Skip to Content

How Do You Know When to Put Your Dog Down?

I belong to several pet-related Facebook groups. A cat kidney disease group, a running with dogs group, a bird dog group, an agility group.

Every week I see someone dealing with the difficult decision of when to put her dog or cat down.

“How do I know when it’s time to let her go?” they will post.

Or, “I don’t want to live without him but I don’t want him to suffer.”

And, every single time, the responses – one after another – go like this:

“She’ll let you know.”

“Your dog will tell you when he’s ready.”

“You’ll know when.”

“You’ll just know.”

These comments are meant out of sympathy and kindness and love.

And, maybe this is true in some cases. Or, at least the person believes it to be true.

Personally, I believe it is unfair to expect a sick or dying dog to “let me know” when it’s “time.”

My sweet Ace

That is asking too much from my sweet pet.

Instead, as hard as it is, it’s up to me to make the best choice I can.

The answer is not always clear.

The timing is likely not perfect.

I do the best I can.

I am so, so sorry if you are facing this terrible decision right now.

All we can do is love them and care for them for as long as we can.

It’s what we’ve done for them their entire lives.

We owe them the same in their final hours.

It’s our responsibility to be their best advocates, not to expect too much from them.

Your pet might tell you when it is “time.” Or maybe you’ll just “know.”

Sometimes the answer is not clear, so we do the best we can.

And that is OK, too.

-Lindsay

How do I know when to put my dog down?
Ace and me

Related articles:

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

*If you would like to receive our FREE down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here

How do you know when to put your dog down?

Remy the weimaraner
Previous
How Much Exercise Does a Weimaraner Need?
Next
When to Train a Puppy for Agility

Sandy Weinstein

Sunday 14th of March 2021

It is a very hard decision. Sometimes I think people can be selfish because they love their dogs so much and can't think of them not being there. My thought are as long as the dog is not in pain, seems happy, eating and drinking, etc. It is not time. I ask my vet what she thinks. When my oldest had a rare form of cancer and should have died within a week, I went to my vet. We went to a cancer vet, did chemo. I asked him as well. My girl was still lively, ate, still liked to play, even though she was almost 16 yrs old. She was deaf but that was due to a medication she had been on long time ago. She was almost completely blind. However she still liked to bark and chase the deer and play with her balls. My friends kept telling me I was wasting my money trying to keep her alive. My vet said she was not ready, said my dog loved me so much she was fighting to live. I asked both vets constantly was it time, both said no. Even both vets thought she would live another 6 mos, after she had a stroke at abt 10 mos. That was the end. She was brain dead. I gave her car and rushed her to the cancer vet and had her put in an oxygen tent til the Dr came in. He said it was time. He said apparently the cancer had gotten in her throat. I had just seen him for checkup the day before and he said she would live another 6 mos or more. Bith the vets were surprised abt her death. She had been doing so well. I can't stand people who put in their will to have their pet put down when they die or someone gives the pet away because they don't want to deal with the expense of the vet bills. Those are the selfish people and should never be allowed to have a pet again. So I will do whatever is possible to keep my pets alive as long as they have a will to live and are not in pain.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 15th of March 2021

It is so hard, every time. I remember your oldest dog and I'm glad you got some extra time with her. I have also asked my vets if they think it is time and they have always been honest with me and I trusted them.