How Do You Know When The Time Has Come To Euthanize Your Pet


I know that there are people who do not believe in euthanizing pets, but for those who, at some time, may have to make this decision, I hope this article will be of help.

Recently I had to euthanize my precious dog Maggie, whose picture you see on the right. Losing Maggie was devastating for me and also for her little sister Junbug, but for me, deciding to euthanize was not a difficult choice, it was the only choice.

I first considered what Maggie had always enjoyed. Maggie had always enjoyed:

a) going for long walks,

b) playing in the yard, with her toys, with her sister, and with those she loved,

c) eating,

d) riding in the car,

e) waking up every morning to a new, and sure to be exciting, day. Maggie was the happiest, most energetic, most optimistic, living thing that I have ever known. And, lastly Maggie enjoyed;

f) being petted and loved.

And, looking at that list, what did Maggie still enjoy?

In just a few short days, Maggie lost most of what had been, her amazing strength. She could no longer go for long walks. She was exhausted after walking half a block, so all she could do was lie and gaze, with longing, down the driveway.

And, of course, she no longer had the strength to play.

She could still eat, but no longer recognized food, and needed some put in your mouth to get her started.

In the car, she no longer sat, nose pressed to the window, searching for something to bark at. She just lay panting quietly.

Every morning, Maggie still came to wake me up. The tail that used to wag non-stop, now wagged very slowly. Days were hard for her. Breathing was becoming difficult, as the cancer took over her body.

Yes, Maggie was still petted and loved. She is no longer petted, but she will always be loved.

So, of the six things that brought Maggie joy, four were gone, and only two, minimally, remained.

Every dog experiences different joys. When these are largely gone, then life is no longer sweet.

Could Maggie's life be extended. Possibly, for a short time, by taking extreme measures. Extreme measures were not an option to me. Dogs are not people. By this I mean that they do not enjoy distractions like reading, watching television, visiting friends, and going to movies. Dogs do not anticipate pleasure. They live in the moment. They do not understand that this painful miserable treatment may - or may not - be of benefit to them.

Some people say they cannot bear to let their pets go. They need more time to say good-bye. In my mind, that is about the human, not about the suffering animal. I did what I thought was right for Maggie, and what I know she wanted.

How did I finally decide? As I lay on the floor beside Maggie, patting her and talking to her, I looked into her beautiful dark eyes, and, in my mind, I heard her saying - "Help me Mom". And so I did.

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Comments 16 comments

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

I'm sorry, but you did do the right thing, see her having trouble to breathe is heart-braking. At least you still have Maggies sister to look after and pet.

Voted up and this is a great information story, my thanks to you, Joyce.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Nice to hear from you Writer20 - I appreciate your thoughtful remarks and your votes - regards - B.

alphagirl profile image

alphagirl 4 years ago from USA

Sorry about your loss. I think you did the right thing. I too had to put our cat down. Our cat was bleeding from the intestine out. She could not eat. I could not watch her suffer. My husband and kids were paralyzed about what to do. So when hubby was at work and kids were at at school, I took Candy to the vet. I cried. It was very hard. My kids were upset. Candy was a rescue cat we cared for for 4 years. We spent over 600.00 plus adoption fees during her stay with us.

It took a year before I could even think of having another cat.

We were constantly getting reminders to adopt. Occasionally a stray cat would appear on our manicured lawn. My neighbor's cat who never stepped foot in our yard would come over. I am a softy. My kids wanted another cat. It was about 9 months before I could even think of adopting a cat.

It made more financial sense to give another rescue cat a home, than to spend thousands not knowing if Candy would ever be healthy again. Now we have Espresso. I hubbed about her.I voted your hub up!!!

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, I am so sorry you have lost your beautiful dog Maggie, she almost looks like my Tanya that i lost in March(Read Escape to the Other Side). It is so hard when we lose them because they love us so much. Maybe your beautiful Maggie is playing with my beautiful Tanya on the other side .

Vote up and more !!!

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

What an absolutely magnificent Hub and you're so right. I made the same decision for my beloved Joshua when he got to the point you described and then my sweet Jake -- it was all that was left to do that would give them peace and the last loving thing I could do for either. My heart is sad for you -- Best/Sis

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Aww, Maggie was so sweet to tell you it was time to go. I had a cat that did the same for me. He placed his paw on my shoulder to let me know it was ok. Your story is beautiful and so touching.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hello Alphgirl - thank you for reading and for commenting - it is so hard to lose a pet - I am so glad you have decided to adopt another cat - there are so many in need - a neighbor of mine had her dog run over by a car thirty years ago and said she could never have another - she just changed her mind now has a little buddy, and I have never seen her so happy - regards - B.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Kashmir56 - interesting that you had a dog that looked like Maggie - Maggie was a cross between a soft-haired wheaten terrier and a briard - I wonder if Tanya was part wheaten - I'm sure they are happy companions playing together - I will definitely read your hub - regards - B.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hello Angela - thank you for your kind comments - I'm sure you still miss Joshua and Jake - I know I will always miss Maggie - you are right - it is the last kind thing we can do for animals, who have done so much for us - regards - B.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Teaches 12345 - I think animals understand more that we can ever imagine - I know they don't understand the words we speak, but they do understand feelings and translate their feelings back - just as your cat let you know, with a gesture, and just as Maggie let me know in my mind - regards - B.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

So sorry about Maggie. She sounds like a sweetie.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks for reading and commenting Phoenix - yes Maggie was a sweetie - I finally did get another dog - a companion for Junebug - she does not take Maggie's place - none could - regards, B.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

That was thoughtful of you. How are they getting on?

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Phoenix - they are getting along pretty well - not as well as June and Maggie but then those two were together for seven years - Willie, my new dog, is a little male - he was supposedly about three or four, but turns out he was just very ill, kennel cough, mange, and pneumonia - for the first month I did little but shove pills down his poor little throat - he is only a puppy, barely six months old - he's better now and is a wild one - he loves Junebug which is important - she tolerates his advances with reservations - I'm sure that, as the years go by, they will become a good pair - but I sure miss my Maggie - thanks for your interest - regards - B.

phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

The poor little guy. Glad to hear he's feeling better.

It's so nice to have a pup around. They're so enthusiastic, playful and have eyes that just melt your heart. (sigh) I miss having a dog or cat around.

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Dogs certainly give us much more than we give them - I can't imagine living without a dog or two - I will always have rescue dogs - they are to me the most deserving - B

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