I have a 13 year old Shepard Terrier mix. Over the last four months, her health has been deteriorating. She has pretty significant gum disease that has undoubtedly affected other organs by now. Her back hips are gone to the point that she struggles to move without a lot of motivation. I switched her to a boiled chicken/rice diet in order to get her eating better (she had been on dry dog food most of her life) and her appetite is still low.

She is having digestive problems, energy problems, etc. I have consulted with a vet, there are some very expensive things that could be done (removal of her teeth and hopefully treatment of her gum disease) that may prolong her life, but at 13+ years we all know we are fighting a clock.

Unfortunately, I feel at this point I am delaying my pain of letting her go by forcing her to endure more. There are very few times when she shows excitement, and the final straw for me was her unwillingness to chase the wildlife that she has spent her life on a mission for.

I have set a date with my vet (1 week from today) in the hopes that there will be some miraculous recovery, but I am looking for other options. I am going to bury her on the lake property that my family purchased the same time as I rescued my dog. This is four hours away from my vet and the nearest animal shelter.

As hard as it may be, I would prefer to be the one to put my dog down. I've been told by the vet that regulations would not allow me to do that. Obviously the humane society has similar rules. What are the (humane) options for putting my own dog to sleep? I understand that in the old days, a .22 would do the job just fine but I don't think I'm going to buy a gun just to shoot my dog and all of my firearms are meant for large animals, not a 30 lb dog.


5 Answers 5


This is a difficult time, and taking your loved one to a vet for their last moments with you just does not seem like the right thing to do.

When faced with a similar situation we found that there were two vets who do home visits in our area, with euthanasia included in their services. One specialized in hospice care.

In our case, what had been a slowly developing issue that we would need to be addressed soon, became an urgent issue during the night.

We called the hospice vet and she was able to get to our home as her second call of the morning. When the vet arrived, Baxter was sitting on my wife's lap on the couch, clearly struggling to breathe but also as content as is possible.

The vet took a seat on the floor and did an exam and discussed the situation and options with us, all that while Baxter continued to sit on my wife's lap in our living room getting pets and relaxing. We made the decision and the vet administered the drugs. In a few minutes Baxter was in the happier place, without pain or stress...

It is a decision we continue to feel good about.

Clarification: This does not just apply to cats and dogs. Baxter is/was a rabbit who stars in this answer about wool block


There are no humane options for you to put your dog to sleep. If done incorrectly, you could cause tremendous pain and suffering. Veterinarians are trained to humanely euthanize animals, and have the expertise to know when, how, and why euthanasia may be a reasonable option.

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    +1 Euthanasia can be tricky. Even with experienced vets, sometimes the first technique or medicine doesn't work, and the vet has to switch to an alternative. Over the years with my own pets, I have seen that most of the time euthanasia seems straightforward, but occasionally there are complications. I understand the OP's feelings, but knowing what I know now, I am convinced it is a job best left to the pros.
    – mhwombat
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 19:12

I was with my daughter when she had to put her Pitt Bull, Bently, down at home by a vet. It was extremely fast, and appeared to be very humane and painless. Bentley was in her lap, and both of us talking to her, and petting her while she received the medication. . . Best way I can see to get them out of the pain of illness and to a better place. We miss her of course, but are happy she left peacefully and in a home environment that felt safe to her.


The vet won't (probably) let you do everything as you aren't licensed and could cause pain+ suffering by mistake. But they may agree to let you press the plunger once they've set it up properly, if you explain why it matters to you.

Doing it at home is likely to be considered to cause extra risk of suffering though (whether it actually did or didn't).


Watching my dog struggle in my arms after the vet administered the drug to put him to sleep was horrifying as he went into spasms trying to breath and trying to wriggle out of my arms. The vet had already administered something to calm him down because he had always hated being in the vet's office. Talk to your vet about what to expect before you decide to hold your pet while being euthanized would be my suggestion. Had I known that the reaction could be such a struggle to fight the drugs, I would have said my goodbyes and left the room until it was time to take him home for burial.


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