For the majority of pet owners, our dogs become like family. It may seem cringe-worthy for some, but the truth is that these furry beings become as important as the human members of our family tree. Dogs have a unique ability to worm their way into your heart and often have a lasting impact. For some, this love begins during childhood; for others, this love begins in adulthood, when they can adopt or purchase their own dog.
If you are the sole owner of a dog, the bond can be as intense as it is immeasurable. That is why it is so hard to determine when it is time to euthanize your dog. How can a person make such a difficult decision? When you must weigh your dog’s pain against the pain of your loss, how can you possibly think clearly? This article is to help you not only determine whether your dog is ready to be euthanized but also if you are ready to euthanize your dog. Read on to figure out when and why it would be time to euthanize your furriest family member.
Measuring Your Dog’s Quality of Life
If you are reading this article, you’ve obviously noticed that your dog is unwell. Whether it be from old age or a potentially life-threatening health problem, something is different. There are many ways to determine your dog’s quality of life. Below are some ways to measure your dog’s behavior before taking the next step.
- Your dog appears to be suffering from chronic pain
- You have already taken your dog to the Vet and had him checked out. While it was determined that your buddy has a chronic pain issue, the prescribed treatment isn’t working. Upon deciding that the treatment isn’t helping, take your dog back to the Vet. The next course of action may be deciding that there is no other solution than to end your dog’s suffering.
- Your dog has trouble breathing
- If you find that your dog’s breathing has been laborious, this could be indicative of a much bigger problem. Whether the breathing problem leads to a cough, or leads your dog to inactivity, you may have to consider ending your dog’s pain with euthanasia.
- Your dog is constantly vomiting or having diarrhea
- Frequent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and weight loss. While this may indicate a virus or that your dog is having a severe reaction to something he ate, it may also indicate a larger problem. A brief bought of vomiting and diarrhea will not permanently harm your dog. However, persistent vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of a larger issue and can have dire consequences. Should the illness continue unchecked, your dog may suffer from such severe dehydration and weight loss, that his body may give out. To avoid ongoing pain and suffering, you should talk to your Vet to determine whether intervention is necessary.
- Your dog is incontinent
- This is a similar issue to diarrhea. However, incontinence will not necessarily lead to dehydration and weight loss. Incontinence is the inability to control one’s bowels or bladder. If your dog cannot hold in fecal matter or urine, he may be very sick or very old. Should you reach this juncture with your pet, consult your Vet to determine the best course of action.
- Your dog no longer participates in his favorite activities
- It is wise to note your dog’s usual habits when he is healthy. If you know your dog likes to play Frisbee in the park or chase the cat around the house, then you will know when your dog’s habits have changed. Take note of all the things you know your dog loves to do; when he can no longer participate in these activities, see your vet. This may indicate that your dog’s quality of life is greatly suffering and your only option may be to consider putting him down.
- To measure your dog’s quality of life, actual measure your dog’s quality of life.
- Use Dr. Alice Villalobos’ “Quality of Life Scale” to determine if your dog is suffering. The categories that are quantified are: Hurt, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility, and good vs. bad days. If you total up less than thirty-five points, it may be time to discuss final options with your Vet.
Getting a Second Opinion
Before submitting to your Vet’s determination that it is time to euthanize your dog, always get a second opinion. This notion is true for humans too; when dealing with a serious medical diagnosis, you should always get a back-up evaluation. One Doctor or Vet may catch something the other one didn’t. The second opinion could also serve to affirm that you have received appropriate care and are making the right treatment decisions.
Preparing for Euthanizing Your Dog
You have observed your dog’s behavior and declining health and have decided that it is time to euthanize him. Below are ways in which you can prepare yourself, your family, and your dog for euthanasia.
- Spend time with your dog, whether it is going on a long walk (if your pet is able) or merely lying down together, this time will be important for both you and your fuzzy loved one.
- Talk to your Vet about the procedure and make sure any questions you have are answered to your satisfaction. Though some people may feel better not knowing all the details, others feel less anxiety when they know all the angles.
- Decide whether or not you would like to be present for the procedure.
- It is also important to establish what will make your dog most comfortable, as you do not want them ill at ease during their final moments.
- Some Veterinarians provide euthanasia at home, so both the dog and owner can be comfortable during this difficult time.
- Sedation may be necessary.
- Consider that your dog may not be the best patient and is often apprehensive about Vet visits. For this final visit, you or your Vet may want to sedate the dog.
- Depending on the size of your dog, you may be able to hold your pet during the procedure.
- If you own a dog that feels comfortable being held, this is probably the ideal solution to creating a calm environment. If you have a large dog, you will most likely be able to pet or hug them during the procedure. Either way, should you choose to be in the room, you will be able to comfort your friend.
- Arrange for dealing with your deceased dog’s remains.
- Some people may want to take the remains home and deal with them independently, others may want to arrange for cremation through the Vet. Either way is acceptable and is ultimately decided by the owner and how they choose to deal with death.
When it’s Time to Euthanize Your Dog
Once your dog is in the examination room, the entire procedure will only take a few minutes. The solution that gets injected into your dog will take effect in six to twelve seconds. Once, this process is over and your dog has passed, you may choose to spend a final few moments or leave as quickly as possible. Whatever feels “right” to you, is the correct answer.
After Euthanizing Your Dog
Now that your dog has had his final moments, you may proceed to either take your dog for burial or leave his remains with the Vet for cremation. This is something you have previously decided upon and discussed with your Vet, so you do not have to deal with this difficult decision in the moment.
It may seem odd to some that pets (dogs in particular) are treated like family members. However, for those who have had the extreme pleasure of owning a pet, it seems pretty natural. Therefore, it can be exceptionally hard to deal with euthanizing your dog and being there in the final moments. Always remember that this decision should be made with great care and is decided upon based on the quality of your dog’s life. Ultimately, this decision is for the sake of ending your dog’s suffering; you are being a responsible and mature pet owner by proceeding with this difficult process.
Hopefully, this article has helped you determine the appropriate course of action and has also prepared you for euthanizing your dog. We hope his final moments are spent with you and you serve as a comfort to someone who has been a great comfort to you for many years.
Before you make any decisions, watch this relative video :