Is There a Good Time to Ever Euthanize..

Updated on August 01, 2015
L.L. asks from Campbellsburg, KY
15 answers

We've had our rescue dog for 6 years now. I have no way of knowing how old he is because he was found along side the road and one vet said he was 5 another said 9. It's hard to tell because he has the whitest teeth still to this day.
We have two other rescue dogs and they never got a long the best. Periodically our Dog (the one we found ) will attack the other dogs. We no longer leave toys around and we feed them separately because in the last 6 months he's developed food aggression. His aggression with the other dogs has seem to gotten worse. He use to share a bowl with our other dog eating, even ignoring his bowl that was right there. He's also started bumping into everything.
I took him to the vet yesterday and the vet confirmed he was completely blind in both eyes. This makes a lot of things make sense now. With the food aggression getting worse. When things fall he would get very scared. I understand now because he didn't know what exactly fell.
The vet said he recommends a few options.
1.) keeping him away from other dogs, outside in a fenced area because he's unpredictable
2.) rehoming him
3.) euthanizing
4.) paying to see if it could be corrected in hopes that the aggression will go away but I can't afford that.
This is hard for me because I'm also pregnant and I worry that when the new baby comes because he is blind and unpredictable he won't get the chance to see her and get to know her and he could snap out of fear.
Before he went blind he showed aggression with my daughter at times and had a lot of fear. He would run away when my daughter came near him, growled a few times. I had my concerns and we decided to work with him, keeping them separated and if it didn't work we would get rid of him.
Training him worked to an extent and he no longer hunches when my daughter is near him. He always has to be watched around my daughter but he hasn't gotten a lot better and even kisses her now. He seems to like him a lot now. They even play sometimes.
I have fear though that now that he is blind it will be difficult to train him with the new baby.
This is a very hard decision to make because he's not used to being around children and the fact that he's blind worries me. My husband thinks we should work with him but I'm on the fence about it. Then I think if a human went blind we wouldn't put them down. And I'm not sure if my mom fears are over reacting or not.

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So What Happened?

What makes it so hard is that he's super happy. He bumps into things but the vet said he wasn't in pain.
I understand your answers completely because a part of me feels the same. It's hard though because he's never snapped at a human before so a part of me feels bad because he doesn't have human agression, his growls are more like a warning. I've only heard him growl once or twice at a person. Now that's he's blind I feel like I'm giving up on him. I've never dealt with a blind dog/a dog with a disability so I don't know if it makes them mean or..?

I think he suggested euthanizing because he's a larger breed/ genetically could be aggressive and he has shown aggression in the past. Obviously he suggested keeping him away from other animals because he shows aggression with them periodically.

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answers from Amarillo on

It might be time to put him down. I know that might sound hard but he is not seeing what is going on around him. He attacks or goes after things because he can't see them.

You will be busy with dealing with two children one a newborn. When will you have time to tend to the dog and love him? If you could find someone to take him, would he (the dog) be happy there?

Sometimes we must do things when we don't want to in order for things to work out for the long run.

My heart is with you.

the other S.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Milwaukee on

This is a really difficult situation, because of your changing household. A sighted dog requires constant monitoring & adjustment, but you are dealing with a dog who is not only blind, but newly so, & working to adjust to things as they are. Add in the other 2 dogs & the guarding aggressions, and you have a mix for a mess.

One thing I would say for certain is that your dog should NOT stay in your household. I'm sure you love him to pieces, but as someone who has had to keep dogs separated in my own household, without children/babies, & in a home that is set up FOR dogs, it requires a lot of constant attention, & awareness of changes in behavior & the ability to modify the set-up or schedule to accommodate the dogs.

Losing his sight has caused your dog to have fear reaction, which is leading to the growling towards your other dogs, & it certainly doesn't make him trustworthy around your child. This doesn't mean that he is an "aggressive dog", simply that he is having trouble responding to the changes in his health, and it has changed his "order" in the pack that makes up your household.

If possible, he could be rehomed. But that would require a very specific home - preferably someone without children or other animals, who would be willing to make adjustments to their home to accommodate his navigation needs, & is understanding of the communication needs for a blind dog.

Chances are, there are few if any homes like that who would be willing to take a senior dog. So please screen homes carefully, or even work through a shelter.

Whether or not you should euthanize him is a difficult decision, because he is in otherwise good health it sounds like. However, he is NOT compatible with his home environment, and that is stressful to him, as evidenced by his behaviors towards the other dogs & your son. If you aren't able to find a shelter/home for him by the time your newborn comes, you might be faced with that decision.

Not the easy "do this or that" answer that you may have been looking for, sorry. But in this case, you will need to do what is best not only for him and for your household. I would consult with a shelter in your area to see what they can do to help you. Best of luck. T.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I am going to say this, knowing full well that some will totally disagree with me. No matter. I'll say it anyway. Please let this dog go to either a home with no children, or have him euthanized.

If you rehome him, the new people need to know exactly what has been going on. I would not want to pet a dog that is blind and aggressive in case he might bite. But at least I'm an adult and can make the CHOICE. A child has no choice and no understanding.

He is not a person, mama. He is a dog. Stop putting the idea of you wouldn't put a blind person down. A blind dog that is docile is fine. A blind dog that's aggressive is NOT. A torn face or throat or a bitten hand with little fingers is a terrible price to pay to keep a dog with his issues.

Your mom fears make plenty of sense. You are not overreacting. Your children come FIRST and foremost. Please don't keep this dog.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I sympathize. I have a rescue dog who was food aggressive and who had been abandoned several times. We've worked with her extensively and she has cone a long way, but she's 5 or so and we have no young children in the home. You have a dog who is somewhere between 11 and 15, is blind, and is deteriorating. He's unpredictable, and worse, he's not happy himself.

I don't think you will have much luck rehoming him unless you can find a dedicated family willing to take a dog with a very uncertain future. I don't think this dog should go into a a shelter at all pending rehoming, and I can't imagine how he would reorient without eyesight. Honestly, I think that would be cruel.

All I can tell you is that when I was in college, my family dog exhibited signs of aggression. She nipped at someone coming to the door, which my parents sort of excused. But a few months later she took off into the street to go after someone visiting another house. My parents made the difficult, but firm, decision to not have a dog who bites, and they had her euthanized. I was devastated but I supported the decision from the get-go. I know how painful it was for them, to do it and to tell me.

I share your concerns for the baby, and I think adding a baby into the mix can make the dog more agitated and perhaps make things more dangerous for your son. If this were a 5 or 6 year old dog, that might be different, but it's not. If you decide to euthanize, I think you can do so with a clear conscience, because the dog is already failing and insecure.

I'm sorry.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This is so hard.
The dog is a member of the family - but - at the same time - there are differences.
We call them our fur babies - but they have shorter life spans than we have.
Is he suffering?
Is the blindness making him more fearful and unpredictable?
How are you going to manage a blind aggressive dog, a small child and an infant all at the same time?
And how would you feel if - even after giving it the best of your time and abilities - the animal harms one of your kids?

A human has a mind to be able to reason and learn to cope with a disability - and that's something that not many other animals can do.
If I were in your position, I'd choose a time sometime before your next child is born to take the dog to the vet and put him to sleep.
It will be a peaceful end and he'll be released from his infirmities.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Aggressive dog + kid = euthanasia. Been there, done that.

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answers from Houston on

For me euthanizing a dog is for medical reasons (incurable disease or significant injury) which negatively impact the dog’s quality of life. I would never put an animal above a human but what you describe is not atypical with a blind dog.

We had a blind dog, a sighted dog and children. We didn't consider euthanizing the dog over the blindness and our vet didn’t recommend it either. Instead our vet pointed us towards a book, “Living with Blind Dogs.” We found lots of useful tips in the book. For us we took steps to help the dogs and to retrain ourselves. We taught the humans in the house to make noise (talking) as they approached the blind dog and we all learned to touch the dog’s back rather than his head first. A blind dog’s startle reaction is on hair trigger and their response can be “aggressive” BUT those quick reactions do settle down over time as the blind dog adjusts. He learns to trust you, his environment and to live blind.

We kept a sharp eye on the littlest child (baby at the time) because he couldn't warn the dog on his own. There again I would never leave a baby or small child unattended around any dog so for me this step was true regardless. We kept the dog food and water bowls separate so there wouldn't be issues there either. We put a bell on the sighted dog’s collar so she could alert the blind dog when she was around. In general we found our two dogs learned to manage each other without any trouble or interference from us.

Blind dogs bump into stuff. Do them a favor and don’t rearrange their territory (inside or outside). They will learn to map their territory and will thus be less likely to bump into stuff. Be careful outside because they can injure an eye due to running into bushes, fences, etc. Outside we mostly kept our dog on a leash and taught him commands like “step up” and “step down” for going up and down curbs and stairs; “stop” to avoid running into stuff, and “slowly” to slow his pace to avoid an obstacle. It got to the point where we did take him backpacking and other “normal” activities. It really wasn’t a big deal having a blind dog with other dogs and kids. There was an adjustment period for everyone but it worked out fine.

I am rather shocked your vet would suggest euthanizing or isolating a dog. There is no medical reason for euthanizing a blind dog. Euthanizing a blind dog is at its core a “convenience” to humans so they don’t have to care for a disabled dog. Isolating a dog is a bizarre suggestion because they are pack animals and that seems unbelievably cruel, blind or not.

If you don’t want to care for the dog, I would find a rescue group. If he is a stray/mutt, you might have a harder time but nonetheless a rescue group should be more than willing to take in a blind dog for rehoming. If the dog looks like a specific breed, then start with those breed rescues first. I wouldn't take him to a shelter because he will suffer prior to them euthanizing him. If it is shelter or nothing, then I would euthanize him myself. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Dogs are not human, so stop that thinking right there. The answer is to rehome or put down. I would not keep a blind, food aggressive animal in the house,

To me, this is a no brainer. Safety first.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would not put an animal down unless they were very sick or in intense pain leading to low quality of life, or they were so aggressive and dangerous they could not be around anyone at all. In this case I think I would look into rehoming him. See if you can find a charity that deals with these older dogs who need special placements. Please do not dump him in the pound, he will just spend a few weeks in a cage before getting put down anyways. If the pound is your only option then having him put down may be better then that.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would continue to work with him regarding the baby. If you don't yet crate your dogs, this may be a good reason to - giving him his own safe spot that is his alone.

I would also research how to have a blind dog around family and what you can do to make him more confident in his surrounds. While a human going blind might grumble and complain, a dog might snap and growl because he doesn't know what's out there. When he does, he may no longer do so. If you had not said he had improved with your son, I would have suggested you let him go.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Nope your mom fears are not over reacting on this. Unless you can consult with a trainer who is familiar with working with blind dogs I'd say you are better off either 1) working with a rescue group to see if he can be rehomed or 2) putting the dog down now. Blind dogs need to be approached differently to make their homes less stressful and help them identify things so they aren't aggressive. You aren't able to offer that (and won't be once the baby comes) so its easier to do it now instead of waiting and having him lash out and bite someone because he's blind and fearful.

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answers from Cleveland on

why dont you try the rehoming first. give that a shot and know that he could be very happy with the right family that fits him better.

then consider other options.

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answers from Washington DC on

ish. what a terribly difficult situation.
when your husband says you should work with him, what does that mean? it sounds as if you have been. can you up the ante to pay for a professional for a few months, until the new baby comes? do you feel you can keep the other dogs, your son, and this dog all safe while that happens?
if so, it sounds well worth putting the time and money in. he sounds like he really wants to be a good dog, in spite of his challenges. i know my blue mare was spookier while her blind eye was getting dimmer, and shapes loomed at her. once she was all the way blind on that side she became much calmer.
i doubt your guy can be rehomed, although it would be worth giving it a try. but a new home would have to be very, very focused on giving him every chance, and working diligently with him. it would probably need to be a home with no kids and no other dogs, and humans willing to really put in the effort. a very tall order to find that perfect home.
i don't think it's appropriate to compare this situation to a human going blind. you can't explain things to your dog. he doesn't understand the same way a human would.
but it does sound as if you're not there yet. if you've got some aces up your sleeve (ie you can keep him separated from kids and other dogs while still giving him love and attention, you can pay for a good trainer, your husband is willing to take point on the training), you've still got options.
but if you exhaust them all, and you're still concerned that he's not a safe family dog, then it's time. i firmly believe that euthanasia is a better option than just tossing an unadoptable animal into the shelter system, where they're heartbroken, confused, devastated, and still usually euthanized.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I would look into rehoming. He needs to be in a one pet home, maybe with a single person or a couple. He was not aggressive towards your son, just because he growled. He ran away, that is fear. He may not be right for your family, but I don't think euthanasia is the answer.



answers from Tampa on

I'm sorry, but I would probably euthanize. You have a new baby coming and frankly, I don't see how you would have time to do a lot of training with this dog. Meanwhile, he simply cannot be trusted. It sounds like he has been aggressive for a while. This is an old dog with significant medical conditions in addition to the aggression. It's not really fair to put these problems on someone else.

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