GUILTY – My Epiphany on Guilt and Pet Euthanasia

GUILTY
My Epiphany on Guilt and Pet Euthanasia

by Dr. Kari Trotsky
Peaceful Endings for Pets

One of the main components that goes into end of life care is guilt. Guilt can invade almost any thought process we have about the subject and I’m here to tell you that it’s normal and necessary. No one can avoid it, but once you recognize it, you can let it go.LabBoyGrief

Why do people have guilt? Let me count the ways! First, once you decide on euthanasia and set up an appointment to have it done, guilt can start to set in. Some people feel that they are almost acting like God when they set a time for a pet’s death. Others feel that they failed their pet by getting to the point of euthanasia. If only they did one more thing, or if they did something differently, there would be a better outcome. Another reason can be financial. If people don’t have the financial means to run tests and provide treatment (even if those tests end up showing that there’s nothing that can be done anyway), they feel guilty by letting money get in the way of caring for their pet. And, a big one is deciding when is the right time. If they have euthanasia done too soon, are they cutting their pet’s life short? Or, have they waited too long and their pet is needlessly suffering? And to make matters worse, people can have several of these issues going on in their head simultaneously, leading to even more guilt.

My answer to this is to recognize guilt’s presence, feel it, realize it’s normal and necessary, then let it go. Easier said than done. But, if you are feeling any guilt at all, it’s only because you love your pet so much that you want everything to be black and white and perfect in your decision making. But, it’s never black in white. In fact, the whole thing is gray. There’s no right or wrong time to set up a euthanasia appointment, it is a gray area. For many pets, there is a window of when euthanasia is not wrong. Some people choose euthanasia at the outset of this window, which isn’t wrong, and some people decide to hang on a little longer, and that is not wrong either. It depends on a multitude of factors such as your beliefs, your financial situation, your ability to provide home care for your pet, your pet’s condition, your pet’s comfort, etc.

In addition, it’s okay not to be able to pay $3,000 for an MRI, or $6,000 for surgery. Not everyone has the means to do everything and that’s just a fact of life. Sometimes, there are things that CAN be done medically, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your pet. Veterinarians went to school to heal and cure pets. So, it’s in our nature to want to fight and do everything medically possible for your pet. But, ultimately, it’s your decision to let your veterinarian know when you decide not to go further with diagnostics or treatment.

But, the real reason why I say guilt is normal, is because I felt it, too! I know better because I counsel people on it. I tell people when nothing more, medically, can be done. I let them know they did everything they could. I mention that we all must go at some point. But when it came time to euthanize my own pets, I found myself telling them, “I’m sorry.” That was an epiphany to me!  And, after much thought, I believe that I said I was sorry simply because it was time for them to leave me. And, if there was anything I could have done, or didn’t do, I just wanted them to know I was sorry. But, deep down I knew that my pets loved me unconditionally and knew I would do anything possible for them, so there was no need to say sorry.  But, our emotions are not always rational. Guilt does nothing but eat away at us and cloud our great memories of a lifetime of love shared together. But, as long as you made the decision to euthanize with love in your heart for them, then the decision was right. You can release the guilt and move through to the next part of grief – missing them so much that it hurts.

If you find that you are having a really hard time moving through your grief, reach out to a support group, whether it’s in person or online, read a book on the subject, have a memorial ceremony with friends and family, or find a therapist that specializes in pet grief specifically (not all therapists do). I have information on my website under Pet Grief Resources. Pet grief is real and it is okay to seek help. Other animal lovers get it and understand it.

22 Responses to “GUILTY – My Epiphany on Guilt and Pet Euthanasia”

  1. Max JonesMay 10, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    I’m glad that pet euthanasia guilt is normal like you said. My family is likely going to have to put down our dog of 6 years after he was hit by a car, and even though pet euthanasia would end his suffering, we don’t want him to go. I’m hoping we can come to terms that he’s uncomfortable and euthanasia is going to help him. Thank you for the article.

  2. Diana KirkseySeptember 17, 2017 at 3:04 am #

    Hello,
    I just put my beloved Pug Sophie to sleep 2 days ago and I’m agonizing over every detail wondering if I did it too soon.
    2 weeks prior she fell to her side and could not walk, her head tilted to the side. We took her to the emergency and the vet did blood tests and observed her for a few hours before saying we would try predihisone and ear meds in case it was swelling from an inner ear infection. She was doubtful but wanted to try this.
    Sophie got better but continued to pant terribly (the panting had been getting worse the past few months) and was able to walk albeit wobbly and still slightly tilted. The steroids were being tapered down for 3 or so days when Sophie suddenly did not want to move and acted like it was hard for her to get up. She just wanted to sleep and when she was awake she was panting and seemed miserable. I took her back to the vet and the vet said since the tilt and other symptoms, albeit better, were still there and she was now getting where she didn’t want to drink and eat that it was time to think about quality of life as the symptoms pointed towards a brain issue (most likely tumor). Sophie did not seem very responsive by this time either.
    After agonizing over this I did hold her as she was put to her final sleep but now the guilt is just horrendous wondering if I should have waited, or did something differently.
    I mostly write this as I needed to talk about it with people who may have been in this type of situation before.

    Thank you for your time

    Diana

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJuly 2, 2018 at 2:02 am #

      Diana, I’m so sorry for your loss. Please know there doesn’t seem to be anything else you could have done. Hopefully, after time has passed, you are feeling ok. Take care.

  3. RupaOctober 23, 2017 at 3:21 am #

    Thank you for this article. My wife and I are experiencing horrible feelings of guilt over having to put our cat to sleep. We had him for 6 years and he was the sweetest thing ever. It has only been one day since we let him go so the feelings are very raw and painful. It is small comfort to know that this is normal and only means that we made a difficult decision and loved him so much. Thank you

  4. Robyn AthertonFebruary 9, 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    I recently decided to put my dog to sleep. She had bone cancer in her back right leg and was limping/crying all the time. She was still capable of eating – yet she wasnt as lively as normal. She is 11 years old ans going through chemo/amputation would just cause her last few years/months to be horrible. The vet put her on pain meds in hopes she’d cope with it. She started to vomit out her pain medicine for the cancer, and when I took her to the vet, I decided to euthanize her instead of prolonge the pain or cause her to go through the pain. When the vet was putting in the injection to make her sleep, my dog looked so lively and excited. Her tail was wagging and she even kissed the vet.
    I feel so guilty now. I wonder if I put her down too soon. I love her so much and I feel incredibly guilty. I cant help but wonder if I could have done something else. Can anyone give me reassurance that I did the right thing or give me advice on how to handle this?

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJuly 2, 2018 at 1:54 am #

      Robyn, I’m so sorry for your loss. I believe there are factors beyond our knowledge for things like this. For example, I believe dogs don’t see death like we do. We sometimes see it as an ending, whereas I believe pets see it as a transition. It could be that your pet’s soul was happy to “go home”, knowing that she’ll see you again one day. Or, you could look at it another way. It would be better for her to transition in a happy state vs in pain and scared. I know you made the right decision because you made it out of love. There is no one right or wrong moment. It is a “gray zone” of when it is time for euthanasia. Put your guilt at ease. I don’t see anything wrong with your decisions regarding her medical care. Focus, instead, on the fun times you had together, as hard as it may be.

  5. CathleenFebruary 26, 2018 at 12:20 am #

    A wild girl who loved to run with her ears back and loved to play chase I miss her so much so very much.

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJuly 2, 2018 at 1:44 am #

      I understand the pain you are in. It’s hard but try to focus on the great memories I’m sure you shared.

  6. AnastasiaJuly 3, 2018 at 7:50 pm #

    Just made this painful decision today , he’s name was Diablo a brindle Staffy , he was 14 and 8 months old. On the day after my birthday he suddenly collapsed and fell down a full flight of stairs at home , ( no broken bones and I managed to slow his fall down avoiding extra damage )he recoverd enough that we took him vets first thing next day and was advised to have a x-ray done , we did and on the same day was told he had heart disease , he started medication and I was very punctual with every dose , I also made low salt meals with fresh chicken , or a scrumbbled egg as a treat. He seemed to get better after 2 days , then he stared to have more what I later found to to be syncope fainting , so took him back in , was told not much could be done apart for going to a dog cardiologist , but I am unable to afford £600 I was quoted , also the vet said he would need more tests and that even then it might not help him , I was told he could stay on his meds but that they didn’t seem to help much at this point . He had so much love to give and still wanted to be around us but his heart and lungs made it painful for him .

    Today I put my fur-angel to sleep , I could not bare the thought of him suffering and wanted for him to die with no pain and with dignity , he looked so sad after he soiled himself during the fainting attacks , and his favorite thing was walkies time , he could no longer walk for more then 4 or 5 meters without being out of breath and gasping for air , he still liked to eat and wagged his tail so this made it even harder . My partner made the bravest decision and staid in the room through the whole process , I was hysterical so left as didn’t want to make my angel feel bad , I come back once he was at peace , this has been one of the most painful things in my life . I feel guilty that I didn’t do more .
    He was my best friend and I will never forget him , Rest in peace Diablo , 11/11/03 – 03/07/18

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJuly 23, 2018 at 12:46 am #

      Cyber hugs ((Anastasia)). Syncope is very serious. And the fact that he couldn’t walk 4-5 meters without gasping for air makes me think his heart was near the end. Most likely the cardiologist wouldn’t have been able to do much more. Do not feel guilty. You did nothing wrong.

  7. LucyAugust 1, 2018 at 9:29 pm #

    I put my beloved 16 year old chin to sleep a month ago and since then lost my piece. The last weeks he started pacing and non stop panting excessivelly. He started soiling in his bed and at home even when I was next to him. He would hust go out hide and stand for hours shaking and panting. At night he will just go out and stare into the darkness. He stopped sleeping at night and started to keep his head in a strange position “in the air”. He stopped making any sogns over than panting but he still ate and drink his water. I was so upset i didnt want to make him suffer longer so we didnt not do any thorough evaluations at vet. Vet suspected brain cancer but it was difficult to prove. That moment I just decided to euthanize him and now I just cant understand myself why I didnt try any medicine or treatments. My dog has multiple times visited vet and was always cured and haf operations. But this time was different, he was so exhausted and sad that I felt like i shouldnt torture him more.

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJanuary 7, 2019 at 1:23 am #

      It sounds like he was very sick and aside from surgery (if it works at all), there’s not much you can do for a brain tumor. I believe you sensed he was tired and at the end of his life. You knew not to have him undergo batteries of tests that he would not like. You need to grieve, but don’t second guess your decision.

  8. CheriAugust 2, 2018 at 7:00 pm #

    Thank you for the wonderful article…. it helped me a little bit. I have been really struggling. I gave my 17 year old dog a supplement for dementia. After giving her a few doses she stopped eating and drinking. I took her to the vet and he gave her sub Q fluids and an appetite stimulate. I was out of town at the time so didn’t know any of the vets. The next day she still was not eating or drinking. For 3 more days the vets gave her sub q. I found out later she should have been on IV because her blood sodium level was very high. I finally put her in the hospital… she was on IV for 4 days. She did start eating chicken but still was not drinking on her own. The hospital released her. I found out later her blood sodium was 156 when they released her. I don’t think she was getting enough water at home through a syringe, and now think they should not have released her. Over the next 18 hours she was pacing and acting strange. I didn’t know she was in danger. I made a vet appointment but they couldn’t take me until the afternoon. She collapsed right before her appointment. I took her to the vet and he said he didn’t think she’d make it through the night. He said if I took her to the hospital I would be keeping her alive for me. At one point she picked he head up off the table and looked at me. I told the vet to stop. He said in a mean voice “you aren’t changing your mind are you”? I was so confused and stressed I didn’t stop him. I got a copy of her blood tests later. Her sodium levels were very elevated and her kidney values were low stage 3. I have heard kidney values can increase temporarily due to dehydration. I guess I will never know since I didn’t give her a chance. I am now completely devastated that I didn’t take her to the hospital sooner and I allowed the vet to put her down. I can’t seem to forgive myself for what happened. She was the love of my life and soulmate for almost 1/3 of my life. I feel completely responsible for her death. Though she did have dementia her body was amazingly healthy for a 17 year old dog. She was a mini poodle. I know her dementia would have progressed but she was still ok and quite happy at 17.

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJanuary 7, 2019 at 1:32 am #

      It sounds like she was very ill. She was in the hospital for about a week. The supplements were likely coincidence that you started them 3 days before she stopped eating and drinking. Dementia is very serious and it can also be due to brain cancer. You did nothing wrong. You tried to treat her condition, but she kept worsening. Whatever illness she had was the cause of her death. She couldn’t survive without eating and drinking and it sounds like her body was in the normal process of shutting down. Don’t blame yourself. You had a wonderful life with her. And 17 years is old for any dog (although it’s never enough time). There can be illnesses that don’t show up on bloodwork. She likely would have needed extensive testing to find out the diagnosis. But, the outcome likely wouldn’t have changed. Grieve, but please don’t blame yourself. Some things are out of our control.

  9. TerryOctober 22, 2018 at 5:42 pm #

    Ah, my magical little cat Curtis, only 6. Thank you for this article. I have been agonizing for three days with guilt, as my husband wanted me to make the decision (he was afraid he’d vote to try anything). Curtis had a mass in his lungs, and pushing on his trachea, and had stopped eating/playing, etc. suddenly. He was unusually quite when we took him to our vet. She did tests and was talking surgery (benign or cancer) and I said “we don’t have the money.” Plus, when she said “pain meds, steroids, etc.” I could not picture it. I don’t know if I wanted to save us or him the pain. I can barely breathe I miss him so much and feel so guilty. He was so special.

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJanuary 7, 2019 at 1:37 am #

      It sounds like Curtis had a very serious illness. I’d suspect it was malignant. It would be very expensive to have the surgery done and try treatment, but still not get a positive outcome. You didn’t euthanize a healthy pet. He was very ill and you did nothing wrong. I’m sure you wish the outcome was different and he had something that could be easily treated, but it isn’t your fault. But, you do need to take time to mourn and grieve.

  10. KathyOctober 30, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    Friday Oct 26 3:30pm… that’s when we did it… & I have been a basket case ever since. Rascal was 10 1/2 years old. He was my baby boy. My Schnoodle who looked entirely like a salt & pepper Schnauzer, well, except for his little poodle feet. He was smart, cuddly, funny & so full of life…. and now he is gone. My heart is broken & I am racked with guilt. I am consumed with the horrific thought that we did it too soon. Was it? Did I do right by him? What if I had waited? Rascal had some rough periods. He was lost by the groomer a few years ago & we didn’t find him for 2 weeks. For the most part, he was ok. Very skinny & had an infected foot, but my boy was alive! Oh how we rejoiced & he was so happy to be home. Our lives rocked on until June 2017 when he tore his left ACL. He had the surgery & tolerated the recovery… but he HATED being crated & honestly, I hated it for him. About 6 months after that, the large fatty tumor in his abdomen doubled in size & it began to cause him pain, so we had it removed. More rest & confinement ensued, but by Christmas he was back to his old self, Running with abandon & LIVING life! In February, it all changed. I noticed that he was drinking A LOT. Then one evening, we left him & his siblings alone for a couple of hours, with the doggie door shut. We came home to a kitchen floor that was flooded in urine & a boy that was so ashamed of himself that he ran & hid. He had never urinated in the house & he had certainly never hid. The next day I took him to the vet. Blood samples were drawn, but since we live in a small town, the results did not come back until the next day. That’s when our lives were changed forever. Rascal had diabetes… & possibly Cushing’s Disease & maybe a thyroid problem. Oh…& he was losing weight.We immediately changed his diet & he was started on Vetsulin. I learned how to check his blood sugar at home & I found an internist an hour away, because I wanted the BEST for my boy. Thousands of dollars later and it was determined that he did not have a thyroid problem, but he definitely had Cushing’s & also chronic pancreatitis. He began on Vetoryl… & we drove back & forth to the big city for a couple of months having tests & getting the proper doses of everything worked out. By now my once 26 pound boy had lost down to a skeletal 16 pounds. I began researching foods & cooking chicken breasts in hopes of lowering his blood sugar, while putting some weight back on him. He began sleeping a lot & wanting to be held more. His days of running the fence line seemed to be long behind him, but he was still a happy boy who gave the BEST hugs. After months of HATING his shots, he had finally adapted to his diabetic routine. Blood check, food, shot & a small treat. Twice a day, every day. Some days we checked his blood sugar more often, if he seemed to not be feeling well… & at least once a month, we checked his blood sugar every 2 hours to do a “curve.” In August, on one of his really good days, when he was running in & out the doggie door, he flew off of the couch to run outside, but instead landed in a heap in the living room floor. He had torn his left ACL, again. The vet insisted that he would need surgery again, but I was hesitant. Surgery was one thing…. but that was going to mess with his somewhat level blood sugar & most of all, it was going to send him back to jail for the 12 weeks of recovery. We decided to give him pain meds & watch him for a few days. Well, much to our relief, he began walking on his leg & seemed to be doing really well. He even ran a bit. We decided to take a longterm wait & see approach. He had more blood work done to check his Cortisol level & it came back well within range. We thought we had figured it all out & that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. We were finally confident that we could do this & life was looking up… until Monday, October 22. Rascal and his brother stayed home while I took their sister to the eye doctor in the city. When we returned home, Rascal could not walk & he was in excruciating pain. At first I thought he had hurt his back, but after seeing him try to get up & walk, I realized…. he had torn the ACL in his good leg. I was horrified. I hand fed him, as much as he would eat (which was not much), gave him a pain pill & his insulin & we headed to the city. The ER vet said that he “probably” had torn the ACL, but they wanted to keep him & do sedated xrays (for $500) before they would know for sure. I asked if they could give him a shot for pain & some pain pills until I could figure out what to do. They administered the shot which was for pain & inflammation, gave us some Gabapentin & told us to follow up with our primary vet. On Thursday Oct. 25th, I took him to see his internist. She said he was still underweight & slightly dehydrated, but his diabetes & Cushing’s were doing ok, although his blood sugar could be lower. She called in their orthopedic surgeon for a consult. He concluded that Rascal did indeed have 2 torn ACLs, the left one (which had been repaired before & that he reinjured in August) & now the severely torn right one. The Dr. said Rascal needed surgery right now. Then he said it would cost a MINIMUM of $2300 per leg & the recovery period would be at least 6 months. I asked what the alternative treatment would be & he said pain management. I was gutted. I don’t have $4500-$5000!!! They prescribed a new pain pill to take in conjunction with the Gabapentin & we came home. I watched my once active, happy, bouncy boy try to walk, only to see him fall to the ground. I watched him not be able to get up off of the floor & I watched as he tried to drag himself across the carpet. Then I watched him give up. If he couldn’t get up, he’d just lie there… & look at me. I’d carry him outside, place him on the ground, tell him to get his bearings & sometimes he could stand on 3 legs & maybe take a few 3-legged steps. Then he’d look at me with pitiful eyes & fear. Sometimes he’d fall to the ground, other times it was like he was stuck in place. I’d pick him up & carry him around the yard or bring him back inside. At bedtime, he was restless & struggled to get comfortable. His right leg was of no use to him & his left leg was too weak to support him, most of the time. He always slept with me, but I was afraid he’d try to jump off of the bed, so I put a bed on the floor beside my bed. He looked so sad….
    I was at a loss. I looked at custom braces online… but I live in rural Oklahoma. There was nowhere locally that I could get them, like yesterday. I looked at wheelchairs, but I knew he’d be scared of such a contraption. (He was always a little anxious & jumpy after being lost for 2 weeks).
    Knowing that I could not afford the surgeries & that the pain meds did not seem to be elminating his pain… I consulted 2 friends, who are long time vet techs, (one of them also happens to be his groomer) & then I talked to our regular, local vet. They all believed Rascal was suffering & in pain. None of them thought he would do well with a wheelchair (since he was not paralized, they were afraid he’d fight it & hurt himself more. I hadn’t thought of that) & based on his other health issues…. & the fact that I could not afford to do the surgeries, they felt it was “time.” My other family & friends felt the time was long overdo. (They are not dog people & thought that scheduling my life around Rascal’s 12 hour feedings & insulin/medicine requirements was just too much. Because of that, I didn’t value their opions then or now!)
    I told my self that the facts were:
    Rascal was in pain.
    Rascal’s legs were always going to be an issue, especially without surgery & possibly even after surgery.
    Rascal had other serious health issues (but they were being managed).
    I could not afford the surgeries & I am in debt up to my eyeballs… & Rascal’s routine medical care & meds were EXPENSIVE! (I also have 2 other “babies” to take care of – including his sister who had eye surgery yesterday.)
    I live alone with my “kids” & I am the sole caregiver of my 83 year old Aunt, who has been in & out of the hospital this year & who just recently had her aortic valve replaced.
    Rascal would no longer be able to be home alone. He’d need 24/7 care.
    Most importantly….
    RASCAL WAS HURTING & for the most part, could not walk.
    Rascal was not very interested in eating… (You cannot give pain meds or insulin without food…. & he ALWAYS LOVED EATING!).
    Rascal could not run, jump or wrestle with his siblings. (His brother pounced on him & he couldn’t do anything but lay there.)
    I am NOT rich!
    Rascal HATED being in a cage!
    RASCAL was in PAIN.
    I felt sucker punched when the eye doctor told me yesterday that she knows other vets that would have done the surgeries for $1500 per leg. I was crushed when she said that. I never even thought about checking prices with other vets. I spent most of yesterday kicking myself because I didn’t price check. Then reality sunk in. Even if I could have found a vet that did them for $3000…. I DON’T HAVE $3000!!! Don’t get me wrong. If I had it or could have gotten it, I’d have done it!! But I don’t & I can’t so that information… served no purpose other than to cause further pain.
    The truth is, I’ve spent/charged at least $15,000 for Rascal’s care over the past few years… & I am flat broke.
    Ok…. so, now I am rambling… but that is what is going on in my head right now. Thank you for allowing me to vent…. I am consumed with the what-ifs, the unbearable guilt & the burning, searing pain of Rascal’s death… which I caused… and I am broken….

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJanuary 7, 2019 at 1:47 am #

      I’m so sorry this happened. I can tell you love him very much. Cushing’s disease can predispose a dog to tear ligaments more easily. In addition to his musculoskeletal problems, he had several serious endocrine problems and sometimes it gets to be too much for a body. Especially a dog body. A dog’s purpose should be to have fun, play, enjoy life, and be spoiled. It sounds like as time went on, his quality of life suffered. I know you considered everything when making the decision. If you fixed his legs, would it be fair to him to be crated for months again? If one ligament ruptured and the repair eventually failed, then subsequent repairs could also fail. I know the procedures are expensive, but you did everything you could for him and I believe if there were no other issues, that you would have somehow find the money to do it. So, it’s likely not about the money. You weighed every pro and con and did what you thought was best. You didn’t cause his death. His failing body couldn’t keep up and he was not himself anymore. And treatment was not without many problems, too. Think of him, grieve, and remember his happy soul. You do not need to feel guilty.

  11. Marguerite KirbyNovember 19, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

    I am tormented by ending my beautiful Calico, Sassy’s life. When the Vet xray her, she had in her rectal area, what looked like large rocks, they showed me the xray and wanted to keep her for the day to give her enemas, I thought no wonder she passed blood from her rectal area with one little ball she had strained so much.They called me to pick her up, they had given her fluids, B12 shot and the enema, nauisa shot. Bill was over $300. I didn’t care. What made me angry was calling to see what they had gotten out of her stomach with the enema unable to talk to Vet, she was busy. I called three times and no response from her, Vet. Tech had brought her out to me to pay the bill and just said she was so good for them. She would walk around hump up like she was going to potty on the bed, and I wouldn’t have cared if it made her feel better. I made a pad for her to lay on but when she would repeat humping up, I realized how miserable she was, I would carried her to the box with litter that I had in my shower and she would refuse to go so, I would lay her back on the bed. She finally relieved herself of all the fluid on the pad which was soaked from the IVs they had given her. I cleaned her butt as she smelled so bad. They did not clean her before I picked her up. I had lubricant and it made easier as she would cry out when I was picking the stuff off her butt. Still had not gotten response from Vet regarding relief if any from enema. Took her back two days later with the intentions of putting her out of her misery. She was 18 years old and I had her since she was 3 months old. I stayed with her, she was fighting us and they gave her a shot to calm her. It seemed to make her feel better and she relaxed. Much discussion with the head Vet and his comments of she is 100 years old, which would not have been accurate at age 18, Poor cat is miserable and he bet she had arthritis too. I broke and said, lets do this. I wanted what was best for her. I held her while she went peacefully and cried for two hours. The problem I have with this is I went to emergency room myself with blocked bowels, after they got me broke lose I kept have contractions as if in labor. they would give me a shot to calm my intestines. I feel, I should have brought her back home for at least a couple of days to see if she was experiencing the same but I didn’t know that they had gotten her cleaned out and that was a possibility that she was having contractions just like I had. Remember the Vet didn’t return my call that took care of her the first time. Too late, I had agreed to putting her out of her misery. I finally got a call from the Head Vet of the Pet Clinic when I insulted them on Social Media. He told me he would have never have let me put my beloved cat down if there had been any other option. However he wasn’t the one that took care of her just three days prior so had no way of knowing now what is eating me up inside. I wake up at night dreaming My Other cat is grieving she is 15 years old. I brought her to Sassy when Number 2 was three months old and She immediately took over the Mommie roll. they were together for 15 years. Loved and adored each other like I adored both of them. I’ve prayed that I didn’t do the wrong thing, she had never stopped eating or drinking not grooming herself. Did I put her down so soon needlessly. I will never know. It was my decision so, nothing will bring her back but, I am eaten with guilt. I think these Vets, should make a person wait, until there is absolutely no doubt in the owners mind about what is to take place because is cannot be undone. I was exhausted mentally and Physically from being up all night with her. I am 80 years old and am being eaten up with grief and fear that I took her life too soon, not really fit to make any decision. at that time. Should have waited at least two days to see if she was going to recover. Not only my suffering but Cat 2, stopped eating and drinking I took her to same Vet Clinic and got the same reponse. Nothing. They gave her fluids clipped her back nails and treated her ears for what, I have yet been able to find out after two calls, Nothing. I will not be returning to the clinic again. $200 later went to pick her up and again No explanation about what was bothering her ears. $67 for drops. put in her ears. Tech, just brought her to me no explanation of ear problem.Will Call Animal control to see what Vet the adoptees are told to go to. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJanuary 7, 2019 at 1:56 am #

      I’m so sorry to hear about Sassy. Constipation in a cat, especially an old one, can be very serious. Constipation is very uncomfortable and is likely caused by other underlying problems. Sometimes you need extensive tests to figure out what those problems are. I don’t know for sure, but they probably would have told you if the enema didn’t work. If it works one time, she could still develop hard stool again and have the same problem in a few days. I think you realized her pain from the illness and made the decision to not have her go through that any more. You say you may have done it too soon, many say that waited too long. I don’t think there is a specific time to do it – it’s more of a gray zone. Sassy had a serious illness. This was causing major problems to her body and was likely going to get worse. You didn’t cause this, and therefore you don’t need to feel guilty. But you do need to grieve her passing. Eighteen years is a very long time to have her in your life. It will take time before memories of her bring a smile to your face instead of a tear in your eye.

  12. Richard JonesJanuary 3, 2019 at 10:14 am #

    I am feeling such huge guilt and grief over the decision to put our loving boy Jake to sleep. In the last few weeks he had developed an auto-immune illness that caused him to be very anemic. It also affected his energy levels and his appetite. The vet put him on some very strong steroids which seemed to help. Following an improvement and follow up appointment, the vet decided to reduce the steroids. He was always quite weary of our two young girls but would just grumble and walk away from them (although he was so loving and happy around everyone else). I think this was a jealousy issue which we tried to remedy. The other day, as my youngest daughter (3 years old) walk past him she instinctively went to pet him as she does with our other dog. He growled and then snapped at her, catching her on the eyebrow and causing a small cut. This was so unlike him and he knew he had done something wrong. After agonizing over it, we took him to the vet who we have known and trusted for years. She checked him over and confirmed that he had had a relapse and that it was likely the behaviour was as a result of this and that the steroids can sometimes have that effect on dogs. She also confirmed that it was likely he would have to remain on the steroids for the remainder of his life. This would make him quite unpredictable, especially around our girls. Eventually we decided that the best thing for him and for the safety of our girls was to put him to sleep. We had considered trying to get him re-homed but at 12 years old and with a medical condition this was unlikely. We had rescued him in the first place and the thought of him seeing out his days in a pet shelter just killed us. We had him put to sleep on new years eve. The grief and the guilt of this is now killing me. I keep asking myself whether we made the right decision and whether we did everything we could. He was so loved and we miss him terribly but i am struggling to get past the guilt and move on to missing him and remembering the great time we had with him. Sorry for the rambling comment.

    • Dr. Kari Trotsky
      Dr. Kari TrotskyJanuary 7, 2019 at 2:05 am #

      I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I find many older dogs don’t like being around young kids. Kids can be loud, which can hurt their ears or their old ears can cause them to hear differently than when they were younger and they can get confused by the sounds. Kids are also unpredictable and older dogs have more difficulty interpreting their behavior as friendly or not. Kids can also accidentally bump into older dogs when can hurt sore hips, they can pull fur/ears/tails and cause pain. And they can make older dogs not get as much rest as they need. Top that off with a serious illness that makes them not feel very well, and treatment that can cause them to be more aggressive than normal, and it’s a no win situation for everyone. Luckily, your child was not seriously injured this time. The next time could have been a different story. Children can get disfigured or even die if a tooth nicks an artery. As hard as it was, you did the right thing. Your dog was likely in more discomfort than he let on and you let him be out of pain before he seriously hurt a child which would put a permanent black mark on the memories you would have of him. Grieve for his passing, but let go of any guilt.

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