20 answers

I Need to Put My Dog to Sleep

My Labrador is 10 years old, has been with us since he was a puppy, and now he has hip dysplasia, he can steel walk, but falls a lot, he is taking medicine for pain, but the time to make him rest is on the corner. I just don't know how to proceed telling the kids, and at the same time, hold myself together .

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I am in the same boat as you. My dog is almost 16 and I got him as a present from the owners of the parent dogs. He has outlived both his parents and all his siblings. My daughter is almost 6 and I have been telling her to say good bye to him, because he will be going to puppy heaven soon. The hardest part is getting up the nerve to take my dog to the vet. I have had several offers to take him for me, but I still cannot do it. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

There is some great advice here about telling the kids. I just wanted to say that it is OK if you can't "hold it together" for the kids. Since being sad and tearful when a loved one dies is appropriate, it is OK to model that for them--you are sad, they can be sad, and together you will all heal and it will get better.

When I was 9 we had to put my dog down--on Christmas Eve. Really. My father fell apart when he told me. When his grandmother died a few years later, I could handle his tears much better because I knew that it was OK and that it would get better with time.

Good luck.

More Answers

Our family friend, Boo, was a 10 year old yellow lab mix, as well. Everyone often said that he must've been part human, really such a wonderful dog. He suddenly became ill overnite, no warning signals. Took him to vet, received treatment and were told he most likely had a brain tumor. Had all sorts of tests done, we didn't receive results until three days after he was gone. Doctor gave him shot of vitamin B12 and B6 and something for pain, we then brought him home with us. We all said our goodbyes that evening as he slowly passed in our care. Nothing prepares us for such tremendous loss, but in some ways it strengthens. My three boys, at the time, were 10, 4 and 2 years of age. They all processed it in the way that was age appropriate. My husband and I allowed them to grieve in different ways, necessary. Our now 12 year old still has tears about him at times, we fondly talk about our everlasting friend. It was approximately 8 months after Boo passed on that we as a family felt that we wanted another dog. You will instinctively do the right thing. My husband and I prepared the kids and gave them the opportunity to say goodbyes in their own way. Believe me, it is never a good time, but you will lovingly guide them, I have faith. Take care and good luck. Sorry for your loss. A. M

1 mom found this helpful

I am in the same boat as you. My dog is almost 16 and I got him as a present from the owners of the parent dogs. He has outlived both his parents and all his siblings. My daughter is almost 6 and I have been telling her to say good bye to him, because he will be going to puppy heaven soon. The hardest part is getting up the nerve to take my dog to the vet. I have had several offers to take him for me, but I still cannot do it. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

when you are ready, explain to the children in brief form, and then read them this poem about the Rainbow Bridge, I can not copy the words but here are 3 links, the first one explains the poem, the other two have the poem on them, the 3rd one is for working dogs.

I've been thru this with children, my own, and the past few years, my grandchildren. plus they have lost horses, one really suffered,

Amazing, children do understand if parents can stay calm and explain the whys.

I put one down back in 1974 with out telling my children, I told them he died of Heart worms (he did but humanely as we were moving to England and I was told we could not take the dog) they still do not know the truth, and they are all in their 40's

Best of luck and remember it is for the benefit of the dog, animals can be helped out of their pain and misery, but humans can not.

I'm so sorry, this must be horribly hard :(.

I don't know what to do, but I do know what not to do. My mom took my dog to the vet one day, lying to me saying it was a check up, had my dog put to sleep, then lied for about a week saying teh dog had to stay overnight at the vet's. She lied for so long because she couldnt face telling me, when afte about a week I figured it out on my own and was abosloutely pissed at her for not letting me say goodbye to my dog and then lying forever.

The worst thing you can do for your dog is prolong his painful life. Doing so out of concern for the feelings of your children and yourself is understandable, but unworthy of the love your dog has given you all those years.
Tell your children that their beloved pet is living in pain, and the kindest thing to do for him is to end it. Your dog depends on you to make the tough choice.
I had to do that same thing, and once done, wished I had relieved her sooner.
Good luck. You're all he has.

ok-this is what our friends told their 3 year old when Bill (their cat) had to be put to sleep-it worked he (Dan their son) didnt cry and was ok with it.

they explained that bill was in lots of pain because he was sick so they had to take him to a place to "help" him die. but only because he was sick inside.

it sounds sooo harsh-but that was word for word what Dan told us. and he was glad that bill wasnt hurting anymore.

this response will not work for everyone. my parents told me (when ever a pet died and growing up on a farm was once in a while) was that the pet went to live on another farm.

your older children should understand, the younger should have the watered-down version.

hope this helps,
K.

I feel your pain. I had to put both my dogs down this past year within 3 months of each other. (they were 13 and 12) It was the hardest thing I ever did. Still cry once in awhile.
My daughters are 6 and 3....so the 3 yr. old really didn't notice. My 6 yr. old understood they were ill, and I told her they were going to the doctor to get better. When I got home, I told her they were too sick and went up to heaven. She got a good cry out that day and has been fine ever since.
They are so much a part of the family. I still haven't replaced them. I am not ready. Good luck!
B.
Wayne, NJ

There is some great advice here about telling the kids. I just wanted to say that it is OK if you can't "hold it together" for the kids. Since being sad and tearful when a loved one dies is appropriate, it is OK to model that for them--you are sad, they can be sad, and together you will all heal and it will get better.

When I was 9 we had to put my dog down--on Christmas Eve. Really. My father fell apart when he told me. When his grandmother died a few years later, I could handle his tears much better because I knew that it was OK and that it would get better with time.

Good luck.

I went through this about 2 years ago and our dog was over 16. It's hard but I would be honest with your kids and give them a chance to say goodbye. My kids were very sad but they understood that her quality of life was poor. I was suprised at how I reacted I was very sad and I still miss her but I know it was for the best.
Good luck
C. D

I would simply be truthful. Cry.. sob in front of them. I believe kids need to know that we adults have strong feelings too. Let them cry with you. Show support for each other by crying and hugging one another and then unify as a family and say your goodbyes. There is no easy answer when it comes to loss. May peace be with you and your family in this difficult time.

I am so sorry for your loss. I do know what you're going though. We had to put our cat to sleep a week and a half ago, and I had no idea how to start explaining this to my 3 year old, while keeping myself from crying as well! I just told him that Darla (our cat who died of cancer after 6 months of Chemo.), was very, very sick, and wasn't going to ever get better. I tried telling him about the whole death and heaven thing, but he's too young to 'get that', plus he's never even heard those words before!
Your kids are older, and will understand the concept of death. I say tell them the truth. Don't make up any story about he went to go live on a farm or something (which I've heard parents tell their kids so not to have them deal with the actual death of the pet).
It's hard, and my wishes go out to you.
Good luck.

Sorry to hear that the end is near for your dog. This past May I have experienced the same with my dog..she was 12 years old....10 weeks old when I brought her home. I love my dog, miss her...but know in my heart I did the right thing in putting her down. Her health was failing, she wasn't functioning, stopped playing and lost interest in everything and finally one morning, her eyes told me she's had enough. I knew then in my heart it was time to let go and what a painful reality that was....Anyway, I called the vet, a friend, and off to the Vets office we went that morning.....

Talk to your children...with the dog in the same room...let them hear from you that the dog is very old...very sick and his time to go to heaven is coming soon. Hug, pet the dog as you are talking and maybe the children will want to do the same. I have no idea what questions your children will ask but try to keep the answers simple and express your sadness that the dogs health is failing and when he does pass, how you will all miss him. It's ok to cry and embrace your children if they do.

I tend to think to make it easier on all...It's best not to get into the reality of what takes place at the Vets office...nor mention your plans of taking the dog to the Vet.

Pick a morning when your children are in school to take the dog to the vet. This will give you some hours alone to deal with your own feelings after the dog has passed. Go with a another adult, a friend, a family member for support....I was glad I did as I was so upset I wouldn't have been able to drive.

When the kids come home from school I am sure they will sense something is not right....sit them down and tell them the dog wasn't responding well that morning so you took him to the Vet...and the dog died while there. Mourn with them....
One of the things I did was I made a mourning corner on my coffee table. Where I placed a picture of my dog, her collar (which I brought home with me from the vets office))) along with a bit of shaved hair the vet cut for me on request((and placed in a sm. plastic bag))) her favorite toy and lit a candle.
Ask your children to join you...hold hands and say a prayer....cry....then begin to talk about the good times with your dog....tell a story...maybe each child would also like to tell a story as well...maybe not.

Don't be so fast in removing the dogs things from the house either....give this a few days. One of the important things about healing from the loss, is allowing the feeling of loss to happen. Both you and each child will feel it differently...each child will let go differently...give them time but slowly move each of them in the direction of moving forward and getting on with daily things....as you slowly do the same for yourself.

H.,

I'm so sorry for your pain. When I was 19 my mom passed away, and 10 months later, my dog was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and my dad had her put to sleep without telling me. I remember asking if he had heard from the vet, and he just looked at me and said' "we put her to sleep yesterday" I felt so betrayed that I wasn't involved in the decision to let her go, or had the chance to be with her.

To this day, 31 years later I still think of Peaches with bittersweet memories. But it's like that when any loved one dies.

When you feel your pet is suffering too much, euthanasia is a humane choice. Death is hard.. Just because it's an animal doesn't make it any easier. Only you can judge your dog's misery. I'm sure your kids have noticed his pain and disability.. kids are empathetic and can understand his pain. If you prepare them by talking about his suffering and how eventual death is a gift, a release from suffering, then making the decision to let him go quickly will make more sense to them.

I wouldn't worry about holding it together in front of the kids. (though hysteria is never appropriate in front of your kids)... but tears and sadness are a natural reaction to loosing a family member. It will give them permission to grieve too.

I wish you the best. My heart goes out to you.

Val

We live in the country and were fortunate enough to find a vet who would come to our home to help us with this. It was so much kinder and gentler for our dog because she was spared the pain and distress of car travel and a vet's office visit. She passed peacefully and we were able to bury her in our back field. My children were very young and napping when the vet came. Explaining the passing of the dog was less of a concern for us because our children were so young at the time. Best wishes. It's such a difficult decision.

I just put my Tess down in November because of hip dysplasia...One day she just looked me in the eye and I knew she was telling me to let her go. She was only 8 1/2 years old. I also have a shelf with all her memories. I had her cremated and I have her ashes in a really nice box with her photo on it and we put her collar in the box also. I also got a really nice digital picture frame and I have all her photos from the time she was a puppy up until the day that we put her down. I keep it running all the time. I also have a page on the Rainbow Bridge Website which has helped me so much. Here is the link...I think that you will find it very interesting as I have met so many people that are going thru the same thing and it really has been so comforting. http://RainbowsBridge.com/residents/TESS005/Resident.htm
I get to write to her on a daily basis if I want and people sign the guest book when they go on to her site. I know that alot of people who do not really have pets think I am a bit over the top, but Tess was really special. I have since got another puppy and that has also helped alot....I pray for all of you that have lost your pets....I know how very hard that it is......R.

I have a 14 year old golden retriever. He is on etogesic 300 mg per day and it helps him with his back. He too falls often, but has the spirit to live. His vision and hearing have deteoriated over the years, but we with a bit of sacrifice are able to tend to him. We have not travelled/vacationed in the last two years. He is part of our family. I hope this message inspires you to NOT give up so soon on your dog. Goodluck.

regards,
mm

Hi Hun,
We have a white shephard here , that we have had since he is a puppy, he is now 14 yrs old, and he has hip dysplasia, it is very hard, he is getting worse, , we have to do what is best for our pet. he is so full of life, he wants to play with his ball and stuff, the only issue is his hip and legs now, they will not hold him up, when he walks he always drops toward the left-side. my fear is he may break his leg or his hip
I feel your pain here
I hold you close to my heart dear to make the right decision

I'm so sorry about your situation... i work at a veterinary hospital (i'm a vet tech) and putting pets to sleep is by far the hardest part of our job. Our pets are a part of our family just as any other family member and i know how hard this decision is from personal experience.
There is a wonderful book that in my experience has helped both children and adult owners... it's called "Dog Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant(there is also "Cat Heaven").
And the way to deal with this loss is different in every family. Some parents allow their children to be present for the euthanasia, some feel it better to not, only you know your children. One experience i had was with a family who told their child that his cat was going to catch an airplane to heaven to live with God because God could make him not be sick anymore... so this child packed a "snack" for his cat and drew a picture of the plane with the cat smiling out a window.
No matter what you decide, in my opinion it is best to not "hold yourself together" for your kids... they need to see that it's okay to be sad and cry. Although very difficult, it is a good life lesson for your children to learn how to cope with loss of a loved one. I'm so sorry for your loss, please remember that it is a very kind thing we can do for them - it will releave him from his suffering and he'll be waiting at that Rainbow Bridge for you :)
http://rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm

There are some great books to help talk to your kids about the death of a family pet. Zoe's Good-Bye by Mary Schlangen, Gentle Willow by Joyce Mills, When Your Pet Dies by Victoria Ryan and Missing Maggie by Connnie Owens.

It is a really hard time and it OK to show your children that it is very difficult for you to let go also.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the rainbow bridge.There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong just as we remember them in our dreams. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing, they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet, You cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; Your hand again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...
It helps me after loosing my best friend of 12 years, can't wait to see her again. Good luck Michele

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