Skip to Content

Do I Have to Be Present When My Dog is Euthanized?

Did any of you catch this post on the blog Puppy Leaks?

It’s about how some dog owners choose NOT to be present when their dogs are euthanized and that’s OK.

This is the kind of post that makes you stop and think. Read it here.

Not everyone wants to be there when their dogs are euthanized, and some people literally just can’t handle being present. We all process death and grief in our own ways.

I didn’t realize some dog lovers are so judgmental that they would actually criticize someone who chose not to be present or who could not be present. How terrible.

From Jen Gabbard at Puppy Leaks:

Some of us don’t handle euthanasia well, and some of us faint when faced with it. It doesn’t mean we love our pets less. It might be a lack of resilience or constitution, or it might just be our own anxiety, fear or post traumatic stress acting up. Whatever it is it feels terrible, and being told that we’re selfish for choosing not be there rips right into the heart.

We would love to be there, but some of us can’t. I wish I could have, I’d be filled with so much less regret if I could have stayed. But I couldn’t, and I have to accept that.

Read the full post here.

What did you think of Jen’s post?

Do you personally prefer to be there when your pets are euthanized? Pictured is my golden retriever Brittni, the dog my family had before Ace. I’m thankful my dad and I chose to be present when Brittni was euthanized.

Related posts:

Why we can’t save them all – Euthanasia & aggressive dogs

Planning for the end of your dog’s life – hard questions

How much money should I spend on my dog’s vet care?

Sign up to receive training tips & more in my weekly newsletter:


Saturday 12th of October 2019

I was there until my cat was fully sedated and insensate, and the vet took him to the back to do the rest. At the time, I was so distraught, I didn't even think about asking about it, and I know my vet was proceeding in the kindest way possible. I also have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety, and have spent an unhealthy amount of time looking back and obsessing over it, but I wonder what it would have done to me to actually see him die. My mom told me she nearly passed out with one of her pets. I'm in a couple pet-related groups online, and I can't believe how harshly judgemental many are about how euthanasia is approached, so I'm glad there are discussions and articles like this that consider other perspectives.

Sandy Weinstein

Sunday 26th of March 2017

i know this day is coming sometime soon for me with my oldest. i already cry everyday when i look at her. i love her as much as i can, stay at home to make sure she is safe. Evie is 15 1/2 plus, she is a mini schnauzer. she was perfectly healthy til i used the seresto collar on her a few yrs ago. from then on she had major problems. i wont go into the details but i wish that i had googled it b4 i used it on her. over 60% of the users had major problems. do not use this on small dogs or older dogs. some dogs had strokes, some died, some lost use of their hind legs, lost their appetite, developed kidney problems, etc. even some vets chirped in and said do not use. she developed vestibular twice which caused her to have disc problems from running in very tight circles, she had reactions to every vaccine and shot she got, had to go to er after every vaccine, she lost her hearing, almost blind, dementia, now terminal cancer. even the vet said it was strange because Evie was so healthy and then from the time i used the collar she developed problem after problem. we are doing palladia because the chemo did not work, she is too old to go under anesthesia. just hoping the tumor will shrink, die and give me some more time with my baby. i know i want to be there but not sure i can handle it, however, i would never forgive myself not to be there because she is my child. i have had Evie thru thick and thin, since she was 6 wks old. i plan to have her buried with me. my mother did that with my first schnauzer who became my parent's dog. she had it in the will and trust. she even saved her collar, jacket and some of her other things from Rose. She loved that little gal who only lived for 7 yrs, she developed lymphoma. i dont handle death well at all. i cried for days when my parents died, i still cry over my mother and it has been 6 yrs. i cry when a friend's dog passes away, i cried and got very upset over Sugar dying. so no, i dont handle death well at all, never have. i used to have nightmares when i was little. however, i cant imagine not being there for my sweet baby girl to tell her how much i love her and how much she gave me during her short life. i have had friends ask me why am i spending so much money (over 20k in the past 2 yrs) to save a dog (my child)? i tell them we dont put humans down with cancer or dementia and she is just as human to me as another person. i love her and will hope when the time comes i will be able to be there for her as she has for me her entire life. yes, she has caused me lots of problems over the yrs. ran me into a tree, had to have stitches, now scar on face, big scar on leg when she wrapped the leash around me, dug up many of my trees and flowers, (she would watch me dig and plant and thought she was helping by digging them up for me). she was an angel to my mother. as i tell her everyday she is the best little gal in the world. yes, it takes over an hour to feed her in the am, she forgets to finish, because of her dementia, yes, she gets food and water everywhere, she walks in her food and water, turns over the water bowls, poos and pees in the house, i have tarps everywhere in my house. i cant leave her alone for more than a few hrs. my life revolves around being there for her. but she has always been there for me. so i hope that i will have the strength to be there for her in her final moments of her amazing life.

Loving pet owner who was rejected by rescues.

Tuesday 8th of March 2016

I had to put my Newf down 12 days ago. He was extremely old for a Newfoundland and he was at the point where he was softly crying and couldn't get up at all. We had to fashion a homemade stretcher to get him to the vets office, because the vet didn't have one large enough. I handled his death the same way I always do, the same way I handled my father's death. The tears came down my face as I whispered my goodbyes softly. At the time of my fathers death, my father saw my tears and he actually tried to reassure me, telling me it's OK. You see my father was a former minister, so we always believed in heaven and a beautiful, loving afterlife. When my father reassured me by saying "It's OK." I replied, "I know." in a choking voice as I held back the sobs. Once my father saw that all his loved ones would be OK, he allowed himself to pass on to the other side. I think it's similar with our pets. When my Newf was lying on the bedroom floor suffering, he cried. But as soon as we got up to pet him, the cries stopped. As soon as we put him on the stretcher, he knew we were there for him, and the cries did not start again. We put the stretcher on the vets examination table and the cries did not come back. The tears streamed down my face, but that was OK, because he knew that he was surrounded by lots of people who were there for him. It was not just me. It was my husband, the vet, the vets assistant also. There were four people there for him. We softly petted his face, so that even if his eyes were closed, he would know that he is not alone. I fed him his last meal of cheese which he gobbled down. We told him we love him and said goodbye. The vet asked me if I wanted to leave. At that point, my dog knew he was surrounded and watched over by several people. It would have been OK for me to leave. It is OK for loved ones to leave as long as their pet is comfortable with the others around him. I wanted to stay for my own selfish reasons. I wanted to pet him as he passed so that I could hold onto him for as long as possible. But if someone else is traumatized and in too much grief to go through it, that is OK. Your dog only wants to know that YOU are OK, so that he can feel free to let go. Just like my father needed to know that I was OK before my father let go. If you leave the room, and your dog knows that you are OK and in a safe place, then he can feel free to pass on. If the vet is kind and gentle, like my vet was kind and gentle, then your dog knows that he is being watched over as he sets out on his journey to the afterlife. It is said that a dog who is sick needs a strong pack leader to feel comforted that he is being protected during his illness. At the time of euthanasia, if you are suffering, the dog will naturally look to the vet to be the pack leader. The dog will feel watched over by the vet. He just needs to know that you will be OK in the other room, so that he can peacefully pass on and leave you in the hands of the new pack leader, the vet, or any other member of the family. Do not feel sad that you were not in the room when he passed. Know that as his spirit rose from his body, he was comforted to know that you were safe. His spirit may have even come to look over you before he left this world, to be sure that you were OK. He is OK in heaven. All he wants as he passes is to know that you will be OK too.


Sunday 26th of March 2017

I'm so sorry for your loss. I am crying reading all the pain on this page. Brings back all the beloved dogs I have lost. You never forget them. I believe that if you ask God for your dogs back, when you get to heaven they will be there for you. If it makes you happy, your Heavenly Father is happy to do it.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 8th of March 2016

I'm so sorry your dog died.

Jana Rade

Monday 1st of February 2016

I think something like this is highly individual judgement call. One needs to do what is best for their dog and themselves.


Wednesday 27th of January 2016

While I haven't felt the same way as Jen about being there/not being there, I've felt that way about the decision to euthanize or not, and the only way I can describe how it haunts you so deeply and for so long is that it just sucks. My heart just went out to her when I read her piece. The ordeal sounded hard enough; hearing and reading judgment even long after the fact wouldn't help.