My mother has always said, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
Right now, I’m pondering those words.
This week, my 14-year-old dog has been sick. His health has been on a steady decline for about a year and a half. We bought some time by putting him on a grain-free diet. We supplemented with a lot of organic people food. Then he seemed healthy again.
In recent months, we noticed he was having more trouble getting around . Our wonderful homeopath prescribed a well-selected remedy. He began to jump on the couch again. We also noticed he was breathing much easier.
Two weeks ago, though, he started wetting on the kitchen floor, instead of asking to go out. For some time, we’ve been wondering if dementia was setting in. Sometimes, he’d look at us with what seemed to be confusion.
On Christmas Eve, our dog clearly wasn’t doing well. He started refusing to eat. Christmas Day he ate nothing. The next day he didn’t eat anything either. Fortunately, he was still drinking.
Our family pet is clearly reaching the end of his life. Was there a way to buy him a little more time?
When Should You Put Your Dog to Sleep?
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Fortunately, we have an incredible homeopath. She’s really a people homeopath. But she’s also very good with animals.
We tried different remedies, trying to match his symptoms as closely as possible. The one remedy that had helped him so much wasn’t working any more. This is typical with homeopathic treatment. When a remedy does its job, it’s time to move on.
This time, nothing helped. Our dog ate a little bit two days after Christmas. But, later that night, he refused food. He did the same the next day.
I called my homeopath and told her nothing was working. She had one more thing to suggest. “Give him some Rescue Remedy and see what happens,” she said, explaining that she uses this formula on injured birds her cat brings home, before she releases them.
So I put a couple of drops of Bach Rescue Remedy on my dog’s nose, not really expecting anything good to come of it. This is a formula developed by the late Dr. Edward Bach, MD. It’s often taken to deal with the emotional (and physical) effects of shock. Some pet owners use Rescue Remedy before a trip to the vet or to the groomer.
The next morning we checked on my dog. He was sleeping, so we didn’t disturb him.
Alternatives to Putting a Dog to Sleep
He woke up around 10 am. Amazingly, he looked a little better. He drank some water and wanted to go out. After coming inside, he was ravenously hungry.
We indulged him. My son was eating breakfast. My husband grabbed two sausages off his plate. Since the dog was hungry, we wanted to feed him. He voraciously ate both sausages, along with some leftover chicken.
The rest of the day he followed us around the house, very alert and much steadier on his feet. I am so happy we didn’t jump the gun and decide to bring him to the vet, to be “put to sleep.”
This is an irrevocable and irreversible decision that shouldn’t be made in haste. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know how much longer we’ll have with our dog. But I’m happy with the time we have left.
I realize this topic is emotionally charged and highly controversial. For me, I have no plans to “put my dog to sleep” unless it’s clear he’s in pain, and nothing else is working.
Life is precious. Where there’s life, there’s hope.
I hope anyone who reads this never makes a decision to put a dog to sleep in haste, or under pressure.
Rescue Remedy for Dogs
Please understand that I’m not suggesting that Rescue Remedy is a panacea and cure all, and that another dog will experience the same results. It did seem to help my own dog, at least for now. I’m very grateful for the extra time we have with him.
Update: It is now July and we still have our dog. He is doing very well for his age. He celebrated his 16th birthday last winter. Putting him to sleep two years ago would have been a huge mistake. He is fighting cancer right now. But the tumor doesn’t seem to be growing, and he hasn’t lost a lot of weight. At some point, if he’s ever in pain, we may have to consider putting him down. But, right now, he’s holding his own.
For Additional Reading
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy for Dogs
Where Can I Buy Rescue Remedy for Dogs
Read Part II of this story: Knowing When to Put Your Dog to Sleep
2 thoughts on “When Should You Put Your Dog To Sleep?”
It’s such a fine line to know when it’s time to let them go. I went too far the other way with my beloved 18 year old terri-poo Joey. I had a hard time letting go and waited too long and still have a lot of guilt about that.
Hi Cathy, it really is a difficult decision. It’s so hard to let go. I haven’t heard of many dogs living to be 18. You must have taken really good care of him.
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