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Is It OK To Let Your Dog Die Naturally?

For most people, dogs are more than just animals.

They are a vital member of the family.

Dealing with their impending death is excruciating, and it can be tough to cope.

Just as with any other member of the family, you want your dog’s passing to be as painless and as easy as possible.

For many dog owners, the best way to do this is to let them die naturally in their own homes.

It feels as though their everyday surroundings might bring them peace and comfort in their last days.

The question, though, is whether that is true.

Is it kinder to let your dog pass naturally?

Or is it better to assist the process through euthanasia?

Before diving in further, it’s essential to understand that this is a highly personal choice.

There is really no “right” way when it comes to dying – be it with pets or humans.

However, understanding the decision you face and the ramifications of each option can help you make the best choice for your dog.

This article will provide a deeper understanding of each, along with tips to make your choice a little easier.

What Happens When a Dog Dies Naturally?

Watching a dog die can be difficult.

Rarely are they sick without some level of pain, and that pain can cause a lot of suffering.

They also tend to be very dehydrated, which leads to additional pain, a lack of energy, and generally feeling unwell.

Dogs also suffer from shock.

When the body feels like something is wrong, it naturally goes to work trying to fix it.

The heart typically begins pumping harder to keep blood pressure and oxygen levels right.

This can lead to being dizzy and light-headed – not to mention very weak.

Due to these symptoms, you will likely notice that your dog does not want to run and play anymore.

Walking and moving around can be quite a challenging task, so it’s not unusual that dogs tend to avoid it.

Additionally, a dying dog often hides from you and others.

This is because his weakness makes him feel vulnerable – unable to protect himself.

The best way to stay safe is to hide.

There is no way to predict how long it will take for a dog to die naturally.

Some pass pretty quickly – even within hours of symptoms showing.

Others may take days, weeks, or longer.

What Happens When a Dog is Euthanized?

Euthanasia is a bit different.

You make an appointment with your vet that is often either early in the morning or late in the day.

This is the time that vets are usually not so busy, so the office is more peaceful for the procedure.

Some vets start the process with a sedative that helps calm the dog’s nerves.

Next, the vet will inject pentobarbital, which is liquid anesthesia.

However, instead of simply numbing an area, enough will be given to depress the nervous system.

In a matter of about 20 or 30 seconds, the dog’s heart and breathing will stop.

The process often sounds scary and cruel to some pet lovers, but it really is not.

The only pain the dog may feel is the pinch of being stuck by a needle. He will then pass away peacefully.

If you choose to go this route, you can stay with your dog through the euthanasia process.

Many dog owners hold their dogs or cuddle up with them.

If making them comfortable is your primary goal, you can take their favorite toy or blanket for the appointment.

Making the Tough Choice

Deciding how to let your dog pass can be a very difficult thing for dog owners, but it is ultimately your decision.

If you are torn between the two, consider the following:

  • Is your four-legged friend in pain? Do you hear him cry out or whimper in pain? Can your vet prescribe medication to eradicate the pain?
  • How’s his quality of life? Is he still joyful and playful, or does he seem to be in agony?

No one wants to see their dog suffer.

To make the best decision, it’s important that you learn what signs to look for.

By educating yourself, you have the chance to recognize your dog’s condition before he suffers for long.

If you notice any differences in how your dog acts, make an appointment with the vet.

He or she can tell you what state your dog is in, whether there is any medication that can help, and what to expect.

Getting that professional evaluation can help you understand better what your pet is dealing with, which can help you make the best decision.

It can be incredibly hard for most dog owners to watch their dog’s health decline, making euthanasia the easy choice.

For others, however, it feels inhumane to end their dog’s life.

It’s important to remember, though, that euthanasia is not inhumane in the slightest.

While it may feel like you are ending their life, you are actually ending their suffering.

Some dog owners are also afraid that they may choose euthanasia too early when there is a chance the dog could get better.

This is why it is important to talk to your veterinarian.

He or she can let you know if healing is possible or not, which can eradicate that fear.

Consider In-Home Euthanasia

Some dog owners decide against euthanasia because they feel the trip to the vet’s office will be uncomfortable or impossible.

Perhaps their dog cannot walk well anymore or has a difficult time getting into a vehicle.

If this — or something similar — is the case for your beloved pet, there is another option.

Look for a vet that offers in-home euthanasia.

They come to your dog, so no travel is required.

Additionally, your dog gets to die in their home.


If your dog is nearing the end of his days, you are probably dealing with a lot of pain, emotions, and jumbled-up feelings – understandably so.

For those who still feel uncertain about this decision, speak to someone whose counsel you value as well as your vet.

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National Canine Research Association of America