When Is It Time to Have A Pet Put Down

When Is It Time to Have A Pet Put Down

(by Andres Rojas)


As pets grow older, they have more difficulty going to the bathroom, breathing, walking, or even getting up. Each day can bring new discomforts for your pet, but to feel when it’s the right time to have your pet put down vs knowing when it’s the right time, are two vastly different things. Perhaps Dr. Jeff Werber can shed some light on the latter.

Throughout his life and career, Dr. Jeff has had to deal with pet loss grief several times, both on his own, and on behalf of beloved patients. It doesn’t get easier, but it can be easier to manage the delicate handling of the end of their lives. Here are some signs to look out for that it might be time to talk to your vet about putting your pet down, and out of their misery.

When Your Pet Isn’t Eating

  • Often pets lose some of their appetite as they age. Besides having a slower metabolism than their younger versions, dental decay can create discomfort in senior pets when chewing hard foods like kibble or dry cat food.
  • Feeding your dog softer foods can reduce discomfort but doesn’t guarantee that your pet will absorb all the nutrients in them.

  • Older animals are less efficient at digesting protein. This can lead to losing muscle mass even if your dog or cat is eating more food.
  • If your pet stopped eating or for any other reason isn’t getting the nutrients it needs from each meal, pet euthanasia can offer a humane alternative to starvation.

When Your Pet Is Only Existing But Isn’t Living

  • While weight changes are easy to measure, sometimes the problem isn’t so obvious to us. You could get home by noon every day and see your pet quietly lying down on its favorite corner without noticing the signs of decay.

That’s why Dr. Jeff suggests that you ask yourself,

“is he or she living or just existing? If it’s just existing and not really living anymore, they’re not excited to see you, they’re not eating, they’re just sitting around, they can’t control their bowels, they can’t control their urination: it might be time.”


  • Take some time off to consider how your pet’s life is changing for the worse. And if you need help understanding what your aging cat or dog is going through, talk with your veterinarian.

When You Feel Sorry For Your Pet

  • Beyond their physical ailments, pets can lose their mental functions as well.
  • If their mental skills have deteriorated, and they’re starving themselves, getting aggressive, not recognizing the family; or their physical disadvantages have progressed far enough that they’re barely living, be aware of a sense of pity for their existence. It’ll be time to let them go.  

Final Advice: Don’t Leave Room for Regrets

Despite only living a fraction of what we do, pets leave a mark in our lives that even time can’t erase. So it’s only natural that you try to cling onto them as long as possible – although that isn’t always the best choice for your pet.

Pet euthanasia offers our furry companions a painless way out of their suffering but only if you do it with time.

Perhaps it was one of Dr. Jeff’s colleagues who best summed up the importance of making a timely decision when he told him that, “you can never make a mistake by saying goodbye a little bit too early but you can make a terrible mistake by waiting too long.”