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. Pam says:

    Our mini doxie Buddy has been diagnosed with CCD. We rescued him when we was three years old from a horrible shelter. He had been abused and was scared of everything. We also rescued a 6 month old mini doxie, our beloved Dixie, at the same time. They were together night and day. We lost Dixie a few months back and Buddy has gone downhill so quickly it scares me. He walks in circles, gets lost in corners, doesn’t really recognize us anymore, and our vet says he is blind and mostly deaf. He is at the vet’s office now being checked out again but our vet doesn’t think there is much we can do. Fortunately, my husband is home all day and can take care of him, but I don’t know how much longer my poor little baby can hang on. We are heartbroken and don’t know what to do. It’s the saddest think I have ever seen. Letting him go will be hard but I can’t stand to see him this way. We will have to make a decision soon, and I hope we are strong enough to know when the time comes to let our baby go.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Pam,
      I’m so sorry you are going through this with Buddy. How especially hard it must be after losing Dixie. Thinking of you and your little guy.


  2. Tarah says:

    My 14 year old Minpin Max is at the end Stages of CCD. He doesnt really recognize anyone anymore. He is up all night pacing, Always confused, Lost all housetraining and has been in diapers for months now. He is now showing signs that he is suffering physiscally as well. He never stops licking his legs and is constatntly re-positioning as if he cant get comfortable. I am never goinbg to be ready to say goodbye, But I know I have to so he doesnt suffer. How do people get through this ? He is the best friend I have ever had !

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Tarah,
      It’s awfully hard to get through. Many of us here have done it; one just has to. I’m so sorry you are going through this with Max.

  3. Lindy says:

    Losing a pet is never easy unfortunately it’s one of the last kind things we can do. I’ve lost many over the years our Sophie Sox is losing her marbles but at 13 1/2 everyday is bonus day . She does make us laugh whereby in the past she would have gladly drunk your tea or sipped a drink now unless it’s milk she’s not interested so we have gained a cat in that respect where only milk will do . She’s happy in Sophie world until it changes dramatically again ,so are we sleep tight darling 4 legged friends . Mummy is always here till we meet again. Xxxxxhugs

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      “Every day is a bonus day.”

      I love this, Lindy. I love how you describe Sophie Sox. I hope you still have many happy bonus days.


  4. Jill says:

    I was so happy to find this site and book. I am going through this with my 14 year old chihuahua, Angel. I lost my 11 year old chihuahua, Precious 6 months ago. Since then Angel has started to have more and more difficulty. Over the past week, Angel has been in the hospital off and on for years because she stopped eating. Everything has pointed to age and dimentia. Right now, she will eat sometimes, other times she wont. She paces… loses me and goes looking for me even if I was right by her… I have checked off almost every symptom 9n the list. Since the last hospital stay, she wont sleep unless it is with me. She will just howl if I go to my room at night. So I have been sleeping with her on the couch. I know my time with her is growing short. I have had to make the decision to let go several times but it was due to disease. This is so much harder. 🙁

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Jill,
      I’m so sorry you are going through this with Angel. And I’m sorry for your loss of Precious (and Angel’s loss of Precious, too).

      It can be so hard when our dogs are otherwise healthy to see this happening and have to make “the decision” about it. I wish you peace with this. It’s very obvious that you give Angel the best of love and care.


    • Cheryl says:

      Jill, I am going through a similar situation. My beloved 12 year old chihuahua Angel passed away on 12/29/18, and her 14 year old brother Pancho has gone downhill since then. He had no issues before her death and now I Can also check off every symptom. It’s heartbreaking. I guess it’s comforting to know I am not alone.

  5. Karen Foster says:

    Hi there
    I took my beloved boy for a health check November last year.
    He has shown many signs of dog dementia including getting lost in corners, loved food to now not eating very much at all, doesn’t recognise my husband and family, very low in mood, whines all day, shown aggression towards husband and granddaughter. Sleeps a lot.
    He does enjoy a walk most of the time, refuses to walk with anyone but me. The only quality of life is the walks when he is up for, sometimes he can’t get his balance on shiny floor. Have to help him by picking him up. Doesn’t see very well, hearing okay but doesn’t follow instructions!
    I am struggling am I being selfish am I not making the right decision for my boy!
    Any advise would be appreciated!

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Karen,
      I’m so sorry you are going through this with your boy. I’m hoping some others will chime in here because you’ve probably already read my story. Did you check out the Quality of Life scale on this page? It can be helpful.

      Canine cognitive dysfunction is a medical condition. We have to do our best to determine how much, if any, our dogs are suffering from it.

      Good luck and peace to you.


    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Karen,
      I’m so sorry you are struggling with this, and I’m sorry I didn’t respond before. I thought I had. Is your dear boy still with you?

  6. Todd says:

    Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. We put our sweet little Marsha to sleep and it hurts so much. You article was a great comfort tonight because I do feel guilt. She had some good days and was physically still able to still get around with some energy. However, she didn’t like to do any of the things she used to like and she was very confused. She stopped wanting to on walks and she stopped wanting to snuggle with us. She only wanted to eat and even that was sad because she would forget she had just eaten as soon as she was done. She had daily accidents in the house and we often found her pacing or staring at the wrong corner of the door when we did try to take her out. I miss her so much and hope I did not decide to end her life too soon.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Todd,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. Marsha was so lucky to have you looking out for her. It’s the hardest thing to do, to let them go, but sometimes it can be a gift. I hope you can say goodbye to the guilt. I think you did right by your dear dog.


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