Preparing for a Pet's Death
I have a 4-year-old Lab/retriever mix. She was diagnosed with kidney and liver disease when she was 11 months old. I want to know when it is time to put her down, because I don't want to see her suffer. Lately she has been very lazy, and hasn't been eating or drinking a lot. My husband is deployed right now, and my kids, who are 6, 4, and four months old, are very attached to her. Please help me.
The task of preparing your children for the death of a beloved pet can seem very overwhelming, Markie. However, it is also an opportunity to show your children how well your family can cope with sadness.
It is very important that you are honest with your children. They can see the dog is not as healthy as she used to be. Tell them that the dog has a disease; it is best to name the disease. Tell them that you promised the dog that you will not let her hurt too much. Tell them that even though the dog will die and not be in the house any more, the whole family will always remember her. Be sure to let the kids participate in any good-bye plans you have.
You wanted to know when is a good time to euthanize your dog. Her quality of life is already diminished. Perhaps you could make an appointment with the vet when you have some friends or family members to watch your children, so her death does not have to be an emergency.
Don't be surprised if the kids ask for a new dog right away. That is a normal wish, but I would wait until you have some more help at home.
At the ASPCA, we really appreciate your sensitivity to balancing the needs of your children with those of the dog's. Good luck.