How Do You Know When to Euthanize?
How do you know when you should put your dog down? I have a Toy Poodle who is going to be 17 years old soon. He's blind, seems confused and has to wear a diaper at nightbut he still eats and drinks, and I don't think he is in any pain. I don't want to be selfish because I love him so much. It’s so hard to know what to do.
Linda, you are right to be gathering information on how to make this difficult decision. I am not a vet, but I once heard one say to the owner of an elderly dog: “Your dog is going downhill. Do you want to wait until he reaches the bottom?” Of course, the owner said “no” because the bottom means all the distress associated with dying.
Since is there never a right time from the owner's point of view, the wisest thing to do is to time the euthanasia based on the dog's overall quality of life. Just because a dog is eating and drinking, he still may be very uncomfortable with the confusion, incontinence and other discomforts of extreme old age.
I suggest you call your vet and ask for specific signs you should watch out for, and then make an appointment to euthanize in the coming weeks. Spend that time saying goodbye and giving your dog as much pleasure as you can, such as his favorite foods. If, in a week, your dog seems to be enjoying life, you can easily cancel the appointment. But if you do proceed, you will be prepared. You want to avoid the lingering regret that you waited too long in case your dog’s medical condition gets very bad.
If you want to talk, please call our toll-free Pet Loss Hotline at (877) 474-3310.