When to Euthanize a Dog With Cancer

Knowing your pet has cancer is heartbreaking, especially when treatment doesn’t seem to work anymore. However, thinking about whether you should consider euthanasia for your dog can be equally agonizing. We’re going to explain how you can decide when to euthanize a dog with cancer.

When to Euthanize a Dog With Cancer

It may be time to euthanize your dog with cancer if there’s unmanageable physical pain, unremovable tumor, and continuous decline of your pet’s quality of life. These may come with lethargy, incontinence, refusal to eat, or difficulty breathing. 

You’re the best advocate for your pet’s well-being. Aside from specific signs tied to the type of cancer, there are behavioral and physical signs that can help you decide if euthanizing your dog with cancer is the right decision. A man in blue scrub suit holding a black and brown German Shepherd

Physical Indicators to Euthanize Dogs With Cancer

The physical signs are the most evident factors that will let you see if it’s time to consider euthanasia for a dog with cancer. These physical effects may cause uncontrollable pain, making your canine friend downright miserable.

Complete Refusal or Inability to Eat

There may be instances where appetite stimulants or diet changes won’t encourage your dog to eat. This is one of cancer’s effects that can lead to more issues.

  • Decreased appetite resulting in weight loss and discomfort
  • Frequent vomiting or diarrhea resulting in dehydration
  • Complete loss of interest in treats or favorite food

Lethargy or Lack of Movement

This can be an effect of your dog’s inability to eat. You may consider euthanasia if this reluctance to move impairs your pet’s quality of life. 

Despite pain management, dogs suffering from osteosarcoma will have their bones destroyed from the inside out. Eventually, your pet will limp or have difficulty moving its limbs. Moreover, your normally active dog can experience extreme fatigue and take no interest in its usual physical activities.

Difficulty Breathing

This is a major factor to consider euthanizing your dog, particularly if your pet suffers from lung or heart disease.

The large lymph nodes can block the throat if your dog has end-stage lymphoma. A close-up view of brown and white dog lying on a teal wood surface

Incontinence

Dogs with cancer can have unusually overactive bodily functions, causing the involuntary passing of urine or feces. 

Incontinence can cause a variety of problems, including skin diseases and the risk of urinary tract infections. Soiled pet bedding and constant cleaning can also take a toll on you as a caregiver.

Emotional and Behavioral Signs to Euthanize Dogs With Cancer

Your dog’s behavior and your emotional preparedness may also help you decide the right time to euthanize your dog with cancer.

Drastic Decline in Quality of Life

Have you exhausted every way to improve your pet’s well-being, and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel?

Consider euthanasia for your dog with cancer if their quality of life isn’t getting better. Some dogs may also struggle to keep up with treatments, including surgical removal of tumors, amputation, or radiation therapy. If chemotherapy doesn’t seem to lean toward remission, it may be best to consider euthanasia.

Fear of Letting Go

The deep emotional bond between pets and humans can sometimes hinder you from making the tough decisions around end-of-life plans for your pet. 

  • Are you prolonging your pet’s life for their sake or yours?
  • Do you feel like you can’t let go despite impending signs of your dog’s end of life?
  • Can you still find ways to cure their cancer?
  • Do you still have enough resources and time to care for your pet?

A memoir as a remembrance of pet

Related Questions

Is There an Alternative to Euthanasia for Dogs With Cancer?

If you want to delay euthanasia, consider pet hospice to provide comfort care for your dog. However, know that this option won’t cure terminal or life-limiting conditions. Instead, this is the perfect time to prepare yourself and your pet for what’s next to come.

How Do You Deal With a Dog Dying of Cancer?

When your dog is dying of cancer, you may still try various treatment options and provide comfort as much as you can. However, it’s also time to consider alternatives, assess your resources, and talk to your vet about the possibility of euthanasia.

Conclusion

When the cancer is drastically impairing your dog physically, emotionally, and behaviorally, it may be time to consider euthanizing your pet. Ending the pain for your dog will give them a peaceful and dignified passing through in-home pet euthanasia with Paws Into Grace

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.
San Diego Orange County Cremation Office