We all wish our dogs could live forever, but the sad reality is, in most cases, they'll pass on to the next life before us. Sometimes, they pass away peacefully at home of natural causes. Other times, a medical condition or declining general health causes them pain, and we have to make the difficult decision of whether to put them to sleep.
Making this choice is always hard, but sometimes it's the right thing to do, especially if it will spare your dog pain in his last days. Here are 10 things to consider when making that decision and in the steps that follow.
How to Know It's Time
1. Quality of Life
A major factor when choosing whether to put your dog down revolves around his quality of life. Consider whether he’ll enjoy the rest of their life, or whether he’ll face too much pain to do the things he loves. Pay attention to the number of good days versus bad ones and whether your dog can still do the things he likes, such as going for walks and eating his favorite foods.
2. Chance of Recovery
If your dog has a chance of recovering from the medical condition affecting him, and better days may lie ahead, consider treatment. If your vet tells you the chances of recovery are low or near impossible, it might not be worth the extra pain your dog will go through.
3. Signs from Your Pet
Many dog owners say they know it's time because their pet tells them so. They may get a feeling of certainty, or their dog may give them a sign. One common sign is when a dog stops eating. While you can't always count on this, it's one thing that helps some people come to a decision.
4. Professional Opinions
Vets have experience with this sort of thing and often know when it's time. They can give you advice from a medical perspective to help inform your decision. If you need additional assurance, you can always get a second opinion from another vet.
5. The Last Days
Although this isn't always the case, sometimes you may get some time with your dog before putting him to sleep. If you do get this time, think about how your pet would want to spend his last days. If he can still enjoy them, consider getting him his favorite foods or giving him a special treat, like a nice steak. This time will also give you a chance to say goodbye to your dog and show him that you care.
This is a subject no one wants to discuss, but varying costs come with putting your dog down. You will likely want even less to deal with payment after the fact, so try to pay and get everything taken care of beforehand if possible. Your vet's office can help you with this.
7. Burial and Cremation
You will also need to decide how you want to honor your pet after he passes. You can choose burial, cremation, or other options. You can also opt for organ donation to help other dogs. Some people bury their dog at home. Pet cemeteries and vets can also help you with this step.
8. Where to Do It
You can sometimes choose to take your pet to the vet's office or have the vet come to your home to perform the euthanasia. Some people prefer having the vet come to the house so the dog can be where they are comfortable, especially if it is painful for the dog to move around. In other cases, going to the vet is the more comfortable option.
9. Whether to Be There
Whether or not you want to be there while the vet puts your dog to sleep is up to you. Some people want to be there with their dog until the end, while others feel it's best to say their goodbyes beforehand.
10. The Grieving Process
Losing a pet is hard, so make sure you give yourself time to grieve. Don't rush into getting a new dog unless you feel you're ready to. If you have kids, be honest and prepare to help them through the grieving process. Also, try not to be offended if someone who doesn't have pets doesn't understand what you're going through.
Losing a pet is always hard, and putting down your dog is difficult in its own way, even when you know it was the best option for your pet. The loss of a pet is personal, and everyone grieves differently, so do your best to give yourself and those around you the time and support they need.