When is the time to euthanize?

From: Dr Andrew Jones
Author: Veterinary Secrets Revealed
Website: http://www.veterinarysecretsrevealed.com/manual.php

Re: When is the time to euthanize?


Hello all.

This month at the clinic I have had to euthanize far
too many dogs and cats.

They have all been for very legitimate reasons..Cancer ( 4 patients),
Paralysis, Bleeding Disorders, End Stage Kidney Failure..etc..

It seems that more of this happens during the Holiday Season.

I’m not sure if that is true, or if it has more of an
effect on me.

Most clients make the decision in a very thoughtful,
sensitive and respectful way- they weigh out the quality of
their pet’s life, with their own needs to keep their pet

I am often asked if now is the time..I always then ask my
clients questions regarding quality of life, pain or discomfort in
their pet and how they are feeling.

It’s not easy.

If any of you have gone through this, you know just how agonizing and
difficult it is.

I am honored that we have this option with our dogs and cats- I
watched my Grandmother waste away from Lung Cancer, only to be
given narcotics for the last month of her life to keep her comfortable.

But the point is to respect this right- AND not treat it frivolously.

Here are some things to consider to help you make this serious decision:

1. Eating and Drinking. Is your pet able to eat and drink normally.
My dog Hoochie ( a Lab cross) was a food hound, so when his appetite ended,
I knew it was time soon.
2. Pain. Is your pet in pain often? ASK your Veterinarian this. Does the
pain control medication help?
3. Activity levels. Can she still go for walks?
4. Housetraining. Has your pet lost bladder or bowel control?
5. Senility and aging. Does your pet enjoy interaction with you, or
could she care less?
6. Does your pet have a terminal illness such as Cancer?
7. Are you willing to explore ALL the options for treating their disease
OR do you want just palliative care?
8. Are you keeping your pet alive for your own Issues around death..or is
this in the best interests of your pet?
9. Have you asked a friend if you are making the right decision? It helps
to have a 3rd party.
10.Discuss and be aware of what euthanasia is, HOW it will happen, What will
happen with your pet afterwards ( ie burial or cremation), and How you will
get support to deal with your grief. I have NEVER felt so low and such a
deep sense of loss than when my last dog Hoochie died.


P.S. I would love to hear about some of your thoughts
on euthanasia. Send your comments over to Michael at support or
Make a post here on my blog.

P.P.S. The Veterinary Secrets Revealed PRINTED Manual can
now be purchased with a SPECIAL OFFER this month ONLY.


It’s Your Pet. Heal Them At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

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20 thoughts on “When is the time to euthanize?”

  1. This is a response to the article about euthanasia. I have been with the last four cats of mine at the time of their death. 3 were from euthanasia. As much as I hated losing every one, it meant so much to me knowing that the last touch they felt, and voice they heard, was mine. It wasn’t the professional, unfamiliar contact of the veterinarian, but the human parent they had spent the majority of their life with. I visibly witnessed a peace on their face, and signs of peace in their bodies before they passed away. I will never not be with any pet should the time come for euthanasia.

  2. One more thing to do when making this decision is to talk it over with your pet. If he is ready to go, he will let you know. After all, he has the last word on this one. We recently had to let go of our sweet 12 year old pit bull, Kuma, and although he was good natured and happy to the end, he made it clear he was ready to move on.

  3. My thoughts on euthanasia are that it is a last resort, when you have exhausted all possible options for your furbaby and there is nothing left for you to do to help your furbaby enjoy life. I think a lot of people euthanize for the wrong reasons-or for selfish reasons, not for what is best for the furbaby. I have had to euthanize 6 of our babies in the last year and a half and each time I did everything possible first, so that once I made that choice to euthanize, I would have no guilt or remorse about my decision. I have had a baby in a wheelchair who was paralyzed but who enjoyed an extra year and a half with his chair and was euthanized because of his age and his system starting to shut down, I have euthanized my 24 year old terrior because of age, and I had to euthanize our kitty who had end stage kidney failure, but was able to help him have quality of life and enjoyment for almost 2 years before I made the decision to euthanize. I think the most important thing is that each person knows their furbaby best, and only that person can make the decision.

  4. In my own experiences I have had to euthanize too many animals myself my own and other peoples’. Years ago I was a vet tech. I had to assist in far too many unpleasant procedures at times. In my opinion, it is time to euthanize when the animal is no longer living a happy comfortable life. I have friends who would not and/or could not euthanize their pets because they were not ready to let the animal go. I told each of them that their concerns should come second. It is the animal who is suffering. They, again, in my opinion, should be thinking of the animal, not themselves. There is no good feelings coming from having to euthanize an animal other than they are no longer suffering. I have heard of hospitals allowing terminal patients ‘control’ of their morphine drip….I need not explain that any further. I personally would not want to lay around in a hospital suffering waiting to die. We should show the same kindness to humans we do the animals even though it may be heartbreaking, it is the kindest act of all when needed.

  5. You got me where I live with the euthanize now? issue. Sweet little tabby cat Rima the Bird Girl was spayed over 30 years ago and has not been seen by a vet since. She retains her silky coat and bright eyes, walks slowly but manages to use the cat door for her outside business, which no longer includes hunting. She has had a natural lifelong immunity to fleas. Eating and drinking is back on target since a pair of male red kittens was added to the family — now she has something to growl at and occasionally swat and/or share play. She enjoys the odd foot nuzzling behavior that has always been hers instead of laps. Her diet is primarily homemade now with much of it raw such as her favorite treat — frozen smelt. Organic free range raw eggs are fed several times a week. She gets bulk Transfer Factor sprinkled on her food and has for the last 15 years or so when her coat developed a moth eaten look and her eyes dulled. I guess the only sad aspect is watching her move around slowly and knowing the time is near….
    I am considering euthanizing her after the first of the year, thanks to reading your thoughts. Feedback will be appreciated. Thanks! Patti

  6. Over the last twenty years, we have owned seven labrador retrievers. We currently have three healthy Labs that are thriving.

    Last February we had to euthanize our Bailea, a twelve year old girl that was my wife’s favorite. Bailea was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach which was creating a blockage that prevented food from passing into the intestines. She was withering away due to lack of nutrition.

    She was such a stoic girl who until the end was playful. When I took her to the Vet for her last trip, she knew it was time.

    One of the most painful life experiences is having to euthanize a pet. With great guilt, I have wept more with the death of my pets than when my father died!

    We grow so attached to our pets. Sometimes however, I do believe we keep our pets alive beyond their time more for ourselves than what is best for the pet. My 15 year old male lab Dutch, (my first dog) should have been allowed to pass away years earlier than he did but I kept him alive. That was unfair to him and wrong for me.

    I have learned as we have had more dogs that what is most important is to be certain the pet is not suffering and not experiencing poor quality of life. As painful as it has always been and will be in the future, we must be responsible adults and do what is right for our pets, no matter the degree of pain we know we will all experience in their loss.

  7. We decided to put our first dog down at home when he was 12. He did not want to go or eat for a whole week and we knew something serious was up. We had our precious yellow Lab Gabe since the age of 10 weeks. There was no question on what we would do when his time would come. He had cancer of the spleen and a tumor in his heart. We found out on Fri. and the vet came to our house on Monday. It was extremely hard on both of us but we knew in our heart it was the right thing to do. I am sure he would of done the same for us if he could.

  8. I asked myself all those questions then made the decision. It was very difficult and what was more hurtfull, my vet said “well, I don’t see anything wrong”. Yet he knew she was in pain, having trouble standing, and had lost control of bladder and bowel. This made me question the agonizing decision that I made. It makes me wonder if he truly cared about the dog, or the bottom line.

  9. here are my thoughts on helping our pets to cross over. i hate having to be the one to make the choice i wish all my kids could just die in their sleep. but that isn’t likely, especially now with all the chemicals we feed and have in our enviroment. but on to the issue. i have been with every pet i have had to make the choice for. it hurts my heart so much but i try to put myself in my pets place. i feel if there is pain that can’t be controled or there is no other way out of the ??? what ever is going on. examples.. i had a golden retriever that had a ruptured spleen and was bleeding out. he was so far gone we put him to sleep and then his sister had a tumor the size of a cantalope in her stomach, she was throwing up and i knew there was more going on than just throwing up. so when my vet opened her up and i saw the tumor and the vet knew it was cancer we put her down and since i have had two danes (fosters) who had bone cancer and rectal colon cancer and i decided to put them down when i knew or felt the time had come. i never leave them alone as i wouldn’t want to be alone. so we do it together. and we all cry including my vet. and i always discuss the options with my vet first. and we decide together.

  10. I have had to put several of my dogs down and I will tell you it is very hard. I have held them in my arms and told them it was ok for them to leave and that I love them. They look into my eyes with an expression of thanks. It made it a little easier. I wish we could be as humane with people.

  11. I have had 2 dogs “put to sleep” thru the years. With 2 different vets. I was “surprised” BOTH times, by the way it happened. I had always read about (and heard about) how “they just go to sleep”. Well NEITHER of my dogs “just went to sleep. They were SCARED from the minute they realized there was a “vet” there. The vet(s) made me muzzle them, and they fought and squirmed while the needle went in. I held them both in my arms as the medicine went in. BOTH of them gave surprised “Yelp”, and jerked and then died instantly!! I was not at all “consoled” by that type of death!!

    I had a horse, several years ago, that the VET himself caused her to cut her hoof 1/2 off (He shoved her to a metal building and the tin caught her hoof). I tried to save her, but finally had to have another vet. come out and “Kill” her. It was a HORRIBLE, AGONIZING death for her. They had to “restrain” her and she fought it, and it took awhile for her to die!!

    Recently I had a horse who was “Supposedly” being “sedated” for “vet work”, but when the vet gave her the medicine, she reared up and fell over backward and took me with her (I was holding the lead rope and TRYING to keep her from getting hurt) and she hit her neck on a nearby post. She never woke up, despite all the vets. “efforts” to revive her! (I think he gave her TOO MUCH medicine!).

    I have had occasion, many times, thru the years, to have an animal that needed “put down”. I am TOO MUCH A COWARD to do it myself, but I have seen (and unfortunately, I’ve given the “order” to have it done) many of my animals be SHOT to put them out of their misery. Now I know that MANY of the “town” folk on here will think that it’s TERRIBLE, but I have seen MANY of them die from gunshot and NONE of them died the “terrible” death that the vets. gave my other ones! They died FAST and it was over FAST. They did not have the “fear” of being hauled to the vet, they did not have the “Fear” of the “stranger” vet twisting an ear (horses) or having to suffer the indignity of being Muzzled (dogs) for restraint while the lethal dose was administered. They did not die in a “strange place”. The ones that were “able” to stand/lay/sit etc. were just “peacefully” doing their thing and the gunshot is so quick, they die before they have any knowledge of it!

    Us humans should be so lucky as to have a QUICK death such as that, when the time comes!

    Again, I’m sure there will be those of you who think that shooting is “not good”. But you do not KNOW. If you could SEE for yourselves (and of course it needs to be done by a COMPETENT person!!!) how “quickly” it is over, and how the animal dies “happy” (Since it don’t know what’s coming, it’s not “scared” and is just “doing it’s thing”).

    I currently have a very old Pyrinese dog that is getting more and more feeble. I am VERY WORRIED about HOW I will have her “put down”. My husband usually does the “job” but he’s gone for a year now, and I do NOT want to make her suffer the indignity, the FEAR, and the PAIN of a ride to the vet. I want her to die here, happily, where she has always lived! But, I’m afraid I’m going to have to “let her down”, and make her suffer the fear, while a vet. comes here and “does the deed”. It’s not fair to her, as she’s been a good dog for many years. But, even with that awful death by a vet. at least she will be out of her misery, I guess. I would MUCH Prefer that she just be “wandering” around the pasture and then be shot and fall over dead, “doing what she likes doing” than to be put thru all that will be involved with having a vet. come here and do it.

    Anyway, that’s “my opinions” on Euthanasia. Sorry if I’ve upset anyone, but I prefer to have my animals “happy” alive and die FAST and “happy”, even if it is harder on “me”. Regardless of “current public opinion” the animals “feelings” should always come first, in my opinion.

    The MORE you LOVE your pet, the more it will “suffer” on that trip to the vet., or during the “wait” for the vet. to come. Your pet loves YOU and KNOWS that you are sad, and then the pet suffers BECAUSE it loves you and knows you are sad. Say what you will, but with “shooting”, I feel the pet AVOIDS all those “negative” feelings. It does not KNOW “what” is coming, so it doesn’t have “time” to “worry” or feel sad. “I” think that is the “best” way to “go”.
    PS–I do try to let the pet/horse, etc. do something it REALLY ENJOYS, before the final shot comes. The dog goes for a last walk, the horse gets to eat some grain or graze in the pasture. Of course, occasionally, there are those who are TOO SICK and in too much pain, to get to enjoy anything at the end. These get a lot of love, some pets, scratchings, pats, etc., and then are put out of their misery as quickly as possible.

    And then I cry for days over it. And I feel guilty because “I” made the decision. But life is death just waiting to happen. I guess I must accept that. It sure is hard, tho! And there are many more LIVE animals who still need me, so life goes on. Until the next time…

  12. It is so hard to see them go but it is a blessing, when they can’t eat, can’t walk and are just not enjoying anything, that they can just go to sleep. It is hard on us, but the kind thing to do for them. I have had to put several dogs to sleep and I had a cat a few years ago that I had nursed for several weeks and one night, she went under my bed and I knew something was wrong and I got her out. She died in my arms a few hours later in the middle of the night. It would have been much kinder if I had put her to sleep. They give us so much unconditional love and we owe them so much.

  13. I believe that euthanizing is one of the hardest choice a pet owner can make. I have had to make that decision twice. The last time was with Sam for years we fought with back and eyes. Treat, medicate, get better. The last time one of his disc ruptured nothing seemed to help with his pain. He would only pee once every 24-36 hours and then he was trying to sleep sitting up. I knew that keeping him here was selfish on my part. One day he let me know that it was time. I cried for days and still cry now. But I know he is happier. I have been blessed with a caring vet and they have always just layed downed and gone to sleep.

  14. I’ve had to make this decision 3 times. Once, in 2004, for my beloved Mr. Kitty who threw a clot and became paralyzed…he had HCM. He was feral born but after his initial brush with death and diagnosis of HCM, he revelled in his domesticity. He was very, VERY special. I still miss him dearly.

    Then this past October I had to euthanize twice within two weeks with litter mate kittens…I can hardly speak of it. One was outside, the other was in the house. Both had feline distemper…
    don’t ask how the one inside got it. He was with us from 5 weeks old and was thriving…then BOOM! gone…we were devastated. (Having 11 feral born cats inside, the vet bill to protect the rest was a real financial hit! Though I’m not too crazy about vaccinating, I was so frightened, I was convinced to give the rest their booster distemper shots. The two latest, a one yr. old and the third litter mate to the other two, I brought inside got their first shot.)

    I won’t euthanize unless I’m absolutely forced by cicumstance as was the case in all 3 cats. It is a wound in my heart and soul…even though it was necessary.

  15. I experienced this heart-wretching agony about 11 years ago on a Sunday. So I took my little dog to another vet practice that was opened on a weekend. On the exam table, with the IV inserted, and my explaining that she had cancer, was deaf and almost blind, the doctor said to me, “Well, we can treat her.” My friend who was in the room with me, let out a awful moan of disbelief at the statement. I just told the doctor to please go ahead with the task. I had told my pet on our way to the office how thankful I was that she had been part of my life. After I left, I mistakenly thought I could drive my car home – alone – Big mistake! I had to pull off the road for an unknown amount of time just to cry. But yes, I knew it was time and I would never want a pet to suffer because of my selfishness of keeping it alive. One comes to really know the power of grief at a time like that.

  16. To anyone looking for wonderful online grief counseling, I highly reccomend Gary Kurz, author of Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates. He is so very kind and sympathetic when it comes to this sensitive issue and the book is wonderful. I fell into a very deep depression after euthanizing one of my bulldogs years ago but with the help of this book, it was so much easier when I had to do it again this past September.

  17. Another thought- as someone who has worked in the veterinary field for many years, take my advice! If you are facing this issue PLEASE don’t send your pet in there alone because it’s too hard for you to watch. They need you so much at this time and even though the vet staff is always there to love on them and make it easier, nothing is more comforting to a pet than seeing their loving owner’s face. Even if you are crying…they need you there.

  18. My cat Spicey and I had bonded so deeply through the 7 years that I had her..from a tiny newborn abandoned in a celler…to a beautiful grown feral – domesticated, loving cat, that we could read each others expressions and thoughts. She was so in tune to my feelings that when I received news that my grandson had been killed in an early morning car crash she knew and meowed furiously to be picked up so she could comfort me with hugs and kisses to my face. When I had to put down a beloved foster cat she licked away the tears as they ran down my face. Sadly, early this year Spicey was poisoned by the tainted cat food and we both worked together to bring her through it . The pain was pretty bad and after 5 months I knew I had to let her go..if she wanted to. In the vet’s office I blew my nose and wiped away tears as I talked it over with the doctor and Spicey, resting quietly on the table, immediately stood up and hunched her little back and reached up to kiss my chin and nose. She was saying it was okay. She went to sleep in my arms and died peacefully with her head in my hand. Four days later I was sitting at my computer and found a cute cat picture and laughed loudly and deeply at this wonderful sight. When I finished laughing I heard a distinct and beloved MEOW from Spicey’s favorite spot to lay. It was an incredible moment…she was there with me and was
    responding to my happiness. These precious little ones have an ability to see into the unseen realm
    and they are not afraid to leave us…for in doing so they receive the freedom and release from pain and illness and the ability to live in comfort and the joy of reconnecting with us whenever they want to. They have the best of both worlds and want us to be at peace as they are.

  19. Thanks to the wise recommendation from Doc Jones, 30+ year old Rima is moving about more freely and comfortably since adding glucosamine/chonrdoitin 1/4 chewable wafer to her food. She is not getting all the dose I would like her to have but the little she is eating has made a tremendous change in her. Thank you for adding some more quality time to the cat that was on the brink of euthanasia just last month. When I first wrote about her I forgot to mention coconut oil, ground flax seeds, and kefir she regularly gets in her diet. Recently she has begun playing in the bathtub again, one of her old favorite hangouts, getting in and out totally unassisted.

    Wish I could afford your printed material…maybe one day. Please continue your helpful writing.

  20. hi i have just read you newsletter about the dog that the ower did not want to be put down although it was very poorly i had my last dog who had lung cancer put down but i had to go home and think what was the best for her i loved her so much i have tears now while i write this to you
    the vet told me there was nothing they could do but i find i made the right decision to have her put to sleep i brought her home and we buried her in our garden i go and talk to her when i am in the garden i have always had a dog but she was the best pat

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