How do you know if it’s time to put your dog down or not?

Our dog is 12 – 14 years old. She can’t see, can’t hear very well, her back legs slip out from under her, she can’t go down our 3 steps to go out side and go potty, without either jumping, which sounds terrible when she does, she has fallen flat, sounds like it hurts. Or when she waits long enough for us to help, her back legs drag down the steps. She has problems pooping lately, constipated and it is hard watching her keep trying, she pees in the house and it is starting to smell (even though I try to always catch it and clean it up good and have shampoo’d the carpets a few times too). Can’t find doggie diaphers to fit her or ones that will stay on, when she lays down and my husband doesn’t think pee pads (or diaphers) should be used. My husband says it’s time, I just don’t know I can, I feel if her heart is still working, can I do that? Still likes to be petted, loves her food (or people food anyhow, with her food), seems to just want to be loved and good if she is just laying or sitting (although she use to lay on her sides a lot, now doesn’t nearly as much, flat on her belly, which makes me think she just isn’t comfortable). Vet said she is on her last year he thinks. He didn’t say she is in pain though, but she has a couple masses that he said just let them be, at her age. Plus a mole that was swollen and infected and kept bleeding and bleeding. Got some medication for that, swelling has gone down and bleeding seems to have stopped, but the vet said he didn’t think it would (for now I think he was wrong on that). He said we should think about removing it. We decided not to, at 675.00 and with her other health issues and a year or less, and he said it isn’t hurting her, attached to nothing on the inside. You get the feeling often she doesn’t even know who you are or where she is. Although, that seems to have gotten better since we started Anipryl two weeks ago. But that costs 85.00 a month and if it really is/will work, were yet to see (they say 30 – 60 days and then only works in like 70% of dogs). I know one person who tried it on her dog and she said nope, didn’t work, so she took her off. She couldn’t see paying that if she didn’t think it was working. Our dog sleeps all the time, doesn’t run much out side anymore, never barks or whines. We have to get up multiple times in the middle of the night to take her out, so she won’t pee in the house. She gets up and paces in the middle of the night. We haven’t had to do it much, but it seems like she can’t even wait to go pee when she has been in her kennel more then 6 hours and yet starting this week, so goes back to her kennel like 11 hours, a couple times a week, due to we have to work (I was off on a medical leave, so been home with her a lot over the past 6 weeks). I am thinking she won’t make it all day and will need baths daily, which my husband won’t deal with. He comes from a farm, outside dogs and he says no way, we can’t keep on going with the peeing in the house and etc. Nothing I do will change her seeing, hearing, back legs and her age. But I am just wondering if now is or isn’t the time. Wonder when you say what quality of life is this for yer and if it’s not, is it time? She sleeps all the time and just isn’t herself, like she use to be. Loved outdoors, now never wants to be out, loved to run, now runs a few feet only and is done, slips off other steps because she doesn’t know she is at a step and …. I just don’t know what to do, when do you know it’s time and what do you do when it’s effecting your relationship with your other half when you both believe different things with the situation and you don’t sleep at night anymore, because of your dog (who I love very much), can’t leave your house for more then a certain amount of time, for outings, so your life isn’t being lived like it use to be neither and ….

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17 Responses to “How do you know if it’s time to put your dog down or not?”

  1. Kit_kat says:

    read these poems and I think they say so much
    I do think it’s time one reason she is looking for the love is to be comforted because of her health issues.
    I know it’s one of the hardest things you will ever do but as the poems will say if you love me let me go…

    May I Go Now

    May I go Now?
    Do you think the time is right?

    May I say good-bye to pain filled days

    and endless lonely nights?

    I’ve lived my life and done my best,

    an example tried to be.

    So can I take that step beyond

    and set my spirit free?

    I didn’t want to go at first.

    I fought with all my might.

    But something seems to draw me now

    to a warm and loving light.

    I want to go.

    I really do.

    It’s difficult to stay.

    But I will try as best I can

    to live just one more day.

    To give you time to care for me

    and share your love and fears.

    I know you’re sad and afraid,

    because I see your tears.

    I’ll not be far,

    I promise that,

    and hope you’ll always know

    that my spirit will be close to you,

    wherever you may go.

    Thank you so for loving me.

    You know I love you too,

    that’s why it’s hard to say good-bye

    and end this life with you.
    So hold me now, just one more time

    and let me hear you say,

    because you care so much for me,

    you’ll let me go today



    Treat me kindly, my beloved friend,
    For no heart in all the world is more
    rateful for kindness than the loving
    heart of me.
    Do not break my spirit with a stick,
    For though I should lick your hand
    between blows, your patience and
    understanding will more quickly
    teach me the things you would
    have me learn.

    Speak to me often, For your voice is
    the world’s sweetest music, as you must
    know by the fierce wagging of my tail
    when your footsteps fall upon my ears.

    Please take me inside when it is cold
    and wet, For I am a domesticated
    animal, no longer accustomed to the
    bitter elements. I ask no greater glory
    than the privilege of sitting at your
    feet beside the hearth.

    Keep my pan filled with water, for I
    cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.
    Feed me clean food that I may stay well,
    to romp and play and do your bidding,
    to walk by your side, and stand ready,
    willing and able to protect you with
    my life, should your life be in danger.

    And, my friend, when I am very old, and
    I no longer enjoy good health, hearing
    and good sight, do not make heroic
    efforts to keep me going.

    I am not having fun. Please see that my
    trusting life is taken gently. I shall
    leave this earth knowing with the last
    breath I drew, that my fate was always
    safest in your hand.

    — By Beth Norman Harris 1968 —



    Time to let me go my friend,
    Because my life no-one can mend,
    Its better to let me go this way,
    Than watch me suffer night and day.

    I’m happy to go, my time has come,
    My quality of life is no longer fun,
    Ive been so ill, so its not a bad thing,
    To let me go forever resting.

    Stay with me till I drift away,
    Fast asleep forever I pray,
    To relieve me from suffering and pain,
    What more can I ask from my best friend.

    Don’t be sad, I’ll be free from pain,
    Never to be ill ever again,
    I know you’ll miss me being there,
    But all the memories you have to share.

    Thankyou for being my best friend,
    And all my needs that you did tend,
    Try not to be sad, try not to cry,
    Now’s the time to say GOODBYE


    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

  2. Genuine Goldens says:

    First of all, I am so sorry about your dog and you having to go through this. I’ve been in a similar situation, so I hope I can help. My Lady went downhill when she was 14 years old. She’d suffered from arthritis for years, but got to the point that she couldn’t get up without help, and often needed help walking. Her appetite decreased tremendously and she lost a lot of weight (ribs and spine were visible). For a month or two (I can’t remember exactly) her days were spent laying around. She became completely incontinent. I had to change her bedding, many times a day, wash her rear end and legs every day and roll her over several times a day. It is A LOT OF WORK keeping an elderly dog going. What kept me going? Knowing that this dog was fighting to stay alive for one thing, my company. Every time I would walk into the room her tail would thump, thump, thump excitedly like it always had. She would pant and breathe excitedly. I would brush, rub, and massage her. All the while talking to her. It was all we had. I knew "it" was coming, and decided to let my HEART tell me when it was time to let her go. The day I walked into see her in the morning and she didn’t look up, didn’t wag her tail, I knew it was time. I had her put to sleep the next day.

    Please have a heart to heart with your husband. I totally understand where he’s coming from (the farm dog mentality), but if he loves you, he’ll let you decide when it’s time. Go with your gut. Love her until the end. Charish it.

    As for the meds, if they aren’t working, I wouldn’t continue them. I’d put pads down in her crate for the days she has to be in there along time. Just remember the hard work of taking care of an elderly dog comes with responsibility of bringing a dog into your life. You can put non-slip mats on your outside steps to help her get up and down them. If she needs help climbing stairs/walking, you can use a towel to help support her weight. While she’s standing, put the towel around her belly, right in front of her hind legs. hold both ends of the towels in the air so that it is creating a hammock type sling for her body. Slightly lift her body up while she’s walking, so to take the pressure of her weight off of her legs.

  3. HDB says:

    This is a hard question and only one that you can answer.

    I’m sorry that you’re going through this and having to make the decision, but you have to look at the dog’s quality of life and if she is enjoying it.

    I can definitely understand that you don’t want to let her go, so my question is this: I know you’ve taken her to the vet and the vet told you that she’s on her last legs, but have you asked the vet if there is anything that he can give her that would help with her being unable to hold her bladder?

    If the only problem is that she can’t hold her bladder, then I would let her be and spoil her rotten for whatever time she has left. . If she were in pain or suffering, then I would tell you it’s time to let her go and end her suffering.

    As I said, this is a decision that you have to make because you know what your dog is going through and what her quality of life is like. I’m sorry that I can’t give you a more definitive response, other than follow your heart.

  4. dusty_puppy says:

    Well, there is never a good time to have a pet euthanized, but you can wait too long. You don’t want to say to yourself afterwards "I wish I had done this sooner, before … happened."

    If you are concerned about what your vet or the other employees at your vets office will think, they will support you in your decision. I know sometimes people think that we will judge them for not trying harder, but that is so far from the truth. Honestly, we wonder how you were able to take care of an aging/ailing pet for so long!

    In the end it is up to you. My recommendation is to do it before it becomes an emergency.

  5. cat_c says:

    The only thing I would say is bring the vet to your house so your dog passes in familiar surroundings and with familliar smells. We all feel for you.

  6. recuseme83 says:

    no one can tell u what to do and the best i can tell u is if that were u ( put ur self in her postion) and u couldnt talk than what would u want i have had to deal with this many times with my pets and it seems to show in their eyes the look of defeat or giving up and they wont let go untill u let them know it is ok for them to do so dogs want nothing more to please and if that means hiding the pain and missery they will just to know that their owners are happy with them as crazy as it sounds ask her and let her know that if u are ok for her to let go and that u love her and u know her body is tired even though her soul and heart may not be that it is ok to let u know and ok to let go if she has to that if she dosent want to keep fight u are ok with it and u love her no matter what i am truely sorry to hear that she is so poor off and i know it is a very hard call to make but u will know when the time is right and u have to put her feelings befor ur own even if it leads u to a path u may not want to take at least with pets we can allow the passing to be peacefull as possible

  7. helaurin says:

    Having to euthanize and say good-bye to a beloved companion pet is one of the hardest things that many pet parents have to go through. I am sad to say, from the things you wrote, it is time for you to let your dear friend rest and cross the rainbow bridge. Schedule a day where you first let her do some of the most favorite things she can do in the morning, whether it be going with you for a short walk, laying down on the floor and being petted, and let her have whatever special foods or treats she likes. Then in the afternoon, take her in, calmly hug her and hold her while she is humanely euthanized, so she does not pass away alone and abandoned. Let her feel as safe and comfortable as possible at the vets, and save your tears for afterward, for your dog’s sake.

    Take some time after that for yourself and your spouse to repair any negative effect this has had on your relationship. When you are ready, consider adopting a shelter dog, perhaps one that reminds you of her in some special way.

    Letting go is hard, but it seems clear from what you wrote that it is time.

    for more information on dog-related issues, check out Sharon McCuddy’s "Lucky Dog" article series, it’s free at

  8. ladykenmax says:

    I had to put my Dalmation down when he turned 14 and displayed the same symptoms. He lost all control over his urine and bowel movements. When he would walk he couldn’t feel his toes curling under his foot. He had cataracts and was going deaf. He has trouble getting up from a sitting or lying position. I made the decision because I knew it was time because his quality of life was no longer there. It was my gut feeling. I had him since he was a year old and yes it was a very hard decision to make. You may not have her, but you will have many wonderful memories. I would say please put her down and let her live in doggie heaven and your heart.

  9. margie k says:

    It almost sounds like you are asking someone to say it is all right to put her down. It is, unless you want to keep dealing with the problems you have described, especially if you won’t be around her as much due to work. It is a very hard thing to do but her quality of life is not good unless you are there all the time to help her, and if you can’t be, then it’s not good. She is basically living for you at this point. If she is pacing at night she is not well and is distressed, and the masses she has in her will eventually give her a stroke, if she already hasn’t had one ( sounds like she has possibly had a mini stroke or two with her symptoms). I have had two dogs go through exactly this and both had strokes and I had to put them to sleep. It is awful but you don’t want them suffering either.

  10. kirkvonnegut says:

    What a sad story.

    My dog had something similar happening for a while, though she was only 9 years old. For her, it was a combination of age and a brain tumor. Her adrenal glands were malfunctioning and everything. We tried a bunch of medications and treatments and such, and finally decided we would try treatment for one more week before having her put down. Before the week was up, she just lay down and died in the middle of the kitchen floor.

  11. GG says:

    Follow your heart sweety. You know it’s wrong to put her down. If she was in agony, pain and suffering then i’d say do it with no problem because this is what she would want but just because it might be hard to see your baby getting older, or because she’s become sorta inconvenient or burdensome, or because she’s not as "fun" as she may used to be is wrong. you still love her i can tell. she’s your baby and she’s not ready to go and your not ready to let her go. It’s not time baby. If she’s suffering then do it but if she’s still enjoying life and is just an old lady then life goes on. Talk to God on this one. Make sure she has all the meds and things that can help her with her constipation, pain, etc. talk to ur vet but you can give dogs aspirin for pain but is extreely small amounts

  12. Bob says:

    1. If you are unselfish, and truly focused on what’s best for your dog, you will know when the time is right.
    2. This question has been asked several times before. You might use the search feature and look up other peoples’ answers.

    May the Lord guide you to a good decisioin.

  13. divegirrl says:

    If it were my dog, I would give it 1 last month, and spoil it rotten. Then I would have it put down. Better too early than too late. Sorry.

  14. mcally (McKenzie and Pinky) says:

    When there are more bad times than good, more bad days than good then it is time. It is never an easy decision.

  15. DC ♥ [A.K.A. African-Caucasian] says:

    It’s time.

    Your dog is in too much pain. Do the unselfish thing and let her go. That was very sad to read. Please do not feel guilty. You should feel proud if anything. I know had that been my parent’s dog, they wouldn’t even have made a move to get it to a vet. You went the extra mile and paid tons of money to keep that dog as happy as possible.

    But there are some things money can’t buy. =(

  16. hoopsinla says:

    I am very sorry to hear about your dog, because we have had to put a dog to sleep and it is very sad. One thing I remember our dogs doctor saying that we would know when it was time, because we would see when the dog wasn’t getting any quality of life.

    We really could tell when that happen, but it was not easy. I’m sorry your dog is not well.

  17. Java ♥ Made with Love says:

    Too much text… too late at night…

    I will tell you this though. Your dog will lose her spark. She will loose her special edge, she won’t be the same… once it gets to the point where she just isn’t your dog anymore, then you will know.

    If she’s in pain, if it’s hurting her, if she doesn’t seem the same mentally, then you’ll know.

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