Another Question About Putting Dog Down

Updated on December 18, 2014
J.T. asks from Oradell, NJ
21 answers

Someone asked a question about how to deal with her friend if they decide to put their dog down. Many answers focused on whether or not her decision is right. So I'm curious if there is any limit to what people think should be spent on saving a dog. As I responded to her, we have a dog with cancer. We have to see the oncologist still but the vet expects the radiation will cost about $10,000. We can afford this. It's a lot but we can technically pay it without impacting our retirement or college or anything like that. We rescued our dog 6 years ago by the way and he is about 8 or 9. We have catered to him like crazy and he is so well taken care of. We just spent $2000 on his surgery. He gets lots of exercise and we just love him. But I question spending that much on a dog when there are children who can't get medicines or treatments they need. The absolute dollar amount makes me uncomfortable nevermind affordability. I feel like it's almost more moral to take that $10,000 and donate it to a Children's Hospital. There is one near us that runs almost entirely on donations and does great work. I love dogs so much and I love our dog but if we can throw around that kind of money, is that really how it should be spent? He has probably 5 years left best case versus a child could have 70 years. So what do people think? No dollar amount is too big or you would draw the line somewhere? I'm torn. Thanks

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So What Happened?

ETA: so far I've been told the treatment is not painful or anything for the dog. If it is a lot of discomfort etc, that would almost make the decision easier. I also don't believe in putting them through a long, uncomfortable or painful treatment they don't understand at all. Breaks my heart.

Gamma G - whether you're serious or sarcastic, you're too much.

I guess it's like if Bill Gates spent $10k on his dog. OF COURSE that's nothing to him but that money would mean so much to a sick child. (and I know he already donates beyond belief so maybe he's not the best example.) $10k is nothing to him yet it there an absolute dollar amount that just gets ridiculous? It's like people can afford to spend $5k on a pair of boots. It's not the affordability vs use of the money. A dog is a living being, not boots but a dog is also not a starving or suffering child. I guess it gets into all sorts of grey areas of how we spend money... Technically we should all live on the bare minimum and give all excess money to starving or sick people. But we don't so I guess I should consider a pet just one more way of spending disposable income that some people may or may not agree with. Hmmm.

More Answers


answers from Albany on

The day I can sit and have an in depth conversation with my dog about our options and my dog can tell me which route he would choose to go is the day I spend $10 grand on a 9 yo dog with cancer.

Frankly it has nothing to do with money. The pain, discomfort, change of routine, humiliation that poor dog has to go through, to *maybe* buy a couple more years of life is terrible. You can't explain to a dog why this is happening.
I mean even just having to be put under and stay the night for xrays is so traumatic for a dog.
I can't stand that they can't understand. I can't stand they might think they're being abandoned, and they miss their family, and they think they did something bad to deserve all this pain. And so on.

Money can't buy what a good dog deserves.


14 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have had dogs and cats my entire life. Here's my thinking on treatment: If something comes up that's a one shot deal like an illness or injury that will have a course of treatment that will solve the problem then yes I will do that. I've paid for surgeries, medications, and food to make a beloved pet's life better. Broken bones are set, injuries requiring stitches are done. I do all the tick/flea treatments and treat for heart worm. This is my job as their guardian.

However when 1 has cancer or is in kidney failure I choose not to treat. Why? Because although they are a beloved part of my family I can not sit down with them and talk about their treatment. I can't take away the terror they feel sitting in their crate at the vet's office as they are shuttled back and forth for treatments. And even if they are successfully cured they will only have a few more years. It isn't my job to give them long lives. Its my job to give them a good happy life for as long as I am able. That means some live to be 20 and some not so long.

It is easy to judge other people. My brother flew out to Colorado with his dog to have a bone transplanted instead of amputation due to cancer. Crazy expensive (because it was a new procedure rarely done) but I supported his choice because it was his choice.

Really the answer to your question is that it is up to the owner to do what they think is the right thing.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well, as easy as it is to be Judgy McJudgerson about this situation, the older I get, the less I feel that these sorts of things are my business. We have friends whose pets are their kids; our own old cat Gus cost us a lot of money during his ten years with us- $3,000 within the first month because he was incredibly ill (unbeknownst to anyone) when we got him. Some people would find that crazy, some doable.

I think the short answer is simply this: who am I to judge someone else's priorities. You seem to have enough money to invest in your pet-- you earned that money, its yours, and you have no obligation to explain your choices to me. I can understand both sides of it: sometimes the burden of a sick pet is monumental and having them put down is the kindest choice for everyone. At some point, each family/couple/pet owner has to take a look at the pros and cons and make the best choice for the overall health (well-being and financial) of the family. Some expenses can be absorbed, some cannot.

Some situations can be reasonably improved upon, some can't. I had a friend who, years ago, decided after years of their dog being anxious, chewing down fences, breaking her legs escaping, huge abandonment issues and refusing to take her medicine-- it was too much and they put the dog down. (the dog had been adopted from a shelter as an adult.)The vet made them feel awful about this decision, but I saw how they had to go searching for the dog constantly, how when the dog got away, she kept running from them, how she would chew down fence boards, how they had used every device known to man to help her.... I saw the daily work over years of she and her husband trying to help and soothe this poor dog whose quality of life was terrible despite lots of walks, love, daily having people around to care for her. They were heartbroken but knew the situation after 7 years was only going to deteriorate.

All of that to say-- you can never really know why others make the choices they make. Either you give them the benefit of the doubt or you don't.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I had to draw the line. When my Billy got sick and I got a bill for $600 just to find out what the issue was, and then found the confirmation tests and treatments would have been more then my mortgage, we had to make the choice to have him put down. It was hard, but it was the right choice. I can't put our family in hardship to save a cat, even one I loved as much as Billy.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Danville on

This is an interesting question.

I get a tad upset when I see ads on TV for homeless 'animal' issues, and virtually NONE for our human homeless population. It really 'gets' to me during this holiday season.

I love LOVE animals BTW. One of our cats was 'bumped' by a car about 8 weeks ago. I took her to an emergency vet who kept her over night to assess her, and basically, they were concerned that she would not live through surgery, so we brought her home, and kept her confined til she healed. The price tag for the overnite stay was almost $1000. It has put a HUGE dent in my x mas spending to say the least! However, I did send an e mail out to my kiddos, and we collectively decided NOT to do surgery. (the cat, fiona, is really doing well, so I think we made a good call for her).

For me...when dealing with MY animals, I consult my immediate family (the kiddos) and we make a group decision. We weigh age, quality of life issues...and YES...$$ as well.

I do not consult friends or extended family for these kinds of choices.

Nor do I consult friends/extended family for HUMAN health issues/concerns.

People/children are generally insured, so cost is not always the concern that it is for animals...who generally are NOT insured.

But, with both animals, and humans...sometimes a choice needs to be made. I generally base that (for both) on quality of life. Sometimes the 'treatment' is worse than just letting things go the natural course.

For me, these are very personal decisions...and therefore include only those most personally involved.

Not sure if this answers your question or not...but a GREAT topic for discussion IMO!

Merry merry!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

How much is a very personal question. We could have bought a new car (and I might not be driving an 02 right now) if we had not tried so hard (and so expensively) to save our cat. I can tell you that "afford" is relative. $250 per month for some people is groceries. It's 2 utility bills. It's the kid needing a filling you didn't expect. As someone else (maybe you) put it, that's a lot of money x even 5 years. Not many people I know could do that without a lot of hurt. We had suggestions for radiation and more tests for our most recently lost cat and we said no. We took him home, we made him comfortable, we let him go. I loved that cat too much to put him through more for me. Quality of life also factors. I had a friend with cancer decide on no more treatments because what they could do would extend his life, but leave him in misery. He chose fewer, but better, days. As long as you are not taking food from your children, I won't judge if you choose to pay for the radiation. As someone else put it, we all use our money the way we see fit.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think it's an individual choice. Personally, I would probably not spend $10K to keep a 9 year old dog alive for a few more years. If it's a large dog, s/he may have ever fewer than 5 years left.

If you want to donate that money to a children's hospital vs. spending on the dog, that's wonderful. If you want to spend it on the dog, that's completely valid too.

We all spend our discretionary income differently, and no one should judge how another person chooses to spend their money. If there is no discretionary income, then it's totally valid for people not to bankrupt themselves over a pet.

Good/interesting question.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

This strikes close to home, as my daughter lost her beloved dog 2 weeks ago. My daughter is seriously ill and homebound 90% of the time, and this dog had been her constant companion for 10 years. The dog was 14 years old, and her health failed extremely rapidly. Thankfully the dog did not suffer (up until her last 2 or 3 days, she was happy), and the vet did the euthanasia procedure with great compassion and patience and kindness (to both the dog and my daughter, who is still emotionally devastated). No amount of money would have extended the dog's life for more than a few days.

So my opinion is, if you love the dog, if the vet thinks that the radiation will be successful, and if you have the funds, go ahead and save your dog.

But, I would also make a donation to your vet. Surely he or she knows of someone whose beloved pet needs some medication, or a procedure, and is struggling to pay. Why not tell your vet you'd like to anonymously pay an amount, say, up to $1000 or $500, or 5 separate $100 gifts, or whatever you decide, to help pay for an elderly person's pet companion, or someone whose family has medical expenses (maybe due to a sick child, or they're out of work) and whose dog or cat needs its shots or its medication, and have your vet tell that family that their vet bill is paid. For some people, even having a month or two worth of food for their pet would be such a huge load off of their shoulders. Maybe you could write an unsigned card for the vet to give to the pet owner, and just say "we are grateful to be able to pay for our dog's cancer treatments, and want to bless you by relieving some of your financial burden for your beloved pet) or something like that. Maybe that would be a comfort to you, knowing that you did your best for your dog, and also helped someone else who doesn't have the money to do the same.

That's just my thoughts!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm so sorry about your dog.
there is no way i would even consider spending $10K to save a dog, even a young one. and yes, i adore my furbabies. i do consider them family. they are utterly loved, somewhat over-indulged, and very, very well taken care of.
folks who consider them on par with their children and pour their retirement savings into them are very nice folks and welcome to do so. i get it. i would never tell them they shouldn't.
but i wouldn't, and i refuse to be guilted about it.
pet ownership should not be reserved for the wealthy. people who don't have the resources and yes, people who are unwilling to go those financial lengths, still can be and usually are exemplary pet owners.
i spent a thousand getting my old mare's eyeball removed this summer. she's doing great, and while she's been lame and unrideable for years, i'll get to enjoy her presence for another 10, perhaps even 20 years. that's about the limit i'd spend on any of my animals. the dog is very old and has some health issues- i probably wouldn't go that high for him, as his quality of life would suffer. he's got some enormous fatty tumors that could be surgically removed, but they don't hurt him and i don't want him undergoing anesthesia at his age, so that's the sort of thing we consider in the balance.
we would probably go higher on our siamese who is only 2. but not 10K.
and rehoming is not as easy or as kind as it sounds. 1 of our cats, maybe 2, would eventually adjust, but the old dog, the old cat and the old mares would be devastated to be taken off this farm. i'd euthanize them in a heartbeat, right there with them to the last breath, before i'd subject them to that.
i kept my last 2 cats around way too long because i couldn't bear to let them go. it was a poor decision on my part. i won't do it again.
we all say we want them to die 'peacefully in their sleep' but the raw truth is that an animal who goes that way has probably been silently suffering for a while.
i know the popular response in this community is 'spend to your last penny or find someone who will' but i'm not one of them. i completely disagree that you are a bad pet owner or should not have animals because you make judgement calls about the degree of health issues you can handle. and sending an animal in crisis to a different home that might love them and be willing to spend a fortune on them still doesn't mean that the animal won't be confused and grieving over its change in circumstances. life at all costs does not mean the same thing to animals as it does to some humans.
treat your animals well and with love, get them the best health care you can reasonably handle and which doesn't compromise their quality of life, and send them off yourself, with love, when it's time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I agree with Diane D. On both handling injury and illness, and whose choice it is.

And Nervy Girl too.

I love my pets. 2 cats and 1 dog, all very loved and cared for. They get regular vet care, are fed high quality food, have toys, beds, the dog has shelter outside even though she is mostly indoors. We treat them very well.

One frustration for me is seeing folks who cannot pay their bills and barely put food on their own tables adopting puppies and kittens. Then they don't train them, feed them crappy food, don't vet them, and end up with sick pets needing vet care that they cannot afford. If you can't afford to give a pet the quality of care that will prevent illness, and cannot afford vet bills if they are injured or ill, don't get a pet. And yes, if someone's pet is sick because they didn't give them quality care, or injured due to lack of training and socialization, they're a big, dumb jerk.

(not saying you or the other poster are guilty of that at all, just a general statement).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think bottom line how much depends on how someone can justify the expense in their daily budget without impacting financial obligations such as daily financial usage, college, retirement, etc.

I believe a major priority should be the pet's quality of life without surgery, post surgery and pain management.

A priority for us when we were deciding back surgery for one of our cocker Spaniels at age 2 was the amount of pain he would be in and his quality of life. I would not spend a huge amount of money on my pet if I knew he would be living the rest of his life in pain. We did shell out $3000 for back surgery and recovery expenses and Frankie lived to be 14.8 yrs old. Once he recovered, he was back to his old self, jumping off the wall to chase a squirrel and lived the rest of his life to the fullest.

In June of 2013 we spent $1000 on a 14yr old Cocker and he did well for 6 months and then we knew it was time to let him go. He woke up on 12/6 paralyzed and could not walk. We knew he would not survive a surgery and if he did, he had at most 2 yr to live more than likely because Cockers typically live about 15 yrs.

My 8yr old Toy Poodle cost me $6000 November 2013 and now has a bionic eye as we call it. Poodles typically live 17-20 years so he has a lot more years left if he stays safe, however, he is fearless at 10# and he charged a coyote last week with only the iron fence separating them. Ugh!

In February 2014 we elected to have hernia surgery for the 10yr old Cocker. She had a lump where her spay surgery was and we had been told it was not painful. It kept getting bigger so we had it removed when we got her teeth cleaned. You should have seen her... it was like she was thanking us when she got home. She didn't bother any stitches. Now she lays flat bellied on the cold tile and loves it. It is truly like she is thanking is for helping her feel better. That one was less than $1000.

I have family that thinks we were crazy but when we adopt a pet, we accept the responsibility and commitment to keep that pet happy and healthy as long as he/she lives. Fortunately, we are in a position that made it possible for us to care for our pets and I know some people think it is extravagant but they are my pets, my responsibility and I will not give them up to the shelter or anyone else just because they get sick or injured.

We believe in gathering all information and making an informed decision when it comes to any surgery with our pets.

I don't look at it as any dollar amount being too big. I look at it from the perspective of the diagnosis and the quality my pet will or wont have with or without surgery.

The "right" thing can be different with each family and no one is right or wrong with the decision they make based on their personal family situation.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I spent $900 for the vet to remove a sock from my 6month old german shepherd ( he is 2now). However, if he had something that couldn't be easily fixed or removed and had to be in continuous treatment and on all kinds of meds. I'd most likely not have my pup go through it. It's awful to see an animal in pain. I know My pup wouldn't be able to handle all kinds of tests and procedures. He is highly active, large, and has a nervous temperament. I would never put him through such an ordeal. Especially one that may not have. Positive outcome.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Dogs are such loving, loyal creatures... I bet if he could talk he would tell you to donate the money to sick children...

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answers from Washington DC on

Radiation treatments aren't easy ... on human or animal. They will more than likely get some radiation sickness and radiation burns are EXTREMELY common. So definitely think about the quality of life.

For me ... 10k would be way way out of the possibility of reasonable. I just can't justify spending that much money on a dog when I won't spend it on myself to get my teeth fixed. Plus it would put a significant dent in our budget.

But it's your dog and your money. Do with it what you want :) I think spending that much money on an animal is crazy ... others think spending money on a new car (over a used car) is crazy ... while others think spending money on a "large" house is crazy :) Doesn't make any one crazy ... we just have our own priorities.

The caveat would be if it was impacting your budget negatively then obviously the answer would be don't spend that kind of money on a dog.

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answers from San Francisco on

When our Husky was diagnosed with "soft tissue sarcoma" and radiation therapy was recommended (it was $9000 at the time), we were told by the oncologist that radiation is "spot" therapy. The only area treated is the location where the tumor had been located prior to surgery. We made the decision to use alternate treatment which involved acupuncture and chinese herbs. We could have afforded the surgery, but it would have depleted our savings safety net. A year later another tumor developed about 8 inches from from the first location. This was considered a new location and would not have been within the treatment zone had we chosen radiation therapy. We paid the $900 or so to have that tumor removed as well and continued with alternate care. The vet told us that had we decided on radiation therapy after the first tumor had been removed, it would NOT have applied to what was considered a new secondary location. Further radiation therapy would have cost another $9000, making this adventure one costing over $20k in two years. During these years I was also preparing a cooked "cancer" diet. Kula's treatments cost about $200 per month. In year 3 another tumor developed at the original site. At this point the vet had x-rays taken of Kula's liver and discovered cancer had spread everywhere. We decided not to put him thru a third surgery and took him home. Within 3 weeks he had a grand mal seizure. we raced him to the vet and began treatment. That was a 10AM. By 5PM it was clear treatment wasn't working and made the decision to have him put down. Life for him would not have been good from that point on. This was the hardest decision we've ever made and broke our hearts. The point here, I think, is to realize that depending on the type of cancer, just know that it may show up somewhere else and you'll need to treat all over again, like it's new. You may want to talk to the vet about alternate treatments. Kula's life was great during those 3 years and he actually loved acupuncture (go figure). Best of luck to you and your loving pet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

So much to consider! Our family dog got hit by a car when she was 2. Our father had passed away a few months before and my mom could not bear seeing us lose our dog too (kids were 18, 14, 11, 8). So, she spent thousands (this was in 1990) to reconstruct her hip, pelvis, leg, etc. She was in the pet hospital for a month or so. That sweet dog lived to be 14.

Our dog (a Doberman) is now 13.5. She has been the most amazing pet. However, if a vet told us she had cancer or something, I'm not sure we would spend the money. Not that we don't love her, but I'm not sure it would prolong her life much.

Tough call!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

$10,000 seems like a lot to spend on a dog, and I doubt I'll ever have that kind of "disposable income" but if I did, I very well might spend it to save my dog. Not really sure since I've never been fortunate enough to be able to even consider something like that. I think I would draw a line somewhere, but where that line is would depend on where my family is financially.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Well I would rather spend $10,000 on a pet than on a huge flat screen television or a kitchen remodel or a car that is $10,000 'better' than another car. How many people are driving around in $40-60,000 cars? We can also save a greater number of lives by donating the money to feeding children in the third world or spending the money on malaria nets. Donating $10,000 to an American children's hospital doesn't go very far. That amount of money goes way further in other parts or the world. Should we really buy Christmas gifts at all when there are people (and pets) in need. It gets complicated fairly quickly and most of us (perhaps sadly) do not live truly altruistic lives.



answers from Binghamton on

I really like how you are looking at this issue. Personally I could not afford 10,000 dollars, so it would be a done deal. But you do have that option and I am impressed that you are weighing the greater good when, as a dog owner, I know how much you must love your dog. I don't have any wise words, except to carefully weigh quality of life, which I am sure you have already done, I just wanted to let you know how much your question touched me.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Please know it's okay to take care of your pet. It's okay...

I know there are millions of people that have a total income per year of less than you're able to freely give to the vet to care for your dog. But you've been blessed and are able to take care of this small helpless animal.

I'd love to say give me the money so I can buy food and propane but at what cost? I couldn't live comfortably with knowing an animal had to die so I could have those things.



answers from Baton Rouge on

I have gone without food to make sure my pets had their needs met.
I have gone without medicine to make sure my pets had their needs met.
But I am well aware that there is always the possibility that one of them will sustain an injury or develop a condition that will cost more than I can afford to treat, no matter what I'm willing to go without, and I will be forced to put them down when their quality of life becomes unbearable.

That said, I would make the same decision for myself. If I am diagnosed with a condition that will leave me in financial ruin to treat, then I will simply suck it up until it becomes unbearable, then take my own life.

As for starving children vs pets, it may sound harsh, and if it does, so be it, but my dog means more to me than a stranger's child means to me.

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