When to Let Go: Saying Goodbye to Our Furry Friends

Note:  In case you’re wondering, this post isn’t about Doc.  He is very much alive and after all is only 2, still stinky and a bit annoying, but thankfully very healthy! 

I try to catch Super Vet on Channel 4 when I can.  I like watching animal stories and how the amazing Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick and his team help our special furry friends with cases that are deemed too difficult for your local vet to deal with.

Funnily enough, Doc likes to watch it with me.  Of course, he just likes to sit with me when I’m in front of the TV, so I doubt it’s because he likes watching it too, but you’ll never know right?

Image source here.

It’s not always miracle stories of course, Super Vet has also featured stories where sadly, in spite of Noel’s expertise, there’s just absolutely nothing to be done to save their lives. I’ve seen a few episodes where because of their age (too young to die), the owners tell Noel to do all they can in spite being warned that they might still in the end have to be put down, or in worse case scenarios, die during or even after surgery.

Which brings me to ask, when do we let go?  When do we say enough is enough?

I’ve written about how we were put in this situation before, so I know how difficult it is.  Before Doc, we had a dog that had to be put down because of bone cancer age 11.  His name was Mutley. Till now I feel guilty and wonder did we make the right decision?  Should we have fought harder for Mutt?  I don’t think he would’ve liked it though with just one leg, although I’ve read stories online about dogs with only one leg who still managed to live life to the fullest.  And yes, reading about them makes me feel guilty all over again.

Would you do all you can for your beloved pet?

Or would you just let go?

Filed under Little Pets

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.


  1. Kim Carberry

    Ahh! I love the Supervet. I only recently started watching it. It’s back on Wednesday though 😀

    Sending hugs! It is such a hard decision to make. I have never had to go through losing a pet as an adult. I think I would want to do whatever I could for a pet to help but if they are suffering there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.

    • Oh thanks Kim! That was a long time ago. It was before we had Doc, even before we had T. We had a dog called Mutt who died of bone cancer 🙁 Haven’t watched Super Vet in awhile… Must catch up with him! 😉

  2. Harriet from Toby & Roo

    It is so hard to know when is the right time. Are you putting them through pain for you or for them? Are you doing the right thing or the wrong? Decisions I’ve had to make all too often I’m afraid as we’ve always had lots of animals. I’m so pleased your pooch is well at the moment, long may it stay that way 🙂 H x

    • I hope so! He’s only two and seems really healthy. Same here. We’ve said goodbye to many pets and it’s always heartbreaking 🙁

  3. We’ve had pets as I grew up that got old and succumbed to one illness or another. When they’re far enough gone that they’re just not comfortable, it’s time to let go. I’m all sad now :/

  4. Rhian Westbury

    It must be hard as animals become part of the family but if they’re in a lot of pain and pushing for help isn’t going to cure them only prolong the life they have then sometimes I think it is completely fair to let go x

    • I think so too. I guess for others they always hope that something else could be done to save their pet. x

  5. I think for me there would have to be a certain point where u would have to let go. My nan and grandad had put down there dog years ago and it wasn’t an easy choice for them to make.

    • It’s never an easy choice, isn’t it? Especially when they are obviously so much a part of the family. x

  6. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    It is so hard, isn’t it. I think people without pets just don’t understand how important they are, and how much you’d do for them – when you know they’re suffering, it’s the only fair thing though.

    • It certainly is a difficult situation to be in and I never ever want to be in it again. One thing for sure, I wouldn’t allow any of our pets to suffer.

  7. Jennifer

    This is a bridge that we haven’t had to cross yet. I don’t look forward to the day, and I imagine the choices would be difficult 🙁 #AnimalTales

  8. I am of the opinion that I would let them go. I lost my beloved Bonzo to kidney failure and couldn’t watch him suffer any longer

  9. Hester McQueen

    Love supervet. I’ve had 3 dogs which I’ve put to sleep. Trixie – 20 years, Kizzy – 15 years. Abbie 13 years – bladder cancer – 2015. I’m grateful I’ve been able to stop them suffering when there isn’t any other options to help them have a quality of life. Fortunate we have had wonderful vets to advise as my fear is I would keep them longer than I should. A very difficult decision but I can’t praise the vets involved enough for how compassionately each girl’s passing was treated. Abbie fought her bladder cancer much longer than was anticipated but things were different one Monday – she was in pain and nothing could be done to help. Her sister is still with us and coping well with major health issues. Each dog has been a unique individual – so lucky to have had them in our lives.

    • It’s so sad. We’ve had more than a couple of pets pass away in the past few years. You are so right, we are all lucky to have had good dogs/pets in our lives.

  10. Jolene monaghan

    i understand how our dogs become part of the family.. we have a dog called banjo aged 10 and we love him so much x but i feel that if the time came.. we would have to let him go , no matter how hard it would be..

    • It is a difficult decision to make, but I’m afraid one that might be necessary in the future. Hopefully it won’t be the case with your dog 🙁

  11. We had to say goodbye to our beloved cat some years ago and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I completely broke down in the Vets and sobbed my heart out, I didn’t even care how it looked. I don’t think it’s ever an easy thing to do and in some ways it’s easier for us to keep trying but it may not be fair for the animal if they are in pain or suffering in any way.

    • My husband and I both cried when we had to make the decision with our dog. It is very heartbreaking 🙁

  12. Ana De- Jesus

    I think it is a hard decision to make so it is important to do the right thing and make sure they are not in pain anymore.

  13. It isn’t yet a year since I had to say a forever goodbye to my kitty and even now I just cant talk about it x

  14. I don’t have pets because I can’t say goodbye. I know that this seem silly but it’s the true, I just can’t say goodbye.

  15. Idaintyit

    I absolutely love super vet! He is amazing! Losing a pet is so hard, especially a dog because they really are part of the family and they have their own personalities! We lost our family dog last Easter that we got when I was a kid and it still hurts like hell. I would do anything for my dogs provided it would actually improve quality of life, if it doesn’t then you need to do the kind thing because they can’t speak up for themselves.

    • Ugh… losing a family pet especially if you’ve had it since you were a child must really be hard on you. And I agree if it doesn’t improve their quality of life, then it’s time to let go especially if they are in pain.

  16. Hi Dean, last year we had to say goodbye to a much loved dog (she was my shadow and I swear she would have given her life for me until the very end). For over half her life she had Lieschmania (Kalazar) a parasite that is transmitted through the bite of the sandfly, it’s not curable, but it is treatable.

    In her last couple of years the parasite weakened her heart, but she was still happy and we had her on more medication . I asked the vet at what point should we say goodbye to her and our vet said we will know. That puzzled me as I didn’t want her to suffer (which I could see she wasn’t), but near the end I knew the time was coming to make the call. And I can honestly say that as much as it killed me to make the call to the vet, I knew it was time .

    Our vet is brilliant, she lives down the road and came to our house to do the deed. She checked our dog, gave us some time with her and we were all with her in familiar surroundings as she passed away (I am sitting looking at where she left us as I write and yes, there are tears).

    How did I know it was right? he relief I felt at having made the decision as opposed to doubting that I had made the right decision. I trust our vet implicitly and she was right, when the time came I knew.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a ramble.


    • Thanks for sharing your story Debbie. Brings me back when we had to make that decision to with our Mutt. Like you said it was a difficult one to make and yes, till now it still brings tears to my eyes too 🙁 We do miss him, especially since strangely enough, Doc looks a lot like him!

  17. Emma White

    I would do what was best for the animal no matter how much it hurt me

  18. Lisa & Stella from Lisa's Life

    I’m having to think about this a lot at the moment. Stella is going to be 13 this year. Her cancer is inoperable plus, she has epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and, arthritis. At the moment all of her medication is doing its job and that, plus the supplements and magnetic collar I got her are keeping her relatively pain-free.

    Already I’ve had to decide not to operate to remove the tumour. She gets so sick after just a little anaesthetic now that I had my concerns whether she’d survive another big operation. Reading up on her cancer it often returns within 6 months anyway so it just wouldn’t seem fair to put her through it. Not to mention she’d need reconstructive surgery too. Just too much for her to handle I think.

    At the moment I just cherish every day with her, and hope I can be brave enough to let her go when she is in a lot of discomfort.

    I was married when the decision had to be made for my last dog so it wasn’t just down to me but, this time, only I can say enough is enough. Our vet is amazing though and I know they’ll advise me in the best way.

    • I do think about Stella and wonder how she is. It’s a difficult decision really. My brother and his wife had to go through this a year ago and I saw how distraught he was. His name was Milo, their eldest. He was a beautiful brown labrador, he died of cancer too. My brother took care of him till the end, even laid with him on his bed, because he had to turn Milo over, he couldn’t do it on his own anymore. They also had a very good and understanding vet who went to their house to do “it”. My brother said even the vet was crying. Till now he (my brother) can’t talk about Milo without choking. I hope when the time comes to say good bye to Stella, I hope she won’t be in pain and that it will be a peaceful passing. xxx

  19. Lucy Melissa Smith (Hello Beautiful Bear)

    I’ve never seen Supervet unfortunately.
    I would always do what is best for the animal and will cause them the least amount of pain.
    Our cat was run over about 6 years ago and thrown over a fence. He broke his leg and our choices were to (a) amputate (b) surgery by somebody who had never done it before (c) surgery by experienced surgeon

    We went for (b) as (c) was a couple of thousand pounds and if it failed, we could have amputated and he would have been OK with three legs. Apparently they just adapt!

    It was hard but he’s doing well nowadays (you wouldn’t know he had even been run over) and think’s he is daredevil because he survived!


    • It’s nice to know that your cat is doing so well in spite his accident years ago. x

  20. A Moment with Franca

    I had to go through this yesterday. My loving cat was so poorly that we had to put him down. I’m very sad and I’m missing him a lot. 🙁

  21. Stephanie

    We went through this a couple of christmas’ back. just as hard to say goodbye to the doggy as it is to a family member. xx

  22. AS much as I would like to do all that I could for our dog, if the time came and it was better to let her I go, I would as I wouldn’t want her to suffer just for the sake of being with us a bit longer.

  23. Zena's Suitcase

    I used to adore animals when I was a child, but I don’t have the same attachment to them now I’m on adult. I see some people hold onto pets for far too long in some cases, which seems sad. I had a cat who lost part of both his back legs being hit by a train. He made it home somehow but sadly we had no choice but to put him down.

  24. Lisa (Badmammy.com)

    I’ve never had this kind of experience as I’ve not had a pet like that – however, those pet programmes always get my emotions going – I think there is a point though where you have to see that they’d be better off out of pain and at peace, as tough as it is on you and the family.

    • I agree with you. No matter how difficult it is, one must let go in the end.

  25. Rosie @greenrosielife

    This, I think, is the hardest part of owning a pet and I imagine we all hope that as out pets grow old one day they will just not wake up in the morning. That is so rarely the case and we are left having to decide when to make that final decision. Is it too soon or worse still do we leave it too late? When we had Poppy put down it was so difficult. She was full of cancerous tumors and she had stopped eating yet outwardly she looked well and was still quite active … but losing weight at an alarming rate. The vet let us go outside with her so we had all the time we needed to decide what to do (oh dear, I am welling up just writing this) and a lady coming out of the surgery commenting on what a beautiful girl she was … but a few moments later we let her go …. we did not know if she was in any pain and without food to sustain her she had no future. It was so hard but afterwards the vet said she would have done the same at that time. It was New Year’s Eve and as we welcome in each New Year we will always raise a glass to our our beautiful Poppy whose pain we were able to stop.

    #AnimalTales … and please give Doc a huge hug from me and Saari x

    • Thank you for sharing your story… It is one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to do in our life. We still miss Mutt and think of him a lot. xx

  26. chickenruby

    part of looking after your pet is knowing when the time has come to say goodbye, no matter how hard it is, doing everything you can for an animal is one thing, but if they are suffering so one doesn’t feel guilt then that is for the humans benefit, not the animals
    chickenruby recently posted…Camping in the wild in Algonquin, Canada.My Profile

    • So true. Just yesterday, my mum phoned to say that their dog was just put down. We’ve had to say goodbyes to a lot of pets and it’s never easy. She said she doesn’t want to have a dog again. But that’s just because she’s still grieving over the loss of our latest pet 🙁 So, so, sad.

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