How Do I Know When to Put My Furry Loved One to Sleep?


As a professional animal communicator who has been doing this consistently for the last 10 or so years, when to euthanize our pets is one of the issues I work with clients about the most. I talk with them and their pets as the decision of “when to have the last shot” will be made, and I also talk with them once the pet has transitioned into the Spirit realm. I recently have had quite a few folks who were really hurting and struggling with this topic, so I decided it was time to plop my fanny down and share what I have learned from my sessions. 

Let’s get right down to brass tacks and address the question of, “How do I know it’s time?” Here is a list of some wisdom I have acquired, both from being a pet mom/friend and as a communicator.

  1. If you can listen deeply to your inner wisdom, you will know the answer to this question. I know exactly how hard this is because I haven’t always conversed with my cat like I do people. Like many of you, I was once NOT an animal communicator, so I understand how clients agonize when facing this dilemma. When I had to answer that question as a non-communicator, I just automatically knew it was the right thing to do because my furry sweetie was in such bad shape. The only time I didn’t was when we returned home after playing with a friend’s Great Pyrenees to find our dear cat, Prince Phillip, seemed to have had a stroke. He leaned to one side, could barely walk, and his head was tilted. I immediately flipped out, sobbing, and called our communicator who confirmed it was time. Even though I was so distraught, her answer resonated as the right thing to do for him. He was 17, and we had had a grand time together during those beautiful years. I knew in my heart it was time to let him go peacefully. 
  2. Ask your pet to give you a sign. Our cat, Don Ho, was suffering from a horrid case of IBS that even our highly skilled holistic vet wasn’t able to help him with. I couldn’t tell what was the right thing to do, no matter how much I scratched my head and tried to think clearly. So I asked him to give me a sign. A while later, I slumped on the stairs, miserably watching him have diarrhea yet again. He turned to look at me, and the sadness and pain in his eyes immediately provided the answer of what to do next, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Animal’s faces are so rich with expression, and their face and body language often can help us determine the best course of action. They also frequently understand our language and will know what you mean when you verbally ask them to give you a sign. 
  3. Consider the quality of your pet’s life with whatever ailment is happening. Will your pet be happy with significantly less activity; with a limited, strict diet; with multiple pills; with more trips to the vet? These are critical considerations for knowing when it’s time. If your pet is miserable going to the vet, that is especially something to ponder. If it seems to simply be the end of the line–no longer pottying as usual, eating, drinking, or able to walk at all–then that is usually a good indication the time is near, or right now. Another factor is how easily does your pet swallow medication, and what side effects will a medicine have? I have seen numerous animals seem like the end is near and then bounce back to some degree if they can tolerate an additional medication, but not always.
  4. If your friend is diagnosed with a severe illness, learn everything you can about it by asking family and friends what they know about the disorder. Ask folks on your Facebook or other social media feeds about their experiences, and rescue groups may be helpful too. Getting a second vet opinion is always a good option also. 
  5. Consider taking your pet to a holistic vet who can offer pain relieving therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, reiki, or massage. Our animals have gone to a holistic vet for 20 years now, and there is no doubt in my mind that our beloved vet’s extra skills have added comfortable years to their lives. Our dog had cancer and lived another fun, joyous 6 months with everything the vet had to offer (she didn’t want chemo).  You can find one in your area on the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association’s website,
  6. Please do your utmost to remove your emotions and your fear of being without your pet from your thoughts as you resolve the situation. They absolutely depend on you to do what is best for them, and they don’t want to suffer any more than we do. If it is time for them to be euthanized, the best gift you can give them is to tell them it’s ok to leave, that you will be able to heal, and then make the arrangements. 

The above information is a combo platter of my experience and also advice from author Jon Katz in his book that should be on every animal lover’s bookshelf, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die.

He covers everything from soup to nuts regarding the end of our pet’s lives, including a much needed chapter on guilt. That is a topic for a whole other day. Until I write about it, please consider reading my blog about what pets have shared with me after they die and are in Spirit: . Guilt about our pets’s last days commonly riddles many of us, and animals share their thoughts on that one so frequently that I had to include it. 

You can also consult with an animal communicator  in order to find out exactly if your pet wants to stay in their body, or leave. With most communicators, they actually facilitate a conversation among the animal and their humans, a conversation just like we have with each other. You can truly ask your pet what they want–they may not always be sure themselves, but they will have at least been given the opportunity to share in the decision process. Now that I am a communicator, this is how I know when it’s time for our pets–they tell me. They make the decision, not me or my husband. 

It is my hope that something you read here today lightens the load for you at least a bit when it comes time to make the hardest decision of your pets’s life. If you have any additional thoughts about how you know when it’s time for euthanization, please feel free to share them in a comment below. 


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