Update - Sick 14Yr Old Dog

Updated on August 21, 2012
M.G. asks from Keansburg, NJ
10 answers

How do you know when it's "time" for your loved pet to be put to sleep? I have been told by numerous people that it's time. I think it is, too. I have never had to make the choice. I don't feel it's right to choose. Realistically, I can't afford to run all these tests to tell me he's sick. Of course, he's sick. I can tell that much. He is a 14 year old American Cocker Spaniel. He has been healthy all his life; such a fantastic dog. His health has changed dramtically for the last 2 months or so. He doesn't eat, lost 6 lbs. He was a healthy 33lbs, now 26lbs. I have changed his food since his lack of appetite has occured. Nothing has worked. He's skin and bones. He has had loose stools on and off for 2 months. Now, he is having a difficult time getting up in addition of everything else.

My mom is heartbroken, as am I. She is pushing me to do the "humane" thing. I don't want to be selfish in either way, selfish for keepign here suffering or selfish for ending his life. My 5yr old is upset. My mom doesn't want to see him this ill. We have small children. What about the possibilty of his illness affectign my kids? (Don't think so, but who knows.)

What do I do? (I am not looking for someone to decide for me. Right or wrong, it's mine to make.) What experiences have you had? Did you regret it? How did you deal? What about your kids? Young ones?

I am taking him to the Vet again tonight. Perhaps, for the last time. I have to make peace somehow.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

After meeting with the Vet yesterday, we decided it was time to put him to sleep. He was not going to make it much longer. Last week, he had a slight murmur. Yesterday, it was much worse. She didn't think he was going to be with us much longer. He started breathing harder, lost another pound. She said his muscles were very atrophied and dehydrated. She said we could by a little time, by medicating but didn't think we really should or that it would help very long. So after a very long hard goodbye, we let him go. It's so hard but it was the best for him and the family..
Thank you for your thoughts..

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answers from Houston on

I worked at a vet. I saw some dogs put down too early.. I saw other dogs where the owners refused to put them down and it made me so sad b/c the animal was very clearly suffering. The owners didn't put them down for their own selfish reasons, and they kept prolonging their pets lives through constant shots, iv treatments and the like. If the animal is suffering more than not, it's time to let them go in peace.

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answers from Detroit on

I am very sorry you are going through this. I really think though that you need to get over the idea that it is "selfish" to allow him to keep feeling sick and not take any action in any way to either ease or end his suffering. Keeping him alive because you don't want to have to make the decision is what is selfish. Selfish is thinking of what you want for yourself instead of what is best for him.

At his age, with the weight loss and other signs, the most likely possibility is that he has some form of cancer. Even if you spend the money to run all the diagnostics and find out that that is what it is, will you be able to treat it? Do you think it is in his best interest to continue this way? Do you really think you'll be able to give him the good quality of life that he deserves?

There are many ways to explain to kids that a pet is very ill, very old, and most likely going to die soon. There are many ways to deal with the loss and honor their memory. However, if euthanasia is chosen, I don't think it's necessary to try to explain that to very young kids - it can take him in to be euthanized, and you can explain that you took him to the vet to try to see what they can do, but unfortunately, he was just too sick and he ended up dying there. It's really not a lie - just a simpler explanation. I would save the euthanasia talk for kids that are older and will have an easier time understanding why it was necessary.

Again, I am very sorry for what you are going through. He's given you a lifetime of love and companionship, and now is the time to return at love with the best gift you can give him at this point. He wants to go, he just needs you to help him get there. (((HUGS)))

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answers from Dallas on

I am so sorry you are going through this.

We currently have an American Cocker at 13.5 yrs old. We know he is full of tumors and basically sleeps, eats and poops. But then there are the times he jumps up and is so happy.

From experience with our other American Cocker and English Cocker... we knew when it was time. You know when he looks in your eyes and you get the message. It is a very hard thing to do and we are facing it again soon, I think. We think of the quality of life they have, are they in pain, do they suffer?

I can't answer for you but I have had to do this twice and it never gets easier. We don't regret the decision because we knew it was the right thing to do. Our daughter was 5 the first time and 9 the second time. We got the book "All Dogs go to Heaven", we all mourned, even the other dogs we currently had went through missing the lost pet.

Best wishes to you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

We had to make a tough decision almost exactly one year ago to put our 11-year old basset hound to sleep. He had pancreatic cancer and was having grand mal siezures. He went downhill really fast. My husband and I were struggling with the decision and we came home one day and he had a really, really bad siezure. As horrible as it was, that seizure was kind of a blessing because it was like a sign. It helped to solidify our decision and we knew we were doing the right thing for our dog. He was no longer enjoying life and he was in pain. It would have been cruel to keep him living while he was suffering like that.

Our daughter was 5 at the time and we explained to her in advance that our dog was very old and very sick and that he probably wouldn't live for too much longer. We took our dog to the vet to be put to sleep while our daughter was in preschool. When we went to pick her up, we just told her that our dog died. She didn't need to know that we had to have him put to sleep - she just wouldn't have understood that and it might have scared her.

It still makes me sad to think about my dog, but I know that we made the best decision. I'm so, so sorry for you and your family, but I think if you dog is not eating, has loose stools and is having a hard time getting up then you know what you need to do.

FYI - you may want to check your local library for some books about dying to help you explain this to your kids. Some good ones are:

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages - by Leo Buscaglia
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children - by Bryan Mellonie

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Use this scale, or google "HHHHHMM Scale" for judging the quality of life for the pet http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/vet-practice-news-c... If the dog scores less than 35 points, it is time for him to be put down.

It is never an easy thing to do. I put my 12 yr old boxer down last August. I do not regret it because his quality of life was dwindling and he was in pain. My 4 yr old - (he was 3 at the time) I explained that the dog was really old and very sick and that he went into doggie heaven. I did NOT tell him that the vet was going to euthanize him. I just explained that the dog was very sick, that I was taking him to the vet, but the vet may say that he is too sick and too old to come home. We all gave our love and hugs and kisses to our dog and my son said his goodbyes ("in case the vet decided he's too sick to come home." When I got home, I simply explained that the dog had "died". My son accepted that and we prayed that night that God take care of our dog up in doggie heaven.

I hope this helps. Feel free to PM me. I am sorry for your loss. There are a lot of books out there (for adults and for kids) about the loss of a pet. For your child, PREVIEW them at the library. One I looked at, the boy in the story - his parents took him to get a new puppy at the end of the book. Um, no thank you! Your local library should have a few though. And make a photo album too! I made one with my fav pics of my dog. I browse thru it occasionally and remember what a good friend my dog was.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We had to put our first furry 'baby' down, too. We struggled with the decision, but we loved her so much and we didn't want her to suffer any longer. We did have a diagnosis from our vet, so we knew what we were up against. I will say that the average lifespan of a cocker spaniel is 12-15 years. If your dog is 14, he's lived a good long life and definitely falls within the normal lifespan for his breed.

Our daughter was 4 when we put our dog down. We were very honest and upfront about everything going on with the dog. We didn't want to try and pretend that the dog died on her own and tell her after the fact. We made a decision to do it on a Saturday and told our daughter the day before. We had a solid day to love up our furry baby and say our goodbyes together.

My parents put our family dog down when I was a child. Unfortunately, they were very underhanded about it and told us after the fact. I never got to say goodbye and I was absolutely DEVASTATED. So don't do that. Allow your children to say goodbye to your dog. Death is a natural part of life. We don't need to hide that, but teach our children how we cope with it.

Good luck and hugs to you.

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answers from Binghamton on

When our cat reached that stage, we talked to our vet and agreed to put her sleep. I have never regretted it. It was very, very sad, but allowing her to suffer was much worse. By taking in a pet, we have taken responsibility for making these hard decisions. You filled his life with love, and now you need to make that last, hard, loving decision to let him go, if that is the stage he is at. Be strong, you can do this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Sorry about your fuzzy baby. what did the vet say was wrong with him after they completed their exam? Do they do any lab test to see if maybe you doggie has a bad case of worms or something simple like that?


answers from Dallas on

I am so sorry.
We were on vacation last month and had to come home early because our sweet cocker was very ill. My husband spent lots of money trying to save him. I wish I could have convinced him to just go ahead and put him to sleep. I felt like it just increased his suffering.
He was the second dog we have had to put to sleep since we had children. We go as a family and stay with them. They go very peacefully, as they sedate them first. The first time, the boys were around 6 and 8. This time, they were 18 & 20. It was harder for them this time as they had grown up with this dog that they had picked out. We had the other one before they were born and although they liked her, she wasn't "their" dog.



answers from New York on

Your posting made me choke up. I am so very sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you and your kiddies.

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