When Is It Time to Have Your Pet Put Down

(by Andres Rojas)

Pets bring incredible amounts of joy, love, and companionship into our lives. That’s why, as difficult as seeing them go is, it’s even harder to be the decision maker, when / if it's time to put your pet down.

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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 our beloved friends. And here is where our pets will need us more than ever to give them the rest they deserve.

Throughout his life, Dr. Jeff has had to deal with pet grief, both firsthand, and on behalf of patients of his; below is some of his advice.

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.

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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.

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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

Whether it’s grandma or our childhood dog, we always hope that our loved ones get better when they’re sick. Sadly, there is a point in a pet’s life where no amount of love, good wishes, or veterinary care can improve the situation.

Putting your pet down is a heartbreaking decision. All the memories you shared, from the moment you first brought your pet home, only make saying goodbye harder.

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But it’s because of that love that you should be honest with yourself about your pet’s health prospects and the uncomfortable life that lies ahead for your pet if you let nature run its course.

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.

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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.”


Visit Dr. Jeff Werber’s Instagram account (@werbs_dvm) to view and submit questions and answers on weekly AMAs – or call and leave a voicemail at 424-835-0576. Your call will be returned posthaste.

For emergencies, download Dr. Jeff Werber’s app Airvet, a video-chat option for veterinary needs at any time of day or night!