Some pets die of old age in the comfort of their own home. Others take seriously ill or injure themselves somehow. Lastly, some experience a significantly diminished quality of life as they grow old. It may be necessary to consider having your pet euthanized in these situations, sparing them from pain and suffering. Here are some suggestions for Knowing when it’s time to euthanize your pet. I have had to experience this difficult decision. That’s why I decided to provide some information about the euthanasia procedure itself.

I Speak From Experience

I used to have 4 large breed dogs. Now I have 2 because I recently had to euthanize 2 of them—this year 2020. I euthanized My beautiful Husky “Apache,” Then several months later, “Raina,” my Dalmatian /Rottweiler mix you see featured at the top of this article. When we adopted Apache, he was 10 years old, and we were the third family he had been with.  He was originally surrendered to the county animal shelter and later moved to the SPCA, hoping to find a home.  When we got him, most of his teeth were gone, but he was lively and entertaining as husky’s can be.

About a year later, he developed a growth on his front leg. After it grew in size, Our Vet advised us that it should be removed. Because of his age, the Vet put him under light sedation, and the surgery was successful.  After he turned 12, he started to have mobility issues and other issues that come with aging. He wasn’t having the quality of life that he once had after exhausting all attempts to improve his quality of life using joint supplements, CBD oil,etc…with no favorable results. If & when your pet starts having these similar issues, that’s how you will know when to euthanize your pet.

We decided it was selfish to continue to watch him suffer just because we didn’t want to let him go. Therefore, we made the painful decision to euthanize our beautiful “Apache.” “Raina” soon followed several months later with the same aging & incontinence issues. Both of them were 14 human years old, which is 98 years in dog years. We made this painful decision knowing we rescued both dogs & provided a good loving home for the rest of their lives until life became too painful for them.


Talk to your veterinarian. He or she is the best-qualified person to help guide you through this difficult process. Don’t let your heart cloud your judgment in knowing when to euthanize your pet. In some cases, your veterinarian may be able to tell you definitively that it is time to euthanize your pet. Still, in other cases, you may ultimately need to make the decision based on your pet’s behavior and attitude. Here are some signs that may indicate your pet is suffering or no longer enjoying a good quality of life:

  • He is experiencing chronic pain that cannot be controlled with medication. (your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is in pain).
  • Frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing dehydration and/or significant weight loss.
  • Your pet has stopped eating or will only eat if you force-feed him.
  • Incontinent to the degree that he frequently soils himself.
  • Lost interest in all or most of his favorite activities, such as going for walks, playing with toys or other pets, eating treats, or soliciting attention and petting from family members.
  • He cannot stand on his own or falls when trying to walk.
  • Has chronic labored breathing or coughing.


Once you have made this tough decision, you will need to decide how and where you and your family will say the final goodbye.

  • Before the scheduled procedure takes place, make sure that all members of your family have time with the pet to say a private goodbye.
  • If you have children, make sure that you explain the decision to them and prepare them for the pet’s loss in advance. This maybe your child’s first experience with death, and you need to help her or him through the grieving process. Books that address the subject, such as When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers or Remembering My Pet by Machama Liss-Levinson and Molly Phinney Baskette, may be very beneficial in helping your child to deal with this loss.
  • It is an individual decision whether you and your family want to be present during the euthanasia procedure. For some pet owners, the emotion may be too overwhelming. However, for many, it is a comfort to be with their pet during the final moments. It may be inappropriate for young children to witness the procedure since they cannot understand death and may also not understand they need to remain still and quiet.
  • Some veterinarians will come to your house, which allows both the pet and the family to share their last moments in the comfort of their own home.


Deciding to say goodbye to a beloved pet is stressful. Expect exacerbated anxiety if you do not know what to expect during the euthanasia procedure.

  • Your veterinarian will generally explain the procedure to you before he or she begins. Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian for further explanation or clarification if needed.
  • The Vet places Small to medium-size pets on a table for the procedure, but larger dogs may be more easily handled on the floor. Regardless of the location, make sure that your pet has a comfortable blanket or bed to lie on.
  • In most cases, a trained veterinary technician will hold your pet for the procedure. The veterinary technician has the skill needed to properly hold your pet so that the process goes quickly and smoothly. If you plan to be present during the entire procedure, you must allow enough space for the veterinarian and technician to work. Your veterinarian will probably show you where to stand so that your pet can see you and hear your voice.
  • The veterinarian will give your pet an overdose of an anesthetic drug called sodium pentobarbital, which quickly causes unconsciousness and then gently stops the heartbeat. Your veterinarian will draw the drug’s correct dose into a syringe and then inject it into a vein. In dogs, the front leg most commonly. In cats, either the front or rear leg may be used. The injection itself is not painful for your pet.
  • Often, veterinarians will place an intravenous (IV) catheter in the pet’s vein before injection. The catheter reduces the risk of vein rupture as the drug is injected. If the vein ruptures, then some drugs may leak into the leg, and it will not work as quickly.
  • Your veterinarian may give your pet an injection of anesthetic or sedative before the injection of sodium pentobarbital. Most often done in pets that are not likely to hold still for the IV injection. An anesthetic or sedative injection, usually given in the rear leg muscle, will take effect in about five to 10 minutes. Your pet will become very drowsy or unconscious, allowing the veterinarian to perform the IV injection more easily.

IV Injection

  • Once the Vet administers the IV injection of sodium pentobarbital, your pet will become completely unconscious within a few seconds, and death will occur within a few minutes or less.
  • The veterinarian will use a stethoscope to confirm that your pet’s heart has stopped.
  • Your pet may experience some muscle twitching and intermittent breathing for several minutes after death has occurred. Your pet may also release his bladder or bowels. These events are normal and should not be cause for alarm.
  • After your veterinarian has confirmed that your pet has passed, he or she will usually ask if you would like to have a few final minutes alone with your pet.


Now that you know when to euthanize your pet. Your veterinarian can offer you a variety of options for your pet’s final resting place.

  • Cremation is the most popular choice, and you can choose whether or not you would like to have your pet’s ashes returned to you. Most cremation services offer a choice of urns and personalized memorials.
  • Burial is another option. You may want to bury your pet in your own yard, but before doing so, be sure to check your local ordinances for any restrictions. There are also many pet cemeteries throughout the United States. To locate a pet cemetery near you, check with the International Association of Pet Cemeteries.

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