This was a post I never wanted to write.
But I knew I’d probably have to someday.
My dog celebrated his 17th birthday, and had lived a full life.
He was still eating well and still getting around okay.
His housebreaking left a lot to be desired. We dealt with it as best we could.
Still, we didn’t want to put him down.
In my heart of hearts, I wanted him to go naturally, painlessly, in his sleep.
But it was not to be.
We came home one night from a family dinner in a restaurant. Our poor baby was wailing. He also had a difficult time standing up.
So we knew it was inevitable.
The next morning was a Saturday. My husband called the vet and made an appointment.
We arrived with heavy hearts.
In the waiting area I saw two beautiful puppies. I don’t know why, but this made me feel better.
Maybe it was because it reminded me that one day I might be able to fall in love with another dog again.
Even though at the time it didn’t seem possible.
Because I loved this dog and realized how special he was.
When To Put A Dog Down Because Of Old Age
You could make the case that we could or should have put our dog down sooner.
But we stuck to our plan.
As long as he was eating well and getting around, he wouldn’t do it.
A veterinary checkup a few months earlier confirmed this. He was doing great for his age.
So we stuck with the plan, as long as his condition didn’t change.
He was eating. Like a trooper.
Even on the way over to the vet he enjoyed a last meal of chicken.
In his younger days, he loved food.
He did go through a stretch where his appetite faded. We thought we were going to lose him.
But expert homeopathic care seemed to turn the situation around.
He went from not eating much to eating voraciously. To not showing much interest in food to sticking his snout into the refrigerator. Looking for some good people food.
His appetite remained strong. Right up until the day he died.
It was the not getting around and crying out in pain that prompted us to make that horrible final decision.
But we had no choice. He seemed to be suffering.
No one in the family had regrets.
Three of us drove him to the vet and waited with him.
Signs To Put Your Dog To Sleep
Some people do put their dogs down after they start to have a lot more “accidents” in the house.
I totally understand.
Living with these accidents was hellish and it took much of the joy out of dog ownership.
We coped by confining him to a smaller area of the house that wasn’t carpeted.
We spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning up after him.
But as long as he was relatively comfortable we didn’t want to put him down.
It is true that you often don’t know when animals are in pain. They tend to hide it. So you have to watch your dog carefully.
You also have to know your dog.
Our dog was moving around pretty well. Still looking for food.
When Is It Time To Put A Dog Down?
Our dog also had dementia. We’re pretty sure.
He wasn’t the same outgoing animal we brought home from the rescue, when he was 3 1/2.
Food not companionship was now his main orientation. He always liked food a lot. But he also liked to play. And to just be around family members, especially my husband.
Now he was withdrawn. However, from time to time, he would still go to the door and wait for my husband. Always around the time he was expected.
Dogs have an excellent sense of time. He didn’t totally lose that.
But this was inconsistent.
Some people think dementia is when it’s time.
Not as long as he was eating, didn’t seem to be in pain and moving around well.
He still enjoyed those meals and we fed him plenty of people food, which he always liked better than dog food.
Putting a Dog Down Because of Dementia
Some people think this is a clear indication that it’s time.
However, we didn’t think so. You can read an earlier post here, about how we didn’t put our dog down just because he was old.
Here is another post about the potential danger of putting your dog to sleep too soon. I’m glad we didn’t, since we enjoyed several more years with him.
It did make the final day a lot easier.
Because I don’t think Buddy was very aware of his surroundings when we brought him to the vet.
Unfortunately, he did get a little skittish in the waiting room, surrounded by all kinds of dogs. He’s never liked dogs.
But the vet quickly escorted us into another room, in the back of the practice.
We put him on a little bed on the floor and he didn’t wake up when the vet gave him his injection.
Thankfully the whole process seemed quick and painless.
We were heartbroken.
I am glad we waited as long as we did and didn’t rush into it.
Three years earlier we were at another crossroads. Buddy had been sick for nearly a week and had eaten very little.
Fortunately, the quick action of a homeopath turned things around.
We had him for several years after that, most of it quality time.
No one wants to wait too long to put a dog down, if it’s only going to result in suffering.
But there’s also a danger of rushing into the final decision of putting your pet down too quickly.
Remember that I’m not a veterinarian or an animal health expert. This is my person opinion only.
Discuss your decisions with your vet, and make sure your pet is in no pain.
Get more than one opinion if necessary.