Here’s when it becomes clear that there’s a right way and a wrong way to let pets die at home. We're struggling with the decision to have our 19 year old cat euthanized, or let him die here at home. My cat named Holly Berry has been with us for about 14-15 years. Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 01, 2013: I know you've just been through this. After a pet dies, typically their bowls will release. They said there was nothing wrong with her, so I asked when the pick up was expected. Do I have a hard time accepting it? Of course if a pet is in pain, we would take them for euthanasia or have a vet come to our home - but strong pain medications prescribed by a vet are enough to keep a pet comfortable in many cases. Do your best to prevent this from happening. She hated the vet and hated us for bringing her there. It is rare that an owner, when picking out a puppy from a litter or a companion from a shelter thinks about the choices available at the end of a dog’s life. I told her to rest herself and she had done a great job here, but it was time for her to go. Many owners say that they want to give their pet “time to say goodbye” but in the opinion of most veterinarians, you are a kinder friend to your dog by euthanizing and ending their life. If things look grim, there are little chances for recovery, and quality of life is poor, then euthanasia is the ultimate gift of love a dog owner can make. I think that death is hard to accept no matter how it happens. Great information for both those who have not been through it yet and for those who have. I live alone and so I couldn't carry her to my car to take her to the vet...not without causing her more pain -wrestling a big dog into my truck! I would also discuss (if you haven't done so already) with your vet about the fact pain medications were stopped. I find that this was important to point out. However, the converse is also true: There are times when it’s so very wrong to take a pet home to die on their own when you consider that the comfort of euthanasia is just seconds away (or can be brought home to your pet if you so choose). The only time I heard her cry was when she tried to go downstairs. The topic remains subject to controversy. Kitty’s tale is proof again that when it comes to death and dying one size doesn’t always fit all. Does the pet still enjoy playing with his toys or cuddling … She wouldn’t relax. I have loved and lost many. You should always let a vet handle euthanization. Question: My dog is suffering from liver failure. In private cremation, the body is cremated individually, and the ashes will be returned to you. My dog is over 16 years old. These are big decisions, and despite what people may tell you, it's also a personal choice based on your pet's personality, your personal beliefs, and their condition and level of pain. Like a lot of cats she never travelled well and really didn’t like the vet. How unfair to let her go without us around her. Thank you. I have seen countless pets in agony get the peace they deserved very quickly. And last but not least, even though it sounds inappropriate, the staff may ask you if your pet has bitten or scratched anyone in the past days. The loneliness in the house is too much to bear. Often, there are options to treat some disorders associated with aging. My experience is that the topic is difficult to discuss w/o being shamed by those who have chosen to euthanize. I explained what they should expect to see (final, agonal gasping, sudden rigidity, seizures, etc. Is their condition no longer treatable or curable? More and more dog owners are choosing natural death over euthanasia, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as the dogs are kept as pain-free and comfortable as possible and their underlying condition is well-managed. Most pets lose consciousness within seconds, just like when you are given an anesthetic and asked to count backward. I have never let a dog die alone. However, it is also true that vets know the pet's condition best and are extremely knowledgeable about which diseases are prone to cause a very painful ending. There are also companies that have on board veterinarians specializing in hospice care and provide end of life consultation. In the first euthanasia appointment I assisted with, the owner cried as he hugged his family and said, "It was so peaceful." Carolyn from Northamptonshire on July 20, 2013: Fantastic hub, I had two dogs one who died at home in his sleep, he was as you described, not crying, just lethargic and uninterested, the other we had put to sleep he was 18, had had two strokes he recovered from enough to still escape the garden, and could not really see, we he collapsed the third time we decided he had had enough. My healthy dog was put down for no ill reason.Im sad he attacked another dog and didn't make it.I ask myself what did I do wrong ? Lara has been terminally ill for a few months but slowing down for over a year – the vet said she was quite an old cat for her size. Trouble was, her owners weren’t convinced they wanted to take the usual route. Are they very fractious when at the vet's office? It was her room and I was always just a guest in it I lay beside her stroking her and with what little energy she had left she raised a paw and placed it on my hand – I know deep down she was telling me it was ok. She died very peacefully early this morning, no seizures, no nasty noises and a beautiful red dawn was just breaking. What ever decision you make, saying goodbye to your bestest friend forever is never easy. With chronic renal failure how good could the prognosis be? Pets who die naturally usually go agonal first. Thank you for this article. Veterinarians, of course, will recommend euthanasia, because that's what they are used to doing and some may not be familiar with hospice care or holistic treatments. As the days go by, it gets better. We currently have an old dog who is refusing food and is extremely lethargic (day 3). While we would have prefered for her to pass at home, she was a survivor and was holding on for everything she had. And when I don’t believe suffering is happening, as in yesterday’s case, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for owners to take their pets home to die––that is, as long as they understand that conditions may change. Research has shown that slightly less than one-half of all pet owners share their bed or bedroom with their pet. She has become incontinent and bowel movement is quick to happen. There is really no right or wrong way to die—it inevitably happens as we are all common mortals. I stayed up with her all night watching her labored breathing, lying on the floor next to her, gently rubbing her neck and telling her I love her and not to be afraid. My vet had no compassion at all. In cats, pain is a sign of weakness that could make them vulnerable to prey. If they have congestive heart failure or untreatable cancer, it might be worth looking into euthanasia since you don't want them to suffer. I didn't want him to feel anything. Fortunately, there are now options to euthanize your dog at home by having a vet travel to you. Hope this helps. Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 03, 2018: Nina if your cat is afraid of the carrier and going to the vet, there are vets now that can come to your home to perform euthanasia. I wish I had never taken him. Moreover it’s important to keep in mind that terminal patients of all species will often die slowly and humanely via malnutrition and dehydration. If you are considering having your cat or dog die naturally at home, you will need to keep in mind that you may have a sudden urge to put them out of their misery. I was sitting holding my best friend's hand when she died and saw the pain she endured each time the effect of the most powerful pain killers wore off. I would suggest consulting with a vet to make sure your dog is comfortable. So sorry for your loss. Nothing is worse than hoping for a peaceful death and then seeing them suffer and not being able to get a hold of a vet. I honestly couldn’t have wished for a better way for my beloved and dearly missed little friend to pass. But, had Bentley been a two-year-old human instead of a dog, euthanasia would not have been a legal option.". Regardless of if you choose to euthanize your pet or let them die at home, it's important to recognize the signs a dog is dying so you can prepare and keep them as comfortable as possible. Answer: Yes, there are several veterinarians who do house calls and will perform euthanasia appointments at home. In fact, kitty’s visit yesterday was not to do with her primary condition. Question: My dog is dying. Dying is not a pretty process. Will you have your dog or cat put to sleep at the vet's office or will you let them die at home? The main advantage of euthanasia is that it's mostly pain-free and often peaceful. Natural death has always been around. Struggling to breathe? These pieces create a major choking hazard. "I would estimate that Bentley had the intellect of a very intelligent two-year-old human, which is quite intelligent indeed. One vet offered to put a dog to sleep because the dogs was very ill from ingesting plastic and was suffering a blockage, while another vet gave hope and did all she could to treat. I don't see any reason to let my pet suffer that way. I've only had one parvo puppy who had to be put to sleep when I wasn't there (I regret it to this day). Many people will be fortunate enough to read it before making a decision. The vet said my dog wasin a bad way ?and needed to get euthanized?.I disagreed and went to another vet for second opinion. Be kind with yourself. I want to do a natural home death. I hate the fear of taking my dog to the vet because she is so afraid and knows where she's going and something always painful happens when she's at the vet. One more holiday moment. Many dog owners utilize sticks as a fetching toy when outside on walks and at the park. This is so hard. This is what happened to animals before there were vet offices and anesthetics. Homeopathic remedies to calm dogs down are also a good option as they can melt in the mouth. Don’t let your dog chew any kind of bone into small pieces. She’s not purring when I pet her. Kitty was going home to die. So this hub is probably a good way to help put this difficult time into perspective. Can anyone help? It’s something many veterinarians I know comment on. Blood pressure measurements may be helpful indicators since blood pressure rises when an animal is in pain. They could perhaps ultimately have a peaceful death, but what about their quality of life leading up to it? In early December, we noticed some weird things she begun doing: Her "meow" changed and she almost sounded like a duck when she would meow. really a political message in an article on pets pushing Euthanasia of people. I have a cat who has lived on my porch for 17 years.I go out twice a day and sit with her and feed her.She would never come in.It took us 3 years to capture her to get her spade.She had many litters and we did find homes for all her kittens but she never wanted to come in.So I put a sleeping bag over a chair and put a heated pad in her little set up and in winter I would sit on the porch with her on an electric blanket.It was the best I could do.It took 10 years before she would let me pet her.When she had enough petting she would swat me.I live in a condo and she would roam the neighborhood. I’m not saying you should put your dog to sleep so you can adopt another dog….I’m just sharing my perspective on dogs, euthanasia, and our life without them. Two hours later I got the call that she had passed. Some cats are extremely fractious, and even though they are sick, they may get an adrenaline rush and fight being put in the carrier and being handled by the vet. I have put many dogs cats and horses to sleep by euthanasia. can look really scary, especially if no one’s told you to expect this). She recently lost a lot of weight and I knew she was dying.She has now stopped eating and drinking.This morning my neighbor called me at 6a.m. My cat has just died at home, on my bed, her favourite place to be, I am so glad I didn’t take her to the vets and make it more stressful and awful than it needed to be. Her respirations became shallow. Their eyes will be open, but there will be no movement. The medicine made her very ill and I regretted giving it to her...finally she seemed to get a little better, until about four days ago, and over the weekend when the vet was closed. The owner doesn't have to wonder if they made the wrong decision by putting them to sleep too early. In other countries, pets often die at home, either because there is simply no other choice or they perceive death differently. According to the American Kennel Club, “almost all patients are older than eight years when Cushing’s disease develops.”Many symptoms of Cushing’s can be mistaken for aging so often the development of the disease is overlooked until it is in an advanced stage. She was barely drinking a quarter of a saucer full of tuna juice. Many people think this is the only choice, or they may feel that allowing a pet to die at home is unacceptable. Answer: Not at all. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs prescribed by a vet can help make them more comfortable. I took off time from work to be with them and had instructions from my Vet. Regardless of if your pet dies at home or is put to sleep, you're going to need time to grieve over the passing of your furry companion. Sweet and loving. How you can help a Dog Die naturally. She made it past her week. If you decide to allow a natural death and then your pet suddenly starts suffering, you may regret your decision to not euthanize them. Sometimes, there may be un-diagnosed disorders that may be treatable. It sucks but it honestly might be the best gift you can give them. Better I think for everyone one day too soon than one day too late. I wish I'd euthanized while she was still feeling ok as opposed to suffering. My mom and I made the choice to put her down after my mom found her in the tub crying and crying for water. The vet was waiting for her to be picked up. If they are struggling to breathe, it's probably best to put them to sleep. I've had the unfortunate experience of choosing to put a few of my pets to sleep and it has never been easy. It’s my job simply to point out suffering when it’s indisputably there or eminently imminent and to offer them options. I am in the UK and for the past year have been caring for my best friend's elderly cat. You can also call the dedicated hotline the ASPCA has for those dealing with the difficult decision of euthanizing a pet. Euthanizing is a process or the act of putting an animal to death. I almost pulled the plug on him after hearing this but seeing him today with his tail wagging and still plenty of spunk in him, not sure if I should pull the plug on one of the best dogs I have ever had, I have had a sick dog before and I knew when it was time, just unsure as I see little if any signs of suffering. A reduced awareness level bodes better for at-home dying. Other questions you may be asked is if you want to be present for the procedure. He, and no animal, deserves that. I knew he was my dog the moment I saw him. The pet's breathing changes noticeably towards the end and for us it's a time to sit or lay with them so they can feel your presence as they slip away. If you decide to let your dog or cat die at home, you will need to learn how to recognize pain and must acknowledge and accept all the events as they unfold. Many provide 7/24 hour services. The reason for euthanizing may vary considerably and is a personal choice. But, I do know that every situation is very different and in the end you need to make the choice based on your situation. I have known some dogs with severe liver failure live for weeks and even several months. Does the dog participate in family activities? They may get panicky the moment they see their carrier, or they might get carsick. Losing your beloved dog is difficult in any situation. You can reach the hotline at 1-877-GRIEF-10. I don’t know the answer. His eyes are glassy, and I don't think he can see anymore. I didn't want to play GOD. As mentioned above, create a safe space for them—somewhere that is quiet and warm. I knew she was trying to leave me to go and die.I brought her limp body back up on the porch and sat with her and told her I loved her. Feeding tubes and IV catheters do not necessarily make for a more humane and comfortable dying process. 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