When it’s time to say goodbye to your dog

when it's time to say goodbye to your dog
when it's time to say goodbye to your dog

It’s a part of life.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your dog. That is one of the toughest decisions you have to make as a dog parent. It’s a very heavy responsibility of pet parents everywhere.  We want to do it in the best way possible. But as much as we hate it, the hard fact is that most animals don’t live longer than humans.  So if you have dogs in your life, saying goodbye to them is inevitable.

Having dogs in our lives

As a lifelong dog lover, I’ve had countless dogs.  Sometimes, I didn’t get to choose the end of our time together.  Getting hit by a car or passing in sleep are times we don’t have control . Accidents or natural death take that control out of our hands. 

Other times, even though we don’t want to, we have to decide when enough is enough for our beloved pet. I’ve had to make that difficult decision from time to time.It’s the kindest thing we can do; to bring an end to suffering. But it has been heartbreaking each and every time.

Dying doesn’t mean they’re gone, exactly

It’s true that your dog’s physical body is no longer here, but your dog isn’t really gone.  You will always have the memories of your good times together. Remember how they loved that one toy or playing catch? If you try really hard, you can still feel the softness of their coat. And hopefully, you have lots of photos to remind you of happy times together. Those are yours to keep. When you’re missing your old friend, you can pull up those memories and relive some of the good times from the past.

Something else you have even after your dog is gone; the lessons they teach you. Dogs are such special beings. So loving and loyal. Each one of my pets has taught me something. Tasha, our rescue boxer, taught me that you’re never too old to have fun. Rocket, my red aussie, taught me to always watch out for each other. Gabbie, my black mini aussie, taught me that having a physical handicap doesn’t have to stop you.

Whether it was teaching me a deeper understanding of the human/animal bond or teaching me something about myself, they always taught me something. Sometimes those lessons weren’t so fun to learn, but they were helpful all the same.

Still here in spirit

I also choose to believe that the spirits of the animals that have been in my life come to visit from time to time.  Have you ever felt a sudden warmth at your side where your old friend would hang out?  My old girl, Rocket, likes to visit from time to time.  I’ll feel her at my heel sometimes, especially if I’ve been thinking about her or I need a little encouragement. She’s still watching out for me, I think. Or maybe you feel a presence, like somebody just went around the corner.  It’s comforting to believe that those are times your pet is checking in on you, telling you it’s ok.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your dog

First, when you have to decide, it’s just plain hard.  You love them so much! It’s never a good time to let them go.  But if you think about your pet and what’s best for them, it can be the best time available. To end the suffering of another can be a noble thing.

There is usually not one time that it has to happen.  With the advances in veterinary medicine, dogs can live for quite a while. But being alive and living are not the same thing.  Living means that there is quality of life.  If your dog has a lot of pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty eating, etc., they may have crossed over to the “being alive” end of the spectrum.

You, as the dog parent, have to decide when “living” becomes simply “being alive”  Is your dog having more good days than bad?  Are they still participating in life enough to enjoy it? Are the symptoms of their prognosis, whatever it is, bearable?

As difficult as it can be to take our hopes and wishes out of the decision, these are the kinds of things that we need to consider. The number one goal is to give your pet the best ending possible; one with the least amount of pain and suffering and the most love. Trust that you’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye to your dog.

Read my post Aging dogs are a part of life for helping with quality of life before it’s time.

The best time to say goodbye

There is rarely a perfect answer.  You can only do your best to decide when. Although it hurts every single time, my words of encouragement to myself are this “this is the kindest thing I can do for my friend”.

Bottom line, the decision is terribly, completely personal.  I think, if you’re making the choice out of love and concern for your pet’s best interest, the time you choose is the most perfect time possible. Second guessing doesn’t help.  It only makes you more miserable. Knowing your intentions are the best; that’s what helps ease the pain of making the decision. Just believe that you’re making the right decision because you love your pet.

There are tons of articles and posts out there about saying goodbye to our pets.  This one from Dogsbestlife.com was a good one, but you can find more by doing a search. Some of the things you can do to help they cross over peacefuly when it’s time to say goodbye to your dog are reiki or using essential oils.

If you have a pet, you love them and never want to have to make a decision that means goodbye.  But if you love them, it’s part of the promise you make to take care of them. They will still be in your heart, mind and soul, even when their bodies are gone.

Have you said goodbye to a special pet? First, I’m sorry for the pain that came with it.  Second, I would value hearing about your experiences.  Please tell me in the comment below.