I have had my chihuahua for 12 years (we estimate that’s he’s approx 15 years old). He’s been an “old man” for several years now but recently he seems to be on the decline. 

He is completely blind, seems confused, his head hangs to the side and his gait is crooked, his legs are weak, he constantly stumbles the little he walks, he has a chronic cough, pees constantly, is always thirsty, and is just generally sleepy all the time. He spends his days in a pee pad lined laundry room while we’re at work. He seems to sleep most of the day only getting up to poop and pee. Because he’s blind he has no concept of where he is going and often steps in his poop and tracks it all over the place (We are constantly cleaning his room and him). When we are home he spends his time sitting in one of our laps. He lets us know when he needs to pee or have a drink and we carry him to a pee pad where he’ll pee and get a drink. We have to hand feed him because he can’t find his way to his food bowl. We never let him just wander around the house anymore because he gets lost, knocks into things and then seems to get upset when he doesn't know where he is (or where we are). He pretty much doesn’t do anything for himself anymore and we cant do anything around the house without putting him into the laundry room where its safer for him to roam free.

I know that reading this the choice seems obvious but in spite of all of these issues he still has life left in him and it’s so hard to make the decision. People always say “they’ll let you know” and I really don’t believe he’s given us “the sign”. I can’t even remember the last time I saw his tail wag or him get excited and yet he seems so content laying in our arms. As much as it’s going to kill me when he does finally go, I don’t want him to suffer unnecessarily. 

What do we do?!? We’re desperate for a clear answer

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First, your boy is so sweet and obviously very much loved! ❤️

I am hearing from your post that you would like a clear, honest answer to your question so here goes:
For me it is all about quality of life. I have never been a believer in "they will let you know when it's time". In your case, your little guy can't describe what it is like for him all day but I think you did a good job of describing it. It makes sense that he is happy in your lap when you get home because it sounds like that may be the only real comfort he is feeling at this stage. My thought would be to put yourself in his place and ask if that's how you would want to live. I think you can likely tell which way I am leaning but of course the decision is yours.

You mention that you've had him for 12 years but you estimate that he is older. I am assuming you rescued him, or took him in - and I can tell from the lengths you have gone through, and how difficult you are finding this decision, that you gave him so much love and a great life! You need to pat yourselves on the back for that. I can tell you don't want to be unfair in letting him go - but I think you need to ask if it is fair to keep him living in this state? I believe the last gift we give our wonderful, beloved friends is freeing them from suffering.

Finally, if I were in this situation, my thought would be to give him a wonderful day with as much pleasure as is possible at this stage: time being comforted and patted, all of his favourite foods, perhaps a trip to a park where he could smell fresh air and other things that dogs like to sniff - and then set him free.
I stayed with my little dog and he died with his head in my hand. I have never regretted that because I know he was comforted by it. (He was very ill and asleep in my arms as we talked to the vet, but when we put him on his bed, he woke right up, sat up and looked at us as if he was afraid we would leave.) As soon as I sat down beside him he laid down with his head resting in my hand. My husband sat as well and looked in his eyes as we let him go. The vet said afterward: "that's about as peaceful as it gets" Please understand it was not easy - I was calm for him right up until we walked out the door and then I became hysterical - but it was our last gift to our beloved boy. We let him go with dignity. I really hope this helps. God bless,
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Your beloved and very sweet dog is so much loved and cared for. My heart goes out to, receive my hugs.

You have asked for a clear answer and I can only repeat the words that MJ (Bailey15) already posted to you. I cannot find better words.

I personally also do not believe that our beloved ones will give us "the sign" or let us know when "it's time" because -luckily- they have no concept about their future. It is only us humans who fear death, they do not.

With all my heart I do wish you faith and courage for this hard decision to make.

Silvia (with Max forever in my heart)


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You have a wonderful little guy, and it's so very hard to watch them suffer, isn't it.

I offer two ways of thinking about what you're dealing with.  Before I say anything else, let me tell you this is advice I got from my vet, and it helped me.  At the time I discussed this with her I was immobilized, spending all my days sitting home, worrying and crying over my dog.

The first thing I would suggest is to take your dog to the vet and share with him or her what you shared with us. Ask if here are things you can do to make life more comfortable for you and your dog.  There are perhaps things your vet can do to make things better for both of you.  For example, there are little diapers for dogs which would keep your guy from walking through his waste. Maybe with those he wouldn't have to be as tightly confined   There are adjustable height bowls, so I bet if you had one of those you could stand him up, put the bowl in front of him, and he might be able to eat on his own rather than being hand fed.  Most importantly, there are now medications that can improve dogs mental function.  They don't make the condition go away, but they do make it less severe.

The second part, and the worst part, is to know when it's time.  That is an impossibly difficult question.  I have had 3 dogs in my lifetime, and each time I've known intense pain trying to figure that out.  My vet gave me some advice I try to live by.  She said, "Take a week and evaluate the quality of life each day.  How much of the dog's day is suffering, and how much is enjoying life?  Does your dog enjoy eating?  Still play?  Cuddle?  Smile?  Like to get petted?  Sit in your lap?  When the days are mostly pain and suffering and there's little to no pleasure, it's time.

The emotions you're feeling have got to be awful, but I hope thinking about these two things might help a little.  I'm also a firm believer in talking to your dog and asking him how he's doing.  I found that helps.  

Let your dog, your own spirit, and your vet guide you.  If you do all 3, you will make the right decision.  Listen to your heart.  Sending you positive thoughts.
Connie C
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I am thinking of you and your beloved little dog as I read your sad story. It is indeed one of the hardest decisions we will ever have to make. If your little dog is peeing constantly, finding it difficult to walk and sleeping all the time, along with all the other various problems you've described, I would also agree with what MJ (Bailey15) said. Quality of life is everything and it does sound like there is no quality of life left for this dear sweet boy. Unfortunately that time will come for us all. It's understandable this is gut wrenching for you but it's important for you to now put your little one's needs first. It's what we have to do as their guardians. I also made that same decision for my Sampson and it's impossible to describe how much it hurt but it was the right thing. Good luck and please write again as there are many of us here who would like to help and support you though this.
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