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When is the Right Time to Euthanize?

  •    April 15, 2021
  •    Karen Anderson
  • 1090 Views


When is the Right Time to Euthanize?

 

Caring for an aging pet is both a blessing and a challenge rolled into one.

First, it is an honor to have a pet reach their senior years in your care. That means you’ve done a great job.

On the other hand, it can be full of challenges as you balance medications, treatments, vet appointments, or costly procedures.

Whatever your situation is the day will likely come when you are faced with that impossible decision…

“When is the right time to euthanize?”

Some say we should not end our pet’s lives. That we should let Mother Nature take its course.

Others say it is our responsibility to keep our beloved pets from suffering in a body that is failing.

Personally, I choose to help my pets leave their bodies when they are no longer able to enjoy their life. I base this on experiences in the past but also on what the animals have shared with me over the years.

Dying is usually a painful process. There is a struggle involved in most situations. The will to survive runs deep so animals will struggle to stay alive. It is their natural instinct.

In certain instances, such as a massive heart attack, the soul leaves the body and there is not much if any type of struggle.

Some pets will die peacefully in their sleep. I’ve always wished that for mine but it has yet to happen.

I’m not here to judge your decision but keep in mind the following…

 

The 10 Most Important Aging Facts Animals Shared:

1. When you stress, worry, or have anxiety about your pet they sense that and they can be adversely affected

2. If you can’t be with your pet during euthanasia or if they die without you it is never too late to say goodbye…they feel your love and don’t ever mention that you abandoned them

3. Animals see themselves as perfect even when they are missing an eye, a leg, or have other serious medical conditions.

4. Stay focused on the outcome or goal you want to achieve not their illness or issue

5. Most pets do not want to prolong their life with ongoing painful procedures.

6. Pets don’t seem to care what happens to their remains. If it makes you happy, that makes them happy

7. Pets do not fear dying. It is natural to them.

8. They need you to manage their pain or discomfort. When it cannot be managed help them transition.

9. That is worth repeating: Pets do not want to live in pain. They prefer quality over quantity.

10. Living a long life is a human concept. Animals do not count years.

Your job is to care for them and make sure they are comfortable.

We are not always meant to heal or cure them.

 

The end of your pet’s life and those painful decisions are part of your spiritual experience to learn and grow…

I don’t know about you but I have found that the older I get the harder it is to say goodbye.

Perhaps it is my thoughts about my own mortality as I get older…

Perhaps I am realizing that life goes by so incredibly fast…

Perhaps I am realizing that we only have so much time with them…

Some signs to watch for:

  1. Your pet cannot easily manage its daily life without pain or discomfort
  2. Lack of  interest in food, treats, or toys
  3. Lack of a spark
  4. Lethargic
  5. They seem distant, disconnected, almost ‘out of body’ at times
  6. Obvious mobility issues, balance issues, or trouble breathing
  7. Whining, crying, whimpering, limping, yowling, and a sense of despondency
  8. Your vet recommends euthanasia

It is never an easy decision but when you make that choice with love in your heart and the best of intentions for your beloved pet they know that and will never judge you.

 

So, I ask you…what brought you to your decision? How did you know it was time to say goodbye?

 

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Karen Anderson is the CEO and founder of Animal Communication Planet, an intuitive and spiritual growth center for psychic development. She is also an award-winning Afterlife and Pet Loss Specialist with over 24 years of experience helping clients struggling with pet loss. She offers coaching programs for Animal Communication for all levels.  Karen is an award-winning and #1 national and international bestselling author of ‘The Amazing Afterlife of Animals’ and ‘Hear All Creatures’. Karen’s VIP Members enjoy many perks including discounts and special offers. She also offers a free private Facebook practice group open to all levels called Animal Communication Planet. Karen and her husband reside on a 30-acre farm in the Inland Pacific Northwest with the animals they love.
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Comments:39

  1. I had to euthanize my 14 year old dog Moose. He had oral cancer, wasn’t eating food or treats and started to make this whistling nose through his nose. He was struggling to breath. It was a hard decision because I wanted to be selfish and have him here. But I needed to do what was best for him. I couldn’t be there with him because I didn’t want that to be my last memory. My husband was there and comforted him until he passed. Before my husband left too go to the vet, I talked to Moose and said he will soon be with God, my grandmother and Ruby ( my sisters dog). He will be healthy, vigorous and free of pain. I would always think of him and he will be forever in my heart. We will see each other again someday and know he was loved and still is. I talk to Moose everyday and say goodnight.

    1. It is so hard to say goodbye to someone you love so much. Fourteen years is a lifetime of memories. I’m so sorry for your loss. Making the toughest decision in the world is so hard. I’m sure he is with you and knows you did your best for him. Sending love and healing

  2. I knew it was time to let my little Miss Molly cross the rainbow Bridge when she stopped eating and drinking. She was also very weak and could no long go for walks. She was having trouble breathing (she had metastatic lung disease) and my vet said he could hear her grunting when he listened to her chest with his stethoscope. My vet said the grunting meant she was in pain and that I should think about euthanasia so she wouldn’t suffer. A few days later I held my sweet Molly on my arms as passed. It was devastating. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I know now that I made the right decision although it took some time for me to come to that realization.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss…Miss Molly is so lucky to have you as her mom. It is devastating. One of the worst moments we face. I’m sure you made all of your decisions with love in your heart and your sweet angel knows that. Sending love and healing

  3. Thank you so much for this article! I have an aging lab who has hip disability. She is still able to move around and can even still jump up on the bed, but she likes the steps we bought that she can walk up on to get in bed. We are working with the vet and give her medicine to help her as well as Glucosamine chews. We love her very much and I dread the time of her passing. I, too, hope she will go peacefully in her sleep as my previous beloved dog did. However, if her pain becomes severe, I am not opposed to euthanasia. I am quite ill myself and would like it if I had the choice to pass by my own hand if my life becomes unbearable.

    I have not had to euthanize a dog, but I did have a rabbit once when I was young. It developed a severe ear infection and could not stay upright. The vet recommended we put it down and so we did. It was very difficult for me as I love animals, but I am glad to know from your article that she did not hold anything against me.

    1. You are so welcome! Glad it helps you with your elderly lab. It is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and turmoil but our pets trust us with their well-being and know we are looking out for them. Sending love and healing…

  4. Both my dogs looked me in the eyes with a dark empty look almost like they weren’t there anymore.I knew it was time.

    1. I am so sorry for your losses. I know that look. I’ve seen it too. It is so hard. Sending love and healing

  5. Thank you so much for this summary. It’s such a hard decision, but it’s our last act of loving stewardship. My favorite on your list is this one: “Living a long life is a human concept. Animals do not count years.” SO TRUE. I also love the emphasis on the fact that animals prefer “quality over quantity” and do not want to live in pain, and that they do not fear death – certainly not the way we do in our culture. Thank you for this list to refer to. We’ve euthanized four dogs and one horse in the last 20 years and it’s always gut-wrenching. I now have a young dog and I am actively grateful that she is healthy and that, God willing, I have some time now before the next decision. But it’s part of the covenant. (I often think of putting a collar on a dog, as placing a wedding ring on a finger.) Thank you.

    1. It is our last physical act of love with each other. It is gut-wrenching…and gets harder each time. I appreciate your kind feedback and so happy this helps you! Best wishes for your new pup! Sending love and healing…

  6. Our 14 year old ‘Noel’ stopped eating and drinking after several years of arthritis and a recent very involved surgery. It was August last year and on a Fri night and the only available option was an ER Vet 25 miles from here and they would not let us in the building (Covid) my husband chose to stay with her here at home and it was horrible. I will never know if we did her an injustice by having her remain here, my husband said she deserved to be with the people she loved. I still cry about this descision on a daily basis.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, Patricia, Covid has made a difficult situation even harder for you. I doubt that Noel would even mention those final moments at all. We tend to rethink those final moments way too much (I am guilty) and the animals don’t even carry that memory with them. They speak only of the love, the happy moments, and the joy of being with you throughout their lives. Trust that she is not even giving it another thought. Let go of what only brings you anguish. I’m sure she would want that for you. Sending love and healing…

  7. I lost my Irish Red and White at the age of two to a congenital liver disease. Though he did l not seem to be in pain, he was bleeding internally and I did not want him to suffer. He would most definitely not have recovered and any treatment would have sent him away from me for weeks and the treatment, though probably not painful would have failed in the long term even if he survived long enough to get to an emergency center. I elected to take him in and hold him in my arms as he wa shaped to the other side. It was easier knowing that his condition was terminal even within treatment. It broke my heart because he was so young. I miss him so much but I knew I did the right thing.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, Pam. It is hard enough to lose them when they are older but when you lose them so young it seems even more painful. The animals wouldn’t judge their life that way. Only we do. So, in his memories, I’m sure he would share a wonderful and full life with you. Sending love and healing…

  8. Thank You for this message. I had to make this decision for my dog, Bear, which I love and miss alot!!!!!. At times still I fell I made the wrong decision till now. After ,I read this! it help me, calm my heart and believe i made the right decision. Thank you again.

    1. I’m so glad this has helped you. I am so sorry for your loss. You made the right decision if you made it with love in your heart and his best interest first. It is so tough to be the one to make that call. I’m sure he loves you to the ends of the Earth and beyond. Sending love and healing.

  9. I had to put my dog down on December 5th of last year. I am still having a very hard time accepting my decision. She was only 9 years old a rescue with all sorts of problems we worked through. She woke up crying and shaking in pain. Took her to the vet and she acted like nothing was wrong. Given pain meds which I gave her. Next day crying in pain again. Took her back to the vets. Seemed fine and of course you can’t go in with them. Increased pain meds. Day three came home from shopping. She started crying again and shaking. Of course this was on a Saturday late afternoon. I started losing it because she was in pain and didn’t seem to be getting better. Called the vet and asked for some direction. They talked about quality of life also. Three days and pain meds weren’t working. I decided to make that awful decision and my husband took her and stayed with her. I couldn’t go because I was a total wreck sobbing, yelling, cursing you name it! I regret not being able to have been there and also feeling very guilty about my decision that day. Always thinking should of given her more time to get well, what if the vet or myself missed something such as pancreatitis? Something that could of been done. I had her cremated and can’t even look at that because I start getting that lump in my throat and crying. I still cry looking at her pictures and always thinking what if? It’s awful and it’s not going away. I miss her terribly. She was with me 24/7 and was going to be my last dog. Always have had dogs into old age and she wasn’t old. So many guilt feelings. Can’t look at her pictures either without crying. Awful

    1. I am so sorry, Deborah, your loss was very traumatic. I can assure you that she would not even mention the agony you described. Your journey was likely much more difficult than hers as you did what you needed to do on her behalf. You did the right thing. You cannot let her be in pain. Second-guessing is part of our process to work through something so tragic. I’ve done it many times. The animals tell me it is ‘wasted energy’ and we need to focus on their life and how they lived not their death or how they died. Very much the opposite of what we tend to do. Find it within your heart to let go of what no longer serves either of you. All the energy you spend on the pain could be redirected to her as love and a celebration of her life. I’m sure she would love that so much. I hope you have my books too…they can help. Sending love and healing…

  10. Holly my kitty, became my soul kitty the day I first laid eyes on her at 3 months old. She was with me for 20 years through the loss of my mom, grandmother and in-laws. She would sit on my lap and stare at me as if I was the only thing that mattered to her. She got kidney disease at 18 and a half and even after a special daily diet for 16 months and several trips to her vet, her back legs started to give out on her. The day before I lost her, she didn’t move from her bed for 14 hours. I knew in my heart but you always question should you have done more sooner? She was my hardest loss. I remember almost passing out just waiting for her vet’s office to open. She passed peacefully in my arms with her vet’s help because I told her “Always” you and me. I will always have her in my heart and soul and I still cry after 2 and a half years without her. I believe she’s the one who sent us a new boy back in August and he is stealing my heart but he is the total opposite of her, almost like she knew I couldn’t handle any similarities. I know now that I can love again but Holly, man, she was and always will be my “Always” girl.

    1. What a beautiful story you and Holly kitty have. I have no doubt she sent your new boy to you. They love to send new souls our way! What a joy you have each other and will always be connected. Sending love and healing

  11. Thank you Karen for responding so quickly. I do have your books. Start reading them and then can’t finish one page because I start getting upset. I am having a very difficult time losing this dog. She really was in tune with me and me with her. Don’t want another dog because in the end I will have to do this again. This has been very difficult for me. I thought with time I would start to feel better but it’s still not happening. Thanks for your words of encouragement and understanding exactly the feelings I am having.

    1. I understand. It is too much to take in when grief weighs so heavily upon you. No one says you must get another dog. Do what makes you happy. We are all unique and experience a loss differently. Know that this is a huge part of your spiritual journey to expand your consciousness and subconscious further than ever. Any time I had a session with a soulmate companion animal like yours they shared that their sole purpose was to assist their human to expand into a different level of thought, of being, of life, and living. It is never without purpose and deep meaning. The more painful the loss, the more past lives you have shared. Your souls are connected for eternity and this will be just a tiny droplet in the ocean of your soul’s journey. We are here to learn and grow as spiritual beings having a physical experience. We learn the most when we are challenged, or deeply affected by someone or something. Those moments are all part of your soul’s plan. Trust, that your angel is divinely connected and always will be there for you and with you.

  12. We couldn’t be with our 16 year old Lulu a rescue beagle. She had been fine other than a strange little retching now and then for which we had tests done. A heart murmur was diagnosed. Vets told us she was fine otherwise and gave us meds. Suddenly it got worse. We started a programme of a week of more intrusive tests including scans. In the middle of the week she had trouble eating and was lethargic. I woke up in the night listening to her breathing and I could hear a change in that too. I phoned the animal hospital and brought forward the scan under anaesthetic for the next morning. I am still reliving that final journey. We handed her over in her blanket to the vet in the car park, because of Covid. I said we would be back to collect her after the scan. They phoned us in mid scan to say she had a big tumour in her throat which she couldn’t operate on. We had to decide whether to wake her from the GA to say goodbye or to Lt her go under the GA. I had wanted to hold her in my arms at home when it came to the time. But we allowed the vet to process under GA as we thought it cruel to revive her take her home and then bring a vet to the home and carry out another procedure. I am still haunted by that decision. We went back to the vet to see her and kiss her goodbye but it wasn’t the same. Did she know? I am still heartbroken after 7 months. We sat waiting for the vet in the back of the car stroking her and my husband said she gave him a look and he knew shexhad had enough.

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your girl, Lulu. Those are painful moments when we can’t be there. But so many animals tell me those memories don’t even enter their consciousness/subconsciousness or soul. It is happening to us but not to them so to speak. So let your heart be released from that awful time. Your angel most likely doesn’t even know that’s how things happened. They leave their bodies in a burst of energy and continue their spiritual journey with us in spirit form. Sending love and healing

  13. I recently had to euthanize my cat Kitty. I adopted him when he was 5 years old. It took him a long time to trust me. We became very close, he was my best friend, and reason for living. Kitty was diagnosed with a tumor surrounding his bladder, I was given medication, and told he might be okay for about 3 weeks. My sweet boy hung around until April 11th 2021. I knew he was in pain, he could hardly pee and was crying quite a bit. I contacted my Veterinarian, and was given an appointment for April 11th. It was almost a week before he could be seen by the Vet. I’m on a disability benefit and the organization who helped me, is one who helps people with low incomes. Due to such a high number of people needing Veterinary care, Kitty had to wait 5 days. I kept telling Kitty, I loved him and I would take care of him, we would go to a special place. I felt so guilty I couldn’t take him in any sooner. April 11th arrived and my sister and I went to the Vet. They were very kind, and explained what would happen. I already knew what would happen, because I had no euthanize my first cat Cally. They gave him medication to help him relax, my boy looked like he was scared. He relaxed so much, I thought he had passed. The Vet said I will give him the injection when you’re ready. So my sister took turns holding Kitty and telling him how much we loved him. They gave him the injection and he laid his face in my lap and peacefully passed away. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. I had to do, because my boy needed to leave his body and cross over to the other side.

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your angel, Kitty. No matter the situation, it is so hard to say goodbye. I’m sure Kitty is so happy to have you as his mom. Someone who finally took care of him and loved him. Sending love and healing

  14. You know Deborah I had similar guilt. Because our Lulu had suffering and I knew something was wrong and the vet couldn’t find anything. Gave her a clean bill of health. 2 weeks later by the time we were midway through a thorough more invasive series of analyses at a different vet she started to deteriorate fast we found out she had cancer and had to let her go. Of course I felt very guilty that I didn’t realise sooner. Then a friend who is also a therapist said, “Are you a vet?” I said, “no” She said, “How could you have known what was wrong?”. We did our best by taking her to the vet when symptoms appeared.. You did your best by taking your beloved dog to the vet when you saw they were in pain.. We can only put our trust in professionals. You did your loving best. A vet does not offer to euthanize unless they are sure there is a reason. I hope in time you can come to realise that our power as pet parents to understand the medical issues is limited. That we cannot always save them. Sending you warm thoughts

    1. Exactly, we are here to do our best and to learn something from each experience. It makes us a better person, a better pet-parent, and a more evolved soul. Thank you for your kindness and sharing…

  15. Thank you Gillian for taking the time to respond to me on exactly what I experienced. Thank you to everyone that has shared their experiences with Karen. Thank you Karen for taking your time to respond to us pet people that have lost our beloved animals. Losing our pets is an awful experience we have to go through. So many emotions to work through. With time I pray I can look at her pictures, laugh and remember her in a very happy way. Sending hugs and warm wishes to everyone

  16. I’m struggling with deciding if I should put my 14 year old puppers through surgery to remove her eye. She had a mass removed under an eyelid that was cancerous. I’m waiting on lab results to see exactly what type of cancer and if removal of the eye would even help. My furry family members have always been so important to me, but more so with her. My mom and my husband died 3 weeks apart last year. I’m not exaggerating when I say having my dog with me has been the only reason I could get out of bed and start functioning again. The thought of losing her so soon is almost unbearable. But, I don’t want to put her through something so traumatic. Especially at her age. I’m glad I came across this article right now. It’s reminding me that her comfort is most important.

    1. I’m so glad this helped you with your sweet pup. I know what you mean about them being the only reason we get up in the morning. They are our world, arent’ they? I’ll hold a sacred space for you both in my thoughts and prayers…

  17. I’ve had many small animals – hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits. Some have died peacefully at home, but a few have needed euthanasia and it never gets any easier losing a beloved pet in whatever way! My little dwarf lop rabbit was almost 12 years old and had several medical issues that we were dealing with, but one day he stopped eating and I knew it was time. The vet said there were things he could try, but I just knew Dusty had had enough, so we let him go. I was heartbroken, but knew it was the right decision and I’ve never regretted making that decision. We were so lucky to have had him for so long – 12 is a very good age for a rabbit and he outlived all our other pets. He was so very loved.

    1. Wow, you must be such a good mom to have a 12-year-old rabbit! It is so good to hear that you have no regrets. It is really the best we can do for our angels. Sending love…

  18. My precious cat Gussy was with me for almost 18 years; he was my soul cat. He had chronic kidney disease for the last few years, and we did the special diet, meds for high blood pressure, later on meds for pain. I think that even when I started giving him the pain meds I didn’t really realize that he had been having pain. I feel so stupid. The last month of his life I was taking him to the vet 2-3 times a week for Epogen shots, because he had become severely anemic. I finally got up the courage to give him a shot myself at that last vet visit. But I never got to do it at home because just a few days later he completely stopped eating. On the 4th day of no food, he could no longer pee, he kept trying but nothing happened. And he was vomiting over and over. I brought him to the vet, and his bladder was empty; she told me his kidneys were shutting down. I had always sworn I would never euthanize him at the vet clinic because he hated it there. So I found a mobile vet who had one appointment open for the following day. My regular vet gave Gussy a shot to help him stop vomiting and handle any pain. The next day I really believe he knew what the plan was. He kept going out to the patio and sitting there as if he was waiting for the vet to arrive. It was all very peaceful. They gave him a shot to relax him, and then the final shot went very quickly. He was ready to go, I do believe that. My biggest regret is that I tortured him for the last month of his life with those vet visits and shots. I also now of course regret every single time he wanted attention and I was “too busy”. He was so loving, so sweet, so precious, he was the best snuggler ever, so how could I have ever been too busy for him? I know he doesn’t hold any of that against me, but I can’t forgive myself.

    1. I am so sorry that things ended that way for you. I can’t imagine how upsetting that must be for you. The one thing I do know is that we tend to be much harder on ourselves than our pets are. Rarely do they even mention the things that cause us sleepless nights. They are by nature, very forgiving of our shortcomings and instead they know deep in our hearts we love them more than anything. While I cannot take those experiences away you can shift your thoughts to focus on the love not the loss. Let go of anything that no longer serves either of you…sending love

  19. That is what I’m struggling with, was it time? My dog, Baby, had a spinal problem. It caused her to drag her back leg. It got really bad and we took her to a specialist. The MRI showed a cyst on her spine. We had the surgery to remove the cyst last Dec. The after surgery almost killed her and me. Watching her in pain was more than I could stand. She was some better after the surgery but not much. By this Oct she laid in one spot and only got up for food or to go out. But she still lit up when I looked at her. She walked knuckled over all the time. She sometimes fell and needed help to get up. Finally we made the decision to help her cross the bridge. They took her out of the room to put in the catheter. When they brought her back she was looking in my eyes like what’s going on. I held her while they sedated her and euthanized her. But I still not sure she was ready to go. But as we drove home I felt a jolt and heard a voice say, “mommy, mommy I’m scared. I don’t know where I am.”. I told her to find Venus (a dog of mine that passed years ago). And the I head a different voice say “I’m here. I got her mom.” I don’t know if that really happened or if it was me making it up.

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your angel, Baby. It is so hard to lose someone you love so much. When they are struggling with pain it is even harder. My heart goes out to you.

      I don’t know any animal as of today that wants to stay in pain. They most certainly want to live a full and happy life but they do not want to be in a body that is failing any more than you or I.

      While your decision was terribly difficult, it came from your heart doing the best you could for your Baby. The love in that decision is all that matters. I am sure your angel Baby is enjoying the afterlife and being pain-free and is very much with you all the time.

      I hope you get a copy of my book, The Amazing Afterlife of Animals, if you haven’t already read it. It will help you on this difficult journey through grief.

      Sending love and healing to you both…

  20. My Buddy had heart and kidney failure we were fighting for 14 months. Meds, special diet, anything the vet recommended. He was 16. My poor buddy stopped eating and drinking one day. Even chicken and rice. He was having trouble going to the bathroom but leaking from his bottom. Took him to the vet and got meds. The next day he couldn’t even walk. Took him to the vet again and he got a steroid. That night he started seizing and also couldn’t move. I kept letting him just go to the bathroom where he was laying and changed his bedding. I laid with him all night. Still couldn’t move/walk in the morning so I decided to take him in and stop his pain. I second guess if I didn’t give him enough time on the medicine or if I should of waited longer but I was so focused on stopping his pain and it all happened so fast… I don’t k ow how to move on

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your angel, Buddy. My heart breaks for you and I cannot imagine how devastated you must be. It sounds like you did your best to care for him and sometimes that is all we can do. It feels helpless I know…but I’m sure Buddy loves you so much that nothing else matters. I hope you will get a copy of my book, The Amazing Afterlife of Animals to help you on your journey. Hold onto the love, not the loss and know your angel is always near. Sending love…

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