My Dog Has Cancer When Do I Put Him Down?

Because your pet is a member of the family, you want to ensure they are comfortable and free from unnecessary pain. Deciding whether or not to euthanize a dog with cancer is never an easy decision for owners to make. Here is some information about when it’s time to euthanize a dog with cancer and what options are available.

When to Euthanize a Dog With Cancer

Signs that it’s time to say goodbye to a dog with cancer

There are many reasons why a dog with cancer may need to be put to sleep, including:

  • They are in pain
  • They have a poor quality of life
  • They have aggression issues
  • They cannot control their bodily functions
  • There is an expense you cannot afford

The most common reason for having your dog put down is due to the poor quality of life they have if they live much longer. If your dog has lost all interest in food, water, and playing, then it may be time to put them to sleep.

If they are constantly vomiting or have constant diarrhea, then euthanasia may be the only way for them to stop suffering. In such cases, it is best to talk with your veterinarian about what signs and symptoms tell you when your dog is ready for euthanasia.

It’s also important to understand that by keeping your dog alive, you could be putting them at risk for even more pain and suffering down the road. It may be better to have them put down now rather than later on so that their pain does not continue to escalate.

Is it better to put your dog down or let him die?

In general, I recommend waiting until the dog’s quality of life is poor and/or his comfort level is poor. A dog with cancer should not be euthanized simply because he has cancer.

Dogs with cancer can live a good quality of life for a long time if their tumors are not causing serious problems. There are many treatments that can help a dog with cancer feel better and live longer.

Cancer tumors can be removed surgically or destroyed by radiation or chemotherapy. Some cancers respond better to one therapy than another, but all therapies have risks as well as benefits and they can also affect the length and quality of life.

Sometimes surgery may be the best choice, but many types of surgeries are risky in senior dogs who may have other health problems. Chemotherapy drugs can have serious side effects and cause more problems than the cancer itself! The decision to undergo treatment should be based on your dog’s overall health, age, personality, and the type of tumor he has.

In some cases, however, a veterinarian may recommend euthanasia as soon as possible in order to prevent further pain and suffering. This is particularly true if the dog is older and has multiple medical issues or if the tumor is located in an area that cannot be easily treated surgically. Dogs with tumors in their lungs may have a very poor outlook for survival because it may not be possible to remove all of the lung tissue without killing the pet during surgery.

What are the final stages of cancer in dogs?

The final stages of cancer in dogs vary depending on the type and how far it has progressed before diagnosis. However, the final stages of cancer in dogs often share similar symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite, anemia, increased urination and thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

During the final stages of cancer, you may begin to notice your dog slowing down. He may not be as energetic or playful as he once was. Tumors themselves can make dogs feel uncomfortable, and even painful, which can cause them to stop eating or drinking or to become inactive.

The final stage of cancer in dogs means that the disease has spread to other organs. At this point, there is no way to reverse the damage done by the cancerous cells.

If your dog has reached this stage, chances are he is in a lot of pain. The best thing you can do for him is to contact your veterinarian and ask about pain medications that may help your dog feel more comfortable during his last days.

How can I help my dog with cancer?

Treatment for cancer in dogs generally aims to shrink or remove tumors and ease symptoms. Dogs with cancer may benefit from radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and other treatments.

There are several ways to help your dog, including:

Pain management

While traditional pain management with NSAIDs (pain killers) is still used in treating cancer patients, there are other options that can also be used to help increase comfort levels. These include massage therapy, laser therapy, and acupuncture.

If your dog is experiencing pain, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about pain relief medications that will be safe for them. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as carprofen or meloxicam are commonly used in animals with cancer but should not be given to dogs who have kidney or liver disease.

Dietary changes

A healthy diet may help support your dog’s immune system while they battle the disease and fight off side effects from medications and treatments. Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet or supplements.

Some dogs may refuse to eat because they associate the food bowl with previous episodes of nausea. There are many different types of diets that can help alleviate these problems. Ask your veterinarian which one is best for your dog.

Lifestyle changes

Exercise and play can help strengthen your dog’s muscles and mood. Try not to change your dog’s routine too much — dogs thrive on routine and may become anxious if their lives change drastically.

Keep an eye on changes in your dog’s health, including lumps and bumps, unexplained weight loss, discharge from body openings, sores that don’t heal, persistent lethargy, difficulty eating or drinking, or other new symptoms. Early detection is key to the successful treatment of many cancers in dogs. If you notice any symptoms that concern you, have them evaluated by your veterinarian.

The ideal approach would be to consult with your veterinarian and ask them what they would do if the dog were their own. Most pet owners and veterinarians share a common goal: to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible for their dogs.

Conclusion of euthanizing a dog with cancer

Dog cancer is a devastating disease that can take your companion in a matter of days or months. However, with the appropriate treatment, your dog can live many more years than without treatment. The key to success is to be proactive and seek veterinary care early.

The most important action you can take is to have regular visits to the vet for blood tests and physicals. The sooner cancer is detected, the better the chance of survival.

When the time comes to make this kind of decision, there is no right or wrong answer. As a pet owner, you have to decide what you think your dog would want. You are the only person who can make this decision, and you should do it based on how your dog has been acting and feeling.

If your dog is in pain, it is important that you take that into consideration. If you see that your dog is suffering or seems unhappy, the best thing you can do for them is to put them out of their misery. You know your dog better than anyone else does and if you think they are suffering, then it might be time to say goodbye to them.

It is okay to feel sad about having to euthanize your dog, but remember that it might be the best thing for them.


Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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