Pet Euthanasia-How to Come to an Impossible Decision

The Ethics of Euthanasia

Why, and certainly when, do we as human beings choose to put our pets 'to sleep?' There are many individual instances and situations one must keep in mind when considering such a decision. There has been much discussion in the media regarding "death panels" concerning the euthanasia of human beings, yet when it comes to our pets, this procedure is considered appropriate to each individual case. For animal lovers, our cherished darlings are often long-term members of our households who have given us love, joy, and faithfulness over the years. No matter how or why they were acquired, they become dear to us and deserve care and humane tending. Especially when in the final chapter of their lives.

As pets age, they require special diets, dental care and ofttimes veterinary care. Veterinary insurance is a possibility for some families, yet the cost may be prohibitive to others. When all your resources have been exhausted, however, you may be faced with the decision that no animal lover wants to make-whether or not to end its life. Over the years, we have developed strong intuitive ties with our animals, thus rendering this decision even more difficult. Their inability to communicate their aches and pains-their symptoms, more accurately, can make such a choice excruciating.

The Emotional Impact

If you know or sense your animal is nearing the end of its life, it is time to be proactive. It is a natural response to try and ignore the obvious failing of an aging creature, but this is not helpful to your pet-such avoidance can indeed be harmful and painful to the animal. It can, in fact, be the least loving thing you can do. If, on the other hand, you know of long-term health issues, it is important to watch closely as these conditions progress, staying in contact with your veterinarian. Speaking with your vet as well as other family members can enlighten you to the situation at hand, often one you may be loathe to accept.

Get as much information as possible. Try to override the emotionality of the situation if at all possible, step back to take into account the following concerns:

  1. Assess the quality of life your pet is currently enjoying. Is he able to perform the same activities he was when younger with the same, although limited, capacity? Consider the age of your animal. Is he in, or approaching the "Golden Years?" If so, check for symptoms of old age such as arthritis, hearing loss, diminishing eyesight, and dementia. While none of these symptoms in and of itself constitute reasons to put a dog down, sometimes these conditions can make it terribly difficult for an animal to function without pain and suffering.
  2. Be cautious of your own emotional investment. Talk to others that know of your pet's condition and listen to their assessment of the situation. Be aware that your tendency may be to hang on to your animal longer than is humane. Try to maintain some distance.
  3. Be realistic about your finances. Many procedures are prohibitively expensive and may also put stress on your pet. If X-Rays, blood tests, dialysis and other treatments are available and warranted, be certain that your family can bear the monetary burden.
  4. Prepare yourself for the euthanasia of your pet. Many families do not consider the effects of such loss on children, much less themselves. It is important to talk with your loved ones about the imminent loss of a family member.
  5. Evaluate your preparedness to attend the euthanasia. Some simply cannot cope with the actual procedure, preferring to remain at home or in the car. Remember that this choice is your own. Occasionally veterinarians will come to your home to perform the euthanasia, aware that the pet will most likely be less stressed in familiar surroundings. See if your vet is willing to do this.
  6. If in doubt, do not have the procedure performed. Euthanasia is irreversible, and if you are not certain of the need to put your animal down, then by all means, wait. A day or two is not an unreasonable time to be absolutely sure.

If Euthanasia is Warranted

When it is time to let go of your dear animal, be aware that you will most probably grieve. It is a terrible decision to make, but remember that if you love your pet, you must consider his quality of life before your inevitable sense of loss. You are certainly going to miss his presence in your life, however, in cases where the animal is suffering, the humane thing to do is let him go gently. Recall the good years and try not to become overwhelmed by the new absence of your pet.

Again, allow yourself to mourn your loss. This creature has been in your life for some time and it may take a while to get accustomed to the hole he has left behind. One excellent way to tend to your passed loved ones is to bury them or their ashes nearby, or even in your yards. If you wish, place a marker over the spot so that you will always remember one of the loves of your life.

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Comments 78 comments

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

This is such a painful subject. It is so hard to watch a living creature that you have shared a large part of your life with to be in pain, to be unable to move to look at you with love and wonderment as to what is happening. You hang between your feelings of love and wanting to have one more day and the guilt of allowing the suffering to go on...

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

God, De Greek, it's awful. I really thank you for coming by. It is all so overwhelming!

Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 6 years ago

I still have dreams about my poor old dog's last year. He had a stroke and lost most of the strength in his back legs. This made steps hard work for him. His teeth fell out regularly. He had trouble reaching the ground from a standing position.

Of course, he was still the same mad (but good natured animal) in his head. He never understood why he couldn't jump the fences that he once did. There were tragi-comic moments.

You are right about hanging on too long. Once you realize the dog is no longer happy, it is time to say goodbye.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

You're right, Will, it's so difficult to make 'the decision,' but it must be made.

I'm so sorry about your pup.

ralwus 6 years ago

Sorry you have had to come to terms with this Laurel. Brings to mind that old movie, "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" I hate to see any animal suffer. I have been known to kill very young birds that have been kicked out of the nest by parasitic Cow Birds, they have no chance and will lie on the ground and suffer many things before death comes. Shocking to those who see me do it, but it is best.

drumweaver profile image

drumweaver 6 years ago from our blessed earth mother - canada...

for sure... pet euthanasia is not easy - ever...

i had a very hard experience with my dear ol' beejay - a 16 year-old beautiful black cat who had never been sick a day in her whole life)... until...

one weekend, out of the blue, she just blew up like a balloon with fluid - learning later that she had congestive heart failure and there was basically nothing they could do...

over the weekend they did keep her in the pet hospital, taking numerous tests and drained the immense fluid from her a couple of times... but she never got better... where she got very dehydrated and her vitals began to shut down slowly...

and so, it came to the point to make that aweful decision to put her to sleep...

and when the time came after sitting with her for quite some time saying goodbye...

becuz she already had an IV in her paw... the vet proceeded to put the fluid in with a syringe as i held her - i don't know if he shot it in too fast or what, but when he did that, she screamed a scream i have never ever heard in my life, that reverberated like a rage throughout the whole office and then, in a flash she flopped dead in my arms with her eyes wide open... i couldn't believe how fast it all happened!

it was devastating...

where i wondered if i had done the wrong thing... and her scream haunted me for months after and still creeps up at times to this day...

i still wonder... had she experienced immense pain on her way of this world at that moment?... or, was that just her way of going out - with one big scream... either way, it really sucked bigtime... not a nice time at all... i cried and cried...

i still believe to this day that she certainly wasn't ready to leave at that time... i always thought she'd be one of those cats that would live to 20+ years and die of old age... as she was always a strong cat who never got sick with anything other than a bad bout of fleas one time...

but also, to this day, i still can't forget and still hear that scream in my head and throughout my whole beingness and still miss her dearly... and still wonder what that was all about... a mindless vet who just wanted to get the job done or if i had had more funds to do more tests and ultrasounds and more, would she had lived longer or what?...

anyway, thanks lorlie for posting this hub... with much appreciation... "sniff"...

with much light, weaver (((o)))

• in memoriam...

PaulaK profile image

PaulaK 6 years ago from Austin. Texas

We have an older dog that is showing his age and have talked about how we will handle the latter days. I was doing alright with our discussion and decision until I read Dreamweaver's comment. Now I will have to rethink what my choices will be.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

@ralwus-you are so right, Charlie, if suffering is avoidable, then by all means, do what you can to alleviate the pain. Those people have no idea what mercy you are showing.

Thanks for commenting.

@drumweaver-oh, what a terrible and haunting experience that must have been. Remember, though, that Beejay was critically ill-one does not recover from congestive heart failure as far as I know, and you were in an impossible situation. The horrific nature of your cat's death was not what you intended, nor was it your fault. I am so very sorry you that image remains with you, it must be awful. You may wonder if there was more you could have done, but therein lies the horrid nature of being able to choose euthanasia-we are, in essence, playing God. I will be looking at your link.

Thanks for coming by.

@PaulaK-I agree with you, drumweaver's comment gave me pause as well. My dog, Birthday, is on the verge of death, and I am very unsure of this decision-making process. It is a terrible burden.

I hope you find peace with the decision you do finally make.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This is a subject that is so painful, many chose not to speak openly about it. Thank you for being so brave, for sharing your deepest emotions and for putting forth so much invaluable information. Love and light to you and your family.

LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

For those of us who have found companionship and adopted family from our pets, it is something I hope not have to deal with. Thank you for putting this thoughtful Hub together. Death is part of life, it is difficult to think of being the one to make such a decision. Thanks.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

@Green Lotus-I'm not sure I'd call myself 'brave' at the moment, since this decision is looming over my head as I write. But thank you for your kind words and sweet wishes!

@Lilly-death is a part of life, but we don't think about it when adopting an adorable kitten or bouncy puppy. It does come much farther down the road-hopefully.

Thanks for stopping by.

hurdon2000 profile image

hurdon2000 6 years ago from Arkansas

I know this has to be done sometimes to benefit the animal,I know none of us want to see them suffer,But oh the pain and heartache its like pulling the plug on one of your children.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 6 years ago

Lorie, I'm so impressed that you could write this while going through the emotional turmoil with your dog. That's wonderful, and I know since your dog had a nearly miraculous save from euthanasia before this decision has to be so incredibly tough for you. You've paid a really wonderful tribute to him though. So many of us on hubpages are thinking of him. That's amazing! Best to you.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Thanks for the helpful insights, we have a 10 year old pub who belongs to my 14 year old. She's had him since she was (of course) 4 and she's really stressed about his current health as the vet has mentioned the euthanasia issue but she is so sensitive about the subject. Thanks for the helpful information. Peace :)

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

You know how I feel about all this - and been down too many of the roads myself with my dogs. It is never an easy decision as we talk about so much and poor Birthday is doing his best to hang on!

All that said though, you hit all the right nails on the head and you will know. We all do - you too, Katie - and your daughter will.

My only regret was letting my first euthanasia fellow, my beautiful Salty dog go on just a little too long and he suffered because of my decision. That still makes me feel very badly and although I had the best motive, I just didn't see what was right before my eyes because I wanted him to stay.

Never easy - and you know I'm sending you virtual hugs every day!

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

@hurdon2000-so true. I really feel my animals to be my children. Thanks for stopping by.

@S.J.-you've really hit the nail on the head with your comment-I so appreciate that you understand the situational complexity of this poor pup so well. I do know that hubbers have been supportive and it means the world to me! See you soon.

@katiem-I would not want to be in your shoes as a mom in this situation. Your daughter may understand euthanasia, but will probably be horribly hurt-not really getting the 'humane' aspect. I sure hope she does. All my best.

@akrichner-he certainly is doing his best, but like the situation with your Salty dog, I worry that I'm letting him linger too long. Some days he's playing, but other days he stays on the floor without much energy. Regret is awful, I know. I hope you find peace with your situation soon.

finatics profile image

finatics 6 years ago

Thanks for this hub, I recently had to euthanize one of my guinea pigs. He used to climb up to peoples' shoulders to nap, and when the vet carried him away I saw his face peer over her shoulder at me.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

What a sad tale, finatics. Your guinea pig reminds me of a cat I have who is always wrapping himself around the necks of people-using them for shoulder transportation.

Thanks for stopping by.

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Logic vs. emotion... We are human BE-ings The process we know includes birth and death.. We are selfish. We do not want the separation.. No easy solution. The process will never be easy... It just is...

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

That is very Zen of you, dallas. One of my favorite ways to 'be.'

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Maybe if we came up with a different term, that would be helpful Have no ideas at the moment, but Euthenasia whether referring to pets or humans, sounds so cruel. I think George Carlin would say there is nothing "Youth" about euthenasia. I could get silly and come up with things, like Helping Fido go to sleep for the last time, but that might be equally cruel. A year after my (previous or first, I guess) wife died, I had to put our cat to sleep and that was an awful experience in terms of the sadness. I was relieved for Puss because she had had two strokes in four months and missed Roberta terribly. No one sat in Roberta's chair for at least eight months, and the day someone inadvertently sat in the recliner and reclined it, Puss came charging out of the room (heard the clicking noises)only to see that it was not Roberta. The look on her face was interesting and sad. I carried Puss's ashes in the trunk of my car for years!! And finally spread them over Roberta's grave. I dread when our Chihuahua either dies or is put to sleep. I think it is going to be very difficult for Dianna (my current wife).

Thanks for at least giving us a simple way to look at the process.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

It's strange, Vern, that the original Greek translation was 'gentle/good death,' where in fact it can be awful. Thanks for bringing up the name of the best comedian ever! Mr. Carlin seemed to perform a lot of skits having to do with pets-maybe he was an animal lover himself.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

I don’t think I will be able to make a decision like this. Thank heavens I am not in your shoes. When I was 5 we had a sick budgie. A friend of my father did the euthanasia, and somehow I heard what happened. I still remember how I searched for the little body in the open veld – we lived on a mini-farm – I believed it should be buried in a little box in the ground, or else it will not be able to go to heaven. I couldn’t find it! Eventually my dad gave me a hiding because I’ve lost all my (good) manners and threw tantrums galore.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

You poor little thing! I can just imagine a poor little girl going through this.

Well, I haven't had to make the decision yet-I am still waiting. My sick dog Birthday is still hanging on enough that I have doubts. So I will continue to wait!

Good to see you here.

hggrff profile image

hggrff 6 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

On July 20, 2010 I had to put my 11 month old kitten Noey who I rescued and adopted since he was 8 weeks to sleep due to FIP. I had no concept of the disease until he unexpectedly was diagnosed with it. What made my loss even more hurtful was that 1 in every 5,000 cats get it. I could not understand how? or why? my baby kitten had got it. I felt like a failure at being a pet owner but I was not. I loved him very much and gave him the perfect home he could deserve. It is hard not having him sleep on my chest at night like he always would or my reading buddy. I had him cremated and he is in a beautiful black ceramic cat urn. I miss and love him, but I know he is up with other great pets that have long said goodbye to their great owners. And may they all run and play together until they are reunited with their missed owners and I with my Noey.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I am so sorry about Noey, hggrff. I've never heard of FIP, but 1 in 5,000 seems like ridiculous odds. I know what you mean about your reading buddy-I have one now, named 'Qbert.' He's the light of my life.

As pet owners we do all we can to make them happy and comfortable when they're with us, then it's up to God, I guess, to take them when it's time. Unfortunately sometimes we have to make the dreadful decision.

Thanks for the visit.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

as always a beautiful if very painful hub. I think our gut instinct tells us when it is time. We don't want to but more so we don't want them to suffer either. Writing is so therapeutic at times like this and they will be forever in our hearts and a lifetime of beautiful memories. Take care.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thank you, Eiddwen, for your visit and sweet thoughts. Birthday's time was yesterday and I am relieved for him, but I'm not sure when I'll stop missing him.

I will no doubt carry him in my heart forever.

Ladybird33 profile image

Ladybird33 6 years ago from Georgia USA

Gosh, so heartfelt! Awareness that we all face and by other comments it is so sad. I among them, have had to make the decision as well. My blessings to all. Unique hub that has touched many! Many blessings, Ladybird

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thank you, Ladybird. Unfortunately I had to put euthanasia to 'work' yesterday with my sweet dog of 15 years, Birthday. Writing this hub was therapeutic.

Thanks so much for your visit.

finatics profile image

finatics 6 years ago

It's a difficult decision to make. We had a guinea pig named Sir Guinea (I don't know why) we've had for years that had a problem with his tooth. He was rather large and the first time we took him to the vet, the vet said "well, he doesn't seem to be missing out on any food." He was adorable. We taught him to stand on his hind legs when we said the magic word, but afterwords, he would stand up everytime we came by, hoping for treats. His tooth seemed to get worse, so we took him to the vet again, and learned it was some sort of infection, and it was treatable, though very expensive. But even if we did treat it, it would keep coming back since it had something to do with his heart. We decided to euthanize him because he would be in a lot of pain the rest of his life. Maybe he wasn't a kitten or a puppy, but we adored him and were heartbroken when we had to let him go. It's so sad to hear all these stories, but thanks for the great hub.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

It doesn't matter what sort of pet you lose, finatics, the pain is the same. Sir Guinea sounded awesome and happy, I'm sorry the vet was so flippant about his food the first time you took him there.

Yes, the cost is terrible. I know I could have done more for Birthday, my dog, but in the end I realized he had enjoyed 15 wonderful years with us.

I appreciate your coming by.

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Laurel being an animal lover I know first hand the empty sunken feeling we get when it's time to let go of in many cases our best friend. To see the pain on a daily basis that they go through, it's devastating for us to watch.

When the time comes for all living creatures to give up we must treat them with dignity and love as they close their eyes for the last time. With hope that they open them and run and frolic again with the knowledge they were loved by their owners.

Thank you for this wonderful sad but enlightening share. Peace and big hugs to you from the Saddle.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks, saddlerider. Euthanasia is one of the most awful decisions of all, but one that must be made in certain circumstances. I had to make such a decision 2 weeks ago, and though I know it was the right choice, I still hated making it.

Thanks for your comment, my friend.

mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

lorlie6, this is an awesome hub, full of compassion for both pets and their human counterparts. I like the steps you've outlined for helping people determine if euthanasia is necessary and also, for attempting to prepare for any possible euthanasia event. *hugs* Thank goodness your pet had you as a compassionate friend, willing to make a difficult choice and abide by the consequences of the same.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Writing may just be the best therapy on earth for me, and at the time, I needed to get this all down. I'm sure you know what I mean. Some of those steps were personal, but they seemed to apply universally, at least I hope so.

Thanks for stopping by.

MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Thanks for sharing your story, Laurel, it feels awful just reading about it but I am sure it helped in some way. Sassie is still only four and in good health so we have many good years with her yet (I hope).

BTW - your hubs don't come up on the email listings, why is that, I've missed so many good hubs of yours?

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

You've got many, many years, I'm sure, MPG! I don't think you should worry one bit. It sounds like you love and care for her beautifully, and that's what matters.

I don't know why my hubs don't show up-are you sure you're following me? That's all I can think of!

Thanks for reading!

MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

You were one of the first people I followed?? Strange isn't it? I'll just click onto your profile every now and then I guess.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Huh...I've encountered some strange 'glitches' recently on HP, maybe it's something on MY end! I appreciate your efforts, though-I don't publish very often, but when I do, I hit the 'share with your followers' button, so maybe you'll get that notice. I sure hope you do!

Take care now!

MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

BTW, go on my site and read some of my "Dogs make great pets" hubs and you will find photos of Sassie, she is a gorgeous looking dog. I hug her heaps evey day, so do my kids. Nice chatting, Laurel, bye for now.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I'm on my way...


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Hi Lorlie6. I just found your writing and I thoroughly enjoy your honest style. I have been through so many of the last goodbyes; where a beloved companion animal was given humane euthanasia as a means to end suffering. It is always difficult. We have the most wonderful Veterinarian who administers the same drug used to put an animal under for surgery. It is painless and easier. This is, indeed, a hard decision to reach but, for the love of our animal friends, it is sometimes the most kind gesture we give. I also voted in your poll regarding the anti hubbers out there. I like this venue; I'm pretty new here but have enjoyed it thus far. Thank you for caring about animals as is evidenced in this hub.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Lucky Cats-thank you so much for visiting! This hub was very difficult since as I wrote, my dog Birthday was very, very ill. I had to put him down, he simply couldn't stop vomiting, no matter what we fed him. He was my very favorite animal-ever. I'm tearing up writing this. He was the best!

But our lives go on, and we are fortunate to have beautiful memories!

Again, thanks for reading.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

This is a beautiful hub Lorlie! Pets are people too! Well, if you look at people long enough you may wish that pets were people. Animals are precious and are huge sources of love. Thank you Dear!

Now my friends were wanting to get me euthanized for my birthday. They want to get me a gift certificate. What is euthanasia?

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

What thoughtful friends you have, Micky! Just trust them and you won't feel a thing...Haha.

Thanks, seriously, I appreciate your words.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida

Excellent information, and well presented. My grandfather recently had to put down his dog, the only daily companion he had. He lives a couple hours from my parents, with no other children, and his wife has been gone a few years. His dog was the only companion he had. I know it was very hard for him to put her down, but her health was declining rapidly.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks for coming by, Anna. I would imagine in your grandfather's case another animal could be one answer to his isolation. I hope this is taken into consideration, if it is at all possible. If he is willing to try, a new pet could give him the comfort he needs.

I hope he finds peace and companionship!

A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

Very informative and moving. The day I had to put my terrier-poodle mix was difficult for me as well. Good hub.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Hello, A.A.-I appreciate your comment-I hope your dog lives forever in your heart.

ccc 6 years ago

pets dont understand diseases like we do, and sometimes is the best for the animal, than the suffering.

I had to euthanize my dog. It still hurts the way we did it..... I would advise anyone who loves their pets to not let them die alone. It might cost a little more at your vet, but it's worth it. Hearing my dog crying for us and having to walk away was the worst thing ever. Leaving him in a dark, confined cell.... Me and my mum didn't have the cold blood to clearly think about it and turn around.

If you need to euthanize your pet, stay with it for as long as your vet allows you. It will settle your heart that we were there for your pet in its last moments

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Oh ccc, the entire process is so very frightening. I understand your reluctance to stay, and feel for you now. Hopefully, if there's another pet in your future, you'll be able to see it through.

Try not to beat yourself up. It's very understandable.

wordscribe43 profile image

wordscribe43 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

This is a wonderful hub, lorlie. This topic is a bit raw for me because I just recently had to put my kitty to sleep. I said to the vet: "This must be the hardest part of your job, huh?" He said: "Well, actually the hardest part is when it's time for the pet owner to let go and he or she cannot."

I have a dog who's deteriorating as well. We keep her quality of life top on our list. Ugh, I dread the day!!!

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

wordscribe, this hub was a nightmare to write. Yet I am proud that I did. I know many people are hesitant to address this issue, but death is part of life. I wish we didn't have to play God when our animals need us most, but we do, so any help is welcome.

Thanks for the visit.

Susie Writes profile image

Susie Writes 6 years ago from Northern California

Hi lorlie. Well written hub on a sensitive subject. This is a subject I have had to deal with numerous times in my years of dog breeding and training. You did a wonderful treatment of the subject here.

#2 is particularly relevant. I have known many people who let their pets suffer needlessly, hanging on to selfish hope no matter how thin the strand. Euthanasia should never be entered into lightly but what a kindness it is that we can do for our suffering pets. Thanks for your powerful insights.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks Susie. I have had to put 2 more pets to sleep since I wrote this Hub, and it doesn't hurt to re-read it. Thanks again for coming by and leaving your message.

Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Lorlie, this is such a necessary and loving hub. You have addressed all the factors which contribute to this most difficult decision. It is with heartfelt "thanks" that I comment, here, because I know how much you love your furry companions. They are, most assuredly, a member of the family deserving as much love and concern as the other family members. I have been through so many necessary euthanasias, when there was no hope for a cure or recovery and when there was, simply, no other choice but a loving release from pain and suffering. it does hurt. To hold that beloved being in your arms as the last moments lapse into a forever absence. At these times, I strongly pray that I will see that sweet face again, hold them close and be together for eternity. I am so sorry to read that you've had to go through this with two more pets since writing the hub; and those who preceeded. Believe me when I say that I know what you feel at these times. You have touched on a subject which is one of the more difficult to bear. I, personally, choose to be there at that moment, so that my friend leaves this world in loving arms, hearing familiar loving words and looking into loving eyes. I am so glad to see you here and to read your hubs and wisnh you the very best and good health; excellent days. your friend, Kathy

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Hi Kathy-I thank you sincerely for coming by to comment. This year has been so terrible for our household pets, but I suppose we're in for a bit of peace since the animals we have left are very young. I know that youth is no guarantee of longevity, but with good vet guidance and exercise, diet, etc., our family will remain intact for some years to come.

Thanks again, Kathy.

Animal lovers are so beautifully alike, don't you agree?

Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

"Animal lovers are so beautifully alike, don't you agree?"

Yes! I thoroughly agree. I know you know how I feel about our animal is so very difficult to lose one..and several in a short time is unbearable! You've echoed my thoughts about having younger animals left...the big "whew" factor..of course, again you named it: no guarantees! But, at least, on the average, we DO have a number of years before the 'big worry' sets in. It sure would be easier to not care so much but, then, it would be a less full life if that was the, we go on lovin' 'em!!! Much regards! Kathy

Canadiancatlover 5 years ago

Hello everyone,

Thank you for this hub. I just put down my beautiful 10 yr old female cat last night and I am struggling with feelings of guilt and unimaginable loss. She was a seemingly healthy cat up until yesterday afternoon when my husband came home to find her panting. I immediately drove home from work and we took her to an emergency clinic. They told us her lungs and chest cavity were filled with fluid and that they could do tests and extract the fluid but that the cause was most likely very serious. They mentionned cancer or heart failure and said that euthanasia would be a humane option. I did not want my little girl to suffer so I chose to put her to sleep. She went quietly and quickly but I am haunted by her open eyes. I am glad I got a chance to tell her I loved her and that she had been the most wonderful cat you could ever ask for but at the same time I feel like it was so sudden. She seemed fine the day before. Perhaps I should have taken more time and had her tested and treated but the vet told me that essentially she would die relatively soon and that she would spend the end of her days in the hospital and having to take pills. I did not want this for her but at the same time I could have used an extra day to hold her and say goodbye. Deep down I feel I made the right choice but I keep questionning myself. I have not stopped crying since yesterday at 3 pm. It has been 24 hours. What kind of a Christmas gift is this? I miss my beautiful Reese so much. RIP Reese. Thank you for listenning.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Hi Kathy-It seems to be a generational thing in my case, the remaining pets have long lives ahead of them. I hope. I know you understand when I say how strange it is to consider the animals who have passed as part of history. I miss them terribly. It is so difficult to think of life without them, but we must survive, and hopefully thrive.

Thanks for coming by.

@Canadiancatlover-You poor thing. I really feel for you and am glad you came by my Hub. How terrible that decision must have been for you and your family.

Second-guessing yourself is natural, but it can be a terrible way to torture yourself. I know, because I've been doing the same thing.

Reese was blessed to have such a loving home and owner. I am so very saddened by your loss-it's a loss unlike any other.

Do take good care and know that your love for Reese is never ending, and hopefully one day you will be able to share your generous heart with another, deserving, creature.

Thanks for your words, they mean a lot to me.

Canadiancatlover 5 years ago

Thank you so much Lorlie. Your words really helped me. I miss Reese terribly but I feel better about our decision to put her down. I take comfort in the fact that she is no longer in pain. It would have been selfish to prolong that pain in order to spend more time with her.

Thank you so much.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I'm glad you returned, Canadiancatlover. I don't think any of this gets easier, but we seem to be less apt to blame ourselves as time goes by.

Take care.

Baileybear 5 years ago

Even as a child, I chose euthanasia for a pet in horrific pain. I've been glad to have that choice to free my beloved pets from a horrible death. It gave me great comfort to see my pets slip away peacefully and be freed from their distress - I wrote about the death of my dog Zoe

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Baileybear-sorry for such a tardy reply! I haven't been spending too much time on the computer recently.

Thanks, though, for coming by to comment. It sounds as if you've been a very wise pet owner in that you've been comfortable with euthanasia for some time.

I also have been grateful for this option when my pets were suffering. It is absolutely the most humane thing to do in many cases.

Thanks again for coming by.

Leo Toledo 5 years ago

My baby Sophia was born in NYC June 27 1999 and was let go today in Brazil, where I am now.

For the past two months she has been having troubles with her appetite, she used to eat a lot and now she was not eating at all just drinking a little and no energy. The Vet through an ultrasound determined several lumps on her liver...

It was a very hard decision to make, I took her for a second opinion where it was confirmed the diagnostic but she was really struggling to breath. To keep her alive would prolong her suffering maybe for three more months or so, I was willing to keep and pet her but I could not imagine seeing her life deteriorate before my eyes while I was being selfish for keeping her or the idea of what used to be her, around.

She took the first injection to fall asleep, I was with her thanking for all those years of companionship and happiness she provided I apologize if I had sometimes neglected her needs or even lost my temper when she peed out of the place where she was supposed to do it.

She passed away 30 min into the first injection while I was still petting her, she did not take the lethal injection. I felt apart but she was in good friendly hands and I was allowed to have all the time I needed.

The decision was made and it hurts as I write this down I sure miss her, but I do not miss a suffering love one incapable of telling me where it was hurting...

We were so attached, even tho she belonged to my son, she elected me somehow to be the one...

I will have buried in the back yard...

I will truly miss her...

Love so much my Yorkie-Maltese baby and she knows it...

Hope you don't mind that I'm posting this on your page.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Hi Leo-I am so sorry about your dear Sophia. It sounds as if you're taking it terribly hard...which I do understand. Animals can be our children, even like our spouses. I know I miss my dogs and cats so very much-I think about one dog in particular, my sweet border collie named 'Birthday.' I wrote of his death here on HubPages called "For the Love of Birthday: The Final Days of a Dog." I was trying to process my feelings for him in contrast with my need to let him go without trying to keep him around-trying to be humane.

Thanks for stopping by, Leo-I hope this helps.

charlestonchica 5 years ago

I put my two cats (aged 13 and 14) to sleep yesterday and I feel awful about it. I feel they were both sick but since they were indoor cats, I hadn't taken them to the vet in years. One vomited several times a day (sometimes on my bed since that is where he slept 24/7), scooted his butt on the carpet after pooping in the litter box, and was gradually becoming withdrawn. The other one I suspect needed alot of dental work as his teeth were all brown and he had horrible breath. He meowed for several hours every night keeping my husband and myself awake (and when I would put him in another room so I could sleep, he would be destructive the next day in retaliation—not use his litterbox, rip up plants, etc.). Both had become obsessed with scratching our furniture and carpets in recent years and ruined so many things. At their age, I felt finding them a new home was improbable and I selfishly did not want to spend the money to treat their ailments (I once spent $3,000 on a cat who died a week later from complications). Honestly, I was so tired of cleaning up after them every single day that I was becoming resentful of them and was so stressed out all the time. Every night before I crawled into bed, I would say a silent prayer that there wasn’t puke in it and I couldn’t live that way anymore. I didn’t know what else to do but put them down.

They were both so attached to me-- especially the older one who crawled into my arms after he was given the sedation and started to snore. I stayed with them until they moved on and I have been sobbing ever since. I wish I could turn back the clock and get them back. I feel so ashamed for not doing more to possibly help them (if whatever they had was treatable). I should have atleast had them examined by a vet to see what their issues were, but I told myself it didn’t matter because I didn’t plan to treat them. Now I am left with so much pain and guilt that I only hope they are in a wonderful place and getting all the love and affection they so rightly deserved. They were so sweet and innocent. They couldn’t help getting sick or misbehaving. I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself.

Sorry for the lengthy letter-- I just needed to get all my feelings out :(

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Sometimes we regret our decisions, I do understand it, charlestonchica, and at least for me, it indicates that we should not adopt another creature until we're ready and willing to take good care of them.

I wish you the very best, and know that time helps heal your wounds.

RalphGreene profile image

RalphGreene 5 years ago

Great hub, Thanks for sharing, very informative.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 5 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks for coming by, RalphGreene. I'm glad you found it helpful-I know it's a 'hard subject'.

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Hi lorlie6 I just found you and your amazing hub. Your hub and the comments bring back my hurt at losing my dog Charlie and my continuing hurt of having to give up my beautiful cat KC.

I could not believe how much I hurt, really hurt at having to let them go. Losing such a wonder animal, such a good good friend was devastating. It affected me badly for many months. Actually it still makes me cry today. I too felt like a failure.

The only things I have to help alleviate the pain are the memories and the pictures. I actually mail him a birthday card on his birthday (to my address of course). It is such a happy surprise to receive it.

If you have a chance I would truly appreciate your reading my hub Good bye Charlie or the one about having to give up my beautiful cat. As you said in your hub, writing about the pain and also the joy of knowing them made me feel some ease.

THank you for your beautiful writing.



lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 4 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Charlie and KC must have been incredible pets, Maralexa, with a PetMama like you. The fact that you mail birthday cards to Charlie?-Or was it KC?-touches me deeply, in fact I may start that tradition, if it's okay with you!

Death of a pet can be as hard as losing a human being, depending on the quality of the animal and the greatness of your love as a PetParent. I know, you can see that up in this article.

I will read your articles, and probably follow you, as soon as I can. Have you found 'Lucky Cats' here on HP? She's also a PetPerson extraordinaire.

Already with fondness,


PS: It's okay to cry-never let anyone tell you otherwise, I'll bet some do tell you you're nuts to cry over an animal-I still do, even over pets that passed long, long ago.


afriqnet profile image

afriqnet 4 years ago from Nairobi Kenya

Surely,this is a touchy issue that I have often had to make this decision or help Dog owners make this decision. In most cases of terminal illnesses Euthanasia is inevitable. Thanks for your useful info

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 4 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Hi afriqnet-I wouldn't say euthanasia is really inevitable, it's the choice of the 'owners' who should concern themselves with the suffering of the pet, not themselves! Only death is inevitable.

Good of you to stop by-are you a vet?

afriqnet profile image

afriqnet 4 years ago from Nairobi Kenya


Yeah I am a Vet.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 23 months ago from Sunny Southern California

I had to make this decision twice in one year. First for my cat, Pumpkin. He had an inoperable lesion on his pancreas. Second for my dog, Emma, she was riddled with cancers. It still makes me cry, but they were both in pain and they were my best friends. I still celebrate their memories! I loved them :)

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 23 months ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Oh K@ri-I am so sorry. This year I've had to make this decision twice as well. It is so heart wrenching to try to play God, but in the end it's the animal's well being that should override our own feelings. That's the kicker, yes? My heart is still aching and in shock over the latest euthanasia-3 weeks ago, I think-but my sweetheart malamute/wolf mix, Ranger, needed to be out of pain. Celebration and lovely memories are what we have to remember of their unfailing love.



PS: If you'd like to see a photo of Ranger, check out my hub, I wrote many moons ago.


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