How to Tell My Son It's Time to Put Our Dog to Sleep?

How to Tell My Son It's Time to Put Our Dog to Sleep?


(Edinburgh, Scotland)


My dog has numerous symptoms of multiple brain tumors. He paces from room to room until you shut him in and he eventually realises he can't get through the door. He falls over, walks through things rather than around them, walks into walls, gets stuck in corners and walks in circles trying to lie down. He is ravenous and will try to eat anyting he finds in front of his nose including your feet! He often tries to chew the edge of the wooden table and he rakes in the paper bins. He staggers and sometimes falls over, struggles to stand on 3 legs to urinate and I have had to lift his food and water bowls as he falls into them when he tries to eat.

He has always been a docile well behaved dog but now he is aggressive if you try to get him to go somewhere he doesn't want to go. He has snapped at me on numerous occasions and has stood barking and growling at me when I have tried to settle him in the night. He ran away recently and went down onto the railway line which terrified my teenage son. When he was taking him home, he bit my son on the arm as he did not want to go in, (he only left a tiny red mark but he still bit him). He no longer responds to commands, he urinates and defecates in the house multiple times per day even after he has just been out.

He has been having Grand Mal seizures since January 09 but these have become less frequent, he was on Phenobarbitone tablets to treat this but they didn't seem to change the frequency of fits, they just made him groggy and distant. He can't see very well and his hearing is not too good either. He sometimes cries and whines while he is at rest and he prefers to lie on hard surfaces. His hind legs have been shaking when he stands still and at first I thought it was weakness but now he often shakes all over while he is lying down and I realise it is tremors.

I worked as a vet nurse for years and have spoken to many people about the 'right' time to put your ill dog to sleep but my problem is my 14 year old son does not agree that the time has come as he still wags his tail sometimes and can outrun you if he doesn't want to come in!! He thinks I only want to put him to sleep because he is ruining the house. He has now decided that even with all the above evidence that he might not have a tumor and he might get better.

Can anyone give me advice on how to convince him that the time is now? Or does anyone have experience that they can share with him to help him to agree with the decision? I feel timing is cruical due to his age, I don't want to close down the lines of communication at such an important stage of his life :(

Editor's Note:

Visitors to this page may also be interested in our page on Canine Euthanasia.

Comments for How to Tell My Son It's Time to Put Our Dog to Sleep?

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Dec 31, 2011
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Letting Your Friend Go
by: Roger Byrne

This is always a very hard decision to make. I can only pass on the advice given to me when I first faced this dilemma.

Dogs, like most creatures, live in the NOW. They don't think about tomorrow, they live for each moment as if it were their last. When your dog loses the quality of life that allows him to enjoy the moment and there is no respite or cure on the horizon, then you owe it to the animal to let him go. He will not suffer and you will have the memory of him when he was still enjoying parts of the moment. You will also know that you did the right thing by him.

I have a poem that helped me say Goodbye to one of my friends. If anyone would like a copy I will gladly send it to them. rogerabyrne@comcast.net

Feb 10, 2010
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We worked it out through talking
by: Anonymous

Thank you all for your comments, this was a very difficult time. I talked to my son every day and eventually discovered that he was feeling guilty as he had been angry at BJ for urinating on his belongings and had thought at that point that it was time to have him put to sleep. He didn't want to look back and think that he had made the decision in anger. We finally agreed to say goodbye to BJ on 14 December 2009 after taking him for a walk to the beach. He was still able to walk and run but he could not interact with us, toys or nature. It was heartbreaking to watch him living in his own little world when there were people all around laughing and playing with barking excited dogs. I still have nightmares today, thinking that I have forgotten to feed him or arrange someone to care for him while I'm away but I am sure this will pass with time. We will miss him for ever more :(

Feb 08, 2010
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When it's time to say goodbye...
by: anonymous

The hardest part of deciding to say goodbye to your dog is wondering if you're doing the dog a favor or yourself. Guilt is quite painful and can be relentless. Our dog was 17 years old and had full blown CCD, arthritis, and deafness. Our son is in college and no longer lives with the dog on a daily basis. We pondered long whether to say goodbye to our dog, dealing with guilt and sorrow. We finally made the difficult decision because it was evident that our dog was suffering physically and mentally, even though she rarely made a peep. The arthritis that she had exhibited and the brain tumor was undoubtledly causing her pain, which is why her favorite past time was sleeping. She would wince when touched near the face. Her full blown CCD and other symptoms were due to a type of brain tumor that was incurable. Last week, our dog was put to sleep peacefully in our home and in our arms with the aid of a caring vet. The sorrow and guilt was immediate. Even as I write this I wipe tears from my eyes. But we are convinced that saying goodbye to our wonderful dog was done in her best interests. We presented these facts to our son and he has accepted the fate of our family dog... and he is now grateful that she had died peacefully in the loving arms of her family.

Nov 30, 2009
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Time to let go
by: Dolly

I had put my dog Blue, 6 yr. old Catahoula Leopard down this past May 2009. He was diagnosed with a High Grade Lymphosarcoma. Once I had the biopsy done to confirm it, before 2wks were up to have stitches removed from biopsy, he wasn't eating or able to get up and go outside.

I had a family meeting (I have a 23yr.old and 9 yr.old), we decided we didn't want to remember him that way. He was very active and played all the time, being a cattle dog. It would have been selfish of us, I thought to let him stay in our lives that way. We had him cremated and he is still with us and always will be in our hearts.

I hope this helps.

Dolly and girls in Oregon

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