How to know when it is time to let your canine with cancer go?

Written by heather vecchioni
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How to know when it is time to let your canine with cancer go?
Although dogs cannot tell you, they can show you signs of when to put them to sleep. (dog image by Michal Tudek from

Deciding whether to euthanize a dog with cancer is perhaps the most difficult decision a pet owner will make. Watching your beloved dog suffer is a heart-wrenching process, and putting it to sleep is sometimes an easy choice. Not knowing if it is time, however, can make the decision process impossible. Fortunately, there are a few signs to tell you if it is time to let go.

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    Watch your dog’s eating habits. Typically, when the dog refuses to eat, it is a sign that it is greatly suffering. Many dogs never miss a meal; in fact, eating is one of the things dogs enjoy most. If you notice your dog has no interest in eating, particularly if it is highly fond of food, it is a clue that perhaps its quality of life is extremely poor. Depending on where the cancer is, it could be impeding on the eating process, particularly if it is cancer of the mouth or throat. Other cancers can simply make the dog feel horrible and refusal to eat is a symptom the canine feels rather poorly.

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    Monitor the dog’s activity level. If your dog doesn’t want to move, even to go outside to relieve itself, it is probably time to put it to sleep. By nature, dogs typically don’t like to eliminate where they rest, especially if it means lying in it. If your dog’s depression or discomfort level is so great that it can’t even get up to go potty, it’s a good sign it is suffering. In addition, if your dog used to play and was constantly on the go but now it won’t even move to eat, it is probably suffering and it is probably time to let it go.

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    Watch your dog for symptoms of pain. If your dog has painful cancer tumours all over its body that cannot be removed, consider putting it to sleep. In addition, if your dog won’t move or eat because it is too painful to do so, its quality of life is probably non-existent. If your dog is constantly in pain and can’t enjoy the things it used to, putting it to sleep is a peaceful way to alleviate that discomfort.

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    Listen to your gut. You know your dog better than anyone else does, and if you feel that your dog is suffering and not enjoying life anymore, you should probably put it to sleep. Many pet owners are afraid to make the euthanasia decisions themselves, but they are the ones who know the dogs the best. Your dog will trust your decision because it can’t make it itself. Listen to your heart and your gut and you will make the right choice.

Tips and warnings

  • Consult with your veterinarian for her opinion. Although you know your dog better, she probably has more knowledge of the characteristics of your dog’s particular cancer and can let you know about the pain your pooch is likely feeling.

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