Saying Goodbye: Making the Decision to Euthanize Your Dog

Euthanizing Dobby was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. While the support from friends, family, and the online community was absolutely amazing (and, to be honest, a bit overwhelming), I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there’s a hole in my life that Dobby used to fill. There are still moments when I’m taken by surprise at his absence, times when I expect to turn around and see him lying on my bed or wriggling with joy in his crate with his ever-present squeaky ball in his mouth.

Photo by Kelvin Andow

Photo by Kelvin Andow

I’ve written before about coping with the loss of a friend. Obviously, I process best by writing, and others grieve in other ways. There’s no wrong way to grieve for your dog, and whatever you feel when you lose a beloved companion is entirely normal and okay. I’ve had to remind myself of this at times when something silly, like a song or an unexpected memory hits me like a punch in the gut and I feel tears well up once again. Grief is a healing process, and just like healing from a physical injury, it takes time for the wound to stop hurting.

There’s a distinct lack of information online about what to expect if you, like me, are put in the heartbreaking position of euthanizing a young dog for health or behavioral concerns. Personally, knowing what to expect during the euthanasia itself was incredibly helpful. Having assisted with and performed multiple euthanasias during my time as a veterinary technician and the head trainer at an animal shelter, I knew what the process would look like and what options were available to me. My hope is that by writing about my experiences, I can help others who are in similar situations. If you are considering euthanasia for your dog, whether your dog is sixteen years or sixteen months, whether your dog is physically healthy but emotionally hurting or simply ready to leave a body that can no longer keep up with his mind, my heart goes out to you.

Over the next month, we’ll discuss several aspects of euthanasia, including how to know when it’s time, scheduling the appointment, what to expect during the procedure itself, special considerations for if you have multiple pets, and thoughts for after it’s done.  Today we’ll discuss how to know when it’s time to say goodbye.

One of the hardest questions I dealt with in Dobby’s final months was knowing when it was time. Logically, I knew that I had exhausted every option and that Dobby wasn’t going to suddenly get better. I knew that he was frequently scared, that I was exhausted from managing his environment to keep him and those around him safe, and that my other dogs were sometimes frightened of him. Emotionally, however, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I talked with him about it, and got a strong sense from him that he did not want to die.

The turning point for me happened one night when Dobby had a seizure. I had tried to trim his nails earlier that evening, something that he used to behave very well for. He would lie upside down, loose as a noodle, ball in his mouth, while I trimmed his toenails. About six months ago, this changed after a series of seizures left him touch sensitive and defensive. Toenail trims became very difficult, and even when I went very patiently and slowly, feeding him after each nail, Dobby would act frightened as soon as I touched his foot. He had never been quicked or had a bad nail-trim experience, but the way he processed tactile stimulation changed due to his seizures.

This particular evening, Dobby screamed and snapped at me with the first nail I trimmed, urinating in fear. I immediately stopped trying to trim his nails, but half an hour later he had a seizure. After his seizure he was scared and confused, and attacked my youngest dog when she bumped him as she jumped up next to him on the couch. When I intervened, he went after me, and it took all of my extensive handling experience to safely move him to a crate where he could sleep off the effects of the seizure in peace.

As I looked at him, curled up in a protective, frightened ball in his crate, I got a very strong sense that he was ready to go. I got the feeling that it was too hard for him to continue living in a body where small stresses could cause so much pain, and that he was exhausted from living this way. I made his euthanasia appointment the next day.

Your story will likely be different. In many cases, veterinarians tell owners that they will just know when it’s time, and sometimes, like with Dobby, that’s true. However, you may also not know. It’s okay if you feel doubtful or unsure. It’s a big decision to make, and I think doubt is an entirely normal response to making such a huge choice for your dog and your family.

Many of my clients who euthanize their dogs for behavioral reasons do so when they do not feel that they can keep others safe from their dog or when they feel that their dog’s quality of life is so poor that it is not fair to ask them to continue living. In Dobby’s case, I kept a journal where I tracked his good days, his bad days, and his seizures with the thought that when his bad days outnumbered his good days it might be time, but the journal was ultimately not the deciding factor. When I reviewed his final month, he had an equal number of good and bad days, and had an average of one seizure very 5-6 days.

Sometimes it can be helpful to think of factors that will help you make the decision ahead of time, way before you’re faced with the decision. Some people advise making a list of five of your dog’s favorite activities. When your dog is no longer interested in three of those five activities, that might be the appropriate time. I’ve decided that with Layla, it will be time to consider euthanasia when she’s no longer interested in eating, chewing on bones, going on walks, going places with me, or chasing critters.

Regardless of how you come to the decision, I can say that I have never heard anyone say that they wish they had waited. I have, however, heard many, many people say that they wish they had said goodbye sooner. If your dog is in pain (whether physical or emotional) and you cannot help them manage that pain, it may be a great kindness to say goodbye.

As hard as it was to euthanize Dobby, I regret waiting so long. Looking back, I feel like I made exactly the right decision – I personally needed to feel like I’d tried everything, and until the night of his seizure I got a strong sense from Dobby that he wasn’t ready to give up either. However, his final months were certainly much harder than the previous years, and he was often confused or disoriented due to the brain damage from his seizures. My other dogs also had a difficult few months, as Dobby could be unpredictable and aggressive. Making the decision sooner could have saved all of us from a lot of stress, but I find a lot of comfort in having exhausted all available options. There are no “what ifs” in my situation – they were all explored completely.

Regardless of your situation, knowing when to say goodbye is a very personal decision. If you’ve made this choice for a dog you cared for, how did you come to your conclusion? What did you consider, or did you just know when the time was right? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

118 responses to “Saying Goodbye: Making the Decision to Euthanize Your Dog

  1. Thanks everyone for responding. It really helps to have other dog owners agreeing with my decision.

  2. Hi. My partner and i recently had our beautiful 3 year old male blue merle put to sleep (sat 20 june at 9:30am) he was epileptic. I would like to share his story as i havent read any like his online and others in our situation may look like i have… Flash! Our boy came to us when he was 11 months old! Beautiful boy, well behaved, loving, obedient, loved walks, not food possessive or aggressive in anyway! Full of life… Flash started having seizures at age 2. First ine a week

    • Sorry… Pressed post by mistake… First one a week then three a week. He was medicated with epiphen which worked well. He lived a perfectly nirmal life except fir his seizures. Iver the course of a year his med dose was upped twice. He was now having cluster seizures each month, every four weeks he would have a group of around 3 seizures but then came this weekend…. From thursday evening to this saturday mirning gone he had 30 plus seizures :-( my partner and i decided it was best to have him put to sleep. THE HARDEST decision we have ever made and the morning of him being put to sleep he was pawing my face, responsive but so weak, he could stand for maybe two seconds before collapsing. I am riddled with extreme loss guilt, and the feeling that should we have tried for him for longer. In my head i know that was too many fits, god knows what it must have done to his heart brain and other organs but i csnt help feeling so deeply that i let him down. My partner and daughter are not here in the day and i am at a loss without my companion. Ive been still doing our walk, i sleep with his teddy to smell him. Its such a horrendous pain. So hard to get through….

      • I know how awful you are feeling I was there in January. The guilt is normal you had to make a very difficult decision in having your beautiful boy flash put to sleep and it’s only been a matter of days, I took my darling coopers stuffed dog to bed for 2 weeks just for the small comfort of having his smell close to me. Our old dog was epileptic but luckily his seizures were well controlled, even so seeing him have one was a terrible experience, watching your beloved boy suffer so much over those last days you had no choice but to end his suffering it was the ultimate act of love on your part, to keep him with you would have been for your benefit not his it took a lot of strength on your part but also showed the deep love you had for flash he was a very lucky boy to have had you in his life. I hope that this helps and that when you feel ready another dog is lucky enough to have you to love him or her.

      • Sara broom thankyou for your words. Being able to talk people who have experienced the same pain is a huge help. I have managed to stop crying uncontrollably, i did his walk twice yesterday, got home and sat in my house for an hour before i couldnt stand it. I went out and people watched in town. My friend told me off. She said i need to go home snd deal with it, face it. Its just so hard. House is so quiet, empty and grey without him. I know deep down it was right but it is just so sad that this beautiful boy of mine had so much to give, so much to live for and it was taken from him because of his condition. Upon reflecting i realise flash has given me a gift. I never like dogs see, it was my partne who wanted a dog and then it turned out that flash and i spending every day together as i work nights…. We bonded, he taught me to trust dogs, to love dogs. He gave me that gift, he was my teacher :-) i can look back on him and know that any precious furry friends i have in the future are welcomed with love i learned to share from him 😪🐶 rip my flashy boy.

      • I am going through the same thing and its hard, I hate that we have to make a huge decision. I’ve been crying all day because of having to put our boy down, he will be 5yrs old in feb 2016 and to be the one that has to make he choice before he can make it to 5yrs old. He’s been with us since he was 11 weeks when we adopted him for the Animal Rescue League. I have a thousand doubts, questions, and wondering if this is really the best choice and along with, am I selfish to keep him. He’s not the same dog, he has changed, mentally and physically and some days he’s got energy and is happy. Than there’s days that he’s seems down and in pain and looks/acts like he don’t know us. The love we have for him there’s no words but I also feel like we’re letting him down and I’m dreading this day!!

      • It’s a difficult process (going back and forth in your mind), I get emotional just reading other people’s stories and it’s been 10 months for me since I put my best man down. I can tell you the pain does subside but you will never be free from the memory of when you had to make the decision (at least in my case). I think you almost have to put him down when he’s not feeling his best that way you can justify it in your mind, otherwise you may just be prolonging the inevitable and coming up with reason(s) to keep him around. In my case, my Yellow Lab was almost 15 and he had been battling numerous ailments (hip dysplasia, developing a cataract, loss of hearing etc) all common for senior dogs. The day he suffered a seizure I knew it was time. I had my dog cremated because I couldn’t stand the thought of him being anywhere but beside me. I know your dog is five years old and you may feel like you’re giving up on him, but in reality you are showing him compassion and love.

  3. Paulette August 3rd, 4PM

    I’m so happy through my tears that I read all of these comments about how to say good-bye to your best friend.

    As I took my ‘Tanner’ to the doggie hotel we favored (Rhodesian Ridge back) for a 10 day needed vacation; I will never forget the look on his face as if to say ” good bye, thank you for taken good care of me!”. His tail wagged and I sucked up the sadness knowing he was in good hands. Three days later I get a call that Tanner passed through the night. It just killed me to pieces feeling the guilt that if I didn’t go he’d still be with me today. I will never know but I tried to enjoy what vacation was left. His memory remained.

    Several weeks later a beautiful white Labrador kept coming in the yard. My heart went out to her and I laid food and water out in case she was hungry or thirsty. She had no tag, collar or any form of someone looking for her so we called her Marley and after advertizing for her owners, no luck came to her yet we got attached and made her ours.

    She was a beautiful companion and as all my dog friends I get so attached and many in my position know the feeling. We had her for seven years but unfortunately she was diagnosed with heart worm and so the story of seeing her loose her strength, suffer from seizures, and witnessing my Marley was at the point of not truly enjoying life. We did what we could regarding heart worm but her testing kept coming back positive and the cost was getting astronomical, so we gave her the best of life we could but making that decision has crimped my emotions to to this day. I just felt like I had no right to end her days of still recognizing me and wagging that tail of happiness.

    I’m glad I read every one who posted their times when euthanizing was a must. I still see her watery eyes but lack of being able to live without the aide of help getting up or suffering from any more seizures. My eyes are so blurry as I write that I’m sure I’ve made some errors but those that have been there will understand. Thank you for this help!

  4. I have to euthanize “my” german shepherd tomorrow. He’s only 3 and I met him only about a month ago.

    We rescued him from a family that had an elderly parent move in. He is a very energetic and smart dog. Sadly in leaving the only home he ever knew he became aggressive.

    I’m a very experience GSD owner and have rescued or fostered a couple of dozen over the past 15 years. After he nipped me the first time I was able to work with him and he is good with me. I know what I did wrong. It took a lot of patience as we have 2 other gsds and they were somewhat protective of me. To make it worse he has no socialization with other dogs. Not aggressive with them but won’t engage in play either. It’s not his fault. It’s just him.

    With people he knows he is protective and wants to be with them or play fetch. With those he doesn’t know he is aggressive as are most GSDs but in strange surroundings (not his fault) he escalates quickly.

    Then about 6 days in he then nipped my son so he and my wife fear him (which doesnt help). Its not just me anymore I need to think about. I notified the rescue group but they nor his original owners would take him back.

    While the rescue group posted him for adoption (nothing found) we found a new home that seemed perfect after a couple of weeks. Full disclosure and advice on patience and no other dogs but it sadly got worse. Fetch is his favorite thing and about all that was familiar to him. Unfortunately the new owner though well meaning and trying hard followed bad advice from a dog “whisperer”. Break his focus on the ball they said. Take it from him. We’ll guess what… it was way too much too soon. Not yet trusting what could have been a great partnership instead got rushed and ended up in a full out bite. Poor guy is petrified now.

    So now he’s coming back to me (I cannot do what the rescue group has done to me). But my family does not feel safe. Plus my wife is on blood thinners so an accident such as this could literally kill her.

    One aggressive act is easily forgiven. The 2nd was worrisome and so we are not the best environment. The 3rd though is a pattern. Sadly he could be a great dog given the right environment. ..but we are not it nor can I risk another accident. Too many “ifs”. I’ve contacted other group’s but no one can take him in. He’s a victim of circumstance.

    So I am in tears. I’ve thought about taking him back to his first home as they seem to have just thrown him away after 3 years. I’ve thought about searching for another home but that puts my family at risk as well as any adopted family.

    So although I met him only a few weeks ago I will give him the best day ever tomorrow for as long as I can. I want to be mad. I want to blame someone. But instead I will be there and hold him, and love him as I feel like a total failure as he takes his last breath. His face will forever be in my mind. His happy run returning the ball after a good throw will live in my memory. He has touched my heart. I pray he will forgive me and that one day in heaven we can play fetch again.

    Thanks for reading. This has helped me prepare for my worse day ever.

    • I think that you are doing totally the right thing, Tim. You have tried to find a suitable home, fully explaining his history, but it just didn’t work out. Passing on a dog like this (or Sam, who I posted about above) without explaining just makes you part of the problem for the dog. It’s a shame that the original owners let him go when the elderly parent moved in but perhaps that’s not the whole story either. I’m sure that his final day will be a great one – just remember the good that you tried to do for him.

    • You’ve done everything you can, one day you will meet again in heaven he will remember you and the fact that you showed a very damaged dog love and kindness. Take care and know that you’re doing the right thing

  5. I put my beatiful Buddy to sleep via at home euthanasia three weeks ago and continue to be wrecked with quilt and cry daily at the loss of his being. He was 12 or 13 years old, and up until about 4 months ago very active. Actually, still active for his age up until a few weeks. However, after the difficult winter (we were avid walkers and he loved to chase animals in the woods) I began noticing very slow going up the steps and even an odder gait coming down. He would also occassionally experience lameness in his back left leg. But then, seem fine the next day! He had numerous lumps on his body, but at his advanced age I decided to no longer have them checked. When he was 7 he tore his right ACL and after much money and 4 months rehab, we were back in business for a wonderful 5 more years. During that time I would occassionally have a large, non cancerous mass removed if it interfered with his walking ability. But, as he grew older, I promised him no more sedation as he is large and very stubborn, always insisting on jumping in the back seat. No amount of help would be taken by him and no assistance from me was allowed by him. Soon, a month ago he began “missing” his jump in the car. And, on our walks, some quite short, he would need to sit for a while to catch his breath or would just stumble. Then, the next day, looking great with no problem. I began preparing myself and promising I would not let him suffer. The last two days were difficult. He was not eathing and limping. The trip to the vet was hard as he fought the help into the car. The vet said the muscle in his back legs was really not there anymore. They could xray–I said no as it takes him 3 days to recupe from the position of the xray. So, I requested pain medication that would work well with the antiinflammation medication I had been giving him for a year. The following day he would not walk at all (I should also say I had noticed tremors in his front legs when standing still or peeing) and was unable to stand up to go outside. As I sat outside with my thoughts later that morning, I watched him drag himself out with his front legs and just lay at me feet. He would not eat his favorite treats or even cooked hamburger. So, I made the appointmet for that night. We sat outside all day (he still seemed content to have me pet him, he smiled, and remained very alert) and he enjoyed ice cream–the only thing I could get him to eat. I reminded him about all the parks, cabins, trails, and friends he had made over the years–I actually think he understood my words. I told him the vet was coming that night to ease his pain. He never did stand up again and the vet did the process outdoors with his head in my lap. I was at peace at the time. Now, three weeks out, I question my decision every day and think maybe he was just having a really bad day and I should have been able to wait a day or two to ensure my decision. I will never know. It is killing me. I am so happy to have had you Buddy and so sorry if I made a mistake. As a single person, you have been my rock for many years, I wish I could have been yours. I love and miss you.

    • Sue, So sorry for your loss. It sounds as though you are having many of the same thoughts my wife and I are having and we look everyday for answers. I am glad you were able to have Buddy at home when the end came. We ask ourselves if our Zoey wondered why we wouldn’t pick her up and take her home. We did bring bring her home and bury her in a nice spot in the yard where we are able to sit and talk to her. I hope your pain is easing, and just try to remember all the happy memories you and Buddy shared.

      • Hi Scott, I am also so sorry for your loss of Zoey. It is such a difficult decision and I guess there is really no “right” time to let them go–we want to have them forever. I have sought some grief counseling especially related to pets, and am told the guilt we are feeling is normal, as are all of our emotions. The counselor told me he has counseled many people who have guilt for the opposite reason–waiting too long while their pet suffured. I think we can take comfort in the fact that the suffering was short. I suppose we will also second guess our decision as to the timing, but hopefully we can find peace with that decision some day. It is great that you have Zoey in your yard and can visit often! Please be good to yourself and thank you for reaching out to me.

  6. I euthanized my 10 month old hound mix after he suffered a dislocated and fractured hip when hit by a car
    The vet had recommended Femur removal surgery but i thought his quality of life had been significantly impaired. Was i wrong?

    • You dis what you thought was best for what was obviously a very much lived dog. Don’t let the guilt eat you up you did the right thing

      • Thank you Sara! Yes, I’ve been feeling guilty top of just missing him so much. I only wanted what was best for him. The pain I’m feeling is rough but I couldn’t stand to see him suffering through the surgery and long rehab with no assurance of full restoration. I appreciate your kind response.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. Losing a beloved pet is heartbreaking. We found out a week ago our beloved sam. Age 9 had cancer by means of a blood test. He was drinking excessively and having daily accidents. The vet could not help him and we tried some home remedies, ginger and a probiotic. Sadly he declined and stopped eating and we took him back in and thru an exam found out he had a tumor not quite the size of a volleyball in his whole back under region.
    We made the difficult decision of putting him down.

  8. I just posted about my dog Samson.
    Cancer, huge tumor, accidents, stopped eating, put him down 2 days ago. Why do I feel guilt?

  9. We had to part with our beloved dachshund Zoey on Sat. She had lost the use of her limbs and the ability to relieve herself on her own. Our local vet examined her and after X-ray recommended surgery for a disk problem that was pressing on nerves causing paralysis. We found a surgeon and after consultation set up the surgery. The first indication of what would later lead to our decision was during the post surgery phone call from the surgeon. He informed us that after surgery she was unable to breathe on her own and had to be placed on a ventilator and that after a 12 hour period he would try to wean her off. I was able to visit during both periods and during the visit the day after surgery was told by the surgeon she had made great progress and expected to release her after the weekend. During the evening follow up call he now told us that she had grown weaker and again had to be placed on the ventilator overnight. We as a family were to visit Zoey again the next day. During the visit the Dr. Told us that he believed her chances for improvement were slim and that no matter the amount to time or money we were able to expend he could not guaranty a positive outcome. He recommended euthanasia. We talked as a family and decided that we didn’t want our Zoey to suffer any longer and decided to go ahead with the euthanasia.
    She has been gone now almost three days and my wife and I continue to experience such profound grief and guilt that we are almost not able to function. We continue to beat ourselves up over the fact that we did not do right by our Zoey, that maybe there were other options that we didn’t try. We just miss her so much!!

  10. She s a beautiful 10 yrs old royal poodle. The best dog I’ve ever known. She falls and can’t get up She is heavy to lift up up at 85lbs. I’m worried to leave her even for a few hours as what if she cries and stays stuck. She has hip displaysia. I feel awful that she is in pain and can’t get up until I help her so many times. I thought about euthanasia but feel so awful what should I do please help?..

    • The greatest act of love you can commit for her is to end her pain and let yours begin.

    • I am so sorry I know the pain you are going through, but do you really want her to be in pain? follow your heart and let her go it’s the last kind thing you can do for her. by letting her go peacefully you are showing her how much you love her.

    • I made the heart-wrenching decision on 20 January 2016. Geronimo was a 15 year old yellow Labrador Retriever. He was the light of our household. When I retired from the military after 21 years, I went through depression while trying to transition from military to civilian life. I often thought it would be so much better if I wasn’t around. Then, came Geronimo. He was given to me by a friend who could no longer care for him (he was 5 at the time). Long story short, Geronimo suffered from hip and elbow dysplaysia. He had a hard time getting up and sometimes when he did and I was close by, I could hear his bones rubbing together. During the last 9 months or so, we often had to help him to his feet. He had arthritis and was on Tramadol 50mg (twice a day, although I gave him half that). I was walking him back in August of 2015 and someone I met along the way alluded to the fact that I should put him down (that Geronimo had walked his miles). I was caught in a moment that maybe I should consider it, but not now! Over the course of the next 5 months, Geronimo’s activity level dropped considerably because he wasn’t able to go for even short walks without resting multiple times. Our usual walk route lasted 1/2 mile when he was younger, now it was down to the yard and back, about 200 feet. Geronimo was still happy, wagging his tail and always ready to eat or drink so I knew his mind was still very much active, it was his body which was unable to catch up.

      On the day, Geronimo acted strangely by standing in the middle of the driveway staring at nothing in particular for long periods of time. I thought that was odd. In the mid day he was walking around and laying down on his bed in the garage. At 3 p.m. he ate his food like normal, but then suffered a seizure about 15 minutes later. I didn’t know what was happening as I wasn’t familiar with the symptoms of a seizure, but I only could think he was trying to throw up. After he stopped shaking I tried to get him to stand (which I know now I shouldn’t because he was too weak) but that’s all I knew at the time was he needed to throw up or stand. Mom suggested that we put Geronimo down. Geronimo continued to walk around and bump into things because he was confused and he snapped at me (something he never, ever did). In my heart I knew it was time but my heart said “NO!”. I’m shaking just typing this out.

      I loaded Geronimo by carrying him into my truck and drove to the vet about 2 miles away. When I got to the vet, he seemed fine. He was standing in the back of my Supercrew pickup just like he had done before. It was like he was almost normal again. Once inside the clinic room, he wandered into a corner multiple times and stood there. Geronimo eventually laid down and when our Vet came in he said something to the effect how “Geronimo had led a great life and he could see it was time to put him down”. This only reinforced my decision, however flawed, that I was making the right decision for Geronimo, for if it was up to me I would prolong it for my own selfish reason(s). We began the process which was done in the most humane way possible, by my vet administering a sedative which calmed him down so much so, he almost fell asleep. He gave me a few minutes (however long I wanted he said) and came back and asked if I was ready and then he administered the fatal dosage. It was like why can’t people go out this way when they have stage 4 cancer or decide this is the way they would want to go instead of suffering? I chose cremation as a way to remember Geronimo so I can continue to be close to him, even if it’s not in a physical way but it eases our minds. In one sense, he may not be physically present but will forever be in our hearts. Geronimo died at 4:45 p.m.

      I do wish I made the decision earlier but just couldn’t. If not for the seizure, I am positive I would have prolonged any suffering he may have been going through. I live in Indiana and the weather temps have dropped considerably lately which only added to his arthritis (as I suffer from it too!). I cherish the times and activities we enjoyed together and try to concentrate on those times, not the final day!! Choosing to end your pet’s life is a gut-wrenching decision, one you will have to weigh why? or why not? Geronimo also suffered from Horner’s Syndrome, hearing loss, and had developed a cataract. In my case, some would say it was easier than the one I’m in, but it’s never easy. Geronimo was my savior, the one who rescued me. I wish you all the blessings and comfort as you go through this difficult time. I LOVE YOU GERONIMO!!

  11. We had to put our precious Ginger down two days ago. She had started having seizures and began medication for them although the tests at the vet had not shown their origin. The blood work and exams had came back pretty much normal but she was suffering so badly. She went in a seizure around 2 am and was still seizing at 2 pm when we made the decision. During this time we and the vet tried everything to bring her out of it. l don’t regret the decision to euthanize her. The vet agreed once we decided to do it. I watched the suffering leave her body and looked into her eyes after and she looked like my sweet Ginger laying there in peace. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and the grief is terrible. She was only 11 years old and I felt like she had more life left. But also had no choice but to let the seizure finally kill her. Euthanization is a gift we can give them when they are suffering. If you think your animal is suffering, pray about and think of them and not yourself not wanting to let them go. I miss her terribly but I know she is at peace now.

  12. I’m sitting here heartbroken. My 5 year old doberman cross has been epileptic for the past year but we were managing it fine with medication. Hi epilepsy was diagnosed as idiopathic but over the last few days he has been seizing non-stop. Last night he collapsed and though it usually takes him a few minutes to recover and return to normal, he just didn’t this time. His seizure continued and we bundled him into the car and rushed off to the vet where they struggled to sedate him and end his convulsing. At this moment, he is under general anaesthesia as the normal anti-convulsants and sedatives are not stopping the seizures. I am sitting here, in pieces, knowing that I have to go to him to say goodbye. I can’t stand the idea of walking through my door every day and not being greeted by his mad tail wags and slobbery tongue, that I won’t get up in the morning and drink my coffee with him running back and forth between me and the various birds he likes to chase off our front lawn. We lost his litter-mate sister only four months ago to liver tumours and I fear he has a brain tumour that has just become too much for his body to bare any longer. He was never the cleverest or most coordinated dog, but has always been the cuddliest, most affectionate creature and he made us laugh often with his clumsy, goofball antics. But through all of this I know that my last act of love must be to free him from his pain.

    It’s so hard to make the decision but it’s easier knowing that I am not alone and that there is so much support and understanding between us all. <3

  13. We had to euthanize my dachsund Ginger of 11 years a week ago. She started having seizures and had started on meds to control them. She went into a seizure and we nor the vet could bring her out of it. Although she was suffering and we knew so much damage had been done, she had lost sight, use of her back legs and was very weak, it was still the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I miss her so much. I was relieved to see her suffering end once it was over, but you always think I’m the back of your head would she just get better if I wait? I know and was assured by the vet that it was the best thing we could do for her. Now I have this little box that used to be my dog. I miss her warmth and happiness in my home. Her tail wags, tricks, and laps around the house. One day at a time is my way of handling it and never feel guilty for your grief. That in your head this was an animal and not like losing a human in your life. Ginger was my companion..she lived life with us , she comforted us, she gave us so much joy in her short life. I will be forever thankful for my time with her. I hope where ever she is that she is healthy again, and sharing her wonderful personality with those around her. God gives us gifts in life and she was a special one.
    Ginger 1-05 – 1-16-16

    • I am so sorry for your loss. When we lost our beloved Jack Russell Cooper last year my heart broke in two. Anyone who says that it’s only an animal have never been lucky enough to have the unconditional love of a dog. One day at a time is the only way, day by day the sadness will lesson and the happy memories will take over. Listen carefully and you may just hear her padding around. She is a happy healthy puppy again with playing with those who have gone before, one day you will be reunited until then be grateful for the time you spent with her x

  14. I’ve been in tears reading some of the comments here. I haven’t seen anything that touches so openly on some of the issues around having to have a beloved family member euthanized, including the guilt and sense of betrayal. Three years ago I had to make the decision to have my beautiful 11 year old german shepherd Jazz euthanized. Over the course of a month, she had increasing difficulty walking, going outside to relieve herself and for several days I had to help her go outside, but she was still eating, drinking and seemed content to lay in her favorite spot and just watch me. Through several vet visits, I tried whatever was prescribed, and took her back that last day to see what else could be done. My vet said she had massive bleeding from the blood vessels in her spleen and he thought she had also developed degenerative myopathy, in addition to her arthritis. He said if I took her home, she very likely would suffocate due to the hemorrhaging and I wouldn’t be able to get help for her quickly due to my rural setting. For her, I made the decision to put her to sleep, which he did with me holding her. She was very worried about me and fought the pre-sedative. I knew I had no regrets about her life, but felt terrible about her last moments being at the vets office. I didn’t know a house call was a possibility, and was too upset to think to ask that day. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that.
    I also have a border collie Charlie, who was very attached to Jazz.. She took him under her wing when he was 6 weeks old, and he became a happy, carefree, energetic clown with her by his side. She was our protector, best friend and center of our lives. After Jazz was gone, it took a very long time for Charlie to become himself again. He hid under my desk most of the time and was very grumpy and/or afraid of other animals. I had to coax him to eat and go for walks. Gradually, Charlie has come to welcome people and other dogs again, and loves to play with friend/family dogs when they come to visit. Now I think he’s ready to welcome another puppy into our lives. Every time I’ve gotten close to adopting another puppy, I’ve gone back to that last day with Jazz. I think I’m ready now. I know I have a lot of love to give a new pup. I know it won’t be Jazz, but I think it will be someone she would also have welcomed.

  15. My collie Smokey started having seizures at 10 months old. He was out on phenobarbital and potassium bromide to try to control them as he was having them weekly. On the medicine he had them every three weeks to a month but as time went on they lasted 30 minutes at a minimum to 2 plus hours. I made the tough decision to put him down last week after he had a 3 hour seizure, lost the use of his legs and went blind. I had to carry him to my car and into the vet. Since starting having seizures he had gotten very skittish and at times aggressive with my other dogs. Stress triggered seizures for him and in his last month he was having very violent seizures often…. His last seizure he practically bit his tongue off. Smokey was the most loving collie and so sweet when he wasn’t having seizures and I have a totally broken heart and feel so guilty that I put him down. People are telling me I ended his pain and suffering and with all the seizures he had over his 5 years of having them, he definitely suffered brain damage which affected him mentally and physically. I could never brush him for more than a couple minutes as he was very touch sensitive and he would snap at me because he didn’t like it. I just want to feel not so guilty about ending his pain and suffering and want to think that he is free of seizures and pain and whole again at the rainbow bridge…. In the meantime I cry and cry and blame
    Myself for putting him down

    • My heart goes out to you, what you did was for Smokeys sake even though you knew it would break your heart. That show’s how much you loved Smokey and no dog would ask for more than that. The guilt is normal and even though it hurts you so much now the pain will ease and eventually you will have good memories and you will realise that you did the kindest thing.

  16. I waited.
    I waited too long.
    She came to us as a rescue at 9 months old. She was young and close to our other dogs age. They would be friends, companions, and grow up together. We knew that she had had a seizure at 6 months old but there was no sign she would ever have another. It was wishful thinking. She began having seizures within the first month she moved in. Who knows what the underlying cause was she was diagnosed ” idiopathic epileptic”. Two months after we adopted her she had her first serious behavior changing seizure. We had my in-laws visiting and the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. After the seizure she became aggressive and we lost her potty training and obedience skills. She became snappy and vocal, where before she was sweet, willing to please, and followed me around non stop. For years we started over training a two or three year old dog with the mind of a 6 month old puppy.
    After 5 years we continued with treating the seizures. Early on it was routine, they were every two months or so, usually during a wind or thunderstorm or some other stressful experience. We tried almost every seizure medication on the market. We started going to a neurologist. The last two years of this sweet girls life was haunted by invisible things she needed to chase. When we finally got the fly-biting episodes under control, she began to develop nighttime anxiety. My work schedule had gotten longer, and I was away from home until dark. My husband was home with her keeping up the routine, but she was my dog and she needed me. She would wake up crying in the middle of the night, pacing, yelping until we would put her in bed with us. This was followed by her laying down for two minutes only to jump up and pace for two more, endlessly throughout the night. It was a circle of up and down and nobody got any sleep. In the morning she would seem back to normal. These episodes became more and more frequent with the latest medication, but it seemed it was controlling the grand mal seizures. She had one break through grand mal, while on the newest meds and even though it had been a while since the previous, it was extremely violent. The anxiety attacks followed on a weekly basis. If we left in the evening and came home around 9, we were guaranteed to have a restless night. These attacks were taking over our lives and hers. We couldn’t go anywhere, we couldn’t do anything, we needed to be home every evening or she would have an attack. We were missing work to catch up on lost sleep. There was no quality of life for any of us. Almost two months after the last grand mal, the fly-biting episodes came back. She began showing signs that another grand mal was coming. Last night it did.
    We did everything we could do. We used the emergency diazapam to try to pull her out of a cluster seizure. Immediately after she started seizing again and we were heading into the 5 minute mark. We took her to the bathroom and we put her under cold water to lower her body temperature. This is where I start to kick myself and the “should’a, could’a, would’a” kicks in. Should I have kept her under the running water longer? Should we have rushed her to a closer vet? Could we have done anything more? What else could we do? We took her to the emergency vet 15 minutes away. By the time we got there her body temperature was so high they couldn’t read it on the thermometer. There was nothing they could do. Within 5 minutes of arriving we were standing over her saying goodbye as the vet injected the drugs that would end her life.
    I sit here with a hole in my heart, missing the love of my life, wondering, knowing we should have done it sooner. We waiting until the decision was made for us. Did we ever listen to her? Did she ever tell us she was tired of fighting? Was I too selfish with my love for her that I kept prolonging the inevitable until the happy moments were few and hurt immense?

    • I understand the waiting. I am waiting too, hoping I don’t wait too late long, but not really knowing when too long is. My Rico has advanced cancer, but still has really good days, eats and drinks, wags his tail and seems happy, as long as I keep his pain medication regular. It’s so hard to know when the quality of life just isn’t there anymore, especially when it’s this wonderful little soul that has such perfect love and perfect trust in everything that you do for them. You weren’t selfish, you thought you were doing the best thing for her at the time and it was all done out of love.

  17. I am sitting here reading this posts as I desperately try to come to grips with the decision to euthanize my beloved best friend of 12 years, Rico. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) in September and I chose to proceed with chemotherapy, despite the costs and time commitment. I just couldn’t bear to part with him so soon. We used a single drug protocol with 1 treatment every three weeks, so he had minimal side effects and did very well through the whole thing. However not long before his one month post-chemo check up, a small cough started. His oncologist gave him a clean bill of health, other than the cough, which we kept on eye on. Of course the cough worsened over the next few weeks, and after a chest xray, it was determined he now had a sizable lump in his lungs. Soon after he began to have lymph node swelling again. We have been managing well for the last month, prednisone has helped with the swelling, but things are starting to swell again. He lays around most of the time, though he will still muster up energy for a car ride. He eats and drinks, though I can see it is getting harder for him to swallow. He wheezes and has to work harder to breath. Its terrible listening to him struggle at night. Im torn apart on when the right time is. He won’t get any better but still has happy moments. If I do it now, will I regret it? There is a long weekend coming up, and I worry that he will take a turn for the worse over the weekend. I’m a snivelling, snotty mess and just don’t know how to come to peacefully come to the right decision.

    • I really feel for you, our rescue dog was diagnosed with mouth cancer 4 weeks ago. We’ve only had him a year and he had an awful life before he came to us. I don’t know how I’ll cope when the time comes but like you I will do all I can for him. You have given your dog all the help you could but from what you’ve written the time has come to say goodbye, I know it will break your heart but can you bear the thought of him suffering? My heart goes out to you xx

      • circleofseven

        Thank you Sara. I feel for your poor doggy too. Rico had a good day today, much better than yesterday. But I know time with him is still short. I don’t know how I will cope either, I can’t imagine not having him along side me this spring working in the garden, or out camping this summer. I hope they can do something to help your pup, he’s deserves to have a good and happy life.

    • You do what is best for you and Rico.
      You are going to second guess yourself regardless. Was there more I could have done? Should I have waited? This is how you know you love him and you are putting his quality of life above your own happiness. My one big regret is waiting until the choice was taken from us and I wasn’t able to give her “her day” I would love to go back and give her a special day just for her to do all the things she loved. Chase squirrels, eat moms ice-cream, hike around the trails in the woods, just a spoiled rotten day before saying goodbye.

      It’s been 3 weeks since we lost our Kiwi. I was a complete mess when I wrote my original comment. The first week I was nearly inconsolable, The second week I started focusing on working through my grief. For me, having a support network of friends who showed me love and support while I was grieving helped the most. I went to the library and read books on pet loss and grief. They helped a lot. One book that helped was called “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die” this book talked about the loss of many pets and making the decision to say goodbye.

      You are doing the right thing by asking for help and guidance. Reach out to those who you know will understand. Find a support group, they are even available online. Know there are others going through this, others who are making this same hard decision, you are not alone. We pet parents have to stick together.
      I wish you the best through this time.

    • thank you had some good news yesterday, vet said that if the cancer hasn’t spread then they may be able to operate, but I still feel that i’m on borrowed time with my darling Billy. I hope that Rico had a good day today please try and enjoy every moment that you can with Rico make some more good memories to help you through the bad times x

  18. I feel so bad putting my2 year old dog to sleep he had seizures and one day the seizures got so bad took him to the vet and she had to put him under anesthecia to help control his seizures I took him home and the next day took him back because he was having small seizures constantly and he was so disoriented and like he couldn’t see or comprehend the vet said it was better to euathanized him because the seizures should have stopped with everything she had given him it broke my heart to make that decision I feel I can’t forgive myself he had so much life in him but the vet said it was the best thing to do.😢😢

  19. I’m so sorry for your loss. You have done the kindest thing. From what you’ve said he wouldn’t have had any quality of life, what you did has broken your heart but saved a much loved dog a life of pain and suffering. you have been strong enough to put his pain and suffering to an end, yours will ease and happy memories will make you smile just give it time xx

  20. I am heartbroken and so sorry to read of all these losses. My sweet Cavalier is only 6 years old, started drooling and couldn’t pick up the ball, I took her in and she had pneumonia, her lymph glands were enlarged. Antibiotics helped for a few days and then I took her back as she seemed to be gagging and difficulty breathing. The Vet scheduled a dental yesterday, thinking that she may have a broken or abscessed tooth. When they went to intubate her they saw a large mass in her throat. Squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil which is very serious. They did a biopsy and I brought her home last night. She is eating, drinking, but when I walked her today only a short distance I had to carry her home. I cried all the way. I don’t know how much time I have with her, maybe only days, but reading your heartbreaking stories of loss and the ultimate gift of peace by euthanasia has helped me to know that when the time comes I will do what is right and not let her suffer. As I am writing this, she is leaned against my leg, tears are flowing and I am so lost. She is my best friend, my constant companion. Life will never be the same without her.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your poor cavalier king Charles, my darling fox terrier was diagnosed with mouth cancer a few months ago. He had surgery about 8 weeks ago and so far all is well, all you can do is take every day as it comes and enjoy her while she’s with you. She is so lucky to have such a loving mummy not all dogs are so blessed. when the time comes whether that is in days weeks or god willing years you will know and you will do the right thing. You will fill all her remaining days with love and hold her at the end that is all any dog asks for. My thoughts are with you xx

  21. I think the worst part is the argument between my head and my heart. Yesterday I had my dog put to sleep. Atka was my fifth Samoyed but was not like any other Samoyed I ever had. He was just a little over a year old and he could be the sweetest, most loving dog But his mood could change on a dime. I tried obedience training but he was noticeably stressed by the surrounding so we began in home training. He would share his toys but the things he stole he would guard and you did not dare try to go for it – he bit me once when I tried to get the object away from him. It was my fault but it scared me and he broke the skin. The trainer gave us things to try but it did not help the guarding. I took him to the vet and had blood work done but all test results came back fine. We put him on Clomicalm to try to level him out and also had his thyroid tested – those test results showed that it was low and we put him on a prescription. However, he continued to be the same – if not got worse. He began barking right at our face and would not stop. I would walk him early in the morning (leave the house at 5:30) to avoid other people and their dogs because he would freak out if was everything I could do to keep him walking. It was amazing how he could look at you so differently – sometimes loving and sometimes so angry. I had to be careful petting his head because sometimes he would snarl. On Wednesday I went to the kitchen table to look at a plant – Atka blocked me from the table and growled at me…twice. He did not have anything aththe table so I am not sure why. My mom was scared of him and my dad would not leave her home alone. The house has been very stressful and I feel as though sometimes we were walking on egg shells around him. My parents look after my dogs during the day when I am at work (my other sammies are 12 and almost 4) and other than work I didn’t go out. On Saturday we had to attend a walk for a relative – my parents went early and I went later. I was going to stay for an hour and head home but it turned out my aunts and some of my cousins were going out for dinner. My dad said to go and have a good time and he would go check on the dogs. He took the two older dogs out first and went back to get Atka out. Atka was barking and running his paw against the crate door. When my father let him out he came shooting out and grabbed my comforter and ripped it apart. My father could barely control him. My father tried calling me but due to the noise in the restaurant I did not hear it. I eventually saw the missed calls and called him – when I found out what had happened I came home – there was large pieces of stuffing still in the backyard. However, Atka calmed down and the rest of the evening passed. We got ready for bed and I put Atka in his crate. He was whining in his crate so I took him out to take him outside – he was very hyper trying to grab at his leash jumping at the walls trying to reach it – it was all I could do to hold on to him – it was unsettling. Sunday morning he got very angry barking at me until he had me in a corner and going after my 4yr old Samoyed. We made the decision that it was time to let him go. I have a lot guilt now – I loved him so much and can’t help wondering if I did something wrong with him. I wonder if maybe he had another family that this would never have happened. I contacted the breeder several times about this and they recommended euthanasia- that was earlier in the Spring. That they would not have even wanted to see him for themselves was very upsetting. The house is so quiet today and it feels weird to not have to worry about forgetting to close doors or ensuring that the kitchen counters are cleared so there is nothing for him to steal. I feel bad that he had to die so young and wish that it could have ended so differently – it was not the ending I had imagined. It is hard losing a dog in his senior years but he was so young and there was nothing to explain his behavior. At least if he had been sick or the vet could say there was a tumor I would have that but instead I have guilt and feeling that I failed him.

    • I’m so sorry to read what happened, Dene, as it sounds so similar to my story.
      It sounds like you did everything that you could to try and help Atka.
      I hated myself for a long time for making a similar decision to you but then go through, in my mind, the reasons why I took that step – it was for the safety of others and the health of my dog….

      Time will help to lessen the pain, as hard as that is to believe at the moment….

      • Thank you Steve, it helps to know that there are others who have gone through this experience.

  22. 8 months ago we adopted a beagle from our local shelter. Within a week she had had 2 seizurez, each lasting about an hour long. She was put on medicines, which did ok for a few months. Recently, the medicines do not seem to help. She is averaging 1-2 two hour seizures per week. She is being euthanized today. I am overcome with guilt, but I know she must have extensive brain damage.

  23. So sad but comforting to read all these stories which are reassuring to us in our time of grief. 3 days ago we put to sleep Otto our darling 13 year old GSP. He had been epileptic since age 5 but things were under control with medication.
    In the last year he had noticeably aged, slowed down and wanted to go for long walks less although he was always so excited when the gun cabinet went and he could go out with his dad. They had a special bond. With me, he was my close friend and confidant. He sat with me on the sofa and we talked and cuddled. He was great company as my girls had grown up and “left’ home. I shall miss him so much and writing this i feel like my heart has broken and as much as i tell myself we made the right decision for him at the time, it hurts so much.
    He’d had an upset tummy for a while and had recently started vomiting and dribbling a lot . Also he had been diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis although the specialist advised we wait over the winter to see how he went. Neither of us really wanted to put him through surgery at his age so we decided to see how he went and keep an eye on him.
    Weds night before he died, he went into the garden onto the flower beds and tried to get in behind a bush and he just stood in the garden looking down at me and i sensed something was wrong. In the night i heard him scraping at rugs and trying to get in a corner of my daughters bedroom. I know now that this is called “denning” when they feel vulnerable.
    I got up early at 4.15 am and he got up on the sofa with me but was restless and as he got down off the chair, his whole body went from underneath him. I made him comfy on the floor, covered him to keep him warm and sat with him until my husband got back home in a few hours. I had rang the vet to seek advise but i couldn’t move him anyway to get him in the car and he didn’t want to go. He perked up when my husband got home, wagging his tail and taking him a cushion. He loved cushions and we got through many. The tears are flowing now as i write this but it helps to share.
    Anyway we talked to the vet and discussed euthanasia something we had discussed and as he hated the vets and was happy at home with us, we would monitor him. Midday the vet was to make a house call but we delayed it a bit as he seemed to have a second wind. He had slept, dreamt and ate a bit fresh chicken and had a drink. After going out for a wee, he came back in and went all wobbly again and i had to coax him to the floor where he remained motionless, just his eyes moving and looking at us and they were saying that ‘ I’m tired now, let me go”. We looked at each other and knew the time was right no matter how sad we felt. Also we really felt he was on his way.
    The vet came within 15 minutes and Otto didn’t move, just his eyes which i will never forget. The vet shaved his leg after saying ottos tummy was rigid and his gums were white, indicating a bleed. We dont know actually what was going on but knew it was something horribly wrong and His time had come. The injection within seconds worked, no sedative needed as he was so chilled and he slipped away. The sadness we then felt was like nothing i had ever felt before but we knew we had given him a “normal’ day with us and he wasn’t stressed. In a way it was perfect for him, us stroking him and me telling him as i always did how much i loved him and he could now go and chase all those deer in the sky. We buried him in the garden where he used to sit and watch me. He’s not physically here although he was such a life force that i believe i feel him all around and he is happy and knows how loved he was. The grief is horrid for us but we have to try and come to terms with our decision to let him go. It was the best thing for him.
    Im sorry to write so much, didn’t mean to but it helps and i hope it helps someone else to “know’ when that time has come to let your beloved family member go. My husband joked that i wont make as much fuss when he goes. Hopefully the pain will get less and we can remember all the joy he brings us as the days go by.

  24. My dog has a brain tumor and he has his good days and he has his bad days. His he still eats and drinks water and goes outside and no seizures yet but he has stopped wagging his tail and he looks sad and he has days that he will go without eating for about a couple of days. The vet has him on steroids and it helps a lot. He has lot a lot of muscle around his head and chest, he is an American pit bull terrier. I know the time is coming but my heart hurts. Our female has breast cancer and was given 3 months and has lived 1 yr and 2 months. Btw he is 11 yrs old.

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