When did you decide to euthanize your pet?

Based on this thread, when did you make the decision to put your pet to sleep?

I think I might have to do it this weekend. My cat was diagnosed with kidney failure, high blood pressure and pancreatitis. The first two have been managed; however, she’s not eating and still vomiting up all food and water. She’s coming home with me tonight to see if she’ll eat or drink, but I’m not hopeful. I don’t have the cash to keep her at the vet and furthermore, since she’s already had a feeding tube and is still vomiting, I don’t think I’d be doing her any favors anyway. So, I think I’m going to have to make the decision to put her down this weekend.

What made you decide to euthanize your pet? How did you deal with it? I feel terribly guilty, but at the same time, it’s a cat.

It’s time for your cat. You’ve waited a little too long, which is the only way we can do it and feel right about it.
Our 18 year old beagle was having some sort of seizures…when she got excited and frisky, like at meal time, she’d sort of yelp, fall over and twitch for a while, then get up and eat. She seemed to be fine (for a dog that old) in between times, so we didn’t do anything. Finally, one day I came home from my run and found her lying there on her side, aparently dead…not breathing or moving in any way. Suddenly she gave sort of a gasp…nothing for a few seconds, then another gasp, and then she was breathing again. Half an hour later she seemed fine, but confused. I guess she had the canine equivalent of a near-death experience. That was the last straw, we couldn’t stand to see her go through that again, so we had her put down that very afternoon, brought her home and buried her in the back yard where she played for so many years.

For our precious kitty we waited far too long. I still feel guilty for the decision and also for making the poor thing suffer for as long as he did. My kitty was in advanced liver failure as complications from FIV (but he had lived 6 healthy years so he had a good run for an FIV+ cat). We medicated, and took comfort measures as long as possible. My thoughts were if he is able to eat and crawl into bed with me and purr then there is hope. But there wasn’t. Poor kitty could barely eat and was down to 2 pounds at the time of his death. He had lost all his fur and was completely skeletal. The lack of fur meant he had trouble regulating his temperature, so he was always feverish but needing to be under a blanket (we called him the kitty lump the last few weeks of his life because he was merely a lump under the blankets when he wasn’t eating).

I should never have let it go on that long, but I couldn’t bear to part with him. My own selfishness caused me to allow him to suffer and I feel terrible about it. It has been two years and rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about him and wish I had been stronger for him.

When the little fucker puked on my new rug. But I calmed down after a while.

Our last dog had a tumor on her leg that had reached the point of weeping as well as cancer is other areas. When she couldn’t get up one day and I had to carry her to outside to pee that was it. We shouldn’t have let it go as long as we did. In the end I was barely man enough to carry her to the car - when my wife offered to take her to the vet I jumped at the chance. I’ve felt like a sissy ever since.

We had our cats put down, one by one, when their quality of life was so far gone that I felt it was harder on them to keep them alive. One had thyroid problems, and went from 16 lbs to about 6. We had him on thyroid meds for several years, and he got back up to about 10-11 lbs, but he still looked thin. He was RAVENOUS for the last few months, but everything went right through him. Nothing would put weight back on him. I think we waited a bit too long in his case, but we weren’t willing to make the decision yet then.

Each case is unique, and I don’t know any better guidelines than what you’ve stated. If it helps, think of this as the last kind act you can do for your pet.

One other suggestion. Most vets will give you the option to not be in the room when they give the animal the injections. My suggestion is that you stay. Let the last thing your pet sees be someone who loved them. It’s a small enough gift, I think.

I’ve had to euthanize several cats, and while it’s always heartbreaking, in every case I knew it was the right decision, at the right time, which made it somewhat easier to bear.

The worst euthanasia decision I ever had to make was for my horse Nick. He was 23 years old and still in excellent health; his age was just beginning to show. He was spending the summer at a friend’s farm in New Hampshire, and I’d been up to see him earlier and enjoyed what proved to be our last ride together. I’d planned to bring him home at the end of August, but Anne suggested leaving him with her for another couple of weeks to enjoy grazing relatively fly-free now that summer was over.

A few days before Nick was to be trailered home, I got one of those calls that kicks you in the gut: “Nick’s been hurt. Hurt bad. You need to get up here fast.” A frantic two hours’ drive later, I saw my horse: scraped and bruised from his struggle to regain his feet after somehow sliding under the electric wire down a small slope and getting cast on his back in a shallow swale. (We never figured out how it happened; perhaps it was a small stroke?) But that was superficial and not of concern.

What froze my heart was Nick’s loss of sensation in his hind legs. He could move them, clumsily, but he couldn’t feel them – he’d lost all proprioception beyond his croup. He could walk, but with each step he swayed terrifyingly close to falling.

Anne’s vet did what she could. We decided to see if he would heal, and when I left at last I clung to some shreds of hope through the leaden misery of replaying again and again in my mind what I’d seen.

For the next few days I kept in close touch with Anne. One night came another frantic call: “Nick’s down in his stall and he can’t get up. I’m getting help. Be ready to come up. Be ready to decide.” That evening we almost made the decision. I waited by the phone, unable to leave immediately, knotted up in helpless worry. But Anne’s neighbors came over and her vet joined the fight to get him back up; Nick tried, rested, tried again; the human crew who refused to give up on him inched this 1,000-pound animal over to the outside door of the stall, got his front legs out, pushed and heaved him farther, farther – and Nick slid out, got up on all fours, and tottered off looking for grass. Anne phoned me, exhausted, triumphant, with the good news, and to report that her neighbors had joined the big red goofball’s fan club.

But the joy from that rescue was fleeting. A couple of days later I drove up to meet Anne’s vet at her farm to discuss what next. I walked down to where Nick was hanging out under the bank barn with Anne’s two horses, the vet by his side. And I knew.

He was glad to see me and he gobbled the doughnut and horse cookies I’d brought him and he wanted his belly scratched (oh, how he loved having his belly scratched! He’d follow you around the paddock slinging his flank at you, demanding more) but he was weaker, I could see that, since the Sunday before when I’d last seen him. He was tired, tired of fighting to go on, and so wobbly he almost fell just moving into position to get his belly scratched.

The vet was so kind. Donna told me she’d seen a much younger horse with the same injury who’d never recovered and that I was right to let him go. She showed me the place on his spine where she believed the injury was. We started to lead him – just with a rope around his neck, Nick was always such a good guy – we were taking him up the slight slope to where I’d chosen to bury him if it came to that. He tried to follow me but halfway up he lost his balance backwards and sagged down. He folded rather than slamming down, lay on his side with his feet higher, picked up his head and tried, started to try to get up. I knelt by his head and comforted him and told him he didn’t have to try any more and told him I loved him and he laid his head back down and trusted me and I stroked his face while the vet gave him the needle and he went so softly so gently he never even drew the harsh agonal last breath. Just… gone.

Anne was at work, distraught because I think she knew what I would decide when I saw Nick. I called her when I made the decision and again afterwards. Donna comforted me as best she could, stayed with me for quite a while afterwards talking and helping me deal with it. We covered his body with a dropcloth and I cut off keepsake strands of his mane and tail. After Donna left I stood leaning on the fence for a while, staring at Nick’s body, and cried. Finally I got his tack into the car and drove to Concord where Anne was working and we cried on each other for a bit. And then I drove home.

That was in September 2005. I’m crying now, reliving it. He’s buried in Anne’s front field. I have a picture of him happily grazing on the spot that became his grave. I look at it every day.

This. Yes. It helps them, and it will help you to know you did this last right thing.

I am profoundly grateful that I was able to be with Nick to say goodbye.

If it helps, you’re not alone in crying now. That was a beautiful post.

Thank you.

This is Anne with Nick at the outside door of his stall, in happier times. And Nick doubly blissful – getting a belly scratch from me while checking the grain bucket.

A couple of years afterwards I had a vanity calendar made, with photos of Nick. This is the one, Nick with Anne at her farm, I chose for September.

I just had my oldest cat put down on Monday, 3/8. Vladimir was sixteen, and I’d had him not quite five years, after adopting him from a good friend who was in trouble and wanted to be sure the cat had a good home.

I don’t think I waited too long. I noticed how much weight he’d lost, which is hard to do because Vlad was long-haired. He wouldn’t eat or drink, and the vet suspected kidney failure. But after bloodwork it appeared he had some other infection. I had to force liquids into him, and the antibiotics. My friend, his former owner, helped. But he still wouldn’t eat or drink hardly at all. So the vet did a “kitty day care” thing. We’d drop him off in the morning and pick him up after work. After three days he started to get better, and I had some real hope, then, over the weekend, he started breathing hard and sneezing, some kind of respiratory problem. So on Monday I called the vet and said it was time to let him go.

So he only was bad for about a week and a half. *My criteria was, at Vlad’s age, would the treatment help or only prolong his misery. *

Vladimir is buried in my back yard, and we wrapped him in the small afghan he liked to snooze
on. I miss him so much, and cried again this morning. But keeping him alive wasn’t doing him any favors.

My other two cats, Tobermory and Attila, are wondering where he is.

When she was in pain I knew she wasn’t coming back from. She was dying and suffering and I wouldn’t make a human go through that (I know I wouldn’t want to go on like that), much less my precious little cat. I loved her, it’s been years and I still dream about her, and expect to see her sitting in my window, waiting for when I come home.

She was my baby. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how much I miss her, her paws making biscuits against my back, the way she’d get all insecure and freak out if I accidentally walked in on her using the litter box.

These two posts one right after the next had me laughing and crying at the same time.

Our old cat is only 14, but she recently got arthritis, and she went from normal kitty to old kitty in the space of a few months, it seems. I’m hoping she has lots of cranky years left in her, but such a quick decline has me worried. I’m also hoping that her joints aren’t hurting her too badly (we’ve seen a vet and have treatment for her), and we’ll know when they hurt her so much that putting her to sleep will be a relief for her.

That made tears come to my eyes, not that that’s difficult at this point. I don’t think I’m doing my cat any favors, either. I know that having her home tonight is a last-ditch effort and it’s really an opportunity for me to say goodbye. My son was really upset when she went to the hospital and my husband doesn’t want him to know she’s in the house. That’s possible - the cats usually stay in the basement - but I want him to know what’s going on since he asks about her. Guess I’ll have to fight that battle tonight (that’s one thing that sucks so much about parenthood - when you disagree with your spouse on the best way to handle something with a kid; hopefully we’ll come to some compromise).

I’ve already called the vet to ask them what I need to do and they agreed that unless a miracle happens and she begins eating tonight without vomiting, euthanasia is the best option. And yeah, I probably did wait too long. This just came on so suddenly. Sunday morning she was fine; Sunday night she couldn’t get up.

About 2.5 years ago, my 12-year old bulldog Pia woke up one morning and a baseball-sized lump had suddenly appeared on her shoulder. We thought maybe she’d dislocated it because for a 12-year old bulldog she was pretty spry and was still known to slip on and off couches during the day. We took her to the vet and it wasn’t a dislocated shoulder but a huge tumor. After biopsy, it showed to be bone cancer and due to the rapid growth of the tumor and amount of cancer they gave her about 4-6 weeks to live. For the next week the tumor continued to grow so quickly the stitches from the biopsy couldn’t even heal properly. We scheduled euthanasia for 3 weeks after that day. When that day came, it was clear that just 3 weeks was too long, she was very much suffering at the end. The loss was devastating for us, she’d been our baby before our human babies came, and I can’t recall in the 15 years I’ve been with my husband seeing him cry so hard. But it was the right time, we were not interested in prolonging her life at all. It was almost easier to have it happen so fast rather than know she had this festering tumor that could take her at any time and waiting and wondering every day.

We lost our 2nd, our 9-year old Bulldog named Sissy just 2 months ago. After a battle with Lyme disease this summer she’d been steadily going downhill. She gave us a few amazing weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years where she ate well, enjoyed going outside, and got some of her funny personality back. Shortly after New Year’s her condition worsened considerably, and an ultrasound at the vet showed a large tumor in her intestines. It was so large, in fact, that they could not comprehend how she’d survived so long with it. She had been so stoic all that time. That day was Sissy’s last day with us. They couldn’t even find a viable vein to administer the euthanasia.

I will tell you now, one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do in my life was to tell my 5-year old son that his dog died while he was at school. Utterly heartwrenching.

I made the decision when I’d done everything we could reasonably do and her bad days were outnumbering her good days. It broke my heart and still does, but I’ve never once felt guilty about putting her to sleep. I knew what her life was going to be like if I let her go on much longer, how she would suffer if I let her die on her own, and what an utter nightmare euthanasia would be if I let her get to the point we couldn’t hit a vein easily. She was my friend, and she deserved all the help I could give her. It just got to the point that all the help I could give her was a last lunch from KFC, a nap in the sun, and a peaceful, painless death.

My macho-man husband took our cat for his last trip to the vet. He stayed with him through the end, but came home in tears (one of the few times I have ever seen him cry) and we both went into a frenzy of removing the cat supplies from the house so that there would be no reminders. (That didn’t help much, but gave us something to keep our minds occupied at the time.) We both still tear up when something reminds us of him. That cat was damn special to us, and will be the yardstick by which all future cats (including our “new” cat who we rescued a year or so ago) will be measured. Now we say things like, “I love Sasha, and he’s a good cat, but he’s no Tails”.

Me too. In fact, I am not sure what possessed me to come back to this thread as I am now sitting here blubbering like a baby reading about all of this.

There have been some very special pets, and pets who were lucky in finding “parents” to whom they have meant so much.

When my cat stopped eating and drinking and the fluid treatments at the animal hospital weren’t helping.

No one – my regular vet or the animal hospital vets – was quite sure what was wrong with her, but everyone agreed she was going downhill. My vet’s best guess was kidney failure, and then in her last days it seemed that she also had some kind of respiratory issue. She went from fine to not in just a few weeks, and that combined with her age (18) made me realize it was time. No way did I want her to suffer any longer than necessary. After the 3rd trip to the animal hospital, I made the appointment.

My vet was/is mobile (I’m using the same vet now for my dog), so while I was at home waiting for her arrival I kept crying and nearly changing my mind. At one point I actually had the phone in my hand, but at that moment Smokey went past me on her way to the kitchen – and she didn’t make it. She was jut too weak, and had to lie down in the dining room. I put the phone down, picked her up and carried her to her spot on the couch, and kept waiting.

When the vet arrived she held the cat in her lap to administer the injection, and I got to stroke the top of Smokey’s head while it was happening. To this day I swear that I got an “it’s ok” look from my kitty right before the end.

That will be 6 years ago in August.

You know your son best, and I won’t try to tell you how to handle this. I can only tell you what we did. We wanted this to NOT be traumatic for our son. His first words were a slurred version of “kitty cat”.

When Trouble (The cat I mentioned above) was going downhill, we knew it was only a matter of time. We told our son that he was old and sick, and one of these days he could die unexpectedly. Little Ralf was about 7 or so at that time, and he made extra time to play with Trouble and take care of him.

After Trouble’s last visit to the vet, I brought him home and laid him on the floor in one of his favorite spots. I picked up my son at the end of the school day, and when we were in the car, I told him I had bad news. He immediately knew what it was. When we got home, he went to him, and spent some time with him on the floor.

That night, we went out in the field behind us, and found a large flat rock about the size of a serving platter, that looked like it had been chipped off something much larger by a plow, maybe. It had a smaller piece about the size of a dinner plate chipped loose also. We brought both home, and buried Trouble in the back yard under the larger one. A few months later, we used the smaller rock to bury Nosy next to him. The cats were brother and sister, and the 2 rocks just seemed to fit our needs and situation perfectly.

Overly, I don’t know if you have time to do this much prep work, but in our case, it really seemed to help our son accept that the cat he’d known all his life was gone.

I came home one day to find our beautiful Abyssinian paralyzed from her middle to her tail. She couldn’t stand or move her tail, and when I took her to the vet, he said her hind end was already dying. He guessed she got a blood clot lodged in the main vessel that goes down the back to the legs (I think that’s what he said.) He said we could take her to a specialist, but he didn’t think there was much hope. He didn’t have to tell me that - I knew.

My husband and I have been in agreement about our pets, so I knew he’d agree, and I had her put down right then. She was only 8 and we’d only had her 2 years. It was the first time I’d had to put an animal to sleep, but I know it won’t be the last. I don’t expect it to get any easier, either.