It is never an easy decision to put down a pet. Losing a loved one is very difficult as it is but making the choice to end a loved one’s life is even more puzzling.
The emotions involved in the process of euthanization are very complex with some pet owners disagreeing with the practice as a whole.
How, when, and if you should euthanize your dog is ultimately up to you. However, having some tips on how to go about the process may make it just a little bit more manageable.
Understanding Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic disease in dogs caused by a deformity in the hip joint. In a normal hip joint, the femur (thigh bone) should fit into the socket of the hip bone. In hip dysplasia, the femur doesn’t fit into the socket, a condition usually caused by the bones growing at different rates.
Signs and symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
- Bunny hop
- Loss of muscle mass in the affected leg
- Reduced willingness to exercise
- Popping sound as the dog moves
- Pain at the affected joint
How to Tell When Your Dog’s Quality of Life is Declining
A key element to euthanization is deciding when it should be done. At what point do you think to yourself, “my dog is better off dead than living?”
How do you know when to put a dog down with hip dysplasia?
Here are some signs that your dog’s life is changing for the worse:
- If your dog cannot feed or drink water properly
- If your dog cannot move at all or without experiencing excruciating pain
- If they are incontinent. Incontinence is a state where one cannot control urination or defecation. When your dog becomes incontinent, you will notice her start to urinate or defecate on herself.
- If other complications are starting to arise. For example, your dog may start to get fevers more often
- If your dog is visibly unwell. You know your dog best. If you notice she hasn’t been in a good mood in days, it is most likely a sign that her body is giving in.
What is Euthanization?
Euthanization is the act of intentionally ending a life to end one’s pain and suffering.
Euthanization of dogs is a complex process. Taking the step to end the life of a pet that has been a part of your family and life for years can’t be easy on anyone. It is however sometimes the best decision you can make for your dog.
Deciding to Euthanize a Dog
The process of euthanizing a dog starts with the day you realize that it may be the next logical step in your dog’s journey.
If the idea of euthanizing your dog has crossed your mind, it is highly advisable to speak to your vet about it. Your vet will be able to advise you on whether you should continue with treatment a little bit longer.
The ultimate choice will still be yours but getting the opinion of an expert will help you make a better-informed decision. Your dog’s pain could truly be unbearable but she could still stand a chance with other treatment options.
If your vet sadly agrees that you should proceed with the euthanization, then it is time to start preparing your dog and yourself for the procedure.
The Process of Euthanizing a Dog
After your vet has agreed with you on euthanizing the dog, you should begin to make the appropriate arrangements. Some of the preparations you can make to smooth the euthanization process include:
- Prepare yourself emotionally. It helps to brace yourself with what is about to happen. You may speak to other owners that have had their dogs put down to help you navigate your emotions.
- Give your dog the best final days possible. As the day nears, make your dog’s last days as happy as possible. Give her her best food, spend time in her favorite places, and spend as much time with her as possible.
- Make funeral or cremation arrangements. To reduce the burden on yourself after the procedure, make the funeral arrangements prior to the appointment.
- Set a favorable time for the appointment. It would be difficult to head to work after your dog has been put down. If possible, set the appointment at a favorable time such as a Friday evening to give yourself time to grieve.
What Happens the Day of the Procedure
On the day of the procedure, expect a wave of difficult emotions.
It may help to call the vet’s office ahead of time to confirm the appointment. It would be twice as frustrating to have to wait on your dog’s euthanization appointment.
At the start of the procedure, the vet might request to sedate your dog beforehand. Sedation will help your dog go out peacefully without feeling a thing. The vet will then proceed to give your dog the dose that will finally end your beloved dog’s life.
You may choose to stay in the room or not. However, you have to know that many pet owners who chose to not be in the room wish they had.
To euthanize, vets usually use two drugs; Benadryl and Tylenol. Sometimes, sleeping pills may be used.
Euthanasia Vs. Natural Death
Some pet owners believe that it is best to wait for mother nature to take its course instead of taking issues into your own hands. For some, it is a question of morality. Such pet owners do not believe that we as human beings should not get to decide when a life gets to end.
It may be a personal belief for some while others are influenced by their religion.
Other owners are not exactly opposed to the practice but just prefer to spend as much time with their dog as possible.
No approach is better than the other. As long as the pet owner has the best interests of the dog in mind, either option is as viable as the other.
The Advantages of Euthanasia
- It is quick. The process of euthanization can be over in under a minute. If you have been beside a death bed, you know that natural death can take hours to days to finally occur.
- It is peaceful. If done right, your dog should not be able to feel a thing during the procedure. With the use of a sedative, your dog may not even be aware of the process.
- It is pain-free. Other than the prick of the needle, your dog should not feel any pain or discomfort.
- It gives the owner control of the situation especially when it comes to saying goodbye.
The Disadvantages of Euthanasia
- For dogs that get anxiety from being at the vet’s, it may be uncomfortable as compared to if they were to be home.
- Guilt. Some owners may not be able to live the idea that they ended their pet’s life.
The Advantages of Natural Death
- The dog gets to die in a natural environment that she is familiar with
- The owner does not have to deal with the emotional toll of putting down a dog
The Disadvantages of Natural Death
- It is slow. A natural death can drag out for a while especially for dogs that are fighters
- Pain. The process may become too painful for your dog especially if no pain medications are being used.
Prolonging Your Dog’s Life: Ways to Live with a Dog with Hip Dysplasia
If your dog has just been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, you do not have to worry about euthanization yet. In fact, you may not have to worry about it at all.
As an owner, there’s so much you can do for your dog with hip dysplasia to make her life easier. In addition to following your vet’s instructions, here are some measures you can take to improve your dog’s quality of life:
You should feed your dog on a diet rich in healthy high-quality foods. Healthy food is rich in nutrients like vitamin D and calcium that are essential for the development of strong bones.
Food is also a source of other nutrients that aid the synthesis of tissues like cartilage and connective tissue. Such nutrients include protein, vitamin C, and collagen.
A healthy diet will also protect your dog from obesity which could worsen her hip dysplasia.
Mobility Aids Like CBD Oil
CBD can offer so many health benefits to a dog with hip dysplasia. CBD may help provide pain relief to your dog.
In the long run, CBD through its anti-inflammatory properties may help your dog’s hip dysplasia improve. CBD also has a positive impact on your dog’s mental health and mood by reducing your dog’s anxiety.
Herbs like turmeric have strong healing properties but can be difficult to incorporate into the diet. Luckily, you can get their benefits from manufactured supplements.
Natural supplements tend to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help alleviate some signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia.
As your dog’s legs become too painful to stand on, she may lose interest in exercise. You should find ways of encouraging your dog to get some physical exercise.
Physical exercise improves the strength and range of motion of the affected limbs. Physical exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy weight.
If physical exercise at home is not helping your dog, you can opt for hydrotherapy a type of physical therapy performed underwater.
Hydrotherapy allows your dog’s legs to exercise comfortably with high resistance. The high resistance of water strengthens the musce of the legs improving mobility.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat many health conditions. Acupuncture is great for mobility diseases such as hip dysplasia.
Acupuncture is believed to improve blood circulation which promotes healing in body tissues. Acupuncture is also used as a pain reliever.
Remedial massage is not only great for relaxation and pampering. It also offers an array of health benefits. Massage can be used to provide relief for so many conditions including hip dysplasia.
You can massage your dog at home or take her to a qualified massage therapist. It is always advisable to seek the help of a professional to guide you through the process.
As your hip dysplasia advances, she may not be able to keep up as she would if she were okay. For this reason, you will have to set up her environment to support her new life.
Some of the changes you can make to support your dog’s well-being include cushioning her favorite areas, providing an orthopedic mattress, and placing everything she needs within reach.
Our Final Thoughts
Making the choice to put down your dog is not easy. However, hip dysplasia can get very difficult to live with for a dog.
If you feel that it is time to put down your dog with hip dysplasia, consult your vet on how best to proceed. If your vet agrees with you, it is most likely for the best.
Euthanization of a dog can have a very serious toll on your mental health. If you find yourself distressed after the procedure, seek help from sources such as family or support groups.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know when to put a dog down with hip dysplasia?
If you feel like your dog’s illness is making her very miserable, it may be time to consider putting her down.
Is walking bad for dogs with hip dysplasia?
Short light walks are okay for dogs with hip dysplasia. In fact, a short walk may help improve your dog’s mobility if she has hip dysplasia.
How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?
A dog can live a long full happy life with hip dysplasia. If well treated and managed, your dog should be able to live comfortably with the condition.