Putting down your pet: how do you know it's the right time?

22 June 2022 - 4 min read
Old dying dog

Watching your pet contend with a difficult illness can be really tough. Letting them go can be even tougher. So how do you make that decision? Five pet owners tell us their stories.

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Hugo's story

"Hugo was the best cat and the best friend ever. But in November 2017, he got ill. We noticed his right eye was weeping and unfocused.

The vet gave me some eye drops, which cleared it, but a few weeks later we noticed Hugo was wobbly when he walked.

"I rushed him to the vets. He’d lost his eyesight permanently. His blood pressure was also very high and the vet kept him in to take some bloods and monitor him. They checked for kidney disease and other ailments. All came back negative.

"We collected him a day later. He was doing ok for a few day, but then he got worse. He was lethargic, not wanting to move far from the litter tray, seeming completely confused. Back at the vets, this time he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. We were devastated.

"Roz, our lovely vet, explained we could do chemo, but it wouldn't really be fair on Hugo. It would be stressful and the outcome would still be the same.

"On December 15th, 2017, we said goodbye to our boy. We had wonderful vets supporting us and were very lucky to have insurance – the total bill came to £4,700.

"Four months on, we’ve got a new bundle of fluff, Larry. He's not a replacement but another family addition. Hugo will always be our best friend and you'll often find my wife or I still talking to him."

Maverick's story

"Our tri-colour Basset Hound, Maverick, was 12 years old.

"He was a typical Basset – very strong willed and fiercely loving! But he suffered from degenerative intervertebral disc disease.

"He had spinal surgery which he recovered well from. However in the last few months of his life his back legs gradually became paralysed.

"We opted for euthanasia. His quality of life was declining rapidly. He was in increasing discomfort and despite medication we were struggling to alleviate this."

Jinx's story

"Our cat Jinx was 12. Almost out of the blue he went deaf and blind. We're not sure what happened first, but we didn't notice the deafness until his retinas became detached and he went blind.

"Sadly, there was no cure. He couldn't find his food bowl or get around at all after that and would just lie in his basket.

"We made the difficult decision to put him down."

Jonas's story

"At 12, my Rottweiler Jonas was diagnosed with cancer and started deteriorating."

"He became very quiet and would just sit in a corner. He wouldn't eat wouldn't move. We called the vet, and he said there was nothing he could do and that we had to put him down.

"My dad was away at the time and we couldn’t get in touch, but we didn’t want to put him down before my dad had the chance to say good bye.

"But his facial expression had changed so much. He would lie with his head in my feet, and when he looked at me I could see he was asking for help - you feel these things, don't you?

"We’d also had a Newfoundland which had died of a heart attack a few weeks before that. I think on top of it all Jonas felt lonely as he no longer had his buddy. I couldn’t bear to see him like that anymore. I thought we were only being selfish by keeping him alive until my dad got back. He was suffering loads, so we had to let him go.

"It was a tough time for everyone, but it was for the best, I think."

Fred's story

"Fred was a big eater. He’d eat anything he picked up. He was hopeless. Occasionally he’d eat things that wouldn’t agree with him and he’d get diarrhoea. We were quite used to this. He always recovered, it was never a big deal, it was just his thing.

"We moved to a house in a village and it had patio doors and he’d zoom out and run around. We had communal bins and people would sometimes dump rubbish on the ground if the bins were full.

"One day he ran out and we found him by the bins. He got ill again.

"But this time around he was very listless, so we took him to the RSPCA hospital. This time it wasn’t something that he was going to get better from in a couple of days. They thought he might have an obstruction from whatever it is he ate. An x-ray, didn’t show anything. They then opened him up but didn’t find anything.

"In the end he was diagnosed with liver failure as the result of severe food poisoning.

"The prognosis was really bleak. He was clearly really unhappy and in pain. We could continue with the drips and the intensive care but there was only a very slim chance, so we had to make the decision to let him go.

"Also, as we didn’t have insurance, at that point we simply couldn’t afford the costs it was going to take to keep him alive on the very tiny off chance that he recovered. You always go back and wonder 'what if', and I think that had I been able to afford it, I probably would have kept him in intensive care for whatever time he had left and hoped he recovered, even though it seemed quite pointless."

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Irina Wells
Content Marketing Executive

Irina is a former content marketing executive for ManyPets. She has contributed to a number of personal finance sites, including Loot Financial Services and Claro Money.