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Do you tell the Pet owner its time to let go.

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  • Do you tell the Pet owner its time to let go.

    Today I groomed a dog that was 18 years old. This was the second time I have groomed her. She is totally blind, staggers around and cannot hear. I groomed her as if this is going to be her last groom. I gave her the works and took extra time to make her look her best since the owners said she may only live another month or two. Honestly she was a mess when I got her this time. Eye booger the size of grapes, matted arm pits and under belly so I shaved those areas. After I took her back in from my mobile I tried, but couldn't muster up the words just to tell the owners its time to let her go on to doggy heaven. Honestly it would be best thing since she really doesn't have much of a life.

    Has anyone ever approached a dog owner and not offended them by suggesting them they should have their dog put to sleep rather than letting it pass on its own? I hate to see a dog suffer and in many ways its more humane than watching them walk around running into furniture and falling down because of age.

    It's hard I know I have lost two dogs in two years due to old age. But I took them in to have them to put to sleep, balded like a baby the whole time

  • #2
    I can see why people would be offended. It's not a groomer's place to make that suggestion. If you are asked, that's different but I personally would hate to be asked that. You only see this dog for a very short time in it's life. She is out of her element and w/ a stranger. She may have a good quality of life in her own home w/ her owners.


    • #3

      And if they should ask, I tell them there is no way I can give them a definitive answer...yes or no. It is their decision and they are the ones who need to do the information gathering before they can make a choice they will have peace with. (And I tell them that)

      I may equate what their dog's situation or condition w/ something similar in my past w/ my personal dogs if it looks like they truly need some input, guidance, or moral support, because a lot of people really don't know...and I will be a sounding board for them, but I feel it is overstepping boundaries (as painful as it may be for us, the groomer) to "tell" an owner it's time to let go (euthanize) their pet.
      Often it's not what you say, but how you say it.


      • #4
        You're probably going to hear the gammit of replies, and there really is no true, "right" answer.

        For me, personally, I try to have a business relationship with my clients, not personal. I feel it is not my place to point out something so terribly difficult to them. Also, I do not live with the animal. As groomer's, we do a lot of potentially stressful things so we tend to see them at their worst. (that's a general observation, not in this particular instance) But with that in mind, it's hard for me to say exactly if it is time or not. If my opinion is asked for, I will gently give my 2c, but I try not to volunteer. I hate to think of the furbabies suffering, but sometimes even if you do have "the talk", it doesn't do anything anyway.

        On the other hand, if you know this customer well and think it would be worth a shot, you don't have much to lose.
        There are 3 different kinds of people in this world: Dog people, cat people, and rational people who don't have a problem liking two things at the same time.


        • #5
          If they asked me my opinion I would tell them as gently and honestly as I could what I thought from my view point. Even though the dog might look bad, she may well still have an enjoyment of life that you don't see when grooming her. I don't think I would take the initiative to just say it's time to let her go which is the same as saying it's time to euth. Your heart is in the right place, but I think that's such a personal and heartbreaking subject that it's best left alone unless asked.
          SheilaB from SC


          • #6
            I know the feeling!

            I had this lady come to me with a maltese and a large cocker that she took in when her brother passed away...The first time I did the cocker a year ago she was extremely matted and overweight but she seemed better after I got all that hair off of her. This time I noticed she was walking into walls and tripping alot. While grooming her I noticed her pads of her feet were breaking apart like shredding! I had never seen that before. Her skin was horrible and even after a triple bath and conditioning it still looked bad. The dog shook and could barely walk. I felt so horrible for her! I spoke to the owner who is in the process of finsihing radiation for breast cancer about the health of the dog and my concerns which was difficult not only because of the circumstances she was in but because of how she got the dog. I thought the dog was much older but she was only 8 years old. She said she was thinking of putting her down but didn't have the heart to do it! The dog has had a hard life and it shows but I felt so sad for the lady! I have been grooming for 2 years professionally and I've had 2 furfriends go to heaven and I have one that was just diagnosed with cancer. Its hard on us too, because they become part of the family as well!


            • #7
              IMO Its not your place to say anything unless they ask your opinion.


              • #8
                No, as much as I have wanted to at times, I feel if most vets won't give that advice, I shouldn't either. It can be hard, but owners need to come to this decision on their own and have probably already heard it from others. Gosh, my poodle people would take one look at and tell me it was time. Of course, they weren't grooming her and not seeing everything we see with our clients. She just looked old, but she could still see and hear and even wanted to play fetch at times and made it to 19. I kept taking her to the vet and asking them if I was missing something other people were seeing and they insisted she was in great shape for her age.
                I will tell people if I notice anything different i.e. they seem to be more uncomfortable this time or the grooming was much harder for them etc.
                What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.


                • #9
                  When I was a vet tech, there were many times people would come into the clinic with their old, delapitated dogs. Some were in pretty horrific shape and I often wondered why on earth they wouldn't just put their dogs out of misery and sometimes it even irritated me. But I never said anything.

                  And then along came Lily. My old, blind, deaf, senile dog that I picked up as a stray. I had her for almost 3 years and towards the end I was hand feeding her and holding her up so she could use the bathroom because she didn't have the strength left in her hind quarters to hold herself up. Eventually she didn't know the difference between outdoors and indoors anymore and I spent just as much time cleaning up her "accidents". She was diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Disorder (I think that is what it was called) but the meds just made her sick. And as senile as she was, she sure was a pro at hiding that tiny pill in her mouth and spitting it out later.

                  One day my brother in law came to the house and spotted Lily. She was standing in the corner in my living room staring at the wall. She would stand there all day if somebody didn't pick her up and turn her around.... she didn't know the difference. It was just something we all got use to around here - rescuing her from being "trapped" under the kitchen table, behind the toilet, in the corner or wherever else she would find herself trapped. But she seemed like a "happy" dog and although she couldn't see or hear anything and didn't know her butt from a hole in the ground, she wasn't in any pain. And truth be told, I wasn't ready to let go. Anyway, my brother in law asked me, as he's looking at my dog standing in the corner, if I also enjoyed pulling the wings off flies. That was when I realized what a hypocrite I had been all those years judging those people at the clinic. What I saw and what they saw were 2 different things, (just like what I saw and what my brother in law saw were 2 different things) and personally I don't think anyone knows an animal as well as the owner does.

                  I did finally let Lily go..... after an evening of watching her have seizure after seizure and praying to god and anyone else that might be listening she would just die so it could be over for her. But she didn't, and it was just one little look that she gave me that told my heart she was asking me to help her out a little. So I called Doc and he came to my house and put her down. I never questioned my decision because I KNEW I did the right thing for her, even though it broke my heart.

                  My point is, I don't believe anyone other then the owner of the animal has the right to make that final decision - or even suggest it, for that matter. Yeah.... the vet might suggest that it is "something to consider" but as far as anyone else goes, I don't believe it's their place. I have a few old dogs that come into my shop that are barely clinging to lifes last thread and probably "should" be put down - but it's really none of my business as far as I'm concerned. And on the few occasions I've been asked my opinion, I always tell the owner THEY will know when it's time.



                  • #10
                    Absolutely NOT! I have had my mother suggest I put down my handicapped terv. She thinks he is in pain. I have had 4 vets tell me his condition is not painful, he is training and competing (already completed one title) in obedience, and he has more zest for life than any dog I have ever seen. I offended me beyond words.

                    I groom a couple of pets that I wonder why their owners keep them going, but I would never say anything to them. Maybe at home that pet acts completly different than he does in my shop. Deciding to euthanize a pet is a very personal decision. I have had a couple of clients ask me how they will know when it is time or I think that time has come. I tell them this, "Note three things your pet enjoys most (eating, taking walks, chewing his toys, sitting with loved ones, etc.). When he stops finding in enjoyment in those activities or stops doing them, you can realize the time has come as ther pet is only existing at that point instead of living.
                    Lisa VanVleet, RVT


                    • #11
                      I don't think it's a good idea. It's such a hard decision to make. I recently had a client who has a huge Lab that asked me what I thought and I told her that it was a very difficult decision but one that you have to make. It's truly different for everyone. I've lost 2 of my own dogs this past year. One died suddenly and one was PTS because of cancer. I really would not want someone to tell me it's time before I thought it was.JMO
                      "In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog."


                      • #12
                        Even if the clients ask me, I tell them it has to be their decision.

                        One thing I have discovered that helps owners see their dog from a different perspective is pictures. Many times, looking at a current picture of their dog can help owners see things they don't see when they look at their actual dog. I'd be real tempted to take a "makeover" shot and gift a copy to the owners.


                        • #13
                          We have told people we couldn't groom their dogs anymore due to health concerns and old age, but I would never tell someone they need to put em down because I know how offended I would be if someone told me that. If someone would ask I would probably tell em something along the "favorite things" line because that is how we knew with both my old hound and m first cat. When the hound didn't chase a squirrel three feet from her we knew it was time and when our cat stopped wanting bologna and neck scratches it was his time.


                          • #14
                            Absolutely not. It is not my place to make this decision for owners. When to let go is SUCH a personal decision. I don't think even vets say definitely that it is time to let go (unless its something catastrophic that they know a dog cant recover from ex. Hit by a car with a broken back that cant be mended) The vets will discuss quality of life and what to expect and probably do sway with the words they choose, but the actual decision needs to be made by the owner and the owner needs to be ready in their head and in their heart or they are going to have closure issues.


                            • #15
                              there are times when i want too
                              i used to give a 20 yr old cat a sanitary and clip nails,she was just a skeleton with skin i felt so bad for her,and also i groom a very old bichon that bites,for his legs,but hes so stiff im sure he hurts,i believe hes 14 and hes really grumpy,but his mom is one of the nicest woman ever,i just groomed him last week,well she told me the doggy is gonna have major surgery for his knees,and then major rehab after,i really just wanted to give her a hug and tell her not to put him through this,but she loves him and i need to be supportive to her