In the last few months, I’ve watched several close friends as they’ve had to make some heart-breaking decisions about their older dogs.
When it comes an older dog who is a beloved family member, making the decision that it is time to say good-bye is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make.
For me, I think the two main factors are 1) is my dog still comfortable—is there any sign of pain, fear or confusion and 2) does he still enjoy being here?
An older dog may be slower and have a hard time getting down the steps, but for an issue like this, adaptations can be made such as providing a ramp. Many physical problems of older pets can be managed without a euthanasia solution.
Older dogs may have incontinence (bladder and/or bowels) and this can be handled with more frequent trips outdoors, keeping the dog in a space with a floor that is easy to clean, or waterproof pads.
For some older dogs, particularly those that are larger, one problem that can signal the end is getting closer is the dog’s rear end fails—it has a hard time getting up when laying down, or the back legs may become unreliable.
Your veterinarian can always guide you from the medical standpoint. For the rest, you’ll have to decide what is in your heart. Many people say that the dog you love so much will let you know when it’s time.