Your Dying Animal: 10 Ways to Help
Easing the Death Process
Dying Happens. Dogs, cats, horses, humans, bees and bacteria: all who are born will one day die.
Thems the rules down here on the planet.
The Vedas, the timeless wisdom of India, are even more specific:
When a soul incarnates (enters a body), the time of death is predetermined.
That understanding takes a lot of hubris out of caring for the dying!
It’s ultimately not in our hands to extend life (all the cryo madness aside), but you can do many things to make that final transition out of the current body a lot easier.
Here are ten.
1. Choose natural treatments in the end
This comes from years of working with dying patients, some closely and some from afar.
The ones that die peacefully, often at home without euthanasia, are the ones whose owners chose natural treatments for the illness that would ultimately take their animals’ lives.
The best scenarios are those who always had the benefit of supportive natural therapies. Their owners knowingly avoided vaccines, monthly poisons for fleas and heartworms, and fed them a species appropriate diet.
Those receiving primary treatments like classical homeopathy or other holistic modalities (herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic, Reiki, etc.) almost always die peacefully and at home.
Animals on drugs that suppress symptoms instead of working with the patient to elicit healing have a much more difficult time dying.
2. Euthanasia is a blessing
If the end gets “rocky” (restless, uncomfortable, painful, crying, difficult to rest or sleep comfortably), euthanasia is a loving gift.
It’s especially applicable when you know the disease your animal suffers from has a poor “prognosis” — meaning the expected outcome is death, not cure.
Cancer that’s spreading is classical for this prognosis. Even if it’s been held in check by treatments for a spell but now it’s run amok, choosing euthanasia before suffering gets to an extreme is a boon for your animal.
Many is the dying human who has wished they could hasten their own death and curtail suffering with a simple injection.
3. Where euthanasia takes place matters
When my patients are nearing that dying point, my client and I start discussing euthanasia. I advise hunting down a house call veterinarian who will come to help the transition.
Dying at home, your pet is surrounded by familiar smells, sights, sounds and significant others.
That’s an inestimable comfort compared to being driven to an emergency clinic and hoisted onto a stainless steel table amid smells of disinfectants and perhaps sounds of kenneled strangers barking.
4. Euthanasia is a vet-only procedure (not DIY)
A fairly common question among my newly empowered clients and pack members is often
Is there a way to euthanize Sadie at home myself?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
The goal is to make the transition from living to dying to gone smooth and painless.
You’ve likely heard of Socrates being given the goblet of hemlock and drinking his way to his prescribed death.
That’d be a difficult substance to get an animal to take, not to mention a potentially painful mode of dying by paralysis.
The drug used in most euthanasia in animals is pentobarbital, a barbiturate that must be given intravenously. If even a bit slips out of the vein, it can be very irritating and painful.
In addition, pentobarbital is a controlled substance, classed as Schedule II, so is only available to vets who’ve had DEA clearance.
When properly administered, it quickly and smoothly takes your animal from consciousness to unconsciousness to death, in the space of less than a minute.
Again: good to have your vet lined up for this ahead of time.
5. Homeopathy assists dying, euthanasia or natural
There’s a well known remedy you can find in every remedy kit and many health food stores that has great utility around the dying process.
It’s used in many other states of disease, but this use is a good one to know. The remedy is arsenicum album.
It helps ease the tension and fear that can accompany probably the biggest transition in life: death!
The key symptoms you’ll see in the dying patient that could benefit from arsenicum album are fear and restlessness.
Obviously, fear is common around dying and it can drive restlessness in some unfortunate pets.
How to Use Arsenicum around Dying
Remedies often come in two main forms:
- A tube full of BB sized round pellets (commonest by far)
- A tube full of mustard seed sized granules (found in my emergency kit)
The latter is the simplest to use, so I’ll start there.
Those tiny granules are impossible to spit out, so you’d pour 5-10 of them into the cap of the vial, open your dog’s mouth, and toss them in.
The common ones from the store are super easy to spit out, so we need one more step.
You’ll crush a few of those BBs in a folded 3X5 card by rolling over them with a heavy glass or bottle.
Then you dump the resulting powder onto your pet’s mouth, and you’re done.
Cheating. You Can Totally Do This
To both stretch your remedy into more doses and make dosing even easier, instead of dumping those granules or your crushed powder right into Sadie’s mouth, pour it instead into a half cup of pure water.
Stir it vigorously for 30 seconds, and you’ve got a half cup full of doses now, with each dose being a dribble on a spoon. Or a 1 ml/1 cc squirt if you’ve got a small clean syringe available.
Either way, it’s usually easier to not struggle to get an open mouth from your animal, but just get some of the liquid into the cheek pouch.
Once even a little wets the inside of the mouth, you’ve dosed your pet, big or small.
The commonest potency you can buy is typically 30C.
That means it’s ultra diluted to the point of having only the “energetic imprint” of arsenic but no physical arsenic present.
Use that 30C, and you’ll do good work.
200C or higher can be used as well.
How Often to Dose?
Your animal is dying. Some stress is likely part of the picture here, right?
Dose her according to her needs.
You might give a stirred dose (or a dry one) and see a nice relief.
The restlessness and concerned look settles down significantly. Maybe a deep nap follows.
But then, it comes back later. How much later doesn’t matter, but it’s clearly back.
That’s the time to stir your cup and give another small squirt.
If your pet is dying, you can repeat this dose when ever you see the fear or restlessness pick back up again, and there’s not a “too much” level of dosing now, as long as you’re seeing some betterment from each dose.
6. Bach Flower Remedies: Huge Help in Dying
You’ve likely heard of Rescue Remedy at some point: a natural stress reliever that resembles a homeopathic remedy (diluted, very safe, more energetic than physical).
This is a remedy I think every household should have on hand.
It’s one that’s useful around the time of a loved one’s dying process.
Useful not only for the dying animal, but for YOU, the caregiver.
And the FAMILY, and other pets. When the social order changes with a death, these remedies help re-establish an equilibrium once more.
It’s not a sedative, but rather an emotional balancer. It’s taken orally and it helps your animal go…
…Ahhh. I got this. It’s not so bad or scary as I first thought.
Rescue Remedy can be like taking a fresh breath and gaining a new perspective on a stressful situation.
Another Bach Flower remedy that’s of great use around this time is Bach Flower Walnut.
Bach Walnut (don’t confuse with black walnut tincture, totally different) helps the emotions around:
- Transitions (pretty much none bigger than death, both for the dying and those who are left behind)
- Safety (big change can be scary and feel unsafe)
Dosing Bach Remedies
I explain this in more detail in my free Bach Flower Remedy course, so I won’t repeat it here.
Bottom line: these remedies are very, very safe, there’s no possibility of overdosing, and they often help.
Balancing the emotions, as Dr. Bach discovered, can often help balance and improve the physical as well.
In your dying animals, we’re not looking for recovery, but an easing of stress.
7. Have Your Bodily Arrangements Made Ahead of Time
Depending on your locale and your leaning, you have some choices ahead when you have an animal who’s about to shuffle off their mortal coil.
If you’re in an urban setting, that may mean cremation for pets.
If you live on a farm, you may opt to bury your loved one’s body under a tree or in a wildflower patch.
What ever you decide, it’s good to have those arrangements already made, so you’re not burdened with that at the time of death.
A caution on cremation, and I hate to bring it up, but a pack member in California saw, with her own eyes from her car, a rendering truck picking up bodies from a crematorium.
And you know where rendered bodies go: into pet food. That’s why some pet foods have turned up with pentobarbital in them.
So, just be cautious in choosing who will cremate your pet’s body.
8. Allow the Whole Pack in On This
Another benefit of having either natural death or euthanasia happen at home is the ease of transition for the family, both human and animal.
We humans and our animals are best served by seeing something of the death process.
It can be life transforming for the people (reminding you of your own mortality) as well as closing the circle of life for this loved one with integrity and dignity.
For the animals left behind, there’s a clear closure that sets the stage for a smooth pack transition.
There’s no mystery. They get to see old Sadie’s body, smell her, appreciate that she’s truly gone, and get on with sorting out their new lives and pack order without her presence.
9. Allow Forgiveness and Grace
Let’s face it, losing a loved one of any species is hard.
We may want to blame, deny, even rail against what just happened, but it’s important to have an attitude of forgiveness and allow grace to enter.
There may have been mistakes. There may be misgivings.
Dying and disease can be messy. Emotions can certainly run high during and after the loss of a loved one.
And you only did the best you knew to do at the time.
Do your best to let it go, use your Rescue Remedy, seek close friends for comfort and …
10. Learn for the Next Gen
One of death’s greatest tributes can be taking what you’ve learned from a dying loved one and using it to strike out on a new path.
It’s not unusual for my new pack members to, at that point in their lives, vow they will never rear another animal without the benefit of the natural path.
They saw the shortcomings of handing over prevention to Dr. WhiteCoat.
Too many vaccines, too many poisons, and food that just didn’t support optimal health.
And Sadie’s death has impelled you to change all that. Next time.
I submit there is no better tribute to a loved one who has died than to make such a powerful commitment.
Have you had a death experience that’s changed you? Anything else about dying you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments.
At the beginning of the pandemic I lost my best friend Luka. He had kidney disease most likely caused from too many vaccines. He started getting sick shortly after a distemper vaccine in which he started showing signs of distemper. He was only 7. It was a blessing to have him pass at home in his favorite spot in the yard with the help of Lap of Love veterinary. He had become aggressive in his last days because of veterinary incompetence and pain, and Lap of Love helped him transition without the use of a muzzle or restraint. It really was a beautiful thing.
Thanks, Wendy for this post. I could not acquire at home vet help last week, but it’s done.
I did have a death experience that changed me.
Many years ago I went out with a friend and her 4 large dogs for their daily romp in the open land of the nearby BLM. When her Dobie got out of the truck I asked what was wrong and guessed from what I was seeing that something was amiss with her liver. My friend, S, asked if I thought a trip to the vet was in order. This was 20 years ago and I said, it couldn’t hurt. The next week I got a call that S had taken her Dobie to the vet who pronounced she had heart issues . . . and liver and they didn’t know how she was still alive, after $500 worth of tests and stated there was nothing they could do for her. I offered to see how I could help.
I did several energy healing sessions, made some nutritional recommendations and the Dobie stabilized and let me know she wasn’t ready to leave yet. She enjoyed being sung to. This lasted for a couple of weeks. The last time I went to see her I got the message on the way that she was ready to leave. When I walked in the door, S said “I can let her go now”. I replied with both of us in tears, “that’s good cause she is leaving”
During that night’s session, the Dobie turned and licked my hand. S burst into tears. When I asked why she said that this very stoic Dobie (a rescue, who had been found years earlier starving on the side of the road) never licked anyone.
I have a guideline that I will only say outrageous things if I hear them 3 times. This session the Dobie let me know the required 3x that she was going to return as a poodle. I told S to sit down that I had some info for her. When I said that her very stoic Dobie intended to return as a poodle, she emphatically responded “NOT A POODLE”. My response was, “Well if you meet a poodle you have an affinity with you need to look in their eyes and see if its your Dobie returned.” The one request this 4 legged had was for music. S wanted to take her for acupuncture. I let her know that her dog wanted music and if she did anything else it was for her, not her dog. That her dog was leaving regardless.
That was the last time I saw this 4 legged in the physical. She passed while I was on my way to her last session. I worked with her anyway and she let me know her heart was continuing to heal. I also wanted to know what happened when she left body and learned that her doggy mom came for her. I did Ignatia grief remedy for her “owner”, S, who later let me know that the only way she got through this as well as she did, was with my assistance.
I consider transitions in and out of body to be holy moments. It was a profound learning for me and I am both grateful and honored to have been part of this one.
Dr Falconer, thank you for your offerings and this blog.
My beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch has been in decline and has let me know its time for me to let her go. She is also clear she will go on her own. As I type this I expect her to leave sometime in the next 2 weeks. I’m to stop her additional nutrients. She is almost 15, came to me as a breeding bitch from a puppy mill at the age of 2.5 years having already had 2 litters, with only one surviving pup from each litter (which is why they let her go after spaying). I switched her to raw immediately and she has additionally had lots of carrots, veggies, herbs and additional nutrients. She has also had chiropractic. One of my great finds has been Nzymes granules. I love this company. When she was younger, Phaela’s great love was chasing bunnies. And what magnificence to see her run.
I see your information about Arsenicum as support. I have used flower essences for years and have some ready. I’ve been wondering about CBD for comfort or maybe valerian. I also do energy healing and tapping, which can be good for pain relief. I’m thinking through support options and welcome suggestions. I’ve already called in an Angel team for assistance (see book Hiring the Heavens). These dogs, bred for hunting lions, are pretty darn tough, yet I would like for her transition to be as quick, gentle and grace filled as possible. Raphaela is my girl and one of the best beloveds anyone could ever have.
Please, if anyone has any additional ideas . . . . .
I’ve usually been pretty attuned to my animals and when it was time to let them go, I’ve acquiesced, albeit sadly. However, I had one dog that was the dog of my heart, At 12 years old she came in one day, lay down, and refused to move. Panicking, I tried to get her up, and I distinctly heard her clearly in my mind, “Please, just let me go.” I couldn’t. I called a vet, rushed her in, and told him “I do not want her to die alone. If there’s no chance to save her, I’ll just take her home.” He wanted to run tests to see what was going on and I agreed. After a while, he said, “You might as well go home, this will take a while.” I replied, “I don’t want her left her alone. Will you call me when the tests are done? I want to take her home TONIGHT.” He agreed.
An hour later, I hadn’t heard from him. I drove back to the clinic and all was dark. The next morning, frantic, I called him again and again and finally around 10:00 a.m. he called me to tell me Juneau had died in the clinic, alone, during the night. Heartbroken, I picked her up and brought her home to bury. I do have to say that during the ride home, I felt her touch my face and tell me it was okay, that she understood. I know that sounds “woo woo”, but it happened.
Dr. Falconer, I felt so betrayed, and so angry with myself for believing this vet, who told me he would call me so I could come get her. I wasn’t far away, maybe 15 minutes, and it would have cost him nothing to accede to my requests.
Another thing I found out was that she had died of lack of red blood cells. You see, Juneau loved green stuff and used to finish off my salads. I had heard that onions were “toxic to dogs”, but not one vet ever told me they caused severe anemia. Toxic to the lay person means poison, and it happens quickly, not cumulatively. If someone had just said, “Toxic, and here’s what happens” I’d have made sure none of my dogs ever had an onion in their diet. My ignorance and Dr Whitecoat’s lack of clarity caused me to lose my beautiful dog, and not even be with her when she died.
The good thing about this story is that it hastened my journey toward all natural medicine and lifestyle for both myself and all my animals. I’m very grateful for the holistic resources that are out there, and veterinarians that respect both their patients and their clients.
So much to learn from this, right Joy? Listening to those inner promptings… so hard sometimes but there was the guidance. And the trust issue, always a challenge. People get busy, forgetful, etc, etc. We are all frail in that department to varying degrees, and I count myself in this.
As to the anemia, I’d question the onion idea. It’d have to have been a lot to cause this. It’s possible over a longer period, I guess, but I’m guessing your salad shares had small amounts. I also wonder about autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the two commonest causes being a (relatively recent) vaccination or dose of heartworm “meds.”
As you say, though, the good in it all is that her death set you determinedly on your present path. An honoring of a lost loved one like nothing else could be. Thanks for sharing this.
What a helpful and timely article! Thank you so much!
My 18 year old beloved (so beloved) lab, Riley, was diagnosed with primary lung cancer 31 months ago( when he was given a prognosis of two months!). I have approached treatment of all three cancers that he has had (adrenal tumor, soft tissue sarcoma, and now this lung cancer) holistically, and I’m convinced that is why he is still here with me (that, and his incredible spirit and will to be here).
In the last month he has become increasingly restless at night, and confused (I’ve wondered if he has started experiencing a kind of sundowning dementia, but your article makes me think it might be part of his transition process) I had already been giving him a combination homeopathic pain remedy I’d made for him, but a couple of weeks ago I added Phosphorus 30, Lycopodium 30, and Ignatia 30 for his restlessness. It has worked so well…just as you describe with the Arsenicum Album, he settles right down and sleeps through the night after getting one, or sometimes two doses. Now, however, I know to add your suggestion if needed (I always keep Arsenicum 30 and 200 on hand). He does muscle test positive for it being of benefit for him, so I wonder if I should give it to him now…..
This is my miracle dog for sure. He is still going on daily walks, still eating, still seemingly enjoying every moment of life. But my heart knows his time is drawing near, and as grateful as I am for these last 30 months, and all the years before, my heart is breaking. Maybe I need to start taking some Bach Remedy…..
Thank you again for this, and all your articles. I always learn something important from you and I’m so grateful for your articles and podcasts.
Be safe and well through this holiday season!
Wow, though I’m not usually a fan of combo remedies, you’ve certainly made a huge difference in this respected and well-loved elder statesman, Debra! You might see if Ars alone gives you what he needs, but it’s fine to follow your heart and muscle testing if that works for you.
Yes to Bach Walnut + Rescue remedy. Transitions are eased. And you’ll perhaps benefit from Ignatia as his time approaches and especially after he’s moved on.
Wishing you both a smooth transition.
Great article Dr. Will!
There’s something I’d like to add about euthanizing. When my shih-tzu Rambo was declining, due to heart/organ failure, my plan was to euthanize at home. He woke up one morning and was confused, uncomfortable, and couldn’t stand. We had a vet appointment already booked for a follow up, so off we went. I thought he’d get some i.v. fluids and would be good to go. When we arrived at the clinic I had to carry him in. He took a few steps in the exam room and laid down in the corner (on a blanket I brought from home). He didn’t get up again. He was ready to pass. The vet examined him and agreed. I brought his companion with us so we were all around him. His exit was peaceful. I brought his physical body home and other 4 and 2 legged friends came to say their goodbyes. Then off to the crematorium we went for private cremation.
It wasn’t the process that I planned for Rambo but my moto around this lesson is “Home is where the Heart is”. He was surrounded by those who loved him and that’s mattered most.
I thought this would be helpful for those pet parents who can’t euthanize at home for some reason.
Thanks, Jackie. Indeed, there’s no hard and fast rules about where this need happen. Flexibility and keeping abreast of your animal’s needs always wins.
My oldster ginger cat Punkin (AKA Bubby) is currently dying. I want to make this transition as comfortable as possible, and at home, preferably. He’s not anxious atm. I’m not entirely sure what he’s dying of, but my instincts tell me he is going to pass soon. Idk his exact age but he’s at least 12.
My heart is broken. I really hope he doesn’t suffer.
I lost my soulmate, a Rat Terrier named Molli, just 19 days ago. She was my third dog to leave me in the last year and a half. I loved my other girls, Josie and Sydney, with all my heart and soul, but Molli WAS my heart and soul. I NEVER wanted to lose her. If I could have given her (or any of my other 6 dogs and 8 cats I have lost in my lifetime) years off my OWN life to be able to stay with me for many more years I would have done it in a heartbeat. The grief has been unbearable for me. BUT I still have one pup left, a Beagle named Ronni, and I am trying as hard as I can now to focus on her. She has grieved as deeply as me, since she is only 10, and has been with her pack of Sydney, Josie, and Molli for her whole life. She is lost without them.. Josie, a Beagle, was 17 when I lost her in June 2018. Sydney, a Sheperd mix was 16 1/2 when we lost her in July 2019. Molli was 15. I know I was blessed and fortunate to have all of them so long, especially considering the fact that they never got to experience homeopathic care.
After losing Molli, I decided I am going to care for Ronni and my two cats differently for the rest of their lives. I have read and read every thing I can. Ronni has a long list of issues (and has already had two major surgeries), but we are changing paths now and I’m hoping it will make the difference for her that she needs. CONVENTIONAL vet care and a slew of meds has NOT made her life better. I’ve ordered Transfer Factor for her and started feeding her a raw diet again (she had been on it once before to try to help her lose weight, but with the thousands of dollars in vet bills, meds, and special “food” for Josie, Sydney, and Molli, I had to discontinue because of the cost). I am going to schedule an appt with a local homeopathic vet in the next couple of weeks when I have the money. I am determined the rest of Ronni’s life (and my two cats) will be following a natural path. No more vaccines. We are going ALL IN natural from this day forward. I’m very thankful I found Dr. Falconer online. I am sharing articles with many friends and family members. I miss Molli SO much, I cannot imagine living the rest of my life without her, but I know I have to go on for Ronni’s sake. I look forward to the day when I’ll be with all of them again up in Heaven.
I’m so sorry for all the loss you’ve experienced of late. I also applaud the fire I hear in your writing that “things are gonna change, by God!” That’s the biggest gift you can possibly make out of loss like this, and it’s a gift to not only Ronni, but every animal who joins your pack going forward.
If you haven’t already, please review my free Bach Flowers for Animals course. There are some very helpful remedies I outline there for grieving that could serve the survivors and help you get the deep grieving lived and resolved. You’ll see it along with the other freebies in your Vital Animal Pack area, accessed here: https://my.vitalanimal.com
All the best to you.
About half a year ago i had to out to sleep my dear 15 year old dog. . That’s ok for me. He had a good live
But i also had to put to sleep 2cats, one in december and one in february. They were siblings. My female cat Chiara had for a few years a auto-immunity deseas of the skin and sometimes it infected also the mouth. The only thing i could give her was “prednisolon” and eventually she died of kidney-faillure. Her brother Eros was too fat but otherwise a very healthy cat. he stopped eating and “there was nothing really wrong” besides a high kidney vallue because he was dried out. After a whole month i gave u and let hem go. That was so hard, i couldnt help both with the “normal” medicins. As i am a reiki master and always interested in the other way of curing, i want to know as much as possible to prefent my other Cats from dying of illnes they cannot cure with the normal medicin. Thnx for all the video’s and story’s you are telling to make us more aware that we can do much more then only wait for a cure at the verinary.
I have had two beloved pets euthanized at home: Sebastian, my arctic wolf hybrid and soul mate for 12-1/2 years, and Merlin, my white never-stopped-talking short haired rescue cat who shared my life for 17 years. When I knew it was time to let them go I felt it was the right way to do it and I have never regretted helping them make the great transition in that manner.
Thank you, Dr. Falconer, for all that you do. I only wish you were my vet.
All of my dogs who have passed on have clearly let me know when it was time for them to go. My most memorable experience was Sunny, a dog I particularly loved and worked closely with as I learned how to train a dog using positive methods. Most likely he died of hemangiosarcoma but I was so furious with the vet I didn’t pay for a necropsy, Sunny clearly showed me that he was ready to go. My other two dogs were indicating that he was dying. I took him to the vet, asking for him to to be PTS. She told me there was nothing wrong, that he would get over it. She marveled at his beautiful shiny coat, which she said was an indicator of how healthy he really was. She did blood work. I had to bring him home. The next day he was worse. That night he wouldn’t come in the house at bedtime as he had always done. He was telling me that he was going to die and wanted to stay outside and die alone. I said good-bye to him and let him do what he wanted, even though all night long I lay awake. In the morning I went outside with my other two dogs and he was laying dead in the yard. Each of them sniffed him and walked away. One came back with his ball and dropped it by me as I sat there on the ground crying.
I don’t think Sunny’s death was too hard. He looked very peaceful laying there.
I am still crying 8 years later as I write about this. I put a pretty rock in the place where he died and it’s still there.
The next two were PTS by vets who listened to me. One was at the ER. In both cases I sat on the floor holding my dog as it was done, and they let me stay with them as long as I needed. I clearly remember each experience of euthanasia.
I also think that knowing when my dogs were ready to go helped me accept it when it was my mother’s time.
Thank you for this article and your suggestions Dr Falconer. I am saving it for the next time.
Beautiful story of Sunny, Cindy. You were obviously way more tuned in to him than anyone else was. I could imagine myself in that vet’s shoes, making the same mistake.
Yes….We did have Dr. Whitecoat and with our previous babies over vaccinated, drugged into more side effects than one can ever deal with in a lifetime..!
With our last babies dying from the old ways we were
painfully change and vowed our new babies will never go down that path again….We said , yes, they may die…
but will never die the way we see Dr. Whitecoat’s “help”
did to them. We have now two new babies Jesse and Gena.(Cavaliar Cocker poo’s) For the last 2 years they are benefiting from raw diet (Darwin’s Natural Selection), they are on nosodes for heartworm protection, Also nosode on going for Parvo-Destemper.
Our entire life has been changed from the new way.
We were heartbroken, and just broken.. It changed us and we can now say…It was right, it is better!!! We can see the results and because of people like Dr. Falconer we were able to learn what we would never have known to help them live well and that means everything to ones you love, and we do so love our babies with all of our hearts….We can say Thank You Dr. Falconer…
From the gratitude of our hearts is full for what helped us give these little ones better..
Gene & Susan K
A well written article Dr. Will. Thank you. My journey of research started 14 yrs ago when our mini doxie, Precious, was euthanized in our arms at home, I had always believed that vets (conventional) KNEW what they were doing and they would never treat animals with disrespect, poisons, etc. I was wrong and learned this the hard way. I had dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and horses throughout my childhood and adult life. I had never even heard of a holistic or homeopathic vet and thought kibble and canned food was what you were suppose to feed your pets. I thought heartworm meds, flea treatments, vaccinations and everything Dr. Whitecoat said was the gospel truth. I TRUSTED these vets with my pet’s lives!!! I was wrong!! When Precious died, I met a lady who came into my place of employment one day and she asked me why I was so sad. I told her and she started telling me about feeding ‘raw’. We became friends and I would dog-sit her 3 dogs when she left town. My 1st experience feeding ‘raw’. I’m a slow learner though. 🙁 In 2007, we rescued a Beagle and I started feeding her “Honest Kitchen” dehydrated. Unfortunately, there were several kinds of fats in it and she had more than one Pancreatitis episodes. Finally, at one of our “conventional” vet visits, I told him I wanted to go a more natural route and HE referred me to a local holistic vet, Dr. Pat Bradley (a colleague of yours – We live in Conway, Arkansas). I was still being bull-headed about the ‘raw’ and we figured out a diet “I” could live with. (Dr. Pat doesn’t believe in ‘pushing’ people, she allows them to make up their own minds, after she gives several options – she’s AWESOME) Unfortunately, I continued to feed kibble, although I thought I was feeding ‘grain-free’, ‘natural’ kibble. (I know NOW, there is NO SUCH THING).
In 2008, we rescued another dog and even though I kept buying what I thought were ‘grain-free,’ ‘natural’ kibbles, my dogs kept getting sick. After our 3rd rescue, in 2014, I changed over to Darwin’s raw pet food and never looked back. My little mini, Precious, started me on this journey. For several years after she died, I felt guilty about all the poisons I had given her. After reading Dr. Pat’s e-book, “More than a Pet”, I quit beating myself up over all the horrible things I had allowed and started researching in earnest. That’s how I found your webpage. You have helped me immensely!! I’ve taken a few of your courses. I stopped vaccinating 2 of our dogs in 2010 and the latest rescue has never had any vaccinations since we got him. He was apprx 4.5 mons old at the time and literally on his death bed, so it’s possible he’s had vaccinations prior to living with us. I also found Susan Thixton’s “Truth About Pet Food” webpage and continue to learn from her as well. I am VERY fortunate to have a conventional vet who allows and encourages me to treat our dogs with holistic treatments and does NOT push vaccinations on us. He will NOT, however, sign a waiver for vaccines. 🙁
Thanks for sharing your journey here, Cheryl. I wouldn’t wait for or beg for a waiver, I’d just say NO on more vaccines. I wish fresh balanced food was all it took to get to great health, but stopping vaccinations of already vac’d, immune animals is far more significant. One shot can be some animal’s undoing for years or for life.
This article was incredibly timely. My husband and I have been discussing our Miniature Schnauzer, Adelaide, and how to best proceed with letting her go. She was eight years old when we adopted her so we knew we might have to deal with some issues as she aged. We assumed she was most likely raised conventionally before we adopted her. She was diagnosed with primary lung cancer in April. It had metastasized to her right femur by the time we found it. We were told the only treatment was a lung lobectomy. There was no way I was putting her through that. I was already a Vital Animal Pack Member and had done a lot of other research on my own and knew there were more natural tools I could use. She had been eating raw since we adopted her a little over a year ago and I stopped the heartworm and flea meds the rescue group had her on when we adopted her. Even still, we thought we would get more than a year and a half with her. The CBD and herbs worked wonderfully until last week when she began to cough again and started limping again. This time the limping is worse, she has trouble walking at all. I palpated both legs. Both femurs are painful now. I have really been struggling with the decision to let her go. In all my worrying about taking care of her it never occurred to me that the some of the things I was preparing for her to ease her transition would also help me. Thank you for reminding me.
How I wish I had seen this article a month ago. I am 84 years old feed and care for a commune of cats in our barn and have my own house cats. Too many! Every time I found the money to have a feral operated it finished up in the house to recover and never left so far to many house cats and no money!
But to the point. I have always had animals from a small child and have many times had vets to the house to help with the pain of going….I only remember one good experience in all that time.
The last time my husband swore never again this help sent our beloved pet out of this world in great fear and pain. The last vet who “helped” stuck a needle in my darling cats spine and Thomas left this world screaming.
Recently one of our rescue cats was going down and the day came when my husband called me to the house as I was feeding the barn cats my poor Tibby had collapsed.
We lifted him on to a comfortable place and sat with him all day till 3 pm when he died , he did suffer pain and we kept asking each other what to do but our past experiences feared us from calling the vet for “help” . all I could do was hold his paws and keep telling him I loved him how I wish I had your experience then. I will at once try and find the suggestions you have given so ready to give real help when the next time comes around …with all these cats it surely will come
Kind wishes and thankyou for such amazing help.
God bless you Jeanette~ I think you did the best thing you could do.
Great article! I have learned so much over the years from each death, and in so doing those next in line had a better experience, in my opinion. It is my goal that each animal in my care have a good death. One part of a good death is to die at home, better for the animal, which is the most important consideration for me, and better for the rest of the family too. It’s really not a good idea to be driving when one is so emotionally upset. It is always preferable when they can go on their own without help from the vet, but when they are suffering then I must intervene. Then I always second guess myself, did I wait too long, did I not wait long enough. I have been very fortunate to have three vets who would come to my house over the years. The first time my regular vet was on vacation, this person was new to me, but she did a lovely job. Unfortunately in my ignorance, but with the best intentions I made Henry suffer through end stage kidney failure from May to August with daily IV fluids (at home) and force feeding/watering him. All I did was prolong the situation. When he began to have seizures that was when I said enough is enough. I didn’t want him to die like that. I did consult an animal communicator and was told that Henry did not want to leave his body. I felt I had broken my promise to him when we ended up doing euthanasia.
Guido was diagnosed with lynpho sarcoma, which we discovered when he became extremely lethargic and I took him to the vet. He had fluid on his lungs, which they drained. He felt much better. Two days later he was started on chemo. Ten days later he was dead. He was miserable, constantly vomiting and diarrhea from the drugs. I swore I would never do that to anyone ever again. The night he died he came home from the vet and when we lifted him out of the car and put him on the ground he did a face pant into the flowerbed. I knew in that instant that he wasn’t going to make it. I stayed with him while my husband and daughter went to pick up supplies for Guido and dinner. Within a half hour after they got home, he was gone. He was waiting for them to come home. The next morning I called the vet to tell them Guido had died. She told me that she had consulted the other vet and they were going to advise euthanasia if he wasn’t better in the morning. I had, had an appointment scheduled for the next day with a communicator, which I kept. She told me that Guido would have died in a few days anyway, which sounded weird to me. I asked her why he left early. She told me that he had heard the vets talking and he did not want to be euthanized. I had not mentioned to the communicator what the vet had told me.
Matisse got osteo sarcoma after Guido had passed. They wanted to amputate her leg and do chemo. With all that they were only giving her 6 months. I said no way, I wasn’t going to put her through all that for just six months. We took our bed apart and put the mattress on the floor for her. They said her wrist could break just stepping off the curb, so we didn’t want her jumping up and down off the bed. The plan was to keep her comfortable for as long as we could and then say good-by. One month, almost to the day, after her diagnosis my daughter was taking Matisse for a walk and she went down. We went to the emergency and her femur had broken from the cancer. We had to say good by. I was so glad we didn’t do the surgery/chemo.
Matisse was the first animal that we had cremated. We have always buried everyone at home, our yard is like pet cemetery central. My husband said he just couldn’t bury her, she was his favorite. The ritual of burial gives me closure. I was not real comfortable with the idea, the only way I could do it was if I went with her and got her back the same day. Luckily I was able to find a crematorium that would let me take her in, watch her go in and come out, and bring home her cremains the same day. The guy at the crematorium was great. My husband and daughter could not deal with that, so I had to go alone. We have for various reasons cremated several since then. To me the only good thing about cremation is that when you move, you can take them with you. I am now struggling, because we have bought a new house and morbid as it sounds I want to exhume everyone and have them cremated so I can bring them with me and someday have them buried with me. I cannot bear the idea of leaving them here.
Jeremiah was three months shy of 18 years, the oldest of our dogs. She came to us at two days old with her mom and litter as fosters. I truly believe she lived so long because she had only one vaccination in her entire life and that was administered by the shelter before she officially became ours. She was on homemade food until age four when she got a very bad case of bladder stones. The vet scared me into putting her on prescription food, but I only did that for six months or less. I figured she may not get bladder stones again on that crap, but she was sure to get some other health issue because of it. That was when I discovered raw food. The Jerm never got bladder stones again, but she did get dementia in her old age and have bad kidneys. The dementia was what finally did her in, because for months she would keep me awake walking into walls and getting stuck and crying. I would get up multiple times and take her out to potty because I never knew for sure if she had to pee or if it was the dementia. I finally could no longer deal with the lack of sleep and had her euthanized. That is something I will feel guilty about for the rest of my life.
Nigel had the best leave taking of anyone. He did not have any diseases that we know of, his little body just wore out. He was not in pain or distressed in anyway. He just quit eating and slowly shut down over a period of about two weeks. I never force fed him or forced anything on him like with Henry. At first I hand fed him and that worked for a while. When he got to weak to drink from a bowl I offered him water by syringe, that worked for a while. When he would turn his face away that meant no and I would stop. I offered him all kinds of food and liquids many times a day. Sometimes he would take some, others not. Somehow he would always let me know when he needed to potty and I would carry him out and hold him up so he could do his business. He never soiled himself. I came across an article that said sometimes they would eat if you offered their favorite food. At this point Nigel had not eaten a bite of solid food in about four days. I gave him a meaty bone. I was shocked he had the strength left to deal with it, but he chewed on that for about two hours. He cleaned every speck off that bone. That was the last thing he ever ate and he really enjoyed it. He was having none of it the next time I offered one. I would carry his bed from room to room with me, so he would never feel alone or abandoned. Nigel had very little or no hearing or eyesight left, but I know he could sense our presence. One morning when I woke up, he was laying beside me, but he was gone. On reflection I believe I heard him take his last breath in my sleep. A friend of mine who knew Nigel was dying, said I should put him to sleep. It really angered me. Why should I do that, he wasn’t suffering. Nigel had a good death and that was and is a great comfort to me.
Decades ago when Tiffany was 14 and started her process I did not know any better. I took her to the vet, they said they could give her drugs to keep her hanging on for longer, but that she was going. I said no, put her to sleep. I can’t stand to watch her stave to death. I did not know or understand then that when the body is shutting down it has no need for food, that just interferes with the process and prolongs it. The body is not starving, it’s a whole different thing. One must always offer food and water, but not force it if it is not wanted.
Around the same time period Rhiannon went down and we took her to the vet. She apparently had internal bleeding from a tumor that had ruptured that was unknown to that point. The vet recommended euthanasia and I went along. I asked if I could be present. The vet seemed horrified and said you mean you want to watch. I in turn was horrified and said no I don’t want to watch. I want to be with my dog when she dies. I don’t want her to die alone with strangers. So we were all there with her.
Some may find this creepy, but when anyone dies we do what I guess is a wake, and part of our process of closure. The body prepared for burial and placed with flowers in a box my husband makes for them and is always available to the rest of the household to smell, look at, pet, etc for a couple of days before burial or cremation. The other animals are done after their initial once over. I on the other hand need this time to say good by, because once they are buried/cremated they are gone forever and I will never again be able to touch or look at them again. There is also the fact even though I know rationally that they really are dead, emotionally I cannot bury them the same day they die because I am afraid they might not really be dead and how awful it would be to bury someone alive. So I have to wait and be really, really sure.
I have shared probably far too much, but these are only the stories that stand out the most in my memory. We have always had multiple animals and so have had a large number over the years.
I do the same with my dog, set up a wake and have to view them for a day. I also feared they may not be dead. I had no idea others thought the same way. It does comfort me to be with my dog even though they are dead. Just had one pass away Dec 23rd. I write a note and put their fur and a lock of my hair in a plastic bag, one for the dog to be nestled in her crossed arms and one for me. A lock from you and a lock from me, together a permanent lock we’ll be. On Dec. 31st I believe that the other dog “saw ” the deceased dog in spirit. He would not come in for 2 hours at night and kept looking about as if following something, no medical event at all. I feel it was the deceased dog especially after I had asked her for a sign. When I asked for the deceased dog to let me know it is her…the other dog bent his front paw a couple times as he did when the deceased dog would play too rough with him in the yard.
Thank you for this great article!
It’s always been such a comforting thought for me – knowing we can help our helpless animals with euthanasia when their time comes. I’m so glad to hear that there are things we can also help our pets with to ease their anxiety and make it easier for them too. Thanks for all your articles.
Thank you Dr. Falconer.
Our last cat, Tiggers, lived to 25 years and died in my arms. It was so peaceful, was comfortable and, I believe, happy to be in my arms. She loved the outdoors, except in winter, and loved soft food, not the hard stuff (grateful for that). We worked around her as her hearing and eye sight deteriorated and she slowed down. We brought her kitty litter upstairs so she didn’t have to do the stairs. I remember when she went to use it one time and put her front paws in, leaving her back end out. So adorable and precious. I miss her and now have 2 wonderful new angels. We were lucky that she aged well and we never had the need of a vet. If we did, Dr. Falconer, you’d be the man…other than you are in another country my friend.
Wow, Suzie, Tiggers clearly set a high bar for all future cats in your care. She was a shining example of what good minimal “prevention” brings (the conventional kind, I mean) and how dying at home can be after years of natural rearing.
Winnie was my turning point, I did everything the vet said. She died at just 9 1/2 of hemangiosarcoma. That was 11 years ago. I went down the google rabbit hole, so now we are raw, titer, mostly organic etc. I’ve helped switch others to raw and I’ve learned a lot from Dr Will. My dogs and I thank you!
Winnie for the win! Bravo, Lynn. Carry on with her legacy to guide you.
Another alternative to burial or cremation is Alkaline hydrolysis (body disposal) where the body is disposed of through a water process. It has many environmental advantages but it is not available in every state yet and not our state (Texas). Sigh.
My sister just lost her dog a month ago. He was 14 years old and Bichon Poodle. I stayed with her for several months last year and saw what was happening to him. He had numerous major health problems but she fed him kibble, gave him vaccines and shots for his ailments, worm and flea medicine as well as seven Rx meds each month (not to mention five Rx eye drops). She went on vacation for two weeks and left him in my care (hee hee). I mixed in raw food w/his food (without telling her) and he started to thrive. Diarrhea went away, no vomiting, appetite was back, he was playful again.
When she returned from vacation, she was livid and went off on me like I just killed her first born. She went right back to all of her old bad habits of kibble feeding and all of the meds and he reverted back to where he was…daily vomiting, diarrhea, refused to eat and slept all day. He died four months later because his organs started failing. It didn’t have to be like this. He could have been here today, a happy thriving dog.
For anyone reading this, please, please please for the sake of your pet, research, investigate, read, listen, learn and ask questions. Feed raw, stop the vaccines and stop the meds. Your dog will live longer, your medical bills will be almost non-existent and you and your pet will be happier.
Thank you Dr. Will for saving our pets. Thank you, thank you, thank you and Cassie (my dog) thanks you too!
Oh, Nancy, that devious twinkle in your eye brought a big smile! You did good!
Thank you, Will Falconer! Your guidance inspired me to rear a wheaten terrier completely naturally! Raw fed- never vaccinated- shown and finished to her AKC championship!
Her entire life was a complete joy-
And so was her death at 17 years and five months!
Ate a hearty dinner- next day could not get up- peaceful!
Her clock simply wore out!
I had a caring veterinarian come to my house- to lovingly let Lucy go- The Service is Last Wishes in Houston- Remains go to an honorable pet creamatorioum- & are delivered back with the most caring peaceful message on how Lucy was dignified!
Beautiful, Marty! Lucy’s story is regularly shared with my students, as you showed so clearly what’s possible with determination and a commitment to the natural path.
My 17 y.o. Miniature Pinscher, Kiwi, is experiencing ever-worsening symptoms from Chronic Heart Failure. Fluid in her lungs seems to be causing her the most problems. Is there a homeopathic approach to dealing with CHF symptoms? The thing that has kept her alive 3 years longer than the vet thought she would live has been Canna Pet—it was truly a miracle for her. But now I just want to make her as comfortable as possible. Thanks, in advance, for your kind response.
Absolutely, Janet, homeopathy can do wonders for congestive heart disease. It’s a muscle, after all, so quite “plastic” compared to say, kidney.
It’s best handled with a professional at the wheel, though, so look at your Apoquel Alternatives Report in your Pack area. I tell how to choose a good homeopathic vet there.
I lost my Sidney kitty two Christmas’s ago to heart disease. Didn’t know he had it until they did the echo cardiogram. Then the cardiologist put him on heart meds. Sidney died two days later. His brother Oliver was diagnosed 4 months later with the beginnings of heart disease. Found that out because after Sidney, we took Oliver to an integrative vet and a different cardiologist. Oliver is on Chinese herbs and acupuncture every 6 weeks. His second echo cardiogram shows the heart muscle more relaxed. The cardiologist is thrilled. I refuse to send Oliver down the same rabbit hole as his brother went. We learned a very hard lesson at Sidney’s expense.
Yvonne, this is brilliant. Live, learn, and do things differently. I appreciate your resolve from Sidney. He’d be proud of you.
This was a beautiful article that brought tears to my eyes. I have an 11 year old giant WGSD and his body is in decline. His tail hangs limp and he’s incontinent. We told him we’d take care of this beloved rescue his entire life and we’re working with supplements and homeopathy but he may not get the use of his tail back or pee in a normal way. So we have to prepare for his transition which could occur in the next year or two. That’s why I’m so grateful for this tender and loving article by Dr Falconer. I would add another remedy to this situation which works so beautifully to help ease the grief of loss. And that’s Ignatia. What a wonderful and effective remedy it is. Thanks!
Great addition, Elle. Thanks for reminding us about this.
Dr.Will Falconer-you my friend are a blessing.Such common sense in everything you do & say,even on death & dying.Bless your heart.I’m even teary eyed writing this after reading this 10 ways to ease into a peaceful death.I thank you:)
This is lovely, thanks Will. I am watching my 15 yo Cairn Terrier get closer and closer. He’s mostly blind, deaf, seems somewhat demented, can’t get up sometimes, tips over on occasion, sleeps all the time except about a half hour around breakfast and dinner. The only meds he is getting right now is CBD. If we mention euthanizing him, he rallies. Not joking this has happened several times. I think the Rescue Remedy or Arsenicum could be helpful. Have also scheduled a session with an Animal Communicator for tomorrow night.
Oh, Ellie, he’s a lucky dog to be in your care. I had to laugh about him getting real clear: “It’s not time yet, Mom!”
One of my dearest dogs,Joshua was a dog that I bred and decided to never vaccinate,ever. He was fed a raw diet his enter life up until his last 4 months when he started to be fussy. He was fed “Fresh Pet” which he loved. I would have fed him anything he liked at the end.
Joshua suffered from CHF and Lymphoma at the end and was maintained on several herbs. He died very peacefully in my arms and lived 17 years,10 months.
He was individually cremated and I witnessed him being put in the crematory and I stayed the whole time and watched as his ashes was prepared for me.
Joshua was one of my racedogs (basenji) and was a great ambassador of the breed.
I will miss him forever.
Sleep well until we meet again.
Sweet, Kathryn. A long life and a peaceful death in loving arms. Pretty hard to beat that. He was a testament to the effects of less “prevention” and I hope sharing his story here will inspire others. Nice work.
You gave that little basenji a fantastic life Kathryn! Amazing!
I have an 18 yr cat but havent managed that longevity for any of my dogs as yet.
Thank you for being a role model and sharing.
I strongly feel there’s no harder decision to make in life than to end the life of a beloved pet. No matter what you will always question your decision. I have had many pets thru my door as I did fostering and often took in the sick and/or old ones who usually spent their last years or even months with me. You are so right about learning from each pet’s demise. My very much loved little Pekingese boy pretty much spend his last 18 months being miserable. I was trying to be holistic but still listening to conventional Vets also. His back was bad and he could barely walk and I probably spent way too much with Vets trying to fix it instead of just making him comfortable. I did have a stroller for him so he could go on walks with the rest of the dogs. Then they said he needed to see an eye specialist who decided he needed surgery. Surgery did not go well, his heart stopped during the surgery, got him going again but his recovery was very difficult and he was still blind. During all of this my holistic Vet decided his thyroid was on the low side of normal and he should be on thyroid medication, which, according to her was pretty harmless. They filled the prescription incorrectly giving him 1 mg. instead of .1 milligram which he took for 3 weeks before they discovered their mistake. About a month later he suffered a “thyroid storm” where his readings were off the chart. We almost lost him then, but I managed to nurse him back to health. Every few months he would have a 3-4 day bout of not eating or drinking and I would give him bone broth by syringe and he would start eating again. The last time I had to force the bone broth down and he just looked so absolutely totally miserable, that I decided it was his time. I cried for 3 days because I felt I had failed him. But my lesson learned was the less Veterinary intervention, the better. Had I refused the eye surgery and the thyroid pills, I don’t know if he would have lived longer, but I think it would have been much easier on him.
Amazing story, Sandra. Thanks for sharing it. And I agree, it’s rarely an easy call to help a loved one die. I’m so glad this brave little soul inspired change for you.
Thank you for your story, it was helpful to me. You are right about no matter what you do always questioning your decision. I euthanized my 11 y.o. dog recently, who we suspected of having a brain tumor. It was very difficult in the end for her, and me. I’ve been kicking myself over and over for not doing an MRI and other things to get to the bottom of what was making her sick. And also for not giving her more meds to have kept her alive longer. As it was, the vet visits she did have were frequently hard on her and led to more seizures. Your story is a reminder to me that “more” isn’t always best, no matter how it hurts to lose them. ???? And, oh how does it hurt.
Thank you for this. We live in a city and just have cats at present, but they are aging and it is helpful.
I grew up in a rural area and became early-acquainted with death, human and non-human. The “modern” ways are barbaric. Thanks for your reminders of more natural eases into the transition to the other side.