your dog is experiencing constant daily pain, has been experiencing discomfort due to an incurable disease, or having difficulties with general daily activities such eating, going to the bathroom, or walking, you may want to consider euthanasia for your dog. 

Other signs that your dog may be suffering are: vomiting, diarrhea, refusal to eat and drink, weight loss, or a loss of interest and joy in their daily activities.

Sick Whippet dog lying on bed

How to Assess Your Dog’s Quality of Life

Quality of life means your pet has a certain standard of health, comfort and happiness. When considering the quality of life of your dog, look at these markers: physical, emotional, mental, and social. If your dog is deprived of these, then you should talk to your veterinarian about options for end of life care. 

Paws into Grace veterinarians offer Quality of Life Assessments, where they discuss your pet’s diagnosis, prognosis, and what is likely to happen in the upcoming months. They can offer advice about treatment and help you to make decision about the end of life phase. Oftentimes, your veterinarian will also be able to provide an assessment based on their current health history. However, because Paws into Grace specializes in end of life care specifically, we can help you come to a decision or create a timeline for the near future. 

Steps in Assessing Your Pet’s Quality of Life

To help with your assessment, here are the things that you should take into consideration when looking into euthanasia. Remember the acronym ‘HHHHHMM’: You can create a checklist using these questions:

  • Hurt: Is your dog in constant and unmanageable pain? Do they have trouble breathing? Do they avoid touch in certain areas?
  • Hunger: Is your dog eating enough? Do they it need to be encouraged to eat? How often are they eating and how much?
  • Hydration: Is drinking difficult for your dog? Does it need liquid supplements to maintain hydration? How does it respond to those fluids? Remember, dehydration can affect your dog faster than starvation.
  • Hygiene: Is your dog having difficulty controlling their bowels? Do they have sores, lumps, or open wounds? If so, do they smell? 
  • Happiness: Are they still interested games and exercise? Do they respond to your call? Do they get excited about the things they used to?
  • Mobility: A healthy and active dog does not need assistance when getting up, walking, or running. Are they stumbling when walking or running? Can they get up by themselves? 
  • More Good Days Than Bad: If your dog is having more bad days than good, then their quality of life is likely affected. If they are continuously suffering from pain, discomfort, or the effects of a terminal illness or chronic disease, you may want to consider euthanasia. 

Two persons lying on a bed petting a white dog

Why You Shouldn’t Wait a Long Time

Delaying euthanasia can put your dog at risk for further pain and complications from illness.  

Here are some risks that may arise by delaying euthanasia: 

  • Emergency situations can arise quickly. These are things such as breathing difficulty and seizures
  • Your dog may experience suffering and risk passing away on their own if you are away from the home or sleeping.  
  • Your family may not get to say goodbye to your pet depending on the circumstances and when they pass. 

To prevent your dog from suffering from these unfortunate circumstances, it’s best to work with a veterinary expert that focuses on end-of-life care to ensure a peaceful transition. You can either bring your pet to a clinic or let your dog spend its last days at your loving home. 

Why You Should Consider Home Euthanasia

Pets have favorite spots in their home. It could be the cupboard under the stairs or a tattered couch in the sun room. Instead of an unfamiliar veterinarians’ office, we encourage families to choose home euthanasia. With in-home euthanasia services at Paws into Grace, you can let your dog enjoy their final moments in the comfort of the place they love. They don’t have to move or experience further discomfort while traveling. 

We know that seeing your dog in pain can be challenging. Paws into Grace can help determine when it’s time to euthanize your dog using a Quality of Life Evaluation. We offer a number of pet care options, including hospice, compassionate euthanasia, and cremation

 

Related Questions

How Can I Honor My Dog?

Aside from pictures and videos, you can keep some of your pet’s favorite dog toys or blankets. Another option is memorial items that you can easily carry with you wherever you are, including paw print paperweights or a nose print necklace.

Is It Too Soon to Put My Dog Down?

After speaking with a veterinarian that specializes in end of life care and evaluating past medical records, you should be able to determine your dog’s quality of life. Our goal at Paws into Grace is to help your pet avoid suffering, so we recommend scheduling an appointment upon identification of common end of life signs: anorexia (not eating or drinking), immobility in the hind legs, incontinence, or a combination of these are the most common signs we see. If these conditions are ongoing, euthanasia saves your dog from unnecessary suffering, severe organ damage, and also avoids emergency situations. 

Do Dogs Know When They Are Dying?

Dogs can sense when they are dying.  Depending on the amount of pain, some dogs will tend to be more attached to their owner while some prefer to hide and isolate themselves. 

What Does a Dog Feel When Being Put To Sleep?

Your dog will feel the needle of the first injection, which is a combination of pain medication and sedative. This first injection is very quick and will help relieve your dog’s pain and cause him to gently drift to sleep within 10-15 minutes.  Once your dog is entirely asleep, the veterinarian will insert an IV catheter to administer the second injection, which helps your dog go from sleeping to peacefully passing. After this, the veterinarian will allow your family time to say goodbye. 

Conclusion

There is no perfect time to euthanize your dog. It is a very difficult and personal decision. However, you can eliminate a lot of stress by using these tools to assess your dog’s quality of life, speaking to a veterinarian that specializes in end of life care, and creating a plan for your dog to have a peaceful transition at the end of their life. 

Testimonials

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who... read more

Renee C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him... read more

Diane C.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but... read more

Terry A.

Renee C.

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who came out to the house. She was so understanding and supportive. They were all so helpful, understanding and nice. My girl got to stay at home and say goodbye in the backyard (a hummingbird flew over and it seemed like a good sign too). So glad I didn't have to take her to a cold vet office.

Diane C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him with more medications which would make him even more miserable. I called and spoke to a very kind lady who was patient as I cried through making an appointment. We made an appointment for 1:30pm. Dr. Toni arrived. She was very kind, explained everything to us and gave us the time to be with our boy after the first shot. He wasn't relaxing enough so she gave him a second shot. We stayed with him throughout the entire process and I carried him to her car in the end. It was a very difficult decision but knowing that our boy is not in pain, gives us some peace. We are thankful to Dr. Toni for her kindness and compassion. They will arrange the cremation for us. Since we are in a pandemic, we had our masks on and said goodbye to our boy in our garden.

Terry A.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but before she attached the IV. We were relieved that we made the decision to let her go to doggy heaven at home. It was a tranquil and serene passing for her, and it very much aids us in the grieving and healing process knowing that she passed away so peacefully. Based on the grace and compassion Dr. Brown demonstrated on one of the most awful days of our lives we would not hesitate to recommend Paws Into Grace for others facing this very painful time.
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