Its Time To Say Good Bye To Your Dog – Help For You Making This Decision

When is it Time To Say Good Bye To My Dog?

paw prints in the sand

paw prints in the sand

Are you faced with the heart wrenching decision of knowing when it’s time to say goodbye to your dog?  Do you know when it’s time?

I will provide you with questions for you to answer and help you make this decision.

I am also facing this tough decision. Let’s face it, it’s never a good time to say good bye to your dog.  It can be helpful to prepare and feel like we have some tools to help us with this difficult and sad reality.  I will also share with you a little bit about my personal journey and insight that my Veterinarian spoke with me about. 

Quality of Life..

Kheeta, our beautiful German Shepherd recently turned 14 years old! I know, 14 for a large dog is old. We are so fortunate that she has lived a healthy and wonderful life, hiking, camping and most of all my loyal companion and friend by my side for 10 of those years. We adopted her when she was 4 and we couldn’t have been happier to include her with our family.

When Things Began to Change..

18 months ago, her physical abilities began to change and it has gradually gotten worse over time. We suspect Degenerative Myelopathy. When we went in for our health exam yesterday, out Veterinarian immediately noticed her muscle mass deterioration, she stumbled as she does and you guessed it, the dreaded subject came up. “Quality of Life”.
My Vet suggested that I read this booklet, It’s titled “Making Decisions” by Argus Institute Colorado State University. I have included the link near the end of this post.

I opened the booklet and immediately, my eyes zoomed in on “Is my pet in pain or suffering?” I don’t think she is in pain but is she suffering? I don’t think I actually considered this so, I turned the page.

SUFFERING: Assessing your pets quality of life… 

Key questions we are to ask ourselves are:

1. Is your pet able to relieve himself on his own?  Kheeta is still able to relieve herself outside and on her own. (Check- Good Here!)
2. Is your pet playful?  She tries to be but quickly retreats to her bed because she is physically unable to move like she used to.
3. Is your pet affectionate with you?  Always! (Check! Good here too)
4. Is your pet interested in activities going on around him?  Yes! (phew!)
5. Is your pet tired much of the time?  Absolutely yes but isn’t that normal when you are 98 years old in “Human Years”? Wow, 98 is old!
6. Is your pet withdrawn much of the time?  I don’t think so.
7. Is your pet sleeping comfortably?  She sleeps like a rock! I wish I could sleep as well as her!
8. Is your pet eating and drinking well?  Kheeta loves eating and I refill her water bowl 2 times a day. Doing Great on this one!

I feel Kheeta is doing remarkably well.  Her biggest issue is her inability to go for a walk around the block.  She struggles walking on slippery floors so we have a quilt of area rugs everywhere for her to walk more easily around the house. She can’t go for hikes, or run on the beach, she seems to want to go but we don’t get very far before she trips and needs help.

When I begin to answer, “yes” to most of these questions, I will reassess where we are on this journey.

PAIN AND SUFFERING, Are they the same thing?

We may not really know if our pet is suffering if they don’t appear to be in pain. Suffering can be, not enjoying a quality of life and pain is physically experiencing pain.  They will often go hand in hand but they are not the same.  Kheeta likely has, Degenerative Myelopathy ,this is a neurological condition, she doesn’t have feeling in her back legs, the brain isn’t sending signals to her feet and therefore struggles with her mobility.  She doesn’t cry or whine in pain.  DM is similar to Multiple Sclerosis in Humans.  Not to get off topic too much but my father suffered from MS and there was no pain associated with this.  However suffered because this limited his physical abilities.
Which brings me to the next topic:

PAIN:  Does your dog exhibit any of these signs?

• Trembling or shaking
• Panting
• Slow to rise
• Whining or lack of vocalization (no greeting bark or noise)
• Decrease or absence of appetite
• Acting out of character
• Restless or unable to get comfortable
• Sitting or laying abnormally
• Bearing no or partial weight on affected limb
• Hesitant to be touched in painful area
• Change in energy level

Keep a journal and use a scale of 1-10 to monitor the changes over time.  Please, also consider YOUR quality of life.  Self-care is something that many of us are guilty of neglecting. If we don’t put the oxygen mask on first, then we won’t be able to take care of our self and loved ones. Don’t overlook this aspect of your decision. Everyone’s circumstances are different. You won’t be judged by your decisions, this is a personal decision and yours to make and live with.

How Your Decision Will Affect Your Quality Of Life:

1. How much of my time will go toward taking care of my pet?
2. How much will it cost?
3. What other responsibilities do I have to consider? (job, parenting, ect)
4. Who else do I need to consider?
5. What other stresses do I have in my life right now.

Talk to your veterinarian to help assess your options, take notes and monitor your pets behavior over time.

Making Decsions  By Argus Institute

Where I am today:


Road Trip With Kheeta

Every picture I take of Kheeta now, I think about how I will remember her. What I will miss most about my companionship with her. I will monitor Kheeta and with the guidance of our vet and the key points I listed above, I know that either Kheeta will let me know when it is time, or I will confidently be able to decide and not fill guilty but blessed for the 10 beautiful years she has given our family. It won’t be easy, letting go is never easy but it will be done with love and compassion for her.

Stress on your dog:

Since we are carefully trying to keep our pets as comfortable and happy as possible in their senior years, its important to also remember the impact of stress.  Stress can aspirate any situation and compromise their health.  If you can’t take your dog with you on a weekend getaway or a trip, consider a pet sitter in your home. Keeping your pets at home where everything is familiar, will aid in their comfort and safety.

Remind Yourself that Compassion is not cruel. Love Yourself and Your Pets.  Give them the dignity they deserve.  Best of Everything to all of you on this journey of life.

Thank you for listening

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by Kellie Wagner on Blank Business Name
Best article on making hard choices

Thank you Shelley for writing on this tough topic. Identifying the difference in pain and suffering is something most of us don't consider. Our loving pets can suffer quality of life in the absence of pain sometimes. You and Kheeta are lucky to have each other.

Thank you Kellie! I really hope this helps someone that is struggling through this journey. The link to the Argus Institute's booklet on Making Decisions is very helpful.

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