Aging Dogs-Knowing when the Time for Euthanasia is Right

Your Veterinarian should be there for Guidance & Support


I have a 17 year old cocker terrier. She now has multiple problems and is on many meds. She is deaf and can’t see that well. My dilemma is this: When is the appropriate time to think about “putting her to sleep”? I love her with all my being and have a difficult time even thinking about this let alone asking about it. She still runs around and loves to eat and get treats. The last thing I would ever want to do is make her suffer.


Dr. Nichol:

You are a kind and compassionate pet owner. You must have done a lot right for this girl to reach 17 and still chase down a snack. I’m impressed.


You raise an important question. Modern medicine has allowed more pets to get older. Now your dog is showing signs of aging. In a perfect world she would pass quietly in her sleep before she ever felt pain. Unfortunately, that seldom happens for dogs; they are prone to neither heart attack nor stroke. Elderly dogs tend to get weaker and more feeble. It all boils down to your dog’s quality of life-as you see it. At some point the simple joys of life are replaced by a daily struggle to function. You will both feel better if you visit your veterinarian for a status report and a reality check. The doctor is obliged to be gentle but direct with you.


No one loves this girl more than you do. With your love will come the courage to let her go at the right time. Your veterinarian should be there for guidance and support.