Euthanizing a Dog Will Always Be a Problem at My House
It is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make
Lots of things have been conquered at my house when it comes to problems that pop up for my dogs. Ticks, fleas, hot spots, and ear infections all have an easy fix, but when your dog is old and sick, how do you decide when it is the right time to let him go for good?
Euthanizing a dog is not an easy decision, you find yourself thinking about putting it off another day or two especially if the dog doesn't seem t be in pain. You also find yourself suddenly believing in the possibility of miracles, as you hope one will pop up sometime within the next few hours as you try to make this horrific decision.
Dogs are not just pets today, for a lot of people they are as loved as any other family member, so to have that power to end your dog's life with just a phone call to the vet may play heavily on your conscience. When it boils down to it, you need to sort out what is best for your dog and keep it away from your heart-felt feelings. Even if you could manage to do that it still doesn't make the decision any easier.
A good vet
Most good vets will not put a healthy dog down, they will refer the owner to a dog shelter instead of ending the life of a dog that has much more life left in them. That has been my experience through the years after hearing horror stories of a dog owner moving or having a girlfriend or boyfriend move in with them who would rather not be around a dog.
One local vet assured me they would never put a dog down that wasn't at death's door. She then continued to tell me the stories of people who wanted their dogs dead for reasons that suited their lifestyle changes at the time and how they would meet with her refusal to do so.
But... there's no pain, is there?
As a new dog owner decades ago, I had no idea that dogs can be in pain without you knowing this from their actions. A vet told me that dogs have an innate instinct to hide their pain. In the wild an animal that shows pain is also sending off a signal that it is vulnerable to predators. Basically, that is why dogs are so stoic when it comes to not showing pain, they don't want to become vulnerable for reasons that span back hundreds of years in their bloodline.
When Bear was sick, he didn't move and he needed our family's help to make it outside to do his business. We basically used a blanket like a sling to support the weight of his body as he walked outside a few times a day to relieve himself.
This was sad to see, but we hoped something would happen to make him regain his strength. Bear is the same dog that a vet recommended be put down six years earlier because he was so sick they believed he was terminal.
With medication for his pain and antibiotics for the infection he had, they sent him home to die. They also gave strict directions to call them and come in if he was uncomfortable so they could put him down.
Three days later Bear was up and running around. When hearing this the vet believed he had contracted a new form of Lyme Disease that they didn't even have a test for yet and the antibiotics did the trick.
Six years later, even the antibiotics weren't helping the now 14-year-old Golden Retriever. His tail would wag ever so slightly at the sight of any family member entering the room, but that was it. He wasn't eating, drinking and he was barely moving. Was it time?
The time had come
Bear wasn't getting any better and I had that conversation from years ago about dogs not showing their pain rumbling around in my mind. Thankfully our vet does house calls so she came out to do what had to be done. This was after I had canceled three days in a row holding on to hope.
For three days that week, I would call her in the morning because Bear looked so grim. Then by the afternoon before she was due to come out, Bear looked a bit better, so I would call and cancel. The vet was wonderful about this, knowing how hard it was for me to make that decision. Finally, on the fourth day, I made the call that morning and didn't cancel it that afternoon.
The vet arrived with two of her assistants and all three reassured me it was time for Bear to go. While I stayed with Bear through the entire process, I found that I was not prepared for one part of this sad event, as it was very shocking. A few days later when the vet's office called to see how I was doing, I told them they need to prepare people for what they were about to see when their pet is euthanized.
Unprepared for the shock of the process
That afternoon that Bear was put to sleep, the three ladies explained to what they would do as I sat on the floor and cradled Bear's head on my lap. They said that they were first giving him something that will relax him. They also said without any detail that he would lose all his muscle tone from this. This was the part I was unprepared for, as my dog didn't look as if he slipped away peacefully as I had imagined he would.
Once that injection was given to the dog, his tongue rolled out and stayed out of his mouth and he had a tiny bit of shaking going on at the same time. No, this is not how I wanted to remember my Bear, but it was too late. It is how I remember our last moments together.
The next injection ended his life completely, but to me, he was gone when his muscles gave way and his adorable kind face looked so different than the dog I knew and loved. I was heart-sick to see him this way.
Yes, it was necessary for Bear to be put to sleep, he was sick and the vet assured me he was in pain despite the pain medication I gave him throughout the day. I just wish I didn't have to witness that awful moment when his muscles let go. Maybe if I had been prepared it would have at least saved me the shock. As I said, changed his entire kind and gentle look and it was very disturbing to see.
That is why euthanizing a dog will always be a problem at my house.
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