QUESTION: Our very old dog has severe Diabetes, has gone blind and no longer seems happy. We are very distressed and don't know what to do? Do we take him to the Vet's and just end it? Or just let him die at home when he finally does? Help us decide the right thing to do please?

ANSWER: All of us here at firmly believe in having our beloved pets gently fall asleep with the assistance of a Veterinarian. Only you will know when the time has come to prevent additional suffering.
Although some animals appear to die peacefully at home, most do suffer a great deal as their Internal Systems are shutting down during the process of dying.


Few things in life are as difficult to accept as death. Death becomes even more painful when you must decide whether to end a beloved animal's life. However, there may come a time when, for humane, medical, economic, or safety reasons, you may need to consider euthanasia for your dog.

The decision to euthanize, or induce a painless death, should never be made without careful consideration. The right choice is clearly the one that is in the best interest of the dog and the humans who care for it.


There are a wide range of circumstances under which euthanasia may be considered. Among some of the most common are:

* Incurable, progressive disease
* Incurable, transmissible disease
* Chronic Pain
* Debilitation in old age
* Severe traumatic injury
* Dangerous behavioral traits
* Undue financial burden of caring for a sick or incapacitated dog
* Undue suffering for any reason

Every case is unique. Even in similar situations, the decision to euthanize an animal is highly individual. For example, in the case of a severe traumatic injury, the animal's psychological makeup can influence the outcome. Some dogs may respond better to treatment than others. Some are more cooperative than others, and some have a higher pain tolerance than others. Euthanasia is a highly emotional issue. Yet it is important to address the situation from a practical standpoint as well. Whether you are dealing with an emergency or a long-term illness, discuss the following questions with your veterinarian to help you decide what is right for you and your dog:

* What is the likelihood of recovery or at least an acceptable return to health?
* Is the dog suffering?
* Has the dog become depressed or despondent, or does it continue to show an interest and desire to live?
* How much discomfort or distress can you accept seeing your own animal endure?
* What kind of special care will this animal require, and can you meet its needs?
* Can you continue to provide for this animal economically?
* What are the alternatives?



As the dog's owner, you ultimately have the responsibility of determining the dog's fate. Your veterinarian can provide you with medical information and help you fully understand the dog's prognosis. Your canine practitioner can also explain the options, and offer comfort and support. But the veterinarian cannot decide for you whether or not to euthanize your dog. If you are in doubt about the prognosis or your options, it is important to get a second opinion.

Veterinarians are frequently asked, "What would you do if . . ." The question, however, puts your veterinarian in a difficult position. No matter how compassionate and caring, that individual is not attached to the animal as you are, nor will your veterinarian assume the emotional or economic burden of caring for it. Therefore, you must come to a decision that is right for you.

Only in extreme emergencies does a veterinarian act on an animal's behalf without an owner's consent. An example of such a situation might be a dog that gets loose on a roadway and is struck by a car. A veterinarian may notify the local humane society and choose to euthanize a severely injured dog to end its suffering. But such cases are rare.

Remember, too, that a veterinarian must follow his or her conscience. A veterinarian may refuse to euthanize an animal if euthanasia seems unnecessary or unjustified. Or the veterinarian may choose to discontinue treating the animal if an owner is inhumanely allowing an animal to suffer or is unduly prolonging its death.


If you and your veterinarian agree that euthanasia is the best choice, it is important to prepare as best you can. If you are able to make the decision in advance rather than under emergency conditions, making prior arrangements will ease the process. These guidelines might help:

* Determine when and where are most comfortable and practical for you, the veterinarian, and the dog. Keep in mind that removal of the body from the site should be as easy as possible.
* Decide whether you wish to be present during the procedure. Only you know what is right for you. You may wish to ask someone to observe in your absence.
* Discuss the procedure in advance so you know what to expect.
* Make arrangements for the prompt removal and disposal of the body. Check with your veterinarian as they do take care of the disposal of the body for you. Many municipalities have ordinances prohibiting or restricting burial. Removal to a pet cemetery or cremation facility are excellent options.
* Explain to members of your family, especially children, in sensitive but honest terms, why the decision was made to euthanize the dog.
* Allow yourself to grieve. Finding a support person or group to talk to can help you work through this difficult period.
* If the dog is insured, notify the insurance company in advance of the euthanasia so that there are no problems with claims. While the veterinarian will provide you with the required documentation, the notification, filing, and follow-up are your responsibilities.


As a caring owner, you want your dog to have a peaceful, painless end. Most commonly, the veterinarian will administer barbiturates (sedatives) in a dose sufficient to shut down the dog's central nervous system. The drugs will stop the heart, and the animal will quit breathing, The drugs act quickly and effectively without pain or fear on the animals part.


Given the affection we have for dogs, dealing with their deaths can be extremely difficult. But death is a part of life, and finding the resources to cope with your emotions is important.

Many Support people and organizations out there to help you.


Unfortunately, your dog, like all living creatures, is not going to live forever. If your dog remains healthy and happy into old age and dies a peaceful, natural death, you are very fortunate. However, by thinking about what you would do in an emergency, or how you would act if your dog's life became painful and unbearable to watch, you can be prepared for whatever happens. And by sharing this plan with others, including those who care for your dog in your absence, you assume the ultimate responsibility of ownership by easing the decision-making process for everyone. "Finally, you show the ultimate respect for your dog by relieving it of unendurable pain or disease".

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