Dog Euthanasia: Knowing When to Let Go of Your Labrador


Dog euthanasia is something that inevitably impacts many pet parents. When our dogs become old, we face some heartbreaking decisions. And it is important that we have help and support in making them. Although we all hope that our pets will pass peacefully in their sleep, the reality is that often your dog’s quality of life is reduced so much that you need to consider euthanasia.

Chronic pain, long term illness, incontinence and extreme lethargy can all inevitably lead you to the decision you never wanted to make. 

Since I first shared my personal views on end of life care and dog euthanasia, many have added their own moving stories to this page. I hope that they will bring you support and comfort at this difficult time.

Putting A Dog To Sleep

The option for humane euthanasia is not available to most humans,  but we do have the option of putting a dog to sleep. When is the right time to use that choice, if at all, is an intensely personal and tough decision.

This is my personal slant on a difficult subject that comes up quite regularly in many doggy forums.

I know this won’t be popular with some, but I do feel that there is sometimes a tendency now to drag a dog’s life out to the bitter end. Even when quality of life is really all but gone.

It is probably showing my age, but there seems to be a modern reluctance to ‘let go’ that you didn’t see so much in my youth, and I am not sure that it does dogs any favours. In some cases, I think owners feel they will be judged and disapproved of, if they put their dog to sleep ‘too early’.

Palliative Care For Dogs

When people are dying, we accept that all we can do is make them comfortable. Palliative care is an important branch of medicine that many of us will depend on in our twilight months.

Palliative care for dogs is a somewhat newer concept.

When I was young, if a dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer, as my Golden Retriever was, the dog was normally put to sleep on the spot, or very shortly afterwards.

Our vet made the diagnosis in his surgery and we took our dog home to have a last couple of days together.

The vet then came out to put him to sleep in his own home.

At this point, pain meds controlled his pain absolutely without making him drowsy, in a week or two that would not have been the case.

He was also in full control of his bodily functions. Still continent, and able bodied. Still enjoying life. Later on he would have become incontinent, and may have had problems with his balance.

A Dog’s Quality Of Life

There was no chemotherapy for dogs then, and my parents refused surgery as the side effects would have curtailed his pleasure and joy in life.

No one suggested that we extend his last few weeks with drugs. Though he might have lived for several more months this way, it was not considered to be an option by my family or our vet.

He never suffered, apart from the mild symptoms that had led us to the vet in the first place. And he spent his last couple of days pottering about the house and garden quite happily. I have no regrets about the decision we made.

It was the first time, at just 18 years old, that I had been involved in such a decision, and I have made many such decisions in the intervening years.

Yes, he could probably have had a few more days of joyful living. Possibly a few more weeks. And we may have deprived him of that time. But the risk that he would then begin to suffer was not acceptable to us. And knowing that he never suffered at all, was and still is, a comfort to me.

But he isn’t suffering yet

The heartbreak of losing a dog is so very cruel on the owner, but I believe that putting off what is inevitable may cause much suffering on both sides.

I believe that the course many people take nowadays, the course that they may be encouraged to take by their vet and by friends and family, of waiting for the suffering to start before making that final decision, does not benefit our dogs.

Younger Dog Euthanasia

Of course with younger dogs,  especially if the illness is not terminal,  then there are a whole range of other factors to consider.

The dog’s quality of life during convalescence has to be balanced against the potential for quality of life in the future. With elderly dogs, once illness has set in, there is very often only one way to go. And that is downhill.

When A Labrador Loses Control Of His Back Legs

A common end of life problem for very old dogs is a loss of control over their back legs. This is heart breaking for owners and poses a dilemma, because the dog is often otherwise well in himself, and not necessarily in pain.

Loss of back end awareness is sometimes accompanied by loss of control over bowels, with the inevitable distress that this causes to both of you.

Does Dignity Matter To Dogs?

I was saddened to read recently about a person who had nursed their own elderly dog through weeks of incontinence before death.

She talked about ‘peri-care’  and ‘diapers’ and the difficulties of caring for aging and incontinent dogs. I was sad for her, and doubly sad for her dog.

For me, that would not be an option. I feel that ‘dignity’ in some sense of the word, does matter to dogs. And that an elderly dog would be very distressed by being unable to keep itself clean.

Knowing that there is no hope of recovery, and believing that a dog has no concept of or fear of death, is enough to keep me from going down that route.

The Wrong Decision For The Right Reasons

Sometimes I think people make the wrong decision for the right reasons.

They hate the mess and stress of caring for a sick old dog, the broken nights, the smell, and the worry. They quite naturally want it to end. But they are afraid that making the decision to end their dog’s life might be based on their own convenience.

So they make the wrong decision. For all the right reasons. They are trying to put the dog first, and to ignore their own needs. So they keep the dog alive for a few more weeks.

Only in this case, it isn’t really a life. It is miserable for the owner, and miserable for the dog too. Ending the dog’s life at an earlier stage would quite probably have been the right decision.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

Better Too Soon Than Too Late

Many would like to see euthanasia made available for people too. That is a whole other topic, but perhaps we are too reluctant to make use of this option which is readily available for our dogs and can prevent a great deal of suffering.

I read this sentence once, and it stuck with me:

“Better a week too early than a day too late.”

It kind of sums up how I feel. I’m all for quality of life, over quantity.

What do you think? Is there ever a right time to let go? Or should we let just let nature take its course?

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. Just Memories (of our Labrador Retriever)
    I remember the first time we met you, in Mom’s arms with a blank gaze, just 6 weeks old.
    I remember worrying about you on those cold nights until we could bring you to the warmth of our home.
    I remember Mom in the backyard holding our 8 lb. precious Little Rolo boy.
    I remember you chewing baseboards and swallowing a leash while we were away.
    I remember how undisciplined you were as a pup—Mom wanted to give you away!
    I remember the commands you were taught—you learned them well: ‘sit, speak, down’.
    I remember how fast you grew into those large paws and that scruffy thick topcoat.
    I remember how you loved to play, and how our neighbors always gave you a treat as you ran to greet them.
    I remember the walks, the car rides you loved, the rawhide bones you chewed for hours.
    I remember you catching and fetching tennis balls, chewing rubber squeeky toys, those floppy brown
    ears hanging, that nose always sniffing—and you knew how to avoid pills buried in food.
    I remember you at the beach jumping into the waves and that thick coat impervious to water.
    I remember anytime we returned from out, you were at the front door waiting.
    I remember on some walks you’d sit in the road in front of doggie May’s house—waiting for her to come out and play, and later in life visits from Oscar the dachshund.
    I remember you quietly sitting beside the kitchen table at meals hoping for some scraps, and standing at kitchen doorway when I entered the pantry, waiting for me to toss you part of my snack. You always caught them even with the cataracts of age.
    I remember how you loved to go greet the ‘garbage man’ and how fond David the driver and his slingers were of you. How you always greeted guests and service people with a sniff and tailwag.
    I remember your company during Hurricane Michael—no fear, but quiet patience in that hotel stairwell full of frightened people.
    I remember as years went by how age began to show—an injured knee ligament at 9 repaired like new.
    The hot spots from grass allergy on your paws and how hard it was to stop you from chewing them.
    I remember how you would ‘help’ Mom with the laundry as you followed her back and forth with a basket of clothes—proudly carrying a rag, a bra or pair of underwear. What a loyal assistant.
    I remember when you could no longer jump up into your favorite armchair or onto our bed—I think it upset you.
    I remember you started to lose interest in those rawhide bones, and your toys—you would peer into the toy basket and turn away.
    I remember at age 12 you began crying at night when alone—which stopped when we moved your bed to our room to be near us.
    I remember your occasional unsteady gait but thought not much of it then.
    I remember we left you at the kennel for a brief stay, but picking you up things were not quite right.
    I remember you turned away from your favorite foods except for pepperoni sticks.
    I remember your breathing became rapid that night—I worried you might not make it til daybreak and so a visit to the vet the next morning.
    I remember the Xray showed pneumonia but it went away with pills—now resting easier but still panting anytime you got up which required a bit of help for those hindlegs.
    I remember that blank look in your eyes as you lay on the rug, saying something is wrong and it is not good.
    I remember I sobbed and told you I loved you and that things would be alright—that we would ‘fix it’.
    I remember back to the vet who found your pain from arthritis in spite of medicine, and that gave us great pause since you were not eating.
    I remember the vet’s words: “I knew when I walked into the room, saw him and you, I have seen this before.”
    I remember I felt we had hit a wall—the need to decide whether to put an end to it all. Let my boy go in dignity or suffer in pain—that was no good choice. So my big Little Rolo—my handsome brown Lab—was put down—no pain or final gasp—just a blank stare as his chin sagged to the floor, then that last breath which happened so fast.
    I remember looking down at his big handsome motionless body—but empty of that sweet spirit which had departed, leaving it and us behind.
    It was then I remembered how 12 years went by too fast. My sweet friend and companion was not meant to last.
    I will always remember my Rolo forevermore—but still can’t keep from hoping he’ll be at the door.

  2. Last week I had to make the heart-breaking decision to let my 15 year old beautiful black lab Shadow go. My constant and loyal companion for most of his life – the house just seems so empty without him. He was determined to carry on despite struggling to stand towards the end, pulling himself up with his front legs and facing the indignity of being unable to cock his leg to pee or squat to poo. He was struggling so with arthritis -he could barely walk 20 yards without having to lie down. He was also suffering with a retching cough as a result of congestive heart failure.

    The vet said any treatment for his heart failure would probably be too much for him but cant help thinking should I have persevered with this option? I am so racked with guilt at having to make that decision. It was such a hard choice to make when he still managed to give a waggy tail welcome every day and still loved his food until the very last day when I think he realised he just couldn’t carry on. Oh Shadow I miss you so much…..

  3. Just today, I had our twelve and half year old female yellow lab put to sleep. We got her as a pup about 9 months before our first child was born, and she was the best imaginable family dog through the birth and growing up of our two children. She also was the most stoic dog I’ve ever seen. She was rarely vocal and never complained. Happy to sit perched uncomfortably on piles of duffle bags in the back of a car or SUV, especially because she knew the word “trip” and it meant country fun.
    About 8 months ago, just short of 12 years old, she developed pronounced arthritis and started to slow down after my last fishing trip of the year that she accompanied me on. She was still always smiley and loved trips to the cottage and going fishing with me. The arthritis become bad enough that I had to provide some relief via an NSAID, and eventually, some gabapentin on top of that when the pain was obviously breaking through and getting to her (only visible through her limping). We brought a new pup into the household last fall, and although this pup is an awfull handful, she handled the situation with aplomb.
    Even though she struggled with arthritis, she lived for her daily walks and dog park time, and would still beat the pup (who is now 8 months old) in games of tug. Although she couldn’t run, or even walk quickly, she would sneakily steal the ball out of the chuck-it when I wasn’t looking.
    I know that she was getting old, and 12 and older is on the long side of the average lifespan for labs. I had always planned to give her some lovely country time when it looked like the end was approaching. She would have a last wonderful woodsy day or two, and I’d arrange for a vet to come by to help her pass.
    Less than two weeks ago, she developed a mysterious diarrhea, which I didn’t think was too serious. Little did I know that it was the harbinger of the end. We worked to treat the runs with a bland diet, and she still seemed interested in life, play etc. About 4 days after the onset of the diarrhea, she suddenly became disinterested in her kibble. In retrospect, it was another bad sign. We chalked it up to an upset tummy because she was still keenly interested in her favourite treats and would eat rice with extra lean ground beef. The next step was that her back legs began to sag when she stood for a while. I missed this sign too, chalking it up her arthritis. The real shock came 5 days ago when we heard her whimpering in the middle of the night – her rear legs had given out, and she couldn’t get back into her dog bed. I took her to the vet the next day. The vet drew blood, did some other examinations, and tested her neurological signs. The diagnosis was indeterminate – no neurological issues with her hind legs, but the vet wasn’t too concerned. We stopped the metacam since it didn’t appear to be working any longer, and switched to tramadol to make sure that she wasn’t in any pain. I made the mental decision that if she didn’t improve in the next few days, that i would enact my plan the following week. I her brought her home and made her comfortable. Within a day or two, she massively declined and became disinterested in food, and it now became crystal clear to me that it was time to act. Although she had deteriorated, I thought we still had a good window (meaning weeks) since just the day before, she was interested in chasing a neighbour’s cat, and going after a dog that had wandered onto our lawn, despite the wobbly back legs.
    I arranged a vet visit, and packed her into the car and headed north to the farm. By the time we arrived, she couldn’t even stand at all, and was refusing water. Although she couldn’t romp as I had planned, I think (hope) that she was content to lie on her bed and smell the country smells wafting by. She somehow made it through the night (with me cuddled by her side), and her eyes were somewhat alert the next morning, although her breathing was very laboured and her breath smelled strongly of something dead.I carried her outside again, and spent the last few hours with her until the vet arrived. She never seemed to be suffering, but I doubt that she would have lived even much more than a few more hours had the vet not come.
    In the end, when I looked back on it, I should have heeded the signs, but I kept telling myself that she’d rally for a while – enough to arrange things properly for her. It all just happened so fast – going from tug champion one day to dying just a few days later. Her blood results revealed that just about everything was abnormal. She was a master of hiding her pain and forging ahead until literally everything failed in her body. If I could go back in time, I would have acted sooner to give her that last proper romp and a better death – she deserved that much.

    • i feel your pain. my barney was 14 and 8 months and up until last weekend was living a good life. a few small walks a day, very alert at home, always scavenging for food. then last saturday he picked up an infection (we got caught in a rain storm and while the vet said this would not have caused anything I cannot stop feeling guilty) then his back legs just gave way. we could have had him for a few more weeks on strong meds but we knew it wasn’t fair on him. i know he lived a long, amazing life with us, but because it was SO sudden I have been rail-roaded by this. the house feels so empty without him. i am just crying all the time. don’t beat yourself up about not heeding signs. i’ve done that myself but i truly believe they hide a lot of pain they may be in until it’s their time to go. take care.

    • My dear friend l have just been threw the exact story with my lab and l too feel guilty l kept him too long l said goodbye Christmas Eve and cannot stop the tears the house is empty without him and l am heartbroken thankyou your story has made me realise l am not the only one who suffered with my beautiful Jakey 😓😞xx

  4. Late this morning we put our beloved yellow lab, Charlie, to sleep. He was 14 years old and in many ways a very healthy yellow lab. But in the past 6 months he had experienced muscle weakness and arthritis in his hind legs and the conditions were visibly progressive. Often he was unable to rise from a laying position without great effort as his hind legs would spread like “the splits” and we had become fearful that he would break a hip and experience intense horrific pain. Also, he had become somewhat and occasionally incontinent and had difficulty squatting to expel solid waste. He no longer could climb stairs in the house. Walking was becoming a challenge.

    Mentally, however, Charlie had remained sharp as a tack. He was the perfect family dog. He loved all members of our family and was very protective of the younger children, as if he had the responsibility to watch over them day and night. He loved to take walks, sniff the flowers, run through the water along the shore of Lake Michigan, and play with his toys. Of course, in the past few months he had become less agile and had difficulty breathing. The distance on his walks had become substantially reduced due to his hind legs and difficulty catching his breath.

    We knew that we did not want Charlie to experience further deterioration. He was a proud dog and it seemed that he had self-awareness of his decline. We wanted him to pass on with his dignity intact. Those are reasons we made the extremely difficult decision two days ago to proceed with having our beloved Charlie put to sleep this morning. We showered our undivided attention on him this morning and made certain that he felt special and treasured by us.

    I have owned other wonderful dogs but no dog will ever be a replacement for my Charlie. He had a beautiful spirit and he taught me many lessons about life. His greatest trait was patience — he never tired of listening to me talk. His moment of death was quick and painless. I rubbed his ears as he passed on and told him that he was dearly loved. I do believe he is now in dog heaven. Thank you, Charlie, for being my loyal friend.

    • Three weeks ago my 10yr old yellow Lab Kopper started experiencing the same issues as your Charlie all of a sudden. He has always had some type of health issues with skin allergies, elevated thyroid ,diabetes which lead to blindness. But through all those health issues he has always been the best dog and companion. I know its time to let him go but its so hard because his mind and spirit are just as strong as the day he came home with me at the age of 3 (he was a rescue). But through all his health issues I always said to myself it was the quality of time with him ….. not quantity.

      Thank you for your post Patrick it really helped me make this horrible decision.

  5. Our black lab is not even 6 years old and has suffered from epilepsy for most of those years. I remember saying when we first got her how lucky we were. She is such a kind, gentle soul who loves everyone. She has such a great personality but the meds have taken their toll and she looks tired, she has started to have accidents and she is off her food. We know that the time is coming when we will have to make that awful decision but your article has put things into perspective for me and I thank you for that.

  6. I’ve just lost my black Labrador Harry with megaosophagus. I’m heart broken. Reading this has really helped me as I’m on my own.

  7. Our lab is part German shepherd lab mix and barely 2 years old . So What if he’s not an older dog and needs help with his back legs mobility ?
    We took him to an Ortho pet doc and he told us we have to wait until his legs go out before doing anything to help him . I can’t stand by and not help him . What can we do to help with his back legs besides putting him down , which isn’t an option. Any advice would be greatly appreciated and helpful . Thank you

  8. Thank you so much for this site. My 11 year old yellow lab is pooping in her bed at night and loses control of her back legs. She is a retired seeing eye dog and is the kindest, gentlest dog I’ve ever known. She looks at me with these expressive eyes when she can’t get up. I promised her that I would let her go when it is time. Her shadow, my 13 year old pug is choosing to spend time with her when she would normally want on the bed. We all know…thank you for reminding me to celebrate a life well lived (she is also a certified therapy dog) that has touched many people.

  9. I’m glad I read this. Our baby is 13, losing use of his hind legs and very little control over his bowel movements. Other than that he’s happy, still loves food and when he can, he loves being out in the open air. He has no other physical or medical disease; just the hip dysplasia catching up with him.
    Everyone says ‘you’d know’ but I’m always not entirely convinced, and your post hit the nail on the head.
    I think people say ‘you’d know’ really means ‘when you’re ready’.
    It takes so little for a dog to be happy, it is easy to convince ourselves that ‘OK’ is enough. I told the husband if the pain killers is only so that Ollie can get up and pee and eat, that’s not what I want for him. He deserves more.
    My heart is breaking with the knowledge that his end is not too far away, but reading this gives me something positive.
    I keep wanting to give him one more day and thus giving us one more day of and with him, but everytime he stumbles I die a little bit.

  10. I really appreciate you for writing this post and the quote “better a week too early than a day too late” gives me comfort. On the 23rd of September I had to put my black Labrador Lucy to sleep. What breaks my heart is she was only 8 and half years old and I feel I was robbed of so many more years with her. She had a splenic tumour and the mass was the biggest the vet had seen. We tried surgery, but the risk of haemorrhage was too great. They recommended putting her to sleep on the operating table but we couldn’t bring ourselves to agree, she was so young and energetic, it was such a shock to hear that suggested. 6 weeks later she went down hill, her stomach was huge, she was loosing weight, not eating properly and struggling to sit comfortably but still loved her walks, had the happiest face and always wagging her tail which made the decision so much harder. The vet explained she didn’t have long left and when the times come she would be in a lot of pain and discomfort so we decided to say good-bye. This post makes me appreciate that we said goodbye when her final days / weeks she was still Lucy, still jumping in muddy puddles, chasing squirrels and looking happy. I just wish I could accept loosing her at such a young age and stop feeling guilty for not finding the mass sooner.

  11. Reading these posts tonight has really helped me cope with the fact that on Monday at 12 noon I will say “goodbye sweet girl” for the final time to my almost 14 yo black lab…my heart is breaking. I cannot imagine life without her, she has been the gentlest of companions, has adored my three kids comforting them through the turbulent teenage years and accepted, with immense stoicism, the pup we brought home 5 years ago. We took her to her favourite place last week (the sand dunes and beach in North Devon) knowing it would be for the last time as we always promised we would but now is the time before she suffers – like lots of people have said she still wags her tail and loves her food but watching her struggle to stand and then, even more, to lie down again, to watch her legs collapse and to put the brakes on rather than go for a walk tells me all I need to know. I could let her go on but that would be selfish and more about me than her and I cannot bear to think of her in pain. So this weekend she will be spoilt rotten – favourite treats, extra rations and cuddles and then on Monday I will hold her close until she slips away, whispering my thanks for all the good times. We are so lucky to have dogs in our lives but letting them go is surely the greatest love we can show.

    • I am struggling with trying to decide when is right…she is 14 yo chocolate lab. The best we have ever gentle..loving and our buddy….so close to you always..following every where always on your right side knee..looking to your eyes for the next adventure. I will be soo lost…I know….her arthritis will make the choice..I love her so much

  12. If i can use the word luck , I will but that is what brought me to this site. Today. Bobby my thirteen year old friend can longer stand on his own and spends the day lying down with no change in position either. Heart wrenching to see… and the degradation happened in a matter of two months and three days back he was totally limp in the back and setting his hind sole bent backwards. Today the vet tried to see if he can swim. No he cannot and just became wet. So its decided that Monday we will set him free of his pain. Forever.

    And thanks to all those who shared here … i am in a much better frame of mind now to accept reality.

  13. I’m in tears, and my heart is breaking all over again reading these stories. Fifteen years ago, I lost my wonderful first yellow lab, Woody, just before he turned 14. He was my constant companion and went everywhere with me. Now, I’m a retired elementary school teacher, but when I was teaching, he spent a lot of time in my classroom. He adored kids and welcomed all their love and hugs. My favorite memory of him (when he wasn’t trying to steal crayons) was when he would lie on the rug in the reading corner, soaking up the attention, with about half a dozen 9 year olds fondling his silky ears, holding his paws or tail, rubbing his belly, or just petting him as they read their books. He also enjoyed visiting the handicapped kids in their classrooms, going right up to them in their wheelchairs, or visiting our elderly neighbor when she was in the nursing home – all long before therapy dogs were a ‘thing’. At about 12, his rear legs and back were beginning to weaken, so I built ramps over the steps from the deck to the yard and taught him to use a step-stool to get into the car. I even brought him for Reikki treatments. There came a time when my precious dad was given a few months to live, and Woody began having some digestive and bowel difficulty. I could tell he was bothered by his accidents, although I tried never to show any upset. One day I woke up to find he had thrown up and had loose stools several times during the night. Fearing I was on the verge of losing both my special guys, I was frozen – torn between bringing him to the vet and and waiting to see if he would do better. The decision was taken out of my hands when he went downhill rapidly, and it became impossible for me to move him. I put some Christmas music on, and he died shortly after. It must have been a terrible ordeal for my ‘Woodgie-bear’, and I was devastated. How I now wish I had had the emotional strength then to bring him to the vet and relieve his suffering.
    My second spectacular yellow lab, Nilla, never had any aches or pains or joint problems. At 12 he was still playing frisbee and catch with vigor. He helped me over the loss of both Woody and my dad. He had a huge goofy grin and came to me understanding only Spanish. He was my velcro dog, by my side constantly, esp. during my recovery from brain surgery. Then a tumor appeared on his leg. Seemingly overnight, it grew to a massive size and started to ooze and he seemed in pain. The vet said it was very aggressive and while he might be able to surgically reduce the size temporarily, it might not heal and would def grow back rapidly. We might have had a few more days together trying to keep dressings on, difficulty walking, and staying on top of pain meds, but I could not put my sweet boy through that. I decided not to take him home, but held him and talked quietly to him as he was euthanized. Again, I was devastated, but the vet assured me I had done the right thing. I would absolutely not hesitate to make that same decision again (or recommend it) in order to prevent pain and preserve dignity and quality of life for such a beloved family member. In the end, I truly think it is the single best and most loving thing we can do for them after a lifetime of devotion.

  14. I am 67 yrs old and have always had dogs in my life, I tell people that on the first day with your new dog, you have to think of the last… enjoy every moment in between but know it will come.
    Your post made me burst into tears… because it was the best and most compassionate explanation of this I have ever heard 🐾💕🐾
    Ever new dog owner should be given a copy…
    And if you don’t mind..I will be doing that for every friend getting a new dog…or struggling with the decision for an existing one ♥️💔♥️
    (The more you love, the deeper the pain 🐾)

  15. I’m in pieces. My 12.5 year old chocolate lab just had a second mass cell tumour removed 5 days ago and my vet called today to say although the removal was a success the lab confirms he has an aggressive cancer that will most likely if not already spread to his liver , kidneys etc. He said they could look at chemo but I’m thinking that I just can’t put him though it for the sake of a few more months.
    I’m feeling guilt beyond belief that I’m even thinking of letting nature take its course. He has arthritis is in his hips and his legs are giving away more and more.
    I can’t stop crying.
    He’s my best friend. My bear. My boy. His brother is a 13.5 year old yellow lab who can no longer go on walks but is quite happy. I know we will lose him soon too and wonder how to make the decisions that are best for them instead of what I want, which is to keep them around til the bitter end as I can’t bear to say goodbye to them.
    This is the price for having received such unconditional love for so long I guess
    Heartbroken 😔

  16. Oh. My. Goodness. I have tears in my eyes at this moment, having just finished reading thru this post. I cannot thank you enough for everything you covered here, but especially for sharing your own personal opinions and thoughts on such a personal topic. I absolutely NEEDED to hear that. I am struggling with “how to know when it’s time to let go of our Labrador”. This definitely gave me the perspective I needed and the encouragement I needed to make a decision I didn’t want to make, but deep down I know it’s the right decision.

  17. Our girl is 15 and a half. We are struggling with this right now. We just put our 11 yr old down after a wonderful 3 months post a jaw cancer diagnosis. I truly believe it’s her time now as I see her struggle to get up or down and see her lose her back legs. My husband hasn’t come to terms with it yet. She has been pacing a lot the past few days. Breaks my heart

  18. If there’s anything I’ve learned with dogs on their way out, it is that they typically know when it’s time. Also, it’s much easier on the heart to walk your dog into the vet to be put down than it is to carry them in.

    My first golden as a kid had to be carried in and it broke my heart as I knew her all my life to that point and my last memory of her was trying to come to me and collapsing. That is something nobody wants, including your dog.

    When my second golden (Which we got when i was 11 and was put down when I was 22) was diagnosed with lymphoma, I knew that it had to be done before she got to that point. I spent the last three days with her and spoiled her so she went out happy. When we had her put down she had a little difficulty breathing, but was otherwise in good spirits and was able to move just fine. Having her go out with dignity really helped the grieving process for me. She probably wouldn’t have lasted another week and a half, so I feel our timing was perfect in terms of giving us a few days to say goodbye while also not having her suffer.

    My girlfriends lab is 15 and I can tell that her time is very soon. I hope that her family makes the decision at the right time, as their dog has lived a long good life and I’d hate to have their final memories of her be bleak.

    To all those reading this, the decision is never easy, but when it is time, you (and your dog) will know.

  19. This article has been very helpful to me..I can see there are a lot of people in the same situation as I am in right now. I have pretty much made the decision, with “Luckys” help, that the time has to be this weekend. He has been a great dog and I will miss him, but I don’t want him to suffer anymore.

  20. So my boys just turned 15 a week ago today hes a yellow lab , hes on tramadol and codeine twice a day for hes joints the vet has checked him over quite a few times recently and said hes healthy for hes age , but the past week hes health to me has deteriorated he wants to sit outside all the time hes very restless and seems depressed he isnt eating like he used to ( he usually loves hes grub!) and he usually hates the rain but the past few days will just lie in it and he will drink puddle water instead of hes fresh water in the kitchen , He has cataract now aswel i think its time to say goodbye to my baby! So heartbreaking reading that everyone else is going through the same thing 🙁

  21. I have a 14 year old lab, she’s been really healthy all her life but she’s been having accidents inside the house (BM) and she’s unable to get up by herself, I always assist her. I’ve been thinking it’s time to let her go ☹💔 and it’s so hard to make that decision because of course I will miss her immensely but also I want to make sure is the best for her and knowing that I’m not doing it because she’s more work now…. any advise will be truly appreciated

    • I’m in the same boat right now. My boy is 14 this month. He struggles to get up the deck steps into the house (has to circle about 30 times before he can give it a go) and the last couple days has been struggling to get his hind legs up to stand. This is such a hard decision..knowing when. I sure wish he would just fall asleep and go peacefully on his own. 🙁

      • I want to comment to everyone here that I feel your pain. I also want to explain what has happened to my Harry in the hopes that he can help others. He is a very special dog, a son and brother to us. He just passed April 19, 2020 at the age of 15 years 1 month and 24 days. He did not lose his sight, his hearing, his appetite, his control of bowel movements, or leg movements. He was slowing down, yes, but we treated him with dignity and prayed over him and with him. He passed during the Holy Hour of 3:00 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday. We prayed hard he would go in his sleep when it was his time, and he did. We were very sad and shocked, but the more I read about dog’s dying the more I feel so grateful he went without suffering. It also has to be mentioned that we were so shocked by his sudden passing that it took two days for his pet casket to arrive. We let him lay in his bed for those days, we continued to pray over him, talk to him, and just treat him with dignity. It has to be said, he never started to smell, even though these were sunny days, and no liquids/odors released from him, (I read that could happen). He looked like a sleeping Angel, with his beautiful coat still having his puppy scent. We buried him after a full funeral, praying the whole time. I pray this gives others hope and I truly believe treating him with dignity, and as we would any family member, helped us all through this difficult time. Bubby, we love you always.

        • Also, I wanted to clarify that it was definitely clear that my puppy did pass. We knew his time was coming, we just didn’t know when to expect it. He would always walk the perimeter and for the last week he did not. He would only go out to peep/poop (yes, he was still doing that!) and then lay in the grass until we helped him in. Again, he could stand and walk on his own but it just seemed like he needed us to guide him where to go. Also, he was was sleeping very long hours in the last week. It was a deep sleep like we hadn’t seen him do before, but we always checked and he was very deep breathing, sometimes snoring and just seemed to be getting a lot of rest. On his last day, he got up and went pee outside then laid on the grass, I guided him back in after 20 minutes, (he loved laying in grass) then he laid in the living room and I tried feeding him, but he did not want to eat and he did not want to drink. I guided him to his room and had been checking on him the next 5 hours because I knew he would be hungry later. During him being asleep in his room after checking multiple times and seeing and hearing him deep breathing and moving about a couple of times, it was clear by his very pale gums and his tongue to the side that he was not breathing any longer. I was obviously extremely startled and distraught immediately. But, we moved him onto his bed and began CPR. We tried for 5 minutes, but we knew it was his time. He was still warm, but his heart never beat again. Other interesting things about our miracle baby boy, are that he still had a strong heartbeat before he suddenly passed! When I was guiding him along back to the house after he peed, only 5 hours before, I could feel his heart beating very strong as it always has. He also had a huge appetite the day before he passed, I hand fed him a lot and he happily ate it all. Then he also drank plenty of water. Also, He was in a sleeping position that he slept in a thousand times, with no obstructions nearby, was not choking on anything, and his eyes were closed so I know that his heart just stopped in his sleep. Bubby, sorry I’m an oversharer. But, again if this can help anyone that is why I’m telling what happened. I share in your pains and grief.

  22. I am at this heart breaking crossroads with my best mate Freddie, a lovely, gentle, big yellow lab, he is 14 and has had hind leg problems for a while now but all of a sudden 2 days ago, he can’t stand up, his legs give way all the time, he struggles to go outside to toilet and has no real enthusiasm for food or drink and just lays about, looking very sad, which is killing me and bringing me to tears regularly, I don’t want to see him suffer but don’t want to make the decision, I realise I need to and have to make the best decision for him, reading the stories above is upsetting but also very helpful, thanks.

  23. My families black lab had a slow decline up until when I returned back home for a visit, she’s 12 barely any grey and besides getting arthritis we thought she was completely healthy. Yesterday she began to pee blood all over the house and when we took her to an emergency vet they confirmed the worst, she has an enlarged liver with cancer I’m so absolutely heartbroken because we have to put her down tomorrow but at the end of the day I know it’s the right thing to do because even with the pain medication and chemotherapy she would only have maximum 6 months to live. I urge everyone to check their dogs for cancer our vet told us labradors are the most stoic and brave and won’t show any signs of pain until they’re close to the end, I will forever love my dog for waiting until I was home before letting us know she was ready to go.. however in the back of my brain I feel guilty like we should be doing more even though I know we can’t, did anyone else feel this way?

    • My rescue baby Daisy is approx 11 yrs old. She’s been peeing blood for a little while now. I thought it was from her straining to poop, as she gets constipated now & again. She also has some crystals in her urine. The vet thinks it’s an infection, and has her on a few meds. Also, Daisy has taken to peeing in the house a lot. The vet wants to see her again in 2 wks. She didn’t do an x-ray at all yet. Now I’m wondering if maybe she has bladder cancer..

  24. Reading all of these comments is comforting but also so confusing. Our lab is 15 years old. My husband and I have cared for him together since 2014; however, he was my husband’s dog since he was a puppy. So, while I love and care for the dog, I know that putting him down will ultimately be my husband’s decision. I struggle every day looking at this dog and wondering whether I am being selfish or whether his quality of life just isn’t there. He has been on rimadyl and gabapentin for a few years now. he eats fine, still able to control himself in the house (95% of the time) but he is completely unable to stand of walk without assistance. He has no balance and when he does try to put his feet down, he leans incredibly hard to his left. This means always assisting him with my right arm when walking down a few stairs and then holding him by the harness on either side once we are outside. My shoulder has been killing me the past two days because he is 60 pounds so that much weight working against you takes a physical toll. I struggle with talking about it to my husband because I feel like I am just complaining. He encourages me to talk about it but I’m just not sure what good can happen from those conversations? unless we put him down, there is no other option. my husband does everything he possibly can to bear the burden of taking him out and protecting me from it but it’s impossible for just one person to care for a dog in this way. I am just beside myself with the whole thing – it is incredibly upsetting and frustrating – the feeling of guilt is so strong. and i can’t possibly suggest my husband to put him down until he is 1000% ready. if anyone has any suggestions with anything else i can do to make the dog comfortable or things that have been helpful with assisting him, that would be so helpful.

    • Tell your husband how you feel & what you think. I would tell him, the last act of love we can give to an animal that means so much to us is an easy, painless exit from this life. The most difficult decision of my life was about Scout.
      It was much easier to make the call in August of 2018 with Shadow, a black lab mix. I adopted him from the county shelter just before closing time. When the paperwork was finished a worker said, “I’m so glad you picked him. He was scheduled for destruction 1st thing in the morning.” Chance & his calm demeanor bought him 11.5 extra years. That made it easier to let go. Find what you can with your dog that will make it easier to let go. Dignity? Suffering? I hope this helps, all the best.

      • Our beautiful brown Labrador who’s 12.9 months old is gradually going down hill, his back end is starting to go and his neck tilts. Lost a lot weight but still eating most days, bringing his feed up on and off. Starting the past couple of weeks been sitting near my feet wanting to be close, what do I do we also have got his sister as we got them both together for company as they grew up together, god knows what will happen to fudge when his brother passes away xx

  25. The stories above are so sad…I lost my 15 year old chocolate Lab about 3 weeks after her birthday… she had seen the Vet and been given meds but 2 days after I realised this was the end. It was a sudden decision for me as I could see her getting worse…I didn’t want her to suffer so it had to be then. I sometimes worry I made the decision too early but I am pleased I did not decide too late… she was put to sleep in our back garden and she wagged her tail until the end. I still have 2 Labs.. yellow one is almost 11 and my black Lab is coming up 8. Those years go far too fast.

    • My boys name is Rio I’ve had him since he was born almost 14 years ago he hardly stands any more my heart is hurting I don’t know when to let him go how will I know

  26. We are right now so very heartbroken . Our golden lab Gilbert will be 15 in 6 days, he has had arthritis in his hips and lower back for a few maybe 4 years. He has been on phycox, Rimadyl, gabapentin, tramadol and then gallaprant. Right now his is off Rimadyl, he was on for a year doing well the vet had done some bloodwork , said his liver enzymes were up and wanted to change him to gallaprant. With Gallaprant Gib started panting hard so hard it scared me, he would get a crazed look and pace not stop for 6 or more hrs at a time. Vet put him back on Rimadyl and he then panted and paced , crazed look for hours. I though maybe his liver couldnt break down the meds. He would settle down right before time of next dose. He cannot take either and replaced these with tramadol 2× day, 1 phycox, 2 gabapentin morning and 2 at night.He has been on this since the end of summer it is now Feb..His hips continued to worsen and just this last week his back end is dropping, his back legs are uncoordinated, he is wobbling, and I let him inside yesterday his back left toes were rolled under and he was walking like that. I was mortified. We raised his bowls as he was near falling with weak back end yesterday to eat or drink. He is 75 lbs so a bit over weight he should be 70. We live in sw mich so yes it is cold out now, 13 degrees yesterday with snow and rain for several days. He has been for awhile sleeping 75 % of the days. He has not lost urine or bowl control. 90% of the mornings after potty time he wants to play for 5-10 mins barking, wagging his tail and we roll his baby across the floor for a more gental play. I feel such horrid guilt, he still wants to play, still eats and drinks. Still he groans loudly and struggles to get up and lay down. He will not sleep on his bed because he looses his balance stepping on it , he sleeps on the carpet. I’m sick to my stomach , I think it is time to let him go. I rescued him when he was 12 weeks old. He is the best guy ever. Such a joy. Our family loves him beyond belief. My youngest son will try to fight and argue when I bring up putting him to sleep, he will search for more ways to treat him. I know it is out of love and pain of loosing him. My youngest grew up with Gilbert mostly. Somebody help me, I cant bare this. Will I be strong enough? I have not called the vet yet it is Saturday but I think I should this week. This is so hard. Am I thinking the right thing?

    • I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this dreadfully tough time. You know your dog best and are his advocate. When the time comes you will be strong enough to make the right choice for him. Wishing you all the best, Lucy

    • I completely understand how you feel right now. My girl, Tinker, will be 15 in April, but I don’t know if she will make it until then. Tinker’s back legs are beginning to give out on her, she has begun losing a turd when she is just laying (not like when she defecates outside; more like a small turd or two slip out), her back end has barely any fat or padding anymore, and she is skinny however, she does still eat but not as well as she used to. She is also drinking much more water than she used to, but doesn’t pee in the house, yet. Her littermate and sister, Belle, was euthanized after Thanksgiving in 2017. Belle had a multitude of health problems (she was diabetic) and when her back legs gave out, that was it for her. She stopped eating and drinking and we knew she was done. I’m surprised Tinker has actually lasted this long since Belle passed. They had never been apart. I’m at the point where Tinker does still wag her tail, but she does sleep and lay around most of the day and night. She still likes her treats, but food doesn’t thrill her anymore. Sometimes she eats okay, but most times she nibbles. It is difficult to know when the right time is. I wish she would just go to sleep and not wake up. I hate having to euthanize. It just leaves such a guilty feeling. I hope whatever you chose to do felt like the right thing to do. I hope we can make that same choice.

    • With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our sweet Paddy 2 weeks ago. Our 15 year old black lab. Our best girl. We were comforted to find your article and the many forum comments that tell us we are not alone. Hopefully our story will help others.

      This was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. Gut-wrenching. We have never cried and sobbed like this. We know we were so lucky to have had Paddy this long. The house is unbearably quiet and empty. We don’t know how to summarize the wonderful times and feelings. We miss her so much. We don’t have children so for us, as for many of you, she was our child. We know she will continue to live in our hearts and memories. But right now we just feel lost and raw.

      Paddy’s legs and hips were deteriorating slowly over the past 2 years. We have been carrying her up and down the stairs. Then these past months it got worse, she was having accidents in the house and we had to hold her up so she could go pee outside. She started to not be able to walk more than a few feet at a time, then quite suddenly she couldn’t stand on her own, or even change positions if lying down. We saw it in her eyes when she kept falling down outside when trying to pee and stand. We just knew. We called our vet and arranged for her to come to the house a few days later. Those days of waiting were indescribable. Thankfully she went peacefully.

      But we are a mess. Even though we think in our minds that we did the right thing at the right time, we question ourselves. She was our constant joy. Our anchor. Our routine. Our lives revolved around being with her and taking care of her especially towards the end.

      I can’t stop reliving the event. The vet and her assistant were so kind. But we didn’t know it would go so fast, from the time the sedative was injected, then the drug, and then it was just over. She was gone. After 15 years and then to be gone so fast. I also can’t process or make peace with the fact that the vet drove off with her, and would take her to be cremated. I felt like we were leaving her and that she was alone. We have not yet received the ashes. We plan to spread them in her favourite places.

      It is so unfair, that our best friends and constant companions, do not live long enough. And it is cruel that aside from the above mobility problems, she was happy and eating and barking.
      Part of us feels we will never love like that again or be happy like that again. She was our shadow. We are heartbroken.
      Thank you Paddy for choosing us. You were the best thing we ever did. It was a privilege to have you and we know it was our responsibility to allow you to rest in peace.
      We will always be over the moon for you.

      • I literally sobbed as I read your post, Barbara & Peter. Paddy sounds like she was a blessing to you both and one of the most loved and cared for pups out there! What a lucky pup to have found you both. Our 13.5 year-old Chocolate is struggling a lot lately with mobility. Very worried that he will fall when we are out of the house and really injure himself. Thank you for sharing your story and your life with Paddy!

        • hi Amy, this forum helped us find some peace. Hope others can find some in our post. We appreciated your comment very much. Good luck with your best friend.

      • I want to just say “thank you” for your article. I have a chocolate lab who just turned 12 in December 2019. Your article said all the things I am feeling with my Tucker. He has started to go downhill within the last month or so. I love this dog more than life and I keep trying to see little rays of light. He has all his cognitive abilities but his legs are starting to go. It happened again this morning. He has problems with the back legs. He has so many lumps and bumps (mostly hand sized lumps) and is so gray. I look at him and I think I don’t know what I will do when he is gone. He has been my shadow for all these years, I turn around and there he is. He is the last big dog I have since the boys grew up and moved out and started their lives. It is so hard to know when to say goodbye. I don’t want him in pain, he takes medication and has for the last 2 years. When I look at him, his eyes, they still connect with me and how do I put him down when he is mentally connected with me? The time is growing short and I hate it. He is my everything. I feel your pain, it is like losing a family member but worse. I just wanted to say thank you because I have all of the feelings you do. It is blessing to know that you are not the only one.

      • Sobbing as I read your story and relive having to put our black lab Sadie down, outside here at the house. My husband and I experienced that same was so fast. I literally felt her last heart beat as I had my hand on her chest…the reality of her just being gone was overwhelming…have never cried so hard…we buried her out back…talk about hard. I sobbed the whole time and looked out the window that night and cried..feeling as though we left her alone out there in the cold and dark.
        We now are watching our almost 12 year old yellow lab, Sadie’s adopted sister, lose her back legs and struggling like we have read some others. I can’t stand the thought of losing her too. It’s been 2 years since Sadie has left us. We lost our 21 year old kitty Sylvester. Now buried out by Sadie bug…now Ashley…my heart can barely take it. We have a 5 year old shepherd that is still bouncing around, she makes me smile…I told my husband. No more puppies!!!! I can’t take it. Love to you from our puppy hearts to yours…..

      • Hello. I’ve just read your post & all the feelings you had then are what I’m going through now. Our chocolate lab Barney got to 14 & 8 months. Up until Saturday he had 3 short walks a day, ate well & was very bright & alert. He had definitely slowed down this year & was defecating in the house a few times a week but his zest of life was there. Suddenly on Saturday evening his back legs literally gave way. We slept with him overnight, took him to the vets in the morning. She said he could have strong painkillers for a few more weeks but we knew that would be for our benefit. So we made the most painful decision of letting him go. But it was all so sudden that I’m struggling to process it & like you keep picturing those last minutes. I hope a year on, the pain has eased for you & you have great memories x

      • i don’t know if you ever check in on this anymore but i have just read your post and you have written nearly everything i’ve been feeling. i had to let Barney go last week, his death was so peaceful but like you i didn’t realise it would be so quick and i keep picturing that moment when he slipped away. i can’t process the fact i’ll never see him again and i just miss him so much. i hope you are now at a point where you only have good memories. x

  27. We just put our yellow lab Dozer down. He was 14 and lived an incredible life bringing joy to all. A cherished family member and companion. Although we convinced ourselves that this was just a checkup visit to the vet, we both knew it was to have “the talk”. Otherwise heathy, Dozer’s hind legs did not work. He could not stand up on his own, could barely walk, slept most of the day and could not control his business. Our vet put it clearly that things will not get any better for him or us. A very hard decision, but best for Dozer really. A very sad day indeed.

  28. I have to put my13 year old yellow lab down this Friday. His name is Seamus and he has been with our family for 11 years. He is the most gentle and kindest dog that we could have ever had. He has been pretty good up until this past September 2018 , now however his legs aren’t working well anymore. He stumbles and falls and wipesout in the house , can’t go on walks anymore and has to be watched when goes out to do his business. Still loves to eat drink and get his treats but aside from that he doesn’t have a quality of life anymore. It saddens me to say that we will all miss him very much ???

  29. I had to put my Boudreaux down on September 23, 2018. I never thought when we entered the vet’s office that I would be leaving without my guy. It was so hard to do. He was only four years old. His immune system just turned against him and the vet told me that if he lived through the next 24 hours that his life would one of vet visits, IVs, medicine, etc.. He was a dog that loved to go into the bayou and run and play and his life would not be like that anymore. He had lost the use of his back legs. When I saw the statement related to that I started to cry because I have been sitting here wondering for the past few months if I did the right thing. I miss him so much, but I know that he would not have been happy stuck inside on meds by himself during the day with no one to care for him. I was raised around large and small animals and I am from the same school of thought. When we take on the responsibility of an animal that is part of it. We must go in with our eyes open knowing that we will probably have to make that decision one day and they expect us to. It is part of the care and love we give them. As my sister told me: He got the death he deserved. It was quick, surrounded by his family with me whispering in his ear that “He’s da best dawg eva.” My loving eyes were the last thing he saw, and for that I am thankful.

  30. Our 12 1/2 y/o yellow lab was diagnosed with Cushings early this year, however I believe she has had this for 3 years prior. I insisted something was wrong and continually told its age. She has the pot belly, eats constantly and drinks all the time. She only messes in the house when we are out, a huge amount but she has never been kenneled so reluctant to do so at this late time. Her hind quarters are loosing hair, growing increasingly weak. She has trouble getting up the stairs from outside. She long ago stopped getting on the bed, but even out couch is a major struggle. Herback legs have given way just walking and her energy level is low. I keep battling inside if she is ready to cross that rainbow bridge or should we wait a little while longer. I definitely don’t want her quality of life to be barely moving at all. Are we being selfish or is the better a day early that too late apply here… it’s so hard. And our little rescue from the middle of the road now has pneumonia or primary lung cancer, will find out Thursday. We’ve only had him since April of this year but he worked his way in our hearts immediately. Thank you for a place and article to add some validation to our gut feelings.

    • An update, today I’m noticing her breathing, coughing and a gagging type thing going on. Laid my hand on her and it feels like she may be wheezing. Maybe sooner rather than later we need to make our decision.

  31. I’m glad I found this site. These posts are very comforting since I will be making that tough decision tomorrow morning. Rocky is my 8 year old chocolate lab. A couple weeks ago, he randomly started vomiting and having very loose stools around the house. We weren’t too alarmed until a week passed and he wasn’t getting any better. We took him to to the vet + an emergency vet in the same day and they discovered a tumor in his abdomen. We have been giving him pain medication to improve his quality of life but now he isn’t eating anything. It’s been a few days since he has eaten and he’s not the same dog. He just lays awkwardly and seems depressed. I know it’s time. On top of this unfortunate situation my wife calls the vet to ask about euthanasia and it seems like they just want to get more money from us. They recommend we force pills down his throat and take him to a “specialist” who is going to charge us $2500 to give us their opinion of whether the tumor is operable or not. That’s not counting the cost of surgery. If I was a millionaire, I’d be all for it, but average people can’t spend thousands of dollars on specialists and surgeries on a pet. I guess I’m just venting and feeling guilty. I don’t want him to suffer anymore so I believe this is the best choice.

    • I know you wrote this a while ago now but I felt compelled to comment as your situation seems so similar to mine. I put my black Labrador to sleep two weeks ago, tumour on the abdomen (specially spleen). Although you have probably come to terms with your loss now, it may be comforting to know we tried surgery but they opened her up and didn’t even attempt to remove it as it was too complex and the risk of haemorrhage was too great so it was of no benefit to her. We didn’t agree to put her to sleep on the operating table but had her with us another 6 weeks before deciding it’s time. They recommended trying a specialist surgeon but another vet told us even a specialist would likely open her up and not be able to remove it and she really struggled recovering afterwards with the massive incision. I feel guilty for not finding it sooner and all I see is posts of people who got so much more time with their dogs which didn’t get unwell until >12 years old. I would have done anything to have her live healthily until 12. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only person who had to make the difficult decision on a dog young.

  32. I am putting my sweet girl of 16 years to sleep tomorrow. I don’t want to see her suffer anymore. Her back legs are starting to go. Sometimes she eats. She just exists for a long time now. My heart aches for her. Am I making the right decision? I don’t know I never will but I have to make it for her. I just want her to be free. Please keep us in your prayers especially my Princess. She will be free but it will hurt like hell!

  33. It is heartbreaking to read these posts. I googled “when do I know it is time for putting down my Lab” and ran across this site. I am struggling with my 12 year old yellow Lab Kelly. He is just starting to lose his mobility, I know he has some pain as he groans when laying down. His desire to chase squirrels, bring me sticks has diminished. He has always been my shadow following me from room to room, floor to floor in my home and he is obviously upset when I move and it’s hard for him to follow. I can tell that he is not as happy, I would have to assume all of you know too when your labs are sad.

    I am still struggling with “when” I am going to try to time it on when he can’t make it outside any longer on his own. Today I sat on the steps next to him and pondered this. As my tears flowed, he in true fashion to his love for me licked the tears from my face.. Geez this is tough


    • I am dealing with the same. My Chocolate lab Charlie Brown has been falling for the past yr.He has recently started getting pressure sores from laying 24/7. I feel as though I’ve been morning him for a yr. However vet keeps telling me if he’s eating and drinking and is happy to see you to let him be. But this past week he keeps putting his head on my lap with his eyes filled with cataracts as if to say I’m tired. I became disabled 6 yrs ago from a defective hip replacement and we have been inseparable since I’m really struggling because as you said he still has total control of his bladder and bowels and eats so I’m so afraid I’m jumping the gun.

  34. My black lab is 11 October she’s been drooling for past month & test show mass in her neck is fatty tissue , bloods were clear but she’s not herself . She’s uncomfortable . She’s aged dramatically over past weeks & she’s not roxy . She’s just laying around wagging her tail sometimes but very sad in her eyes . Have made decision not to have her pulled around anymore for tests sedation etc & think time to let her go peacefully . She’s far from how my dog was a couple of months ago .
    Going make decision in next couple days to have her euthanased ?

    • Hello everyone,

      I love labs and I am trying to deal with some major guilt. Out chocolate lab Sally had been a member of our family for thirteen years. She would skateboard, climb the ladder to the eagles nest on the playset, find the kids when they played hide and seek (knew all of the hiding places), ride in the sled with the kids or chase them and snatch their hats off of their heads, etc. She was a great friend to my kids and helped all of us through some tough times at one time or another. She got them all through the tough teen years and consoled me when I lost my father five years ago. I bought her for my daughter when she was just 6 years old and hoped that she would live until my daughter left for college. Well Sally kept her part of the deal. My daughter has been in college for one week. I got a mixed lab breed puppy last year in case that Sally didn’t make it that long. Just this Monday I was leaving to take the puppy to the creek at the park. For whatever reason Sally decided to cross the driveway just as I put the car in forward. I didn’t see her and when I felt a bump and my car sort of jumped I was so very much hoping that my car had issues. However, I had a sick feeling in my stomach and it was all I could do to get out of the car. Sally was laying behind the car and didn’t have a mark on her. She never made any noise other than gasping several times before taking her last breath. She was gone from this world in less than a minute. I just have horrible guilt because I feel that I treated the young dog better and gave her more attention than Sally.

  35. So sad to hear all your stories as I am nearly at that stage to decide what to do with my lovely cream lab Misty. She has been my friend through so many happy and sad times and I have been so lucky as she is nearly 17 years young. Her back legs are giving out now and she leaves the odd parcel around for me but she is still eating well and wags her tail but I know we are nearing the end. It breaks my heart to think of my life without my lovely girl, To come into a house without her is an almost an impossible thought and I am so upset just to think of my life without her. I know I must be strong , I have been so blessed to have had her as my friend.

  36. I have been putting this off long enough and tomorrow will be my yellow labs last day. I kept thinking he will be better and it doesn’t happen. He has been such a great friend thru the years and it is hard to think he won’t be here any longer. Sunday my kids came to visit and my grand daughters took pictures with Woody. These are pictures that I can’t look at right now but will someday. He never ask for anything but love. Tonight will be the longest night and a lot of crying for the empty spot it will leave in my heart. After reading the above articles I have realized that it is time. Thanks to the many people who have posted blogs. I don’t pray a lot but tonight I will pray that God will scratch his ears when he wags his tail for him and ask to go for a walk.
    Good by good friend.

  37. I would like some advice on my senior lab. He has contracted kennel cough and it’s terrible. Im trying my best to treat it at home and I know it will take days before I see an improvement but I don’t feel that we can come back from this. My lab is 14 years old with a good weight but this illness has changed him completely. I am seeing the vet next week to monitor his progress. If the vet suggests all kinds of tests, should I go down that road? I am not sure what to do.

  38. I was forced to let my dear friend Sadie go on 28 Jan 2018. We battled 2 mast cell tumors over a period of 18 months. The first MCT we removed surgically and it did not come back in that location. However, another surfaced on her leg a year later. I spent many hours and days researching ways to slow down or beat the tumor but in the end she was not able to get up and was suffering incontinence because of the prednisone. A 14+ year old Labrador can develop mobility issues and the meds also caused accelerated loss of muscle in her back legs. As I lay on the kitchen floor with her stroking her head that Sunday morning with her not being able to get to her feet I think God whispered in my ear, you know what you have to do Dave, and that’s how I finally got the courage to set her free. I struggled mightily with it for months even though deep down I knew it would probably come to that and I promised myself I would not let her suffer so I could have her with me longer. Sadie was with me every day for 14 and a half years. I am devastated with her loss and I will always miss her. But I am now sure that I did the best I could have done for her and am somewhat at peace.

    • thanks mine is 13 an a half and has bad leg tumor or growth on back knee he quit walking with me last year whitch he loved to do .i told my son im not getting his leg cut off just doesnt seem right to do at this stage in his life .im crying now so words are blurry .sorry about your fellow. he has been my best freind.

      • Mark, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I’m sure that Woody had a wonderful life with you and your family.
        I have a 14 yo Lab, and i fear that the end is near for him too. His name is Jake, and he is my very best friend – honestly, my only friend. I’m not sure what I’ll do without him!!
        But i am going to take one thing from your post – I’m going to take pictures of Jake with my 3 grandchildren. Thank you for the suggestion.
        I haven’t made the decision to put Jake down yet – i just can’t!!
        I just wish that i had someone to hold me after he’s gone – I’ll be so very alone.
        Best wishes to you, Mark! May there be many, many happy dreams in your future of you, your children & grandchildren with Woody!!

        • So sad to read this. Hopefully you can get out and meet people, maybe through volunteer work, and make some nice friends. How about your children?

    • My lab loopy is still jumping about like a puppy even tho she’s old the vet has said she might need her leg cut off but now is most probably a tumor so I’m going ahead with X-rays and biopsy so we know but she’s still eating and more than happy! Can anyone give some advice? Thanks

  39. I just read all the comments above. We just let our 14 year old golden go to heaven. She started falling, but could still go out side with help of a ramp over the back steps. She pooped and peed her last time. Had her put to sleep at home , took twenty min. to be over. I am heart broken but i know it was the last gift of love we could give her. Rest in peace Wheatley.

  40. It is time. I know. We’ve spent thousands on healthcare for our 12 yr old lab within the past year due to his few health conditions. We put him on all the right meds, changed his diet and followed vet orders. They said there will be a day when his hind legs will eventually give out. I guess being that he was still pretty active besides needing help getting into vehicles and on beds, we just were in denial. For 2 weeks or so, he wasn’t making the effort going outside to do his business so he had 24/7 care to help him. Last week, one night he just could not get the strength to pull himself up so we rushed him to the vet. He was already on a daily steriod and pain med that now is no longer working. The vet gave him two powerful injections to see if that would improve his health…but he did say it would be a temp fix and discussed the “thing.” Being hopeful and a lot less in denial, it hit us that the end is very near. Surprisingly, he improved a lot and was walking on his own and his mood changed to being the typical happy lab. However, that only lasted four days until one night, he started to stumble around like a drunk. We got him to finally lay down and stay still and go to bed. That is right now. He finally rested. It’s 3am and I don’t want to face the vet tomorrow morning. I know its time. His life has drastically changed for the worst in the last 2 weeks. Those of us with elderly dogs, its in the back of our minds every day. We know there will be a day in the near future that we will have to make that decision to put a family member to sleep. We mentally prepare for it. But when its reality and that day finally comes, all the mental prep work goes away. I miss him already.

    • We woke up this morning and are right where you are with our sweet 14 year old lab. It is breaking my heart to go to the vet this morning. We knew it was coming for a while but I am dying inside. But I really don’t want her to suffer and I know if she can’t walk and I can’t pick her up due to health problems myself, what choice do I really have but to let her go.

      • We’re there too tonight after 3 really bad days with our 16 year old yellow lab. No water or food for the past 48 hours, he just won’t take it, and he can’t stand or even turn over. We got 3 extra years from doing surgery on a cancerous lung tumor, and they were wonderful. Prayers to everyone going through this. It is awefully hard and heartbreaking.

  41. We lost our yellow lab Henry yesterday almost 3 years to the day after we lost his brother Hugo.
    Hugo had a tumour that could not be removed and he was, after a few weeks euthanised, it was difficult to do, but he went peacefully, it was very humane, and although sadenning, we coped well with his passing.
    Henry, however, declined slowly over years, to the point I often joked that he’d been dying half his life.
    In his latter months, he lost control of his back legs, often requiring help getting up and his breathing suffered as his vagus nerve deteriorated.
    I read this article on the 19/12 but thought he’s still eating and wagging his tail. 31/12 he died in distress.
    I will never forgive myself for not letting him pass sooner.
    From my experience, euthanasia was peaceful and I must reiterate that it is much kinder and easier for all to let them pass weeks early than a day too late.
    Dogs are family and I feel should be treat with the dignity and respect they show us, please don’t leave it too late, you will know you’ve made the right decision.

    • We had to call the Vet out to our beloved chocolate labbie today, I feel guilty as I think we should have let
      him go sooner, but whilst still eating, wagging his tail we kept him alive. We did not sleep at all last night
      as he cried for the whole night. My husband and I took turns in stroking and comforting him overnight.
      We didn’t think it was fair to try and carry/lift him into our 4 wheel drive vehicle, so we paid the extra for the Vet to come to our home. He passed very peacefully in his own home in his own bed. Pray he is now re-united with our other chocolate lab Fudge. The house is now so quiet and empty, apart from 3 cats, but althoughwe have had dogs for many years we are now too old to get a new one. Sadly, my two young grandsons were here when the Vet came to send him to heaven with the Angels. Very sad, upsetting day!!

  42. Well we put our yellow Lab down just after her 15th birthday. We had a Vet that specializes in coming to the home to do it. I was able to be with my Lab Cherub while she lay in her bed. She was having a really hard time breathing. It’s been a couple months since she has been gone and at times it is very hard. But i know we did the right thing now. Thank you everyone for their testimonials, it really helped to steer us in a direction. Cherub went away so peaceful. We miss her so much

  43. Jaana describes my 12.5 year old yellow lab. Tymer has no interest in food, didn’t want to walk outside to relieve himself, and seemed confused. I know if he’s still the same tomorrow, this time next week I’ll be without my bud. He is a great dog. Never ran away and would stop on the step I stopped on. I loved this article. I think it’s unfair to prolong a dog’s life when the inevitable will happen.

  44. My 15 year old yellow lab Chopper layed down and went to sleep today for the last time. I held his big head in my arms, while quietly talking to him as he fell fast asleep. We used to call him the big headed dog, always a tail wagger, always a lick of your hand, and a big smile. He had rapid weight loss and was becoming very unsteady in his back legs, stumbling and falling more and more everyday. He seemed to rally at times taking a walk around the farm marking his territory and visiting the neighbors. Today he tipped over while coming up to the house after being in the yard while his master did a few chores. He literally died right on the sidewalk, stopped breathing, and let go his poop and pee, I gathered him up in my arms and brought him inside and layed him on his favorite blanket. He was convulsing and not breathing, I was losing my presence of mind while he convulsed and seemingly was trying to breath, then all of sudden a huge breath of air and he began breathing again. His eyes opened and he immediately licked my hand, waged his tail and just looked at me like he was asking what happen to me? I nearly cried, I think he was telling me to fix his suffering. It was then I knew that Choppers time to complete his life with our family had come, I had to make him at peace, so we went to the vet and they help me put Chopper to sleep, he went peacefully with his nose and face buried deep in my arms. You were a good friend and buddy Chop, Thanks for the memories.

    • So sad. Peace to you. …My black lab named Daphne is 15 and has a large, hard tumor on her back hip. She stumbles a few steps on three legs, but mostly I carry her. We used to go on the best long walks and hikes. She’s still in good spirits with a great appetite, though lost a lot of weight due to the tumor. I don’t know when her time to say goodbye will be, but we will get through, like you and Chop. <3

  45. I put my 13 1/2 year old chocolate lab down at the beginning of October. I keep telling myself that I did the right thing, but I wonder in the back of my mind what if he may have gotten better. He was falling down a lot and the day before I took him to the vet, he wouldn’t hardly use his back legs. He did get up one last time to go to the bathroom, but then laid back down. My husband and I were wheelbarrow him outside. He would cry to get up off the wood floors and it was breaking my heart. He also had large benign tumors all over him, labored breathing and at night he would get this kind of old man cough. There was a tumor around the front of his throat area. I keep looking for articles to make me feel better about my decision and your article really does help. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I miss him so much.

    • It sounds like you did the right thing, Jaana, but it certainly doens’t make it any easier. I hope you can find some comfort knowing he is at peace.

  46. I feel like you just described our 15 year old yellow lab. She has been urinating and pooping in the house for awhile now. The vet got her on some good arthritis medicine so she can now walk a little better but her legs give out on her all the time. When we go for walks we almost have to drag her and she won’t go far. Fatty tumors all over but been there for years. Sleeps all day except feeding time. She will do almost anything for food. She can’t really see well though. She is still such a sweet dog but as she was peeing on the carpet tonight I just thought, “I can’t let her live like this anymore “ I’ve been putting off and prolonging this for sometime. Thank you for this article. This will probably be the toughest thing I have ever had to do

  47. We are struggling with making a decision about our 14 year old lab. He has had arthritis for years and it has got much worse. He falls a lot, his back legs give out almost everytime he uses the bathroom. He sadly does nothing but lay around and sleep all day everyday. He cannot make it around our small block and has trouble breathing while trying to go on a short walk. He has no interest in fetching a ball or playing with our other dog. He has recently started urinating in the house. He has huge tumors all over his entire body although they have been there for years they have gotten large over the years but are most likely benign says the vet. they are also starting to affect his mobility. He also has chronic allergies and it always itching. The part we struggle with is he eats, drinks is still happy and wags his tail. I feel like he just doesn’t have any quality of life laying around all day.

    • This was exactly our situation just 3 weeks ago. And we just kept wondering if it was time. Suddenly we know…..In the last 3 days, loss of interest in food or water, no interest in getting up ( and no ability without help). I think we will need to put our 16 year old to sleep tomorrow. 🙁

      • I am fearful that I am where you were 3 weeks ago. Our 15 year old lab has the heart but his body is giving out. He still goes out with lots of limping and falls on anything slippery, accidents are normal. He still eats well but is starting to loose weight. A trusted vet said it is time to start thinking – it just kills my heart. I know everyone will say this but “My lab is the quintessential lab”. He knew only one command “Come”, he was skin and bones when I adopted him at 2 years old. He saw me get married and have kids always loving unconditionally the new members of our pack. With our twin boys, he would come in and stick his head into their basenets and kiss them every time. My boys would roll on him and just be boys, but he always was in the same room – he still love to just be close. Today – he gets out of breath just trying to follow them around the yard. I know it is my job to make this decision, as he would do anything for me and my family. It is just hard. I saw a young puppy yesterday running … I wish I could give him one more day in the woods