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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.


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

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.

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