Advice on Putting down 10 Yr Old Black Lab

Updated on July 19, 2010
J.G. asks from Bellevue, NE
27 answers

We have a 10 year old Black Lab mixed dog that I have had since she was 10 weeks old. She has survived a bad back injury and seems to now be suffering from hip or knee problems. She has difficutly walking up and down the stairs and I feel she is in pain. She also has very bad allergies and these are getting costly to treat. Among all other things she has began to pee on the carpet almost daily. She gets let out last thing at night and first thing in the morning...Is it wrong to put her down so she isn't suffering? I feel that we are doing a bad thing by cutting her life short...

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answers from Rapid City on

I have a 10 year old cockerspaniel who also was showing pain in the hip and knee areas and the vet gave me some pills that weren't expensive at all... although they needed to do a blood test for liver health. She took them every day for two weeks and is pretty much like a pup again to some degree. She bounces around wanting to play and is back to being able to jump up on the bed and ottoman. About the accidents at night, might get some big size baby diapers and put them on her at night.



answers from Minneapolis on

The average life span of a well cared for Black Lab is 10-12 years, so you are not cutting her life "short." If she is in pain and spends most of her day uncomfortable between the allergies, pain, and uncontrolled bladder (if she was previously potty trained, she knows she shouldn't but can't help it) issues, I personally would do it. I know it's hard, but I can't stand to see an animal suffer . . .

Good luck!

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answers from Cedar Rapids on

It a hard decision and you just have to weigh the good and bad. If she starts peeing uncontrollable and ruining carpet. Dollars start to add up there too. They're are some good pain medicines out there for dogs that might make her comfortable and get around better or get some bloodwork done to see if she is having organ failure or how the body's functioning. If it's more than just pain then you'll have to see what its going to cost you to keep her comfortable and decide what's the best thing.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Did you know that there are chiropractors for dogs, cats, and horses? Contact Hal Brown at ###-###-#### or upstairs neighbor has brought him on to treat her aged cat, whose had spinal issues that have affected her ability to poo regularly. She's now a renewed kitty! Unless your dog is actively failing/near death, I'd try some alternatives, vet visits, dietary changes to facilitate her aging problems before putting her down. If you're questioning whether it's time, and you feel you'd be cutting her life short, maybe your gut is telling you something. Blessings to you all and your lovely dog!

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answers from Dallas on

We've had to put 2 Cocker Spaniels down and it is one of the hardest and most emotional things we have done.

The first one was 13, had cancer and in the end, had no control of her bladder. She was very sick. We got "the look" from her one late afternoon and it was like she was asking us to help. We took her to the vet, and we all cried, because we've been with our vet since 1989 and this was 2000. It was painless, we held her and said our goodbyes. She was taken to a pet cemetary and cremated and the next week we got her remains back ina pretty cedar locked box with her name on it.

In 2005, we had to put our other Cocker down at 14 yr old. He was our most expensive Cocker. He chewed things, recovered from major surgery at 2, etc. This time, it was near midnight and he was coughing and we knew. We went to the emergency animal clinic and waited outside until it was our turn to go in. We were very emotional this time as well. We'd never met this vet, and when he started the injection, he had tears and said this was the hardest part of being a vet. We also have the ashes from this dog in a pretty cedar box with his name.

The crematory sent both boxes back with sympathy cards, a silk rose and stories about the rainbow bridge.

Both our dogs were in pain, very sick, and getting old. Like I said, these decisions were very hard emotionally on us. Those dogs were treated like royalty, our children and a huge part of our lives.

We currently have a 10 yr old Cocker, 5 yr old Cocker and 4 yr old toy poodle. I dread this decision again someday.

My heart goes out to you.....

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answers from Atlanta on

Well, is she really suffering? We have a 12 year old black lab, and labs are known for hip displasia. It can get bad enough so that they ARE suffering, but only you can make the call as to whether she's just walking funny when she goes up and down stairs (ours does and really doesn't even go up flights of stairs any more) or is she in pain from it? Is there a place she could be like a basement where she wasn't having to deal with stairs and it wasn't terrible if she had an accident? Ours stays in the basement, garage and outdoors. She's not in pain, but walks funny and will have the occasional accident because it takes her longer to get up and move. If an animal is suffering it is NEVER wrong to put them down, but if they're just inconveniencing you -well, you have to make that call with your vet.

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answers from San Diego on

I just had to put down my 30 year old horse after having him for 26 years. I always told myself that if he didn't have a decent quality of life, I would do for him what he couldn't do for himself. We had to do that this week.

You need to really ask yourself if it is for the animal or for you? Life will probably be a lot easier without your dog, but are you looking for an excuse to not let her out more or to save money on allergies?

If you honestly think her quality of life is poor and she is in regular pain, then you are doing her a favor. Ask your vet for their opinion...they certainly will have one. May not be able to give you a definitive answer, but will help you decide.

There's no right answer, but keeping an animal alive who is in pain just because it is a tough decision to make is inhumane. Make sure you or a loved one are there with her. If you've never witnessed an animal being euthanized, it is very peaceful. I always feel that I owe my animals to be there. I would hope someone I love is there for my last moments on this earth.

I wish you luck in your decision.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I just lost a 17 year old Jack Russell terrier 6 weeks ago so I know how hard this decision is. Just reading all of these posts brings tears to my eyes. I think your vet is probably in the best position to help you determine if your dog is truly in pain and suffering or just achy and a little uncomfortable. I agree with one of the other posters who said you can often tell if a dog has lost their "spark." My dog was a feisty one, and he had that spirit until his final morning. In keeping our dog comfortable during his final months, I was surprised to learn how much medical technology has made it possible to keep our pets happy in their golden years. There is a new injectable arthritis medication (Adequan?) that made/is making a huge difference in both of my dogs. It isn't very expensive if you buy the bottle and either give the injections yourself or bring the bottle and dog in to the clinic for the shot. Predinisone is cheap and can do wonders for allergies. My remaining dog has allergies. They don't like to use pred long term in younger dogs because of its side effects, but in an older dog with health problems it probably doesn't matter. It would help the arthritis too. I don't know what to tell you about peeing on the carpet other than the possibility of pee pads, but that is also something to discuss with your vet. I'm not trying to talk you out of having her euthanized since that can often be the most humane and logical thing to do, but if you and your dog aren't ready for that there may be options out there. It's a decision best made by you and your vet. My dog experienced some sort of heart failure on his final day. Although I did have to bring him in to be "put to sleep," it was a very clear-cut situation. I find comfort in the fact that the decision was essentially made for me. I realize not everyone can be so fortunate to have things end that way. It's the worst part about having pets. Best wishes to you and your dog.



answers from San Francisco on

Oh, dear, I am so sorry. My dog is on Proin for incontinence. But that is the only big problem right now, so I won't put her down yet. But your dog is having much greater problems, so it is probably time. It will be sad, no doubt. But she doesn't understand anything except she is hurting and it is kinder to put her down than to let it get to the point where she is in terrible and constant misery. When we put down our cat (long story), we waited too long and he couldn't even lift his head out of my lap as we drove there. That was even worse for me than just doing it when he was failing but not so far gone. Blessings to you and your family.



answers from Minneapolis on

In my experience, when my elderly animals began urinating in my home they were actually sick. Usually kidneys in my cases. You should bring her to the vet and confirm the diagnosis. Get the advice of the vet and make the decision from there. THey may have the same thought that you have and then you will never have to "feel bad" about your decision.



answers from Appleton on

Talk to your vet. I hate the idea of putting any animal down or of having them suffer. The balance is so difficult to find. If there is a medicine that will help her and you feel confident that this is the way to go do that. You know in your heart what is the best choice. Your love for her will find the best way to take care of your dog.



answers from Chicago on

Most pet owners keep their pets alive more for their own benefit than the pets. Of course, this is natural since we all hate to say goodbye to them, however, it's not in the pets' best interests.
Think of it this way - she won't know what's going to happen the way a human might, therefore there'll be no stress beforehand. Putting an animal to sleep is a painless procedure and many vets let you stay and hold the animal till it's gone. And she also won't know whether or not her life was cut short. Actually, ten's not bad for a bigger dog.
Talk to your vet about pain management, which might help. The peeing on the carpet might be due to something else altogether.
I had our guinea pig put to sleep a few years ago (for similar reasons) and I was wracked with guilt for ages even though we all agreed it was the best thing to do. Now that we have a dog, I hope I can keep the same attitude.



answers from Minneapolis on

We just put our beloved dog down. He was suffering, had bone cancer (which metasticises quickly) and wasn't able to live as he had. My husband grew up with dogs and said they're very good at hiding pain (they'd be killed by the pack if too weak), so he must be in SERIOUS pain if we're seeing as much as we were. We debated, used pain meds, but the vet said it's better to do it early than have an emergency where we wish we hadn't waited so long. It's a very hard decision, but think, is your dog living the life it was? Are you keeping her alive for your own feeling or for her? We can't put suffering humans "down", but we can at least relieve our pets. I missing my dog so much, but know he is in a better, happier place.



answers from Minneapolis on

I am so sorry you have to make this decision. It is absolutly OK to put your dog to sleep. Being a former vet tech I saw this all the time. You know, and your dog knows, when it is time. The hardest part of that job was seeing people put their loved ones to sleep. I always thought though, how lucky for that animal to have an owner who loves them so much that they know them enough to know how much the animal is hurting and know when the time is right to let them go.That is an old age for a Lab too.
Thoughts and prayers to you during this diffilcult time!



answers from Los Angeles on

I would ask a vet if she really is in pain. If she is, then I think the humane thing to do is to put her down. Just be loving and be there when she goes so she can move on surrounded by those who love her.

Sorry for your loss :(



answers from State College on

Talk about quality of life with your family and what is good for her. If she is painful and suffering you should not feel bad about whatever you decide. Also talk to your vet before any final decision, maybe have her in for a full exam. For the urine in the house, that happens a lot in old age for dogs, many just can't hold it any more and some do not even know they are leaking while sleeping. There is a med that can help, if it is incontinence. I'm sure you know there are many meds for joint pain too and may have even tried some.

Putting her to sleep is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make and know you are putting her best interests at heart when you make your decision. If you feel like you are doing a bad thing and her good days are out numbering bad days, then neither of you may be ready. Talking to your vet, even if you can't get her in for an exam will give you a better idea of life quality and any options out there. They can also tell you how they do the procedure to put your mind more at ease when you are ready. Try not to think of it as cutting her life short, but many dogs will let you know when it is time and I think it is nice if you respect that and help them on their way to the rainbow bridge.

I'm so sorry you and your family are going through this and know there is nothing you can really say to make it any easier. No matter what always remember the wonderful times you have had to together and the great things she has done and is doing for your family.



answers from Minneapolis on

When you think about her happy spirit, do you think she would want to be hanging around in a body that doesn't work any more? My belief is that dogs let go of their physical bodies more easily than we let go of our dogs. Wouldn't she rather be done with this old body and come back as a happy puppy? Would you want that for her too? Trust yourself; whatever answer you come up with will be the right one for the two of you.



answers from Wausau on

Speak to your vet. He or she will let you know when it is time. There is nothing wrong with stopping your pet's suffering if nothing else can be done.



answers from Detroit on

I am so sorry you are faced with this decision. It's tough. We just put our 14 year old Beagle to sleep on July 5. We had to struggle with the decision for 4 days while the vets determined his exact illness. It was his time, though. His kidneys were shutting down. I think making the decision is the worst part followed by the guilt and the "what-if's" after you do it.

The best question to ask yourself is "Am I doing this because she is suffering or because she is an inconvenience?"

My dog had hip problems and had a hard time getting up and down the stairs, but he wasn't in pain and we gave him glucosamine to help. The vet should be able to tell you if your dog is in pain or not, especially if she's in enough pain to put her down.

Have you tried a doggie door to help with the peeing on the rug problem? Have you asked your vet for advice? Maybe there's a simple solution. Could you pen her into the kitchen at night so her accidents are isolated to a hard surface.

If you can't afford the allergy medicine, can you just stop giving it to her? Are her allergies bad enough that it would ruin her quality of life enough to need to put her down? Ask your vet about that.

If she is suffering and her quality of life is miserable, then you are definitely doing the right thing by ending her suffering. Your vet should be able to help you make that call.

Sorry you're having to do this. I know how hard it is.



answers from Minneapolis on

in my opinion...if her quality of life is gone its time to do the humane thing an put her down.ive seen way to many ppl allow their pets to suffer for their own selfish cocker spaniel i rescued is epileptic-i refuse to put her on pheno barbital-nasty drug-her seizures come an go last week she maxed out at 11 total-most ever-i almost put her down-but she bounced back-and is doing fine..but when is enuff enuff??shes only 4-1/2...i cant imagine my life without her-but i cant make her suffer either-animals cant tell us how much pain their in-we only see the outside-so i guess you need to decide when your dog has endured enuff pain an misery.good luck



answers from Columbus on

My heart is aching for your and your family.

If she is in pain, suffering, and her quality of life is going downhill rapidly, sometimes the kindest thing you can do is NOT wait until it's desperate, but instead let her go before she is truly miserable.

It is the hardest thing we as friends and stewards of our animal pals can do, but doing it with dignity, and with thoughtfulness is truly a gift we give them.

Do not beat yourself up--choosing to let her go while she still has some dignity and some good days is so much better than waiting until she is confined by pain or lack of control to a bed where she messes herself.

Remember that she lives in the moment--she doesn't think about things the way you or I do. To give yourself a smile, read the Diary of a Dog vs. the Diary of a Cat (

Talk to your vet, plan ahead for the event, and then give her a really great day (as good as she can have, anyway) and then let her go if that's what she needs.

Edited to add:
With dogs, sometimes more than cats, I think that they often "let us know" when they are ready, with a look or when we see the loss of the "spark"....



answers from Milwaukee on

They have vets that come to your house now & will put your dog down in their surroundings while you are holding him or he's laying in his favorite spot. My sister did this with her dog & it was the most humane way that I could ever think of. It costs more than taking them to the vet, but is well worth it in the end. Hope this helps you.



answers from Omaha on

I would at least take her in for an exam, bloodwork, urinalysis before making the final decision. Urinating in the house could be from an infection which can be treated w/antibiotics, or if she has arthritis she may just be to painful to bother getting up. There are several meds & joint care supplements that really help alleviate the pain & make the dog feel sooo much better. The bloodwork will show you if there are any other diseases/problems going on. 10yrs is old, but not really THAT old to at least find out what's going on & see if it's something manageable.



answers from Duluth on

I would take her to the vet for a check up & ask their opinion. Generlly the advice they give is that if the animal is still happy & does not seem to be in pain to let them continue as is until they are no longer.

If she is in constant pain & does not seem to be happy & content any more I would discuss your options to let her go. I know many people who have done this & been with the animal when they do & the animal seems to understand & in fact seem grateful for the suffering to end.



answers from Kansas City on

I think as a pet owner, we owe it to our pets to let them go when it's time. That decision is never easy and a very hard one to come to.

I personally would make a visit with your vet and see what's going on. The potty accidents could be just an infection or it could be from her being in pain and not feeling the need to go.

If she has to use the stairs to go outside, and those stairs are causing her a lot of pain, that's not fair to make her keep doing that.

I have a Great Dane and I made a promise to myself that I would never let him suffer. He's already showing signs of hip problems and a few times he wasn't able to get up fast enough in the morning and had an accident. I knew that I will have to let him go when it got to the point of him hurting to that bad. Luckly he's responding well to glucosamine supplements. There's no way outside to potty unless he takes the stairs, once I see that becomes to painful for him, I will have to make the very tough choice to let him go.

I wish you the best.



answers from Los Angeles on

I truly love my dog. I love him enough to keep him from suffering.

Read T.F's post . I just did and have tears in my eyes.

If your dog is suffering do him a favor. Be with him at the end and show him you love him. Don't let him die alone.

I've told my kids that I want to live until the day before I can't take care of myself.

Sorry about your loss. You have my condolences.



answers from Tampa on

It sounds as though your dog's quality of life is greatly diminished and when that is the case then it is kinder to them to let them go rather than keep them alive out of a misplaced sense of guilt.

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