When to Say Goodbye

Will there come a time when you need to help your dog with dementia leave this world?

Book: Remember Me: Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive DysfunctionI can help with that. My book has a whole chapter on the difficult question of whether and when to euthanize a dog with dementia. Because dogs with cognitive decline are sometimes still physically healthy otherwise, this question, which is always difficult, can be even harder.

I let my little Cricket go on May 31, 2013. Here is an article on how I made the decision. I tell the story in full in my book, and two other people generously shared their stories of how they made the decisions for their own dogs.


Other Resources on Euthanasia

Here are some resources on end-of-life care for your beloved friend and some articles that can help you assess your pet’s quality of life.

I highly recommend the following book. It was a real comfort to me as I assessed and reassessed little Cricket’s quality of life.


Facing Farewell: Making the Decision to Euthanize Your Pet, by Julie Reck, DVM



Facing Farewell is a comprehensive guide to making the hard decision, but in addition describes the euthanasia process in detail and helps you know ahead of time what to discuss with the veterinarian and what to expect.

Helpful Articles about Decision Making


Finally, here is a piece by a physician on grieving for a dog. I think he makes some very wise points.

Lessons from Zachary: What a Physician Learns from the Death of his Dog.

An old black and white rat terrier is lying on a bed with her head on a pillow. She is staring off into the distance

                               My last photo of Cricket



  1. Dina says:

    I just put my dog down after 3 years of slow progressive dementia that took a huge turn to the worse 6 months ago I regret not putting him down sooner it would have been the right thing to do I kept holding on till he got alot worse and he suffered and i suffered too 6 months my average sleep was 3 to 4 disruptive hours which took a toll on me and my job and i even snapped at him few times which I would have never ever done but lach of sleep and 24 hr care took its toll ..now I have tremendous guilt about it ..dementia is a cruel monster and the best thing to do is to put them to rest b4 it completely takes over and torments the pet and the owner ..I kept hoping he will get better he had a rough year teeth surgery ..got out and the ppl who found him kept him the yard in the sun in a 90 degree weather he got a 3rd degree sunburn. Then we moved and it was hard on him I just wanted him to have a few good last days i was selfish he didn’t have last good days he suffered..he was like my child and I should have done right by him..

  2. Sandi Neuman says:

    I was so relieved to find your website Eileen, thank you for all you do. My 10 year old lab Tao has had anxiety in his later years but the last 6 months have been intense. He’s up most nights and is so fearful he scratches at the walls or bedside table until he tires himself out and lately has just wanted to get out of the house so badly.. he goes straight to the car, I think he feels safe in there. I’m at a loss of what to do as the last few days he seems to be spiraling fast. He’s not just anxious at night, now he’s also not wanting to be in the house during the day. It’s so sad when I go out there he looks so scared and really sad too. The vet said because of his repetative scratching at the bedside table ect, that it sounded like CCD, we’ve done exrays and blood work and everything else came out clean? If anyone has any suggestions or insight I would so appreciate. Have you ever heard of this extreme fear as a symptom of CCD? If this carries on I don’t think I can let him suffer in this way for long. He was on alprazolam and that stopped working so now he’s on trazadone and that doesn’t seem to be helping much either… sigh. My heart is breaking for him and I can’t watch him suffer..

  3. Rita says:

    Our elder Cubby will be Sweet 16 next month. He has always be an independent dude and just enjoyed his person (me) but he has always had one or two rescue siblings around. He has 1 3/4 cataracts, and can’t hear. He is in early stages of dementia, physically he is doing well. Acupuncture every 2 weeks to help lower back/hind quarter weakness. He does the stairs, takes walks just fine. Our biggest challenge is the incessant barking at times for hours. It is stressful to the humans in his life and heartbreaking at the same time. We had a family sedar Saturday night and he barked from the time everyone arrived until they left! I gave him some anti-anxiety med and rescue remedy to his water. It was not a good time for anyone. This is a first for us and we have lost many a beautiful furry child to old age, as life goes. But this is a tough situation for his people as I am sure it is for him at times. Any suggestions for a good calming treat for him. It is definately worse at night. Sundowner for sure. We feel his quality of life is still good although his needs are minimal now, food most important. He sleeps most of the time. He has had a rescue sister for a few years now, she is almost 4 and has gotten into his routine, she would like him to play with her, but when she isn’t sleeping she amuses herself, luckily she is a great fit, very chill.
    Thanks for the support.

  4. Eileen Anderson says:

    Dear Paula, William, Cristin, Marti, Becky, Dan, Melody, Lisa, Dina, Sandi, and Rita,
    I am so sorry that I have not been able to publish or respond to comments for the last few weeks.

    Some of you had already said goodbye to your dogs when you posted; some are probably still wrestling with the question.

    Your dogs are the lucky ones, to have owners like you who love them so much. Take care, and feel free to respond; I will be more active in responding again now.


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