When to Put a Dog Down Checklist

Checklist for When to Put a Dog to SleepPutting a dog down is one of the hardest things a pet owner will ever have to go through. Most of the time, a checklist for when to put a dog down will come in handy.

The list highlights key things one should look for when deciding when to put a dog to sleep. In order to create the checklist, we need to understand how to use the Quality of Life Scale.

So, what is this scale and how will it help us decide if it’s time to put a dog down?

The HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale was created by Dr. Alice Villalobos to help pet parents and veterinarians determine a pet’s quality of life.

The scale looks at 25 questions in the following categories:

  • H – Hurt
  • H – Hunger
  • H – Hydration
  • H – Hygiene
  • H – Happiness
  • M – Mobility
  • M – More good days than bad

You will observe your dog and rate each question 1 to 5 over a period of 3 days. If your pet scores over 35 points then it means she has a good quality of life. 

Points less than 35 mean your pet is probably not enjoying life anymore, and your vet can help you figure out the right thing to do.

When to Put a Dog Down Checklist
Quality of Life Scale

Image Source: Ohio State University – College of Veterinary Medicine

When to Put a Dog Down Checklist

Now that you have an idea of how to calculate your dog’s quality of life, what reasons could justify the need to pet your dog down? Keep in mind that this is just a checklist and not a list of reasons to put your dog down.

1. Experiencing too much pain

A dog that’s in too much pain could do with euthanasia, especially if no medications or care seem to relieve the pain.

The pain could be a result of old age arthritis, severe physical injuries, or other terminal illnesses. 

A dog in pain will experience difficulties standing, walking, and will often cry, whine, or groan when they try to do so.

Although there are medications and supplements that help relieve pain, severe cases are often beyond medication control.

Time will probably come when you have to choose between watching your lovely dog in pain every single day and ending her pain by putting her down.

2. The dog is panting excessively

Dogs suffering from respiratory conditions such as bronchopneumonia, upper respiratory infections, heart failure, and other complications can experience severe breathing problems.

Your veterinarian can conduct tests to determine the cause and recommend the appropriate medications and treatment plans.

However, if your dog has other health issues, is struggling to breathe, and no medication or treatment plan seems effective, easing her pain could be the ideal thing to do.

3. The dog is vomiting excessively

There are many easy-to-fix causes of nausea and vomiting in dogs. Your dog could have ingested something they shouldn’t and are now trying to get it out of the system.

Unfortunately, sometimes nausea and vomiting is a symptom of an underlying health issue. Most health issues can be treated or controlled for some time, but sometimes the issue is at an advanced stage, and putting down your dog is the only logical thing to do.

It’s advisable to take your dog to a veterinarian to know the cause of the issue and potential remedies.

4. Refusal to drink or eat

Refusal to drink or eat
Image credit: Freepik.com

A dog losing appetite for food is often a sign of an illness, although older dogs can also experience reduced appetite due to age.

Your dog should also be able to drink water and other fluids, but in case this isn’t the case then there could be an issue that needs your attention.

Diabetic dogs drink a lot of water while some other diseases make dogs nauseate when they drink water.

The only way to know the cause of the sudden change in water consumption of your dog is to have your local veterinarian do a test.

5. Inability to control bowel movements

Always keep an eye on your pet’s bowel movements. Diarrhea and blood-stained stools are signs of a serious health issue.

A dog experiencing gastroenteritis, for example, will present symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping & pain, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance.

Seek immediate veterinary assistance if you spot any of these symptoms.

6. Inability to stand or walk

Another reason to put your dog down is when they no longer able to move at all. Older dogs experience mobility issues, which often result from weakened joints and chronic pain from arthritis.

You can use joint supplements and pain medications to help get your lovely pet back on its feet.

If no medication or supplement is working and your dog is in pain, weak, and lethargic, it might be time to consider putting them to sleep.

7. The dog losing weight quickly

Dogs can experience weight issues as they grow old. If your dog is eating enough food but is still losing weight, there could be an underlying health issue that needs your veterinarian to identify.

You should take your dog to the veterinary clinic if she is losing weight quickly as this could be an indication of something serious.

8. Drastic changes in dog’s behavior

It’s normal for a dog’s behavior to change as they mature and grow old. In most cases, older dogs are more relaxed and less playful than puppies.

However, sudden aggressive behaviors towards pets and people they’re familiar with is a sign something is wrong.

Health issues such as rabies, neoplasia, hypothyroidism, hyperkinesis, psychomotor epilepsy, cancer, and a variety of metabolic and genetic disorders can cause or predispose a dog to aggression.

You should take your dog for a veterinary checkup if they start being aggressive and displays other undesirable behavioral changes such as sleeping too much and health issues such as seizures.

9. Signs of not enjoying life anymore

Dogs are playful pets and love to enjoy life. Their favorite activities could be playing with you or the kids, playing with other dogs, swimming in the river, catching balls, playing with different toys, or simply making life within your home fun.

Something is likely wrong if your notice your dog is disinterested in any of these activities. Although this might be a one-off thing, you should take your pet to see a veterinarian if she remains dull for more than two consecutive days.

Dogs stop enjoying life for different reasons. It could be that they’re getting old, sick, in or pain. Your veterinarian will help you determine the actual reason behind this sudden change.

10. Having more bad days than good days

If you’re having trouble whether it’s time to put your dog down, it might help to compare your dog’s good days against the bad days.

The days your dog seems happy, playful, and appears to enjoy life should be marked as good days. Days that are the exact opposite should be marked as bad days.

Now, are the good days few and far between and your dog seems sad and in pain most of the time? If that’s the case then it may be time to put your dog down.

11. Hiding most of the time

We rarely see dogs hiding or opting for solitary comfort unless something is wrong. A dog staying away from family members or other pets could be in pain.

You can use the pain scale to assess your dog’s level of discomfort. Pain scores between 0 and 2 mean it is not something serious but you should still keep an eye on her for the next few days.

Checklist for when to put a dog to sleep
Pain Scale

Image Source: Colorado State University – Veterinary Medical Center

However, if the score is between 3 and 4 it means your dog is in too much pain.

Your veterinarian will do physical and clinical tests to determine the cause of the pain and prescribe appropriate medications.

Unfortunately, there are instances that a dog is suffering from a terminal painful condition and nothing much can be done other than providing pain relief medications and homecare.

12. Disinterest in playing with you or other pets

If your dog was joyful, bubbly, playful, and an amazing mess-maker then all of a sudden they detest playing, something isn’t right.

Dogs that love to steal your socks or shoes and hide them elsewhere or playing around the house or yard with you or other family members cannot just go cold and impassive for no reason.

The reasons could be an underlying health condition, depression, or stress. Either way, you need to monitor her for three consecutive days and see if this changes.

If nothing changes then you should take your pet to see a veterinarian.

13. Avoiding interaction with you or other pets

Dogs love to play with their owners and whenever you come home from work you’re always greeted by a gleeful pet happy to welcome you home.

Dogs also love to play and interact with other dogs and even strangers when they’re out in the park.

If you notice your dog is slowly become disinterested in interacting with you, other pets, or strangers, something could be wrong.

Your dog may be sick and having a veterinarian check her is a good idea especially if this continues for more than 3 days.

14. Drastic changes in their mood

Several contributing factors result in mood changes in dogs. Your dog could be stressed, depressed, uncomfortable, or growing old.

Dogs also grieve just like humans, especially if they lose their close companion, either a family member or another pet.

If you can’t seem to find a distinct reason why your dog’s mood has changed, keeping a close eye on them for a few days is advisable.

You should seek veterinary assistance if your pet displays undesirable moods for three consecutive days. Something might be wrong and your vet can help.

Final thoughts

While this is a checklist to help you decide if it is time to put a dog down, here are seven reasons to put a dog down. Make sure to talk with your veterinarian for professional advice.

(Featured image credit: freepik.com)

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