How To Cope After Euthanizing Your Pet.

Bailey
Bailey

Cry

The decision to euthanize your pet can be an extremely difficult one. In September, I was faced with this with my dog Bailey. A part of everyone wants their pet to be in their life forever. When the doctors explained how he felt, I knew he was suffering. He was in renal failure, and the vet said to me, "Imagine being so thirsty that no matter how much you drank it didn't quench your thirst."

I tried to imagine constant thirst. I could have brought him home and let him die when his natural time came but, I felt it was selfish of me. I made the decision, despite my beliefs. I wasn't strong enough to watch him suffer. Despite beating myself up over the decision I had made, I did make sure I held him in my arms and watched. Bailey deserved that much from me. I told him how much I loved him and how great of a dog he was. Petting him softly, I sobbed.

The day you come home after such a traumatic moment, it is o.k. to cry. Cry as loud and as much as you want. Some people in your life might not understand how painful the death of a pet can be. I can not be the only one with some level of guilt, even with all intentions of ending suffering. There were days when I thought, I miss him but I'm o.k. and the next day I would cry like it just happened.

These emotions might not feel normal but they are. I still have his bed and harness in the car. I'm not ready to take it out yet. I still have his bucket with toys and his leash and collar on my hope chest. In a cup, he drank out of last, sets his favorite prickly, navy blue, squeaky ball. Now and again I still think I hear him counter surfing for a brief second and then I remember he is gone. I wake up some mornings with urgency that Bailey needs to go out. Then I remember he is gone. Sometimes I still cry and it is o.k.

Time

Yes it's been said, written and quoted a million times. "Time heals all wounds." I'm leaning more towards "Time heals most wounds". If I dwell, I will get upset unlike the first few weeks when I was in shock and weepy. I was irritable, moody and sad but, now I can type this, I can look at photos of Bailey and it makes me smile. Some wounds can be so deep time doesn't help. Seeking professional help might. If it has been ten years and the death of your pet still has you in the grips of despair, as if were yesterday, you are not moving on.

The body is built to be able to cope with situations like this, it's a survival mechanism. If we were all trapped, emotionally, by events of life we would cease to be on Earth. We are left with memories and even though it might feel like it happened yesterday, It isn't really the case, if it were true I would be too upset to type this hub. It has only been two and a half months and I still have Bailey's things around the house. Time has helped the grieving process and it has helped me celebrate his life.

Time is helping with my guilt over the choice I made. Time is helping me accept that he is gone. Time is making the pain a bit less and the memories stronger. It also has taught me how much of a blessing it has been to have had Bailey in my life at all.

Take Care of Yourself

Time helps but the grieving process can be draining. The loss of a beloved pet is similar to the loss of a loved one. Our pets are part of the family. Grief burns a lot of calories leaving you feeling drained and ill. Drinking plenty of liquids, eat and sleep. Some of those things I did not do and I could feel the toll it was taking on me. During those difficult times, take care of yourself by expressing and facing what it is that might still trouble you.

It is o.k. to suddenly miss your pet all over again or have times when you doubt the decision you made. It is easy to get caught up in the past. As I write this Hub I discovered where my guilt had been coming from. I am a Spiritual person and I wanted to do the right thing but wasn't sure what was right. I didn't have the time to consult with spiritual leaders for their opinions.

I had guilt over taking away the natural end of life, something I thought was a gift everyone, including animals, receives at birth. A few summers ago I met a Buddhist Monk in England, I approached him and his friends. I wanted to ask so many questions. The one monk who spoke for all of them told me, "The most important thing I want you to remember is, Ease the suffering of others." That was my intention with Bailey. I may have took it too literally but when I lay my head on my pillow at night and think, Have I made the right decision on a spiritual level? I think ,Yes I did.

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Comments 39 comments

nashguy profile image

nashguy 5 years ago from MICHIGAN

I had to Euthanize my dog back when I was 18 years old, it was a dog that I had my whole life growing up, so the connection was extremely close. I know how you must have felt holding him and knowing what was happening while he lay in your arms. I was there when my dog was peacefully put down and it was strange, because at first you can see the life in their eyes, and then after they do what they needed to do, you can almost see the eyes change, and yet in it's uneasy, yet peaceful manor, they fade and go to a better place without pain and suffering. When I read this, I felt everything you were typing and agree with you. Letting go of something you love so much can be the hardest thing, but sometimes you have to love so much that you are able to let them go, knowing and reinforcing yourself with one simple fact: they're going to be much happier and set free of pain


aslaught profile image

aslaught 5 years ago from Alabama

I cried while reading this. Down through the years my family, as well as myself have had to face this terrible decision. It is not easy. Yes, our pets are part of our family. We love them so much and they give us so much in return. I feel your pain and my heart goes out to you. My six foot four inch two hundred and fifty pound father cried like a baby over the lost of a beloved dog. My grown son mourned so deeply the loss of his cat. Each of us has to handle this grief in our own was and the best we can. Thank you for this beautiful, moving piece. I hope you all the best.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 5 years ago from New York Author

Thank you nashguy, reading your comment got me a bit teary eyed. What you described, the life in there eyes and then it's gone. I remember that too.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 5 years ago from New York Author

Thank you aslaught, for sharing. I knew it would hurt but never knew it would be that intense. Bailey was a true companion. I can relate to your comment as well. I was upset over my cat (two of them) as well, holding them like I did bailey but If I had to do it all over again I would.


nashguy profile image

nashguy 5 years ago from MICHIGAN

I was an emotional wreck. I told myself, I want Tasha (that was her name, she was a Husky Lab) to remain in my life, and I'm never going to take her from my own life, but at the same time, on the opposite end, I always told myself, when she gets old and needs to be put down perhaps, I won't act selfish and keep her in pain just for the simple gratification of having her around. It was extremely hard for me to actually authorize the Euthanization when every fiber in my body was saying, you can't do this. it wasn't a matter of you can't, it was a matter of you must, you must keep her from pain and she will always love me for that, deep down i know i did the right thing and she is watching me and waiting for me just to say thank you and tell me i did the right thing


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 5 years ago from New York Author

I'm sure Tasha would thank you if she could. I think Bailey would do the same for me too.


nashguy profile image

nashguy 5 years ago from MICHIGAN

I agree! Keep your chin up and just remember they are always going to be with you now, wherever you go!


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

I'm so sorry. I've been through this before, as well. Thank you for sharing your experience.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 5 years ago from New York Author

Thank you, and thank you for taking the time to read.


kaw3070 4 years ago

Thank you for writing this article. I just lost my Bailey on Fri, June 29th. I was blessed with 16 1/2 years with him. While this is new and I am beyond numb, I do know in my heart that it was the right decision.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi Kaw3070,

I'm sorry to read of your loss. It will be a year soon that I lost my Bailey and I could still weep over the loss of him. Everybody is different with their grief. For me it has gotten better with time and now I'm beginning to feel him in my heart but without all the ache. I hope your Bailey finds his/her way to your heart without so much ache some day too.

Take care, Cara


dfmiller 4 years ago

Thanks for your encouraging story.yesterday I had to make the same terrible choice with my 12 year old lab "Buddy ". He had cancer. I was with him until the end. The vet came to my house for the procedure. I was too impatient to wait on my husband,so I buried him myself. I keep thinking that he woke up after I buried him. I want to go and dig him up just to check. This is the worst thing I have ever had to face.


dfmiller 4 years ago

Thanks for your encouraging story.yesterday I had to make the same terrible choice with my 12 year old lab "Buddy ". He had cancer. I was with him until the end. The vet came to my house for the procedure. I was too impatient to wait on my husband,so I buried him myself. I keep thinking that he woke up after I buried him. I want to go and dig him up just to check. This is the worst thing I have ever had to face.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi dfmiller,

You're welcome, and while others may think wanting to go and check on him is different, it makes perfect sense to me. You're at loose ends with missing your Buddy. But each day gets better, and the memories will eventually warm your heart instead of being so painful. Take Care, Cara


vitality600 4 years ago

I am a spiritual person as well, and was faced with the decision to euthanize my best friend Zak, who was a Doberman/German Sheperd today. It was such a traumatic time for me, as he loved me so much and I loved him so much, but I had to bite the bullet. I brought the kids back to the vets and we all cuddled him as he peacefully slipped away to a different plane, and then we brought him home and buried him. I thank you for your article as it has helped me deal with the loss and get this grief of my chest, for this minute anyway. Love to all.


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

My throat closed up and my eyes welled as I read your story. I can really relate to your story.

It's hard to stand there and hold your pet as they're being put out of their pain. But, our pets center their lives around us (and us around them sometimes), so getting through that is the least that we can do. Having them see your face as the last thing before they go, is the greatest gift that we can give them when they have to be euthanized.

We've had to put down many pets in their old age when they were in pain and not able to sit or stand properly anymore...it's heartbreaking to see them like that. I don't think anyone should be selfish and keep their pets around just because they're going to miss them, while they have to suffer in pain. I still keep a framed photo of my cat - Muffin, who I got as a kitten when I was 10 (she made it to 18 years!) next to my bed. She was more than a cat to me, she helped me get through a lot, she knew me and my moods and when I was upset or happy. I miss her every day, even though I have two other beautiful cats now. No pet can ever be replaced. They are all special in their own ways, and to me - they are family.

Thank you for writing this beautiful piece, and sharing your love and photos of Bailey - he was a very lucky dog, and you were equally lucky to have him. :)


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi MelChi,

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I can relate to your relationships with your pets and how you described Muffin. My cat Buster, was the same way. He knew my moods and always knew when I needed him most. Bailey was the same way too, even more so. It can feel so tragic losing them yet I still have such great memories. As I am sure you do as well. Take Care.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi Vitality,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner for taking them time to have a read. I understand how painful a time it can be. I hope someday you will feel the presence of Zak with you no matter where you are in life. Someday, as you go about your day, I hope you catch that little smile; that may cross your face when a pleasant memory of Zak crosses your mind. My Bailey will be gone for a year this September and it is only now that I can think of him and get a bit teary eyed. But it's not a crushing pain anymore. However, at the same time I reminisce about him with more love, smiles and laughter, than sorrow in my heart. And I wish that for you someday.


jane sunderland 4 years ago

our Comment...I had to euthanise my beloved llasa apso leo 4 weekss ago and it feels like 4 hours I feel so guilty an gabve up on him when he needed me most - he had developed diabeytes pancreatitis he wouldn't eat and that meanthis diabetes would eventually need more ibsulin with a much thicker needle - he also needed steroids for a strcture which also would have thrown the diabetes into array- I can't stop feeling quilty for his demise and pulling the trigger - I miss him every minute of the day he was my last present from my late husband eleven years ago sohe was my last link to another who was dearly loved - I know I have to find a way to deal with this as I'm starting to feel quite ill


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi Jane,

I understand how you feel. I adopted my dog as an anniversary gift to myself. When my ex left me, and our home was gone, along with a group of friends and family; my dog was symbolic of what was left. Before he died he had to be with me all day, everyday or he needed a baby sitter. When Bailey was given the injection I lost more than just my pal and my companion. It was like my past was complete erased. You did the right thing, no matter how heartbreaking it was. Leo is no longer suffering and with time you will not suffer any longer either. You will, someday, not feel ill when talking about it, thinking about it. But I know for now it will be a battle. But when time works its magic, you will have fond memories that you will be able to carry in your heart, without the guilt of thinking you didn't try hard enough. You will no longer question the decision you made. It will get better, but for now it's o.k. to cry, it's o.k. to mourn. Because that is what is happening. Grief can be very draining. Take care- Cara


jane sunderland 4 years ago

Hi cara I wrote a rather long message to you but I am such a dinasaur wen it comes to technology not sure you got it. However in case you didn't I want to thank you for taking the time to offer me support. I'm still bawling my eyes out continuously I miss him so much . Took his ashes up to scotland last week and buried them beside my late husband.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi Jane,

I understand how painful it is and bringing Leo's ashes to your late husbands grave could have not been easy. If anything it must have made it more difficult facing two losses. I am still clinging to Bailey. His ashes haven't been scattered yet. Not sure if I can completely let him go yet. Keep crying but take care of yourself too. There are always beginnings and ends to everything. Sometimes it's not when you expect it and even when you do it's not always fun. But I have a very strong feeling Jane, that despite your deep pain, something wonderful is coming your way.


jane sunderland 4 years ago

Hi Cara once again thank you for your kindness - I am in san remo italy at my sis for a week then I'm back in knutsford before I go off to china I am dreading coming home each time as my darling leo won't be there to greet me - I always paid dearly for him to be in his own home when I travelled and no matter where I was I couldn't get home quick enough to hold him in my arms - god I miss him so much - jane


Veronica Mathews 4 years ago

Wow while reading this I seen the writers dog was named bailey. That was my cats name who I had to put to sleep today. I don't think the pain as sunk in or even hit me yet. So sorry for everyone's loss.


jane sunderland 4 years ago

Sorry for the loss of your cat.it was three days after putting my little dog to sleep that the finality of never seeing him again sunk in. As Cara said time heals. I'm six weeks on and the pain I feel is so intense almost unbearable. Hopefully it does get better for u too. God bless all who are suffering the loss of their pets.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi Veronica,

I am sorry for your loss of your Bailey. It took me almost a year to feel the pain lessen. Even now when I think of my Bailey I can cry over the loss. It's been longer since I lost both my cats. With my cats, I can think of them with joy. I feel that they are with me and it makes me smile. I'm still not there yet with the death of my dog. However I know I will someday. Everyone's time frame of mourning is different. Each day, during this journey, will be different. Allow yourself to feel what ever emotion emerges. Take Care, Cara


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 4 years ago from New York Author

Hi Jane,

I didn't want you to think I missed your last post about coming home to an empty Leo home. Every time I would head to the car, during times he could be in the car, and saw he was not there; It would hit me that he was gone. Not too long ago I finally cleaned the doggy nose prints off the rear window. Even then I cried, I left his doggy hammock in the backseat of the car for several months. But little by little I took Bailey's hammock out of the car and other things he needed when we traveled. I still have all his things and it's been a year this month. However the pain is different now. Life is all about change and the pain everyone is feeling; over the loss of their beloved pets will lessen. If the pain didn't, we would cease to exist, we would be held up in grief, possibly unable to function. We are created to be able to move forward but it takes time. Always be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to grieve. Even when others may not understand. Take Care Jane, Leo is always with you.


jane sunderland 4 years ago

Cara thank you I always feel better for reading your replies to me. I know you are still hurting. I.m fraid the only thing I kept was his collar leash and identity tags and his paw marked blanket. His bed and toys I cleared straight away it was just too painful for me to see. I'm living in knutsford at mom and leave this house on 21st this month. I think that will help because everywhere I look I see him. I look forward to the day when its a different pain. Thanks Cara. Take care


Sheilla 3 years ago

I am currently in the process of euthanizing my dog he is 3 and can't walk had a spinal injury which is killing me inside its soo hard as i read everyones comments i cry especially cause i will be doing it soon for him and its right it would be selfish to keep my baby max he is a beagle mix when he is suffering but i am just going to miss him soo much and every night i cry.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 3 years ago from New York Author

Hi Sheilla,

Sorry to read about your dog Max. It is a difficult situation, and you will miss him terribly but in my experience the pain will be less and less. Maybe you will shed some tears now and then, years later. I still do but when I look at pictures and video of my dog and think of him I smile way more than I cry. It will hurt because you love him and you don't want him to go but you love him enough to let go. It will be o.k.

Take Care,

Cara.R


Sophia 3 years ago

I had to euthanize my shih tzu Madeline yesterday afternoon. I never spent more than a week without seeing her all my life and now she's gone forever. I went with her and my dad to the vet to put her to sleep. She was blind, nearly deaf, and had a heart murmur. She also wasn't eating much. I held her head as the vet injected the medicine into her leg. I knew Madeline was so scared and didn't know what was going on. Knowing that haunts me and makes me so sad. I don't know what to do to move on, all I've been doing is crying and thinking about how scared she was.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 3 years ago from New York Author

HI Sophia,

I'm sorry to read about your darling Madeline. I believe you did the right thing. Maybe Madeline was scared not because she was going to die; but because she was blind and nearly deaf. She could have been afraid in any situation. My friend's beagle had the same symptoms and I recall her biting at thin air; when walking by a tall grass that brushed against her. I understand it hurts and you don't have to move on right now. It's time to cry and miss her. It will get better though. Be kind to yourself. You had Madeline her whole life and you were courageous to be there for her during her passing. Eventually you will have wonderful memories, the tears will be gone and you will be left with smiles.

Take Care,

Cara R


Lindsay 3 years ago

What the monk told you helps me. I have been having a hard time with taking my cat's life via euthanuzation in April. I have tried to turn to my spirituality but have found nothing to make me feel better and thought perhaps the reason I could find no published Buddhist wisdom to lighten burden is because I deserve it for what I've done. I don't know where I've sent my friend. I miss him. And I don't know that I should feel better not knowing if he does. I feel like I've done a horrible thing and I can never make up for it. :( I'm sorry to unload here, your words se are helpful and I would love to learn ways to help myself more. Thanks!


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 3 years ago from New York Author

Hi Lindsay,

Sorry to read about the loss of your cat. I'm no expert on Buddhism and that was the first time I met actual Buddhist monks. I took his words literally. I understood what the vet told me about the condition of my dog and believed I was doing the right thing, they even told me I was doing the right thing.

You can't go back in time; and questioning what you have already done, is now making you suffer. You believed you were making the right choice; and I will make the assumption that you loved your cat dearly. Your intentions were good. You are feeling guilt, sadness and loss; some of, and there's more, stages of grief and sometimes they come at you all at once. Try to be a little easier on yourself.

The loss of a pet is difficult. Imagine your pet pain free, imagine all the good times you had with your cat. You were there the day you both met and then comes the day you part. Right now it doesn't matter how you parted, but that you had the time, you had together. The end of something is hard for most people.

No one wants to say good-bye. I'm unsure of what would make you feel better. Maybe after sometime, when your grief is less; you can think more clearly about your relationship with your cat and not that he was euthanized. I had to do this to my dog and two of my cats and some days I too question if I did the right thing. I don't cry any longer, I feel they are with me in spirit and what is done is done. I have happy memories and many wonderful stories. I have a feeling you will too someday. Just allow yourself the time to heal. Remember, think of your intentions, they were good. You didn't want to harm your cat you loved him.

Take Care,

Cara


jane sunderland 2 years ago

Losing a much loved pet is a dreadful experience which only time lessens the hurt devastation and loss that we feel. I lost my beloved Leo llasa apso 18 months ago and wrote to Cara over my agonising decision of euthanising leo. I felt that I had killed him and my guilt and torment over my decision was at times unbearable. Although I still miss him with all my heart I do believe now it was probably the right thing to do as he would invariably lost quality of life and been miserable.

I have since got another adorable muchj loved llasa by the name of Digby and in fact have an Antique shop named afyer him. He has helped fill a vast void in my life since losing my darling Leo and I know one day we will meet again.


Jennifer 2 years ago

Thank you for your story. My 1 year old cat took a bad turn yesterday and was dying, so I made the hard decision to put him to sleep. I don't know how or when it will get better.


Elizabeth 2 years ago

After a lengthy battle with kidney and liver disease, I had to euthanize my beloved 13 1/2 year old yello lab Chesapeake, this past Feb. I am still struggling daily with what feels to be the process of dying of a broken heart. She was an amazing fighter with the will of a lion to keep going. She was the most gentle, peaceful, loving old soul. I watched carefully each day and consulted with 2 different vets, to make sure she had agood quality of life as we kept up the fight. I am morally opposed to euthanasia, to the point that I found it completely truamatic and life altering to be faced with commanding a death sentence, to the one creature I have loved most in my life. But she began to suffer in her last couple weeks. I knew it was the final downward spiral, and I knew death and misery were approaching with warp speed. I finally realized her dying in pain, and possibly suddenly without me there, was far more unbearable a cross to bear. For all of the life altering joy and lessons of love she taught me, the least form of gratitude I could provide, was to release her from the mounting suffering and guarantee her last moments were in my arms and the sound of my eternal love in her ears. I am completely traumatized over having to make the decision, I never thought I could possibly make. It haunts, me and terrorizes my soul. I miss her so badly, it is physically painful still, but I somehow feel her right here with me, in my heart and soul, literally, each day.


Cara.R profile image

Cara.R 20 months ago from New York Author

Dear Elizabeth,

My heart goes out to you and all the people who feel haunted and feel darkness in their soul after making such a difficult choice. As painful as it is now and I don't know how long you'll feel this way, seven months isn't very long. However, if you feel she is with you than she is. Someday the sadness and torment will fade and you still feel her with you, but with a sense of comfort.

In a cosmic sense, I believe all living creatures never cease to exist, they transform. Although she is not within your five senses, you still "feel" her with you.

It's been many years since I lost one of my 3 cats, along with my pooch. They have all passed now but not a day goes by where I don't feel they are with me.

Take care.


LouieLou 3 months ago

I am having a terrible time deciding whether to put my dog down. He is almost 16 years old. He is 95% blind, totally deaf and recently lost his sense of smell. He wears a belly band since he pees all the time, but that doesn't seem to bother him (or me). He is very weak in the legs and when we walk outside he is very anxious to just get back in since he can't see. He just tugs on his leash and goes kind of wild (people think it's cute; I know better). Inside the house he paces around, coughs a lot (he always coughed but now it is much more; I used to think he had acid reflux). He still loves to eat. He sleeps fine when he's not pacing. I don't think he's in any physical pain; just psychic anxiety and living in a sense deprived world. So, he enjoys eating. And when he can bend his head down (or I lift a towel for him) he loves to rub his face. He still does that. So, he eats, rubs his face, sleeps, goes outside but not too happily. Not in physical pain. Help !! It is very upsetting to see him staring at the wall, not being able to hardly get into his bed since his legs are so weak, but maybe that's my problem. What should I do? Does this dog have any quality of life?

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