Euthanizing a beloved pet

Euthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions any pet guardian must make.

One of the most difficult decisions that almost any animal guardian at some point must make is when they must wish their canine or feline companion a compassionate goodbye, by choosing humane euthanasia for a chronically ill, untreatable, or suffering elder pet. As in human medicine, animals are living longer and longer in recent years, and with age come many chronic degenerative diseases. Organ failure including liver or kidney failure, degenerative joint or spinal disease, declining cognitive dysfunction, and cancer of any organ system all top the list of chronic diseases in aging pets.

And while there have been many medical and surgical advances in helping palliate many of these conditions, there does come a time when an animal guardian must make a decision on continuing management of these and other conditions versus the difficult decision of humane euthanasia when quality of life of most days is very poor. Certainly having a long term relationship with a trusting and kind small animal veterinarian who knows you and your companion best, and who can help you sort through treatment options is an essential part of caring for an ill pet who may be approaching a transitional period of life, and/or where treatment is no longer helping.

While many animal guardians would prefer their pets pass peacefully in their sleep and/or at home, many dogs and cats can linger for weeks or months in states of suffering, that often only the trusted family veterinarian can assess in an objective, nonjudgmental fashion. While there are some veterinarians who utilize homeopathic medicines in assisting the transitional process, most of the time chemical euthanasia, through the painless injection of an anesthetic, offers the best option for most animal guardians. This difficult decision is one that can only be made after careful consideration, thought and discussion with your family veterinarian.

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  1. My dog is 14 years old & can hardly move around. He eats & sleeps normally, but never lets me know anymore that he needs to pee or poop. For some reason he can’t bark anymore. I don’t feel any lumps around his throat/thyroid area. I don’t have the money to take him to a vet anymore; and I have deep feelings he has an overactive thyroid & diabetes problem. I’ve had dogs for 50 years of my life. I feel like a vet doc sometimes. My question is; is there any way I can put my precious “son” to rest with euthanasia. I’ve given shots before. He weighs 60 to 70 lbs. All the Vets around here want loads of money I just don’t have anymore. I can’t see him suffer anymore. And I know he is. I rent and this house is becoming a pig farm. I’m old and handicapped which makes everything much worse. Can you guys help me? I could euthanise him. Please any suggestions?

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    There is nothing I can suggest for at home care in situation like this or recommend euthanasia at home. Try a local shelter or clinic.

  3. Hi
    I have a 4 yr old neutered cat, he is in good health but this last week he has a very raspy voice (meow) he is very vocal and I don’t know what could be going on. He has slowed down on his eating since his throat has been like this, but is playing and acting fine, coat is good, eyes are clear, not sure on the potty because he goes outside. He did catch a mouse last week, could he have picked up something from it? because the very next day his throat started sounding hoarse. He doesn’t eat them just plays with them until they are dead. He is current on his shots also. plzzz help I am worried, this is the 4th day now. Thank you very much I look forward to receiving your advise.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

    He could have a viral or bacterial inflammation of his larynx and airways. Iwould take him to vet for an exam and possible medications.

  5. Hello Dr. Dym,

    Thank you for responding to my question. I cannot afford to take him to his vet at this time, but I do have a full course of Albon 5% exp. 3/13, would it be alright to give this to him and would it help? He has been acting about the same but I did notice tonight he coughed some and his appetite is not as good as it usually is. If this is not a good idea I will try to figure out a way to get him to his vet mon/tue. If he has a viral infection would this help also? I know Albon is used for bacterial infections but not sure if this would help it if it is viral. Thank you very much for your help and information, it is very appreciated and I just want to get him better.

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I only use albon in cases of coccidia intestinal parasites. I would wait to see the vet.

  7. Hi Dr. Dym

    Thank you very much for your help and advise. I did get him to his vet monday and he doesn’t have an infection (thank goodness) but he does have some inflammation (lungs are clear) in his throat, so they gave him an injection of Metacam which is helping him. He is starting to feel better and has meowed a little bit today. I also have another cat (which is his brother and about the same size and weight) that has worms and he is feral but i have noticed small round worms around his bottom. I do have 2 tablets of Drontal Exp 7/12 for him, since he is so feral and i cannot catch him do you think if i crushed it, put in raw hamburger and cooked the hamburger it would work? I have but it in his food before but he will not eat the food and it go’s to waste. Also i have seen a site offering a new way of treating worms and that is to apply it directly on them like you do with the flea medications. Have you heard of this because it would make it so much easier to get him treated this way or do you think it could be just a rip off? and doesnt work. I am able to treat him for fleas this way. I am sorry to bother you again and i really appreciate your help with everything but i do want to get him treated, he deserves my help. someday i will be able to catch him but so far its been “not gonna happen” with him. I have tried many times with no luck. thank you very much for your advise and i promise i will not bother you again for awhile. Thank you again Julie

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    You can crush the tablets in some cooked hamburger if you wish. Not sure about topical treatment of tapeworms, as I have no experience with this.

  9. I have a mix breed, 13 1/2 years on this earth. He ways approximately 95-100 lbs. He is getting worse. He walks in circles (appears he is having trouble with his left hind leg) the Dr. says could be a neurological condition. He pants constantly. I just started him on Anipryl, 30mg in the morning. He is also on Metacam for pain. He cannot stand for more than a minute without collapsing (his hind quarters). He does eat and drinks (alot more drinking now). However, he still greets me like a puppy, insists on sleeping next to me, will only calm down/lay down if I am sitting with him (when I am home). He doesn’t play with toys anymore. Still loves his biscuit treats. Yes, it is alot more work for me to take care of him, I support his left hind leg when we are outside, hold his body up when he is doing his business (can’t squat), but I don’t mind. I could never put him down just because it’s more work for me…the work comes out of love for him. I am trying to make his quality of life better. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how much he is suffering. I just don’t know.

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 6, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Sounds like as long as he is interacting with you and eating ok that he is not suffering and that you are doing an excellent job in keeping him comfortable.

  11. I have a three years old dog ,who has never been alone,we euhanasia a 15 year old recently.The younger dog missing him badly.I do too.I read what and when to euthanasia an animal.How do I help the young dog and me?

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 14, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Try homeopathic remedy ignatia at dose of 30c once or twice daily for a few days for grief. Also consider Be serene for your pet from 1800petmeds.

  13. I hope it works,he really missing old dude,me also.

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