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Thread: Euthanasia of house pets

  1. #1

    Euthanasia of house pets

    I am an animal lover and have put my dogs to sleep in the past. The last dog I put to sleep was 3 years old. She was a Great Pyrenees and weighed 120 pounds. It is common for large breeds to get bone cancer which is what she was diagnosed with. I had a lot of trouble letting her go. Her cancer caused her to not want to eat and I enticed her to eat with a variety of techniques. In the end I was force feeding her hot dogs which were easier to swallow. Finally, I let go of my attachments and I had my mother-in law take her to the vet to be euthanized as I could not bear to see the ordeal.

    I have a Rat Terrier that is of geriatric age but with plenty of life left if the arthritic pain that he suffers from can be controlled. He has been on pain meds every four hours as needed for the past 3 days and is getting better. When does one make the call to euthanize their pet?

    There are so many answers and none of them seems right. What would you do?

    Gassho, John

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Yuba City, California, USA
    My Wife and I recently were faced with making this choice after our Samoyed suffered a severe seizure and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When we were told that more seizures were likely and that the cancer was terminal, we decided that it was in his best interest to say goodbye. We couldn't stand the thought of him having another seizure and not being there to help him.

    Just try to be as compassionate as you know how to be with your pets. Do everything you can to make their days great and their suffering short. Feel their pain, and if it's too much for you, it's probably too much for them. A lot of vets offer at-home euthanasia, which can often make things a lot less stressful for you and your friend.


    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  3. #3
    John, I'm sorry your rat terrier is going through pain. If the meds are truly working, perhaps it's best to keep him going. If you can't administer them every four hours, or the cost gets out of hand . . . I feel for you. Last year I had to put down a cat who was less than 2 years old because he had an incurable disease. Well, he could have been put in an oxygen tent and had his lungs drained for a temporary fix, but the problem would have manifested again. Meanwhile, his chest cavity was filling up with fluid and he would have suffocated eventually. The vet said "the only wrong choice would be to do nothing." (I still felt horrible, putting him down, but eventually I came to feel it was the best option. We gave him a good life in the short time we had him.)

    I don't know if any of this is helpful. It's always a hard decision. It might be best just to ask the vet to give it to you straight about the dog's condition. In any case, I'll be dedicating my sit tonight to you and your dog.



  4. #4
    Eu+thanatos: 'good death.' I've done it, too. To me it is like tearing off a band-aide or getting a glass of milk from the refrigerator. It should be done without hesitation when the time is right. How do you know when the time is right? When my attachment to my pet is causing her more suffering than peace, then the time is right. I'm sure every case is different.

    Each death different;
    When your attachments are killed,
    Hold two funerals.


  5. #5
    I woud do exactly the same, John.
    Jundo will be able to expain to you the buddhist take on euthanasia.
    I cannot, because I am but a blind and ignorant priest. I can just see that it is Ok.



  6. #6
    Thank you all for your compassionate answers.



  7. #7
    Hi John!

    Sad to hear this.
    Being a pet "owner" myself (cats) I know what you are going through.
    While each case is different, there are some key considerations:
    Is there a reasonable chance the pet can recuperate fully or get so much better that (s)he can live a happy life for at least a year or so without too much suffering?
    Or is it just about postponing the inevitable for a few weeks?
    You told your dog has been getting better and that with the help of meds pain can be put under control, so I think he has a chance to live a nice life (but I don't know all the facts, of course). IMHO you will recognize if your friend is happy with life under treatment or if pain is getting too much.

    I had a cat once who got very ill at a young age. I invested all my energy and time trying to save him.
    I remember saying to the vet one day: "I don't care about how much it will cost. If you see any way that might save him, I am willing to do it."
    There were lots of ups and downs and reasonable hopes. But finally it went downhill very fast (unexpectedly).
    I hurried to the vet who was prepared. Seeing there is no chance now, all I wanted to do was to free him from his suffering, since he was in much pain.
    There was no question about it. He would have suffered miserably for hours and I wanted to spare him this. He got an injection and after a short time he died in my arms.
    Yes, I know, many people say "C'mon, it's just a pet, get a grip", and I understand that they cannot imagine feeling genuine unconditional love for an animal.
    I don't care, nobody knows how I feel or someone else feels. You cannot "measure" love, love is just love.

    Moreover, I think the possibility of getting euthanasia is the pets' big privilege. We humans get tied to machines that force us to be - even if we don't want to live anymore, even if we are beyond hope. (I've seen it...) Anyway, this is getting OT now...

    Hope I could help a bit...

    All the best,

    no thing needs to be added

  8. #8
    As long as your pet is not suffering terribly, perhaps it is best to continue on.

    All the best



  9. #9
    Hello John,

    First off, I am sorry to hear of the suffering of your little guy. I too last year had to put my Border Collie of 18 years down due to kidney failure. He had a wonderful life and brought great joy to me ... But when the decision needed to be made, it didn't make it any easier.

    For me, I wanted to be there and for him to feel the love when it was time. I feel that it is important to do our very best to help relieve suffering ... Death is a part of life and yes sometimes it comes too soon.

    In your heart John, I know you have the right answer.

    Be well.


  10. #10
    I have put pets "to sleep" who were in great pain.

    These days, with the realities of modern medical care, we must make choices which border on euthanasia even for our own human loved ones. In the case of my own mom and dad, I had to make a choice to refuse treatment that would have given them a few more days or weeks clinging to life, but in great discomfort with no real chance of recovery. Most people these days will be faced with such a choice at some point because medicine can keep the heart beating.

    Frankly, and though Buddhist folks can differ on this, I also personally support assisted suicide for folks in terrible, untreatable pain. That means simply in the face of an incurable terminal illness or the like where the person is facing great physical pain that cannot be relieved (Remember that existential "suffering" of which Buddhists speak is not quite the same as physical pain, and even the historical Buddha, in his old age, could not escape days of severe physical pain sometimes, and the old Suttas tell many stories of his needing to give up his activities for the day due to back and stomach pains in his old age). Here is some discussion of the history of the debate on euthanasia for humans ...

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-27-2013 at 03:32 AM.

  11. #11
    I feel for you John, my wife and I had to put down our beloved beagle after 13 years. Buddy helped us raise our children, was a member of our family and we had to give him that last gift of ending his pain. I cried..sobbed really. We now have 2 adopted Rat Terriers, they are wonderful friends, and cant imagine them not being here.
    Gassho, Jakudo.
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."

  12. #12

    I'm sorry to hear about your pets suffering.

    Our much loved ginger tom was put to sleep a couple of years back. He was hit by a car, and although their was a chance of some sort of recovery, we decided that at the age of 15 it was time to let go. We just felt that the quality of his life would be such that he would be in constant suffering and would not be able to do the things that cats normally do.


  13. #13
    I forgot to add that I am sorry about your dogs, John, and for all the sick pets. We can send Metta for them too.

    Gassho, J

  14. #14
    Thank you all for your compassionate answers.



  15. #15
    Having had to do this many times and having dogs so integrated in my work and life I can honestly say that you will know when the time is right. They will tell you. Metta for all surrounding this.



  16. #16
    That is right, your heart will know when it is the time to let your little dog rest.... pets are so wonderful

    Thank you for your practice

  17. #17
    I haven't much to add from what has been said. I just wanted to wish you peace John. My wife and I currently have 2 dogs; the one has been through so much, but she is like a tank. She is 13. In 2010, we had to put one our dogs to sleep. She was 8, the middle child (we had 3 at the time). I assumed the oldest (the one who is currently 13) would pass first. It was very hard. It did come down to a combination of monetary limitations and quality of life. She had a rare blood disorder. Even with 6 months of chemo, she would only get another 6 months (if it was cancer; she was being treated for the other possible disease; treatment wasn't working and since that treatment also involved anti-cancer meds, it was very bleak). It was very sudden when she got this. One day she appeared to have a seizure after barking. It turned out she was anemic due to this blood disease or cancer.

    It was not easy, I still question what it was, how could it happen, did I make the right decision? But that's just because she was a major part of her family... It's never easy.



  18. #18
    Thank you all for your kind words.



  19. #19
    To John and everyone,
    I have gone through this as well, a couple of times. I'm nearing it again with one of the cats. She is still relatively comfortable and has a good quality of life (still likes to play and eat and snuggle). Her tumor is pretty bad and her time is short. It's never an easy thing (for us). The choice is really one you are making on your pet's behalf. You'll make the right one when it's time.
    Deep bows.

  20. #20
    "I Have No Answer For You Little Lamb
    I Can Help You Out / But I Cannot Help You In
    Sometimes You Think That Life Is Hard
    And This Is Only One Of Them
    My Heart Is Breaking For You Little Lamb
    I Can Help You Out / But We May Never Meet Again" - Paul McCartney


  21. #21
    Much Metta is so hard. Many great answers above and so I just offer my best wishes. For me I found rescue work to be a great help in dealing with the loss of our little Yorkie who stole my heart.

    Jundo raises and important issue....
    Frankly, and though Buddhist folks can differ on this, I also personally support assisted suicide for folks in terrible, untreatable pain. That means simply in the face of an incurable terminal illness or the like where the person is facing great physical pain that cannot be relieved
    PBS Frontline had a great special on assisted suicide a while back and you can watch online.
    With all of life ...human and animal we must think with compassion and awareness of suffering....there are far worse things in life than death.

    All the best John....


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