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Question
Posted by: Trace | 2006/10/24

Right time - put dog to sleep

Hi there
Im in a really confusing situation. Two years ago I found an old stray dog who had not been looked after very well at all.

She has spinal damage, is half blind and deaf. With good nutrition and vitamin supplements I made her life better for her so that she would play with me, bark, walk easier and generally seemed to be having a good time.

She must be about 16 years old.

Unfortunately over the last couple of months she has deteriorated somewhat although some days are good days and there are the bad days when she just sleeps a lot.
I wish she could tell me what she wants, but she cannot.

When is it the right time to have her put to sleep?

I know this may sound callous but is there no way that I can give her something that will enable her to die peacefully at my home instead of taking her to the vet to die.

Thanks so much.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

It is difficult to decide on when it is time to say goodbye and yoiur vet will probably not dicttate to you when it is time to do so. The questions to ask yourself are: am I keeping the dog alive for me or for them and does the dog enjoy a good quality of life? It is most humane to have your animal euthenzed by your vet who has been trained to perform this procedure.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: sun | 2006/10/25

It is such a hard decision but unfortunately the time comes when it has to be done for the animal's sake. I have travelled that road numerous times and it never gets easier but think of the good times and give yourself time to mourn. You have done a wonderful thing in giving this old girl a home - good luck to you - I am thinking of you!

Reply to sun
Posted by: Chill | 2006/10/24

All old dogs sleep a lot, so the fact that she does doesn't necessarily mean she's in any distress. If they aren't well, then you are more likely no notice restlessness, or shivering, or unusual demands for attention.

However, having said that - your vet needs to be the one to advise you here. I know that in circumstances like this it's scary to take the dog, because you're afraid you're going to get bad news, but remember two things. If the dog IS unwell and in discomfort, with little hope of recovery, then you obviously don't want to prolong this unnecessarily. And second: if the vet says she's not in discomfort or distress, but that - as you well know - time is limited for such an old dog, then you don't have to make the decision there and then - your vet should understand this very well. You could then ask if he'd be willing to come to your home when the time is right for you.

I once asked my vet the same question you did, about giving the dog something to let her slip away quietly in her own bed. The response was that it's not very satisfactory, because the breathing reflex in a very old dog is often the last to go, and if the dog isn't euthanased professionally it can be quite distressing for you when she gasps for breath - even though you may be prepared for this and know that she's no longer feeling anything.

As was said earlier, it's really heartwarming that you took on this old girl at a time when most likely nobody else would have been willing to spare her the effort. I'm sure you have already been richly rewarded by the knowledge you've given her a serene and dignified old age. The last thing you'll be able to do for her is to let her go the same way, when the time's right. I wish there were more people like you around.

Best of luck.

Reply to Chill
Posted by: JC | 2006/10/24

I know somebody who also had to send his best friend to the other world. A life long companion, man's best and most loyal friend. We all still miss the dog till this day!

The dog was taken to the vet, who had to do the job. My friend cried so much, he was shaking for a week.

Thank heavan for a very compassionate vet - who never sent a bill.

You are in my thoughts, it must be a hard decision.

Reply to JC
Posted by: Joan | 2006/10/24

You will never know the right time to put your child to sleep, but may your soul be blessed in as many ways possible for helping this old soul enjoy the last few years of its life. Not many people would do that and im sure im not the only that feels that way.
Maybe you can take her to the vet and see if there are any food supplements etc you can give her to last a bit longer that is if she is not in pain, if you have made up your mind to put her down maybe the vet can come to your house and do it there if it would make you feel better.
Good Luck and remember this soul you saved will always be with you in your heart and when you do put her down don't cry because she is gone you must cry out of happiness for your pet will be in a better place
"All dogs go to heaven"

Reply to Joan

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