Does everyone have their pets euthanized?

gibby2015April 18, 2013

Or does anyone let them die naturally?

I have had two cats put to sleep and one that died naturally at home. One was euthanized at home and one at the vet (premedicated by me for a peaceful ride in the car). Either way it was an awful experience and I always thought it was better for the cat who just died at home on his own terms - better for her and for us.

I now have another cat that is in his final days. He isn't eating though he does drink some water and drank some milk tonight. He is mostly so peaceful sleeping on a blanket or in his basket by the heat register or sometimes we hold him by us on the sofa or the bed. He doesn't seem to be suffering though he is getting very weak and we carry him wherever he goes.

I really don't want him to have the Kevorkian end of life but I keep wondering if I'm doing the right thing. I just hate this part of having pets......

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I think that when they aren't peaceful anymore is when it's time. I've had to have animals put to sleep before, it's a terrible thing to have to do but you should know when it's time. My last two dogs were just miserable and didn't died a peaceful death so I had to take them to the vet to be put to sleep.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 10:02PM
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I have seen more than my share of animals die, and have put many hundreds to sleep as well. I would say maybe 1 out of 10 pets die relatively quietly with only 'some' degree of suffering, but the other 9 out of 10 tend to be quite miserable, if not even in horrible discomfort and/or anxiety prior to actually dying. For that majority, being able to end their suffering peacefully (and the way we euthanize is quite peaceful- sedation first, then euthanasia) is a blessing, though I am not saying it is and easy or casual thing to do. I think most owners are grateful for the peaceful ending as well.

I have seen several humans die, too, and so far, not too many 'peaceful' endings there, either- often weeks, if not months of misery preceding their demise. Some of these people WANT to die, but are unable to do anything about it, sadly. But that is another subject, I guess.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:03AM
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Sorry that you're going through this. I hate this part of pet ownership too.

As hard as it is to do, I think putting them to sleep is the best thing an owner can do for their pet. I went through this with one of my cats last year. I knew he was close to his final day. He was weak and hadn't been eating. He wouldn't eat his favorite treats anymore. I kept waiting thinking he would go on his own. Then I felt so bad that I put him through those additional days just so I wouldn't have to go through putting him to sleep. I would be upset either way. I'm so glad that I was with him when he peacefully took his last breathe.

It is such a hard decision. You will know in your heart what to do and what is best for you and your cat. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:02AM
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I too am sorry that you are once again approaching this point with another friend.

My dog passed away at home 6 years ago. I anguished over the decision for the day or two when I realized she was leaving (she went rather quickly). Even a few hours before she passed away, she was trying to rally (at that point she was still taking herself outside to potty and eating a little too), I figured if we took her to the vet, she would fight to rally and I wasn't sure I would be able to go through with it. We struggled with the decision and in the end allowed her to lie on her own bed until she left. It did get a little difficult for the hour or two before she passed (which was in the middle of the night, so no help available at that point). Had we had access to someone who would have come to the house and done it, we might have, but I don't know because she was such a trooper, fighting until the end. I have second guessed this many times over the years, but in the end feel like we did the best we could with what we had at the time.

The cat I lost last year was also a fighter. But things were slower with her and she got to the point that her circulatory system had begun to break down and her hind leg was immensely swollen over just one night. That was the final sign I needed. Despite being like that, she was still running out into the sunshine each time I opened the back door- up until about 2 hours before I took her to the vet. I took her because I was terrified as to what might happen next, and knew her time was already so limited.

Her brother who died 4 years ago, had cancer. He just gave up one day a few days after his diagnosis. Once he gave up, I just couldn't make him go on like that. My vet has said when they stop eating, it is generally a good sign that it is time. He was having lots of problems with bloating and dehydration. He couldn't have been comfortable.

I'll share what I've shared a number of times and it was about the first time we had a dog euthanized. It was an absolutely awful experience. No sedative, the vet just stuck the dog and she dropped where she was standing. She was watching me at the time. It was not the peaceful passing that I'd heard about from friends over the years. It was haunting and totally unexpected- I was just so unprepared for the process. In the vet assisted losses since then, I've always asked up front if they animal will be sedated beforehand. I would walk out the door and find another vet if one ever said they would not sedate the animal first. My current vet was shocked that a vet would do that, but I have heard it is not that uncommon. With my last two kitties, both were very well sedated, and then the vet did not give the final shot until I indicated I was comfortable and ready-- both those passings were so peaceful that I have no regrets. Our vet is also very supportive and understanding in this process, they never rush anyone to hurry to give the shot, or to finish up with their deceased animal's body and leave. I have been in there on occasion when someone can't bring themselves to leave the body and so the vet will bog down, working out of the other available exam rooms- but NEVER pressuring the person to leave. I love that about them.

I have to agree that you will know when the time comes what to do. You won't let your friend suffer, even if that means making a tough decision one way or the other.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:39AM
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There is no such thing as "natural death" in companion animals. The first time we feed, house, vaccinate, deworm, or provide any other sort of care to an animal, we effectively cut nature out of the picture. In nature, an animal's fate is sealed when (s)he can no longer feed, shelter, or defend himself/herself successfully. Nature is unmerciful and determinate. Life within a natural context is typically significantly shorter that life that is unnaturally supported and lengthened by human intervention.

When we assume responsibility for an animal's life, we also assume responsibility for that animal's death. We can choose to do nothing and leave the animal to die a slow, lingering death, which may or may not involve considerable suffering, or we can end the death process humanely on a timetable that minimizes suffering. Nature has nothing to do with either option.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Okay - perhaps I should have said does anyone allow their pet to pass away without expediting the process via a veterinarian and pharmaceuticals.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:26PM
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I've had to have two dogs put to sleep. One was 16 and her kidneys had quit. She was insulin depentent, and had Cushings disease. I hated to put her down, but it was what was best for her. The other was a 19 year old poodle who had dementia, was blind and was refusing to eat. I took her to the vet and he told me the most humane thing would be to put her down. I loved them both and did what I felt was best for them. I held them both and loved them as they went to sleep. Then I cried and cried.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 12:16AM
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I think Laurie said it all. YOU have a choice as the animal's caretaker. You can choose to do nothing and let nature take it's course -- if you can stomach it. Or you can be that animal's caretaker/guardian and do what your conscience is telling you to do.

In my opinion we are their guardians. I would not let one of my pet's suffer because I want them to stay longer with me. Ask youself that same question. Is the quality of life gone? Have you done all you can do? After that, it is up to you as their guardian.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:23AM
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Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again - we simply cannot give an either-or, yes-no, one size fits all answer to this question. So much depends on the specific circumstances and is best answered only by the person who has a long term relationship with the specific pet and knows the animal intimately and can read their body language..

It should be stated that euthanasia is not exactly a walk in the park either and is really not a choice that is enterred into lightly. After having been a regular on I came to the conclusion that second guessing is a part of the grief process, no matter what option is chosen. The people who chose euthanasia often regretted the possibility they may have acted too soon - do animals also have their own process of letting go of life that should not be cut short? The ones who didnt regretted that their animal may have suffered unnecessarily. I have a friend who was pretty distraught for a while because her cat fought the drug and had to be given a second injection. It just wasnt the peaceful passing she'd hoped for. On the other hand, my 16 yr old who died of feline leukemia did so on her own relatively peacefully the night before the vet was to come over to do the deed.

The answer is - just come here and talk it out either with us or with close friends. And yes, I do think the animal will tell us when they've had enough.

My 22 yr old is still hanging in there - she has ups and downs. There was one day recently she looked at me with such sad tired eyes that clearly said "I've had enough," and I knew that if that continued I would have to honor that message, no matter how difficult it might be for me However it turned out to be just a fleeting thing - the next day she was perky again and she still gets excited by me serving her tuna and enjoys being brushed. Still uses the litter box faithfully. Still takes a walk around the apartment once a day. The rest of the time sits in her heated bed like a granny in a rocking chair. So we just take it day by day. My old girl deserves no less.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 11:44AM
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I will not watch my dogs suffer in pain, When the time comes I will have them put down mercifully, however, you have no idea how I hope some morning when I get up, they will have just fallen asleep during the night. I hate making that decision, however, as I said, I cannot stand to watch them in pain.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 12:48PM
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It isn't an easy or pat answer, but is more often a matter of when versus if. I will gladly drop a bundle on an animal to extend a life with quality, I will carry a mop bucket and bleach around to clean up after an incontinent old codger of a pet, and patiently communicate with one who is both deaf and blind. However, pain and suffering with little hope of relief is an easy one to decide. There is no mercy in letting them suffer. The quality of life decision is much harder. But I had a sweet, but old male cat whom I took in after my mother passed away. It was her last living pet and special to me. He was in decline, but not to the point I thought death was close. He got bad one evening, and it was obvious his time had come and of course it was after hours and on a weekend. I held him all night in my lap until fifteen minutes before the office was about to open in the morning, got up for two minutes to call to see if I could bring him in, and when I got back to the chair he had passed away. Euthanasia would have been a much preferable way to have said good-bye to that little fellow to save him even the hour or two of pain and fear he went through.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 2:57AM
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In my long life, full of all sorts of animal companions I have only had to "put to sleep" two. All the rest were allowed to pass away on their own. Some had difficult deaths but most were so out of it that they didn't seem to be aware what was happening. Of the two that had medical intervention only one was peaceful. The most recent was no fun for me at all. Because of that experience I believe the current dog who's near the end now, will only be taken in should she really start to suffer.

So, yes, I most often let them die without medical intervention. Neither one is better than the other.

I went through this with both parents and one brother as well. I've learned that no matter what you do, things do not always go smoothly. Handle it however you want to handle it, whatever works for you and just do the best that you can.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Well said Triangle - the voice of experience it sounds like. I too am at an age where Ive been dealing with the mortality thing more than I would like - now my elderly parent and elderly cat. Best regards to you and your canine friend.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 1:06PM
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