As a dog owner, deciding when to put a down down for old age is a difficult decision. Many dog lovers have to make this decision every single day. The right time is never really clear.
When We Put Our Dog Down Because of Old Age
Our dog Chesley was 16 years old when we started to wake up in the morning to a huge puddle of urine in our living room most mornings. She was moving slower than she used to and her beard was white.
We knew Chelsey was elderly – approaching that day she would cross the Rainbow Bridge, but she didn’t have any significant medical issues. She was simply just old.
As a family, we didn’t feel as though it was time to put Chelsey down due to old age until we knew for certain her final day was very near.
Chelsey stopped eating about 3 months into her 17th year of life. We fed her turkey the night before we scheduled her euthanasia at the vet’s office. It made us wonder if maybe we weren’t making the right decision. It was the good days that made us think, “Let’s wait and see…”
The next morning, she wouldn’t eat anything. She just laid there.
Before taking her to the vet’s office, I took her for a walk…a very, very slow walk. We went to the pond – she tried to go into it. Not a good idea. It was as if she was trying to end her life.
We walked back and she collapsed in the grass in the backyard. When it was time to bring her to the vet for her last visit, she hoisted her into our pickup truck and she again, just laid on her side the entire ride there.
We walked her slowly to our room. When we got into the room, she slid down to the floor and just helplessly lied there breathing slowly.
The vet came in to tell us what would happen. I then had to ask, “Do you think it’s time? We’re not cutting her life early are we?” He looked down at Chelsey and back at me and said, “I would say so…”
Signs It’s the Right Time to Put a Dog Down for Old Age
The worst part of being a pet owner is making the difficult decision to put down a dog. Pet euthanasia is a controversial topic (much like should pit bulls be banned) and many people fear they are not making the right decision.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re in this situation. You’re not quite sure your dog is older enough to be put down to rest. Your beloved pet may not be in severe pain or actively dying, he/she may just be lying there like Chelsey.
The following are some signs it’s time for euthanasia you may want to consider during this difficult time.
The Dog’s Quality of Life
Your dog has had a lot of great times in life – frolicking, running, riding in cars, enjoying treats, sleeping peacefully next to you. Now, your dog isn’t able to do any of those things because of old age.
A pet’s quality of life matters because as all pet owners know, they experience life in a very similar way that humans do – they enjoy it. The difference is at the end of life, many humans must endure the pain and suffering that comes along with dying. Our beloved pets? They have an option to leave this world in a much more peaceful way.
Think about your dog’s quality of life. If you’re dog’s life is still okay, as in still eating, walking, wagging a tail at the sight of a treat, it may not be the best time for euthanasia. However, if your pet’s quality of life is poor or your dog isn’t able to experience anything, it’s likely time.
Pain Is a Sign of a Poor Quality of Life
Older dogs can suffer from many medical problems that cause pain. Just imagine being elderly and in a lot of pain. There are no medications to give you, so you simply endure the pain until you take your final breath.
No one or dog would want to end their life on Earth in the above way. Sure, there may be good days where the pain isn’t as intolerable, but the bad days cancel them out three times over.
When considering good quality vs. poor quality of life – ask yourself if your dog’s in pain. If yes, it’s likely time for the euthanasia procedure.
Your Dog’s Best Interest
For some older dogs, especially larger dogs, a veterinarian may recommend surgery or a lot of pain medication to prolong the inevitable. Surgeries and pain medications may lead to uncomfortable side effects that can diminish a good quality of life.
While you may not want your pet to leave you, it’s important to consider your dog’s best interest. Your furbaby may be around for longer if you elect to have the surgery or administer the medications, but would the effects of them be worse on your pet? That’s the question you should consider asking when trying to decide on the euthanasia procedure.
Best Option for the Family
Caring for a senior dog that requires a lot of help each day can be highly stressful for family members. Many families are simply unable to care for an older dog especially larger dogs who are immobile in the way that would give them a good quality of life. This DOES NOT mean you should feel guilty about it. This is one of the most subtle signs it’s time to put a dog down due to old age.
When a good quality of life for your dog is not easily achieved for any reason, the best option may be to put your senior dog to rest. Even though family members could rally together to extend the dog’s life, it may be much more cumbersome than it is worth for everyone involved, including your beloved pet, especially if it will be for a long time.
Making the Decision to Put Down a Dog
The personal decision to put a dog down due to old age is a difficult one, as you already know. The best way to make it is to consider the above signs and speak to your veterinarian.
Veterinarians DO NOT want to euthanize pets because they know how heartbroken pet parents become and they truly value the life of animals. That’s why they are a good option when making the decision.
Your beloved companion has depended on you for many years, and he/she needs you more than ever now. As a pet parent, you must make the personal decision to do what’s right for your furbaby.
Take some time, but not a long time, to make this decision. As a dog lover, you know that this is a inevitable situation in dog ownership. Do what’s best for your dog with the guidance of your veterinarian. Most of the time, dog owners look back and feel as though they made the right decision at the right time because of the thought they put into it. Reading this has already started that for you, so know that whatever decision you make and when you make it will be the best one for everyone involved.
Comment below for support. We would be happy to help you through this difficult time.