How To Know When To Put Your Dog Down ?

Sometimes holding on can only prolong suffering and pain than letting go. This is especially true for our beloved dogs whom we have loved and nurtured since the day we met them. We all picture our fur babies growing old with us until they die of old age in the comforts of our homes. Unfortunately, some dogs are just too sick to grow old. As dog owners, we have no other choice but to make the ultimate sacrifice, to ask our vets to put our precious dogs down.

While euthanasia can help our beloved dogs from further pain and misery, the hardest part is deciding when our beloved dogs are ready to be put to sleep. So how do we know when enough is enough? How do we know when it’s time to euthanize a dog? What are the signs that we should watch out for? We will discuss these and more in this article.

1. What is Dog Euthanasia?

We’ve heard the term, “ Dog Euthanasia” a lot of times and it’s something that we don’t want to discuss as dog owners. But this term has been misused a lot of times, thus we refuse to even understand its real meaning.

During ancient times, Egyptians “euthanize” their pets so they will have a companion even in the afterlife. Sometime in the past, it is being used as a method to control the rising dog population. The methods used to perform “euthanasia” back in the day are also what we can call barbaric. Thus, it’s something that we’ve always feared and misunderstood. Contrary to its negative connotation, “euthanasia” comes from the Greek word “EU” which means good, and “Thanatos” which means death. This brings us to the real meaning of dog euthanasia which is, the practice or act of ending a dog’s life to relieve it from pain through painless, humane methods. And what are those humane methods? In the USA, 49 states have already passed laws regulating animal euthanasia. This means that only licensed vets or technicians can perform such practice. And the majority of the states have also agreed that only the use of sodium pentobarbital by injection is the most humane and acceptable way of putting down a dog. 

2. What Happens During Dog Euthanasia?

Most dog owners would rather let their beloved dogs suffer and die a natural death than put their dogs to sleep and this is because they’re too afraid to ask what’s really going on during dog euthanasia. The process itself is actually very short and solemn. We say solemn because you’ll be given time to say goodbye to your fur baby. You can even arrange a “farewell” ceremony if you choose to have it performed at home.

Just like humans, dogs can be reactive to needles and will whimper and grow anxious before the procedure. This is why most vets will administer a sedative first to calm dogs down and make them feel comfortable.  After which, your vet will inject a chemical substance called pentobarbitone into your precious. It will slow down and stop your dog’s heart, brain, and breathing. It’s transitioning without experiencing any pain. 

Sometimes you may see tears making it seem like the dog cries during euthanasia. Sometimes you may also hear something that sounds like a gasp of air coming from your beloved dog. You might also see slight twitching and releasing of bodily fluids. Don’t worry. These are just part of the natural occurrence of involuntary muscle reflexes right after death. 

This whole process only takes approximately 2-3 minutes including the injection of sedative and pentobarbitone. You’ll see how peaceful your dog passed without a hint of pain.

3. When To Euthanize A Dog?

You need a person like your vet to guide you through this tough situation. Your vet can tell you when it is time to euthanize your dog but you are the only person who can decide for the welfare of your beloved dog. Here is a list of some health-related reasons when to put a dog down?

Old Dog Seizures When To Put Down

Seizures, also known as epilepsy, are a very common neurological disease in dogs. It is characterized by sudden twitching, uncontrollable shaking due to an abnormality of a dog’s brain. For young dogs between 6 months – 6 years old, seizures are not debilitating and rather treatable.  

It is very uncommon for an old dog to suddenly have seizures. This means that your dog’s seizures might have multiple causes such as brain tumor, liver disease, hypoglycemia, head trauma, kidney disease, or poisoning. If your senior dog’s seizures are becoming more frequent and can no longer be managed by medication, then this means that you should think about your dog’s quality of life. 

Dog Bowel Incontinence Euthanasia

Urinary and bowel incontinence is quite common in elderly dogs. It is manageable and treatable depending on its severity and what the underlying causes are. Unfortunately, for dogs with incontinence due to cancer, tumor, severe cystitis, degenerative myelopathy,  certain protozoal and parasitic diseases, or injury/trauma, chances of recovery are next to none. Thus, most dog owners are compelled to euthanize their dogs to shorten the suffering.

Dog Renal Failure When To Euthanize

Our dog’s kidneys are the vital organs that remove toxins and waste from their bloodstreams. Kidneys also help regulate the level of minerals in their bodies. But what happens to dogs with kidney or renal diseases? This is the trickiest part. Dogs with renal conditions don’t show symptoms until their kidney functions deteriorate which often leads to renal failure. Medicines might help slow the process down but there’s no assurance that your dog will be in the pink of health. Treatment will also involve hospitalization, change in diet, and lots of medications.

Watch out for these signs that show your dog’s renal failure is at its final stage. This means it’s time to let go. 

  • weight loss
  • muscle weakness
  • extreme lethargy
  • pale gums
  • ulcers in the mouth
  • no longer interested in food
  • disinterested in you
  • Vomiting

4. Is It Time To Euthanize My Dog Quiz

Deciding on ending your dog’s suffering is never an easy decision. The dilemma of wanting to spend more time with your dog versus the quality of life that your dog has now will only lead to more confusion. Here is a quiz that can help you check your dog’s current state of health and determine when it is time to put your dog to sleep. 

1). Old Dog Seizures When To Put Down

  • My dog is fully active and can go wherever he wants.
  • My dog doesn’t like moving around that much without pain medication. He prefers to stay in one location most of the time.
  • My dog can’t move or stand without any help from us.

2). Food Intake

  • My dog is eating as usual
  • My dog is eating less than usual and takes longer to finish a meal.
  • My dog isn’t interested in eating anymore

3). Liquid Intake

  • My dog drinks his water as usual
  • My dog drinks water more or less than his usual after taking prescription medicine due to an illness
  • I force my dog to drink water all the time

4). Social Interaction

  • My dog enjoys spending time with me, my family, and other dogs
  • My dog enjoys spending time with us but has become a bit snippy.
  • My dog has lost interest in playing and spending time with the family and other dogs in our house.

5). Bathroom

  • My dog regularly goes to the bathroom
  • My dog sometimes have accidents in the house
  • My dog has lost control of his bowel and urine

6). Activity

  • My dog is excited about activities such as playing fetch, walking, and running.
  • My dog is not that interested in some activities but still does walking with me.
  • My dog has lost interest in doing different activities.

7). Breathing

  • My dog has no cough nor wheezing and can tolerate exercise
  • My dog sometimes coughs, wheezes, can’t tolerate exercise but meds help.
  • My dog has been panting a lot. He often coughs and wheezes with difficulty breathing.

8). Appearance

  • My dog looks clean and shiny
  • My dog’s skin is more, fur is a bit dull
  • My dog looks dull and lifeless

9). Pain

  • My dog seems okay and doesn’t feel uncomfortable
  • My dog has difficulty getting up in the morning and seems to limp every after activities.
  • My dog is showing signs of pain. He constantly vocalizes and whimpers.

10). Sleep

  • My dog sleeps as usual
  • My dog is sleeping more during the day and is active at night
  • My dog seems to be sleeping all the time. I rarely see him awake.

If your answer is mostly A’s, it means your dog’s quality of life is at its best. You did a great job taking good care of him.

If your answer is mostly B’s, this means that your dog is doing okay but you still need to watch out for certain signs and symptoms that may lead to health problems.

If your answer to these questions is mostly C’s, it means your dog’s health is deteriorating. Your vet can help you delay the inevitable but there’s no guarantee of good health. In most cases, it is only prolonging a dog’s suffering.

5. How Are You Feeling?

You’ve read about the nitty-gritty of dog euthanasia and took the quiz. You have almost made up your mind but it’s also important to assess your own being. You know that your dog will soon have to say goodbye but you still feel guilty about having to put him to sleep. Maybe because at the back of your mind, there is still hope. It’s okay to feel guilty but you also have to understand that you are compassionately ending your dog’s suffering rather than finding him dead later or worse their illness might cause him to lose control and eventually hurt other people. 

6. Final Thoughts

As dog owners, it is heartbreaking to see our dogs’ quality of life deteriorate no matter how much we take care of them. Even vets and medicines can’t help prolong their precious life with us. We are forced to decide on something that will break our hearts and our family’s forever. Remember that euthanasia is an ethical choice for loving dog owners to ending their dog’s suffering. All you have to do is visit your vet, discuss your dog’s current condition and you’ll never go wrong. Knowing the signs it’s time to euthanize your dog will also help you feel more comfortable and provide you with peace of mind as you decide for your dog’s life. Your decision might be frowned upon by others but don’t forget that you have a family whom you can talk to. No one knows your dog’s heart better than you. 

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