How do we know it's best to put down suffering animals?

True but again, not for humane or ethics reasons but rather for legal reasons.

Do we even know they work? I’m just thinking about the various natural chemicals which do nothing to humans but are lethal to dogs. How would we know they really work in the way we think they do? Most pet type animals seem to like to please their owners. My dog always forgot about his arthritis and jumped all over me if I hadn’t seen him in a bit.

Disclaimer…I LOVE horse steaks (and my mom always teased my dog how the light haired ones had the sweetest meat).


One possible argument would be this: No matter how injured or ill, many animals will struggle for life. I realize this has as much to do with survival instinct as anything and few, if any, animals have the capacity to understand that succumbing to a threat equals cessation of pain. But some animals, particularly dogs, seem to exhibit a relatively broad display of emotion. Could this translate into some ability to recognize the effect their illness has on their happiness? It’s possible. There are many stories of sick or wounded animals who will leave their group to wander off and die, resigning themselves, on some level, that it’s best to pass on. To what degree actual awareness plays in this, if at all, I couldn’t guess.

I would dispute the idea that animals cannot sense death. My brother’s dog died of heart failure. The night she died, I had wrapped her in blanket, and tried to keep her warm-she moved away, and went out to the back yard-when I tried to bring her back in, she resisted me.
I’m convinced she knew her time was up.

That depends on who you ask. There is no shortage of people who have a moral or ethical opposition to suicide, no matter the law or circumstances. I’m from Oregon, the state that pioneered physician-assisted suicide and the opposition, while the minority in the state, was very vocal and impassioned.

When I made the choice to euthanize my last cat, I did it based on what I thought was best for her, of course. The deciding factors, though, made me feel as if she could not have known much before the final car ride.

My kitty had become senile - crying and howling in the night in the living room and unable to find her way to us in the bedroom. (No stairs, eco-friendly small home - really about 12 feet at most)

She could recognize our voices but could not figure out where we were and did not stop mewling until we physcially came to get her.

I truly feel that to keep her alive at that point would have been the height of human selfishness. While she clearly had relief and perhaps some joy at seeing us come (do cats ever have joy?) we knew that she was unable to access parts of her brain that had worked previously and was disturbed by her current situation.

I think that in cases like ours, it is possible to feel strongly that the pet should be put out of that kind of misery.

Pain and other forms of stress have a lot of physiological indicators. If a drug causes those indicators to go down and the animal acts like it’s in less pain, it seems a likely hypothesis that they really are in less pain.

Do they feel pain at being euthanized? I don’t know about every case, but I just yesterday had to put down a little female cat my family and I were very fond of, who had extreme difficulty breathing from probable cancer - I say probable, because the veterinarian said she probably would expire if stressed enough to be restrained for the x-ray. So we did without the x-ray, and went ahead with the euthanasia. I held her as the first injection of painkiller went in. I could clearly feel her racing pulse in her neck. After half the hypodermic went in, her head dropped like a stone to the towel below it. Her heart beat slowed somewhat. Then the second and third injections began to still her heart. As it was, her heart stopped beating (I could sense in the pulse in her neck) before half the first injection went in. She was already basically unconscious, in a deep and totally relaxed state when this happened.

Considering the clear suffering she was in, with gravely restricted breathing and audible little mewlings of pain or discomfort at times, putting her out of her misery was a kindness.

Our financial condition precluded any sort of treatment options. I could barely afford what we had to do as it was. (The preceding month I’d spent nearly $1,000 for treatment of one of her adult kittens, wiping out our family reserves.) So given the lack of options and given her state of suffering, I have a sense that the best that could be done for her, was done.

I try to live a life such than, when I go, I will have no major regrets for acts of my own choosing. This act will not be one I regret, though this little cat will be dearly missed until then.

In wartime, there is also the concept of the coup de grace. During the 19th century and earlier, if a soldier was not expected to live, some would administer the coup de grace for humanitarian reasons. Admittedly, I originally learned of this in a piece of Civil War fiction.

Who’s this “we”? Got a mouse in your pocket? Plenty of us would be happy to assist those who want to die, for many reasons other than persistent vegetative state, if we wouldn’t go to jail for it.

Not in most states in the US, it’s not. But I have known hospice/palliative care doctors to look the caregiver straight in the eye and say something like, “This is his morphine. His dose is Xmg every 4 hours as needed for the pain. You want to be careful with that, because Ymg will make him stop breathing and he’ll die.” They’re treading a real fine line there, but I thank them for it.


And I think that’s why we leave it up to individual pet owners, who know their pet and see their pet the most and are the best people to make that judgement based on what they know of their pet. We don’t tell people based on some dispassionate rubric when it’s time, we let them decide based on what they know of their pet (and what they’re emotionally, financially and physically able to provide in terms of ongoing care). What may be unendurable pain and boredom to a boarder collie happiest while herding sheep might just be taking it easy for a pug snoozing on a sofa.

If only we were so humane to humans…

I said would not should. Whether for legal or moral reasons, we would very rarely assist in the suicide or “pull the plug” on a person no matter the degree of pain or suffering. I can see how the sentence could be viewed in the hypothetical, but I’m talking, in this case, about actual practice. I should’ve dropped the “would.”

Regarding human euthanasia: any medical doctor who took the Hippocratic Oath cannot participate-doesn’t the oath say something like “I will give no deadly drug…”-isn’t that a stumbling point?

Lots of things can be deadly. Tylenol can be in sufficient amounts. Digitalis is great for heart patients but not for people without heart problems.

It’s a symbolic oath, not a literal or legally binding one. Otherwise, no doctor could give chemo for cancer.

I think we don’t know and are compelled to use our best judgement. I also believe we can’t euthanize humans because of religions influencing our civil laws, and for no other reason.

My doctor tells me there is a wide range in what patients tell him about end of life choices – when they are basically well. “I don’t want to be lying there with tubes coming out of me” et cetera. But, he says, when death is imminent, nearly all of them beg him to do anything he can to keep them alive. Anything at all.

And yet I still think euthanasia should be easily available. The great majority of people do not want to buy a pomegranate today, either, but that’s no reason to make them illegal!

I think that euthanizing animals is all about relieving the suffering of the pet owner, and not the pet. Sure, people may think they are doing it to help their pets not have to suffer, but they only think that because the suffering of the pet causes them to suffer as well. If a pet suffering did not hurt the feelings of the pet owner, they wouldn’t have them euthanized.

I totally disagree with this. When I have had to put a pet to sleep, it breaks my heart. I MISS my furbaby! It’s a hard decision to make, and I have never done it without sleepless nights and tears.

Why would anyone let an animal live with constant pain and suffering? My only regret about putting an animal to sleep was that one time I waited too long and made her suffer too much because I was selfish and didn’t want to let her go.

Euthanasia is a gift I wish I could have given my mother.

I gotta agree here. I sure don’t see Drewt’s logic here. Yeah, there are probably some that euthanize their pet because the old thing’s a pain in the ass. Or the fact that owner’s knowledge that the pet is suffering is REALLY what’s bothering the pet owner and not fact that its the PET that is suffering is what’s bothering the owner. If you get the difference.

I mean, you could apply Drewt’s logic to pretty much any hard moral decision. Folks can be for or against something not so much as whether it is the right thing to do and more "I’m for/against X because X bothers me on some basic level ".

I disagree with Drew as well. In fact, I think the opposite is more true, in that a lot of pet owners put off putting their pets to sleep because they aren’t ready to let go yet.