Putting a dog down: 6 things to consider

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
July 30, 2021

Considering the right time for putting a dog down is one of the most difficult decisions we need to make as pet owners. The sad truth of pet ownership is that dogs have a significantly shorter lifespan than most humans.

As heartbreaking as it is for us humans, euthanasia can be a gift of mercy when your pet is suffering. If your pet’s health has significantly declined, there are some things to consider when putting a dog to sleep.

This article provides some practical tips on determining a pooch’s quality of life. We offer some things to consider when putting a dog down and include a When to Put Your Dog Down checklist.

1. Is it time to put my dog down?

As difficult as the decision may be around putting a dog down, if your pooch’s health has significantly declined and they are no longer enjoying the quality of life they are used to, it may be time to have them euthanised.

When a pet is in pain, it can be hard for owners to understand that they are suffering. The below list of signs to look for might help consider when it’s time to put your dog down.

Signs it might be time to put your dog down

Ask yourself:

• Has my dog’s behaviour changed recently?

• Is my dog in pain? Panting, crying, trembling can be signs

• Has their mobility and activity declined?

• Does my dog appear anxious or depressed? Tucking their tail could be a sign

• Have they lost their appetite? Have they lost weight?

• Are they drinking less water than usual?

• Is my dog vomiting or having diarrhoea?

• Are they unable to enjoy their favourite activities?

• Are they hiding or no longer engaging with other family members?

• Is my dog unable to recover from their current condition?

• Is life-saving treatment, medication, or surgery too expensive for the family to afford?

• Do they have more bad days than good?

• Do I value your dog’s quality of life over keeping them alive longer?

• Do I believe in euthanasia to end an animal’s suffering?

• Have I discussed putting your dog to sleep with your family?

• Have I discussed putting your dog to sleep with your vet?

• Am I prepared to say goodbye?

If you’ve answered yes to most of the questions in this When to Put Your Dog Down checklist, and the signs are clear, unfortunately it may be time for a vet to put your four-legged friend to sleep.

As your pet’s owner, you have spent the most time together and you’ll understand their usual behaviour better than anyone else. Think about the things they love to do and consider if there have been changes in those activities recently. When making the decision to euthanise your dog, a good rule of thumb is to also consider five things your pet loves to do. If they struggle to do three of those things, it may be time to put them down.

Our free quality of life calculator is another tool to help you objectively assess your pet’s overall health and provide guidance on your options.

While it’s helpful to monitor these behavioural changes, it’s important to consult a vet for a professional assessment. If you feel unsure, we'll schedule a quality-of-life assessment with your dedicated end-of-life vet.

At Goodbye Good Boy, we’re with you every step of the way. Just give us a call on 1800 573 186.

To help you identify when to put down your dog, read our article How to know when it’s time to say goodbye to a pet.

If you’re still thinking twice about putting your dog to sleep, read our article Pets and Pain: is my pet suffering?

Putting a dog down when they are suffering can be a difficult decision

2. Deciding between in-home euthanasia or putting your dog down at the vet

You have the choice between putting your dog down at home or at the vet’s office.

In-home euthanasia provides your canine companion with a peaceful passing in their most loving and familiar environment. However, if your dog is being put to sleep at the vet’s office, bringing their bed or blanket along can provide some familiarity and comfort in your pet’s final moments.

3. Preparing your kids for what’s to come

If you have young children, this may be their first experience with death. Do they understand the concept of life and death? Consider the conversation that is most appropriate for their age and level of development that will best prepare them for grief and life without their pet.

Consider if it will be beneficial for children to be present when the veterinarian puts your dog to sleep. If you are choosing in-home euthanasia, deciding whether to have your children present is a choice you will need to make ahead of time.

For more tips on supporting kids through their grief, read our article How to support children with the loss of a pet.

4. What about my remaining pets?

If you have other pets, think about separating them when the vet arrives to put your dog down, as the process may be distressing for them.

Consider how you think they will cope with the grief of losing their buddy? Some owners find allowing other pets to be present during euthanasia, or afterwards, can help them what happened to their companion. Not allowing them to be present can cause unsettling behavior as they lack closure in searching for their friend and awaiting their return.

5. Aftercare: Should I bury or cremate my pet?

If you’ve gone through our list of things to consider when putting your dog to sleep and have made the decision to have your furry friend put down, you will probably be faced with the decision of whether to bury or cremate your pet. You have a few options, including: 


• Burying your dog at your property

• Buying your dog at a pet cemetery

• Having your vet take care of your dog’s remains

A digital PAW-trait of your best mate can be arranged as part of end-of-life service at Goodbye Good Boy.

6. How do I say goodbye?

Saying goodbye to your best mate is never easy. It’s something personal that will be different for every owner and their pet. If you can, spend some time with your pet and show them affection until the last moment.

After your dog has been put down, many owners find comfort in having photos and keepsakes around to remind them of the unconditional companionship the dog provided during their life.

At Goodbye Good Boy, we offer personalised memorial options including a timber keepsake box with your dog’s name on it, a paw print and tuft of fur, and a digital PAW-trait of your best mate created by our artists, based on a photo of your choosing.


About us

Goodbye Good Boy is Australia’s premier pet end-of-life service. From grief counselling to euthanasia and cremation services, to fitting memorial options, we’re here to help you navigate your pet's end-of-life journey.

Dedicated owners treat their pets as equals in life. Goodbye Good Boy promises the same in death - offering a similar type of send-off you would expect for any other family member.

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.