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.


Quality of Life Calculators

These quality of life calculators can help you assess your beloved dog’s whole life situation. Often these calculators bring up conditions we haven’t considered.

Book on Euthanasia

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.

Other Helpful Articles about Making the Decision


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. Julie Blasberg-King says:

    In January we had to say goodbye to our 12 year old dachshund Lucy who had dementia. To be honest, this was probably about one week too late. Her sister Edie (now 13 years old) started to show signs of dementia about 3 months ago, she just seemed a bit lost at times but not much more than that. A week ago I found her staring at the shower cubicle. She was just rooted to the spot and it took me a while to bring her round. She also became absolutely fixated on me, following me everywhere, obsessively licking my hands and always searching for me if I left the room, which is very, very out of character. On Wednesday, I came home from looking after my grandchildren (my partner stayed at home with the dogs) to find Edie very distressed. She is very lost, fearful, barely recognises me and just wants to sleep all the time. Although her symptoms vary from those Lucy had, it’s very obvious that she is very unhappy. Yes she still loves her food, but after eating it she just stares into space. Today we have made the decision. Her appointment is at 2pm. We will take her out to the harbour in an hour for an ice cream, then on to the vets. Our other dog Elza (2 years old) is going to be so confused. We have gone from 3 dogs to now one dog and knowing her as we do, she is going to need company. My heart is absolutely broken but I know we are doing the right thing. Actually this morning she is very weak in her back legs, so this just confirms it. I’m posting this not just to help myself, but to help and reassure others out there. I woke up this morning and there she was ready for her breakfast and my first thought was, ‘we’re making a mistake, it’s too early’, but after eating she stood at the back step staring out at nothing and I knew that this is the right decision. I don’t have any religion, I don’t believe in heaven, but I think her little essence will stay with me, just as Lucy does. Crying now so I’ll go.

    • Debra Leninger says:

      Julie. My heart is breaking for you. I said good-by to my dog with dementia June 1st 2018. I am still so sad.

    • Elizabeth Good says:

      I am so sorry to hear this about you’re beloved wee dog and you’re description of him is everything my wee dog is doing now and has been doing for a few months now still lives food as he was always a greedy wee thing, he has become totally blind as well and am finding it very difficult to try and make him happy he’s not even interested in walking anymore also but goes with his dog walker but I think she gives him lots of treats and that’s why he goes , how was youre dog diagnosed if you don’t mind me asking?

  2. Bobbi Donaldson says:

    I am trying to decide if it is time for my Mattie. She is about 14 yrs old, having a hard time with her back legs and is on pain medicine. She also has glaucoma in one eye and is losing her hearing. She can’t go up or down stairs by herself or get up on the couch. The other night she went down the hallway in the dark and sat down and began low barking. I had to go to her and tell her to come back to the living room. She is still eating, drinking and has not had any potty issues. How will I know???

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Bobbi, it’s one of the hardest decisions to make. Did you check out the Quality of Life scales linked on this page? Sometimes they can help. I hope you still have some good times with your Mattie. Even though it’s agony to consider, it’s good that you are thinking about this.

      Hugs if you would like them,

  3. Eileen Morrison says:

    My dog has severe dementia, but is physically healthy. I give her CBD for extreme anxiety , trembling and pain which is very helpful. I am a nurse with experience with the elderly. Finally decided it was time to put her down. Went to the vet who said she wouldn’t euthanize a healthy dog. Offered to do $300 of tests and suggested her problems could be “managed”. This is the 3rd vet I have seen; moved recently to NC. I’ve been crying since I left the office

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      I’m so sorry, Eileen. If you are still struggling with this, drop me a line through the contact form on the Photo Gallery page. I have a dog training friend in NC and she knows a lot of vets there.


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