How Do You Know When It’s Time To Euthanize Your Dog?

It is disheartening to come to terms with the fact your days with your fur baby are coming to an end. However, you would want to know if there are chances of survival and healing. In addition, you would want to make sure if euthanasia is the only option.

How do you know when it’s time to euthanize your dog? The initial signs are the constant decline in your dog’s health, and you can notice a drastic change in your dog’s emotions.

With your veterinarian’s advice and understanding that there are no chances of survival or cure, you should decide to euthanize your dog.

This article will cover everything about when to euthanize your dog.

Tracking Your Pet’s Quality Of Life

How do you know when it’s time to euthanize your pet? It is essential to understand the quality of your pet’s life. Track all the factors helping you understand whether your canine friend is willing to live and comfortable continuing with it.

Dr. Alice Villalobos is a vet and the founder of Pawspice. She developed a quality-of-life program to help pet parents understand when to euthanize their fur babies. The scoring system assisting in understanding quality of life is known as the HHHHHMM scale.

  • H: Hurt (signs of pain)
  • H: Hunger (appetite)
  • H: Hydration (drinks adequate water)
  • H: Hygiene
  • H: Happiness (range of emotions)
  • M: Mobility (dog’s movement)
  • M: More good days than bad days

Hurt (Signs of pain)

The first step in determining your dog’s quality of life is to analyze its health. If your pet has been unwell for quite some time, He/she is certainly not living a quality life.

You can see noticeable signs of pain such as:

  • Constant panting
  • Licking the affected area
  • Whining
  • Moaning
  • Reluctance to move
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constant discomfort
  • Decreased activity

Questions for assessing:

  • Is the pain managed?
  • Is it running/playing as often as usual?
  • Does it groom or pant excessively? (Often signs of pain)

Hunger (Appetite)

Another factor playing a significant role in knowing the overall well-being of your doggo is its appetite.

Your dog’s appetite influences its nutrient intake. Hence, it needs to have a normal appetite.

If it has an inconsistent or a lower appetite than usual, it is due to an underlying medical condition. Your dog’s quality of life reduces with a reduced appetite.

Questions for assessing:

  • How much food does the dog consume?
  • Can the dog eat regular food, or does it only want to eat “treats”?
  • Does feeding by hand help it eat?


In some cases, dehydration can be a sign of an untreated illness . In such a case, take suggestions from a veterinarian. They will advise you to conduct intravenous catheterization with fluid therapy or subcutaneous fluid administration.

Questions for assessing:

  • Is the dog dehydrated?
  • If you pull a small part of skin on it’s head, does it snap into place?
  • If you push a finger onto the it’s gums, does it return to normal pink color in less than 1.5 seconds?


Usually, a dog’s coat talks much about its health. If the coat has lost its luster, the hair keeps falling. If you can notice a visible difference in it, it may be unwell. This leads to a reduced quality of life.

If your dog faces difficulty in passing urine or motion in its usual place, it would have become weaker than before to move.

Questions for assessing:

  • What is the condition of your dog’s coat?
  • Does it have the same shine as a younger animal?
  • Is it able to maintain normal grooming habits?
  • Has your dog developed urinary or fecal incontinence? Is it mobile enough to get itself out of the mess?


A happy dog is a healthy dog. If your dog does not display a spectrum of emotions and consistently shows only one type of emotion, your dog may be unwell mentally.

Your dog would have developed mental health disorders such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fears and phobias
  • PTSD

As mental health is compromised, the overall well-being is compromised. Hence, it is necessary to visit a vet.

Questions for assessing:

  • Does your dog show happiness and enthusiasm?
  • Does your dog respond to things around it (toys, family, etc.)?
  • Is your dog lonely, depressed, anxious, or afraid?


A huge factor that answers how do you know when to euthanize your dog is your dog’s mobility.

If your dog cannot move on its own, it wouldn’t be able to play or walk. In addition, it wouldn’t be able to move to pass motion or urine on its own.

Immobility itself is depressing for your dog. Dogs are extremely playful. Thus, their compromised playtime or walk time affects their overall health. This reduces their quality of life.

Questions for assessing:

More Happy Days Than Sad

If most of the factors mentioned above apply to your dog, it is time to put your dog down. Your dog’s good health determines if there are more happy days than sad days.

However, if it is reversed, your dog’s quality of life is reduced. It is disheartening to keep your dog in that state anymore. Therefore, veterinarians advise pet parents to euthanize their dogs and end their sufferings.

Euthanasia gives a peaceful and painless death for your dog and can release them of their suffering sooner.

Is Natural Death An Alternative To Euthanasia?

Yes, natural death can be an alternative to euthanasia. However, peaceful natural death is rare for dogs.

For several reasons, pet parents prefer natural death for their pets. However, understanding that euthanasia is not an unnatural or harmful method is essential. Unlike natural death, euthanasia can prevent it from suffering any further.

Euthanasia is one of the most painless forms of death. You would only be ending the pain and preventing the painful wait of natural death.

Preparing Yourself And Your Dog

Certainly, it is a difficult time for you and your family. You would want to prepare yourself, your pet, and your family ahead of time for the drastic change. Here are some ways in which you can prepare.

  • Take time to say goodbye: You can take a while, spend time with your best pal and give it the best goodbye, full of memories. You can take your dog to its favorite place or enjoy its favorite activity together.
  • Preparing yourself: As you face a huge loss, you need to prepare your mind to accept that it is happening for good—it will end your dog’s suffering.
  • Explain your children: If you have children, prepare them for loss. Explain to them and reassure them.
  • Deciding to spend the last minutes together: Some pet parents cannot let go of their dogs, and it is difficult for them to say goodbye to them in the doctor’s clinic. Hence, they choose not to go. If staying with your dog in its final moment helps you feel better, then talk to the veterinarian.

Summing Up

Letting go of your best pal is the most life-changing event. In addition, deciding to put it down is even more difficult. However, it is important to realize the need to give your dog a painless death. Euthanasia helps you with that—it gives your dog a painless and peaceful death.