Part of being a pet owners is bonding with your dog (or dogs) and making them a part of your family. When they are young puppies, we take them to the vet and make sure they have all their vaccinations, dewormer for dogs, and all preventative treatments. We take them to the vet for wellness checks throughout their lives.
However, our canine friends grow older, and, some of them experience health problems. This is the most difficult part of having a pet. We know that at some point, we may have to consider putting a precious pup down. Yes, it is more humane than letting him suffer, but dog euthanasia is never an easy thing to do. Our dogs truly are part of our families, and although we know it is best, every pet owner agonizes over the decision.
Dog owners, when financially able, have been known to pay for insulin for diabetic dogs, chemotherapy treatments for dogs with cancer, schedule costly surgeries for a multitude of conditions—all in the effort to keep Fido happy and healthy, but also to keep him around as long as humanely possible.
This is when conscientious dog owners begin to consider humane pet euthanasia services.
How will I Know When it’s Time to Consider Putting my Dog Down?
To borrow a quote from a trusted veterinarian, “When your pet is suffering, euthanasia is a gift.” Of course, you’re going to want to exhaust every possible avenue in order to keep Fido with you as long as possible. However, when your canine companion is experiencing an issue that will not reverse itself with treatment, you should begin to consider pet euthanasia.
To be honest, there is no perfect time to plan for dog euthanasia. There ARE instances when vets can get ahead of themselves and recommend when it’s time to put your dog down. In this instance, if you feel there is still a bit of hope that Fido can see an improvement in health with additional treatments, then you have the ability to tell your vet you’d like to wait. Keep in mind that you are the pet parent, and if you feel your dog can recover or at least have a fairly decent quality of life, then you have the right to wait.
At the same time, if you wait too long, your dog will be needlessly suffering. To be frank, as a pet parent myself, you don’t want your last memories of your precious pup to be ones where she is very ill. I’ve been there—if I had known my Boston Terrier was as sick as she was, I wouldn’t have let her suffer. I think I was holding out hope for a recovery, but she was eleven years old (that’s old for a Boston). I felt I’d failed her.
Now, with that said, let’s look at some questions you can mull over to ensure that you don’t wait too late to put your dog down.
1. Is there any possibility that your dog could recover with treatment?
2. If there is the hope of recovery, and if so, is it financially feasible for you?
3. If there is the hope of recovery, will you be able to physically handle the extra care she will likely need?
4. Consider your pup’s quality of life. Does he still make an effort to eat or drink?
When dogs are very sick, they will often refuse to eat or drink. Now, that doesn’t mean every time he refuses dog food or water that he should be put down. Some young dogs with allergies or an upset stomach may refuse food for a few days; they may greatly reduce water intake. However, once a dog completely stops drinking water, you have 24 hours to get to the vet. Dogs can quickly become dehydrated, exacerbating any illness present. So, if your older dog has stopped drinking, try giving him ice in the water bowl. You can also try canned wet dog food. If your dog refuses these “tricks,” then contact the vet.
5. Is the dog able to urinate and defecate normally?
Let’s just be candid—if your older dog has become incontinent or displays constipation or upset stomach regularly, or if your dog has become weak and cannot stand to eliminate waste, it may be time to consider euthanasia.
6. Does your dog still enjoy human interaction?
If your older dog has spent more time lately sleeping than being awake and interacting with you, this is a good first indicator that your dog may be nearing the end of life. If your dog is experiencing lots of joint pain, is reluctant to walk, or you notice your dog isn’t looking for pets and cuddles along with a decreased appetite and thirst, it may be time to consider whether Fido’s quality of life is lessening.
7. Does Fido seem to have more “bad” than “good” days?
All older dogs will slow down with age. However, if you notice he seems more lethargic lately, along with regular observations of painful days, it may be time to consider euthanasia.
How Do I Rate my Dog’s Quality of Life?
A veterinary oncologist, Dr. Alice Villalobos, came up with an HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale. It measures Hunger, Happiness, Hurt, Hygiene, and Hydration as well as More Good Days than Bad and Mobility.
Rate each of the factors from 1 – 10. If your dog is scoring more “1’s” than “9’s” or “10’s,” then it may be time to consider euthanasia.
Who Should I Contact if I’ve Decided Euthanasia is in Order?
Of course, we’re initially going to think of our vets. Our veterinarian has treated Fido his entire life, and it is most often we want our vet to handle this final procedure. However, the average cost of euthanasia at a vet can be more than at other locations.
Many shelters will assist with euthanasia for a lower price. Now, a word about the people who work at shelters today. Most of these individuals have a love for animals, and they don’t like putting a pet down any more than your vet. These individuals will often allow you time with Fido prior to the procedure, and they may also support you when Fido’s time comes.
Another place that offers a cheaper fee is your local ASPCA . Again, the folks at the ASPCA work there because they love animals. They may also serve as a great support to you while also carefully and kindly taking care of Fido in his final moments.
There is also a trend that some vets are offering. If you feel that it would be best for Fido to spend his final moments in the safety and familiarity of your home, inquire with your vet about the possibility of in-home euthanasia. Fees for this will vary.
How much will each of these providers charge for the service?
The cost of euthanasia actually varies according to a number of factors. Your dog’s size will be a factor as well as any other services provided. The location of euthanasia will also be a factor. If your dog is euthanized at a pet hospital rather than your vet’s office, you may have to pay a hospital fee in addition to the fee of the euthanasia itself.
According to a variety of sources, most shelters will perform the service for around $100.
Vets have varying fees they charge for euthanasia done inside the clinic. This could range from $250 to $400, depending upon any extras the vet may offer.
If your vet is a part of a full-service pet hospital, then the cost will go up significantly. In fact, it may be upwards of $1000 for euthanasia service. Some pet hospitals will offer to private or communal cremation and return your dog’s ashes in a wooden box or another special container. Sometimes this is included in your pet’s overall euthanasia procedure fee. Other times, it is considered an “extra service,” which requires an extra fee.
Some vets provide in-home hospice care for pets as well as in-home euthanasia services. This fee can range from $400 to $1000, depending upon your vet’s travel time. This can also vary based upon how long the dog receives hospice care. This is always a considerate option if you have the funds to do so; Fido can receive care at home and doesn’t have to travel. This can be highly stressful for some very sick dogs.
Keep in mind that no matter how you choose to carry out the euthanasia, your budget may factor in how and where you have the service carried out, but you are doing the humane thing for your beloved dog.
How Can I be Sure I’m Making the Right Decision?
Throughout Fido’s life, you’ve provided him with special care, regular vet check-ups, nutritious food, and lots of love. One thing you can do when you notice your dog isn’t acting like himself is to take him to the vet and get a diagnosis.
Not all terminal diseases in dogs mean that you have to choose euthanasia right away. In fact, some dogs have terminal illnesses diagnosed and live for some time with a good quality of life, too. So, what you need to do if the vet tells you that your dog is facing a serious illness is to begin educating yourself on the illness itself. Learn how the later stages of the disease will affect your dog. Of course, if there is an option for treatment and it’s doable for you, then definitely try it! However, when you consider that, for instance, chemo for a dog, can run a vet bill into the thousands of dollars, that may not be an option. It doesn’t mean you love Fido any less if you can’t afford treatment, either!
If treatment is not an option, then become even more observant of Fido. If you know what to look for as far as late-stage symptoms of the diagnosed illness, then you can plan with your vet how to handle end-of-life planning.
One final thing – when the time comes, you may want to give Fido the best day ever. Personally, there are pet parents who took their dog for a trip to the beach or a favorite dog park, then fed him a burger or a favorite treat, before heading over to the vet’s office. There are some pet parents who will bring a favorite blanket and favorite toys so that the dog had something familiar during the procedure.
Most importantly, ask the vet for some time alone with Fido for the last time. Tell him what a wonderful dog he was! This will help you to cope with the loss.
Finally, the procedure is painless, and your dog will be given a sedative. Letting go will be difficult, but you will always know you did what was best for your furry pal.
1. How much does a vet charge to put a dog down?
Vets may charge anywhere from $200 to $400 for an in-clinic procedure. The cost will increase if euthanasia takes place at a veterinary hospital or during an in-home procedure.
2. What is the cheapest way to put a dog down?
You may want to contact your local ASPCA if funds are an issue. If there is no local ASPCA, you should contact your local shelter.
3. When should a dog be euthanized?
In short, when your dog is in a lot of pain, refuses to eat or drink, and has more bad days than good days.
4. Do vets recommend putting a dog down?
If you have a choice, yes, most vets will recommend putting the dog down rather than allowing a dog to suffer from a terminal illness.