A Difficult Discussion: Euthanasia

The following 2 part series is by HH’s guest blogger Joanne Scott:



Euthanasia. It’s such a hard topic to think about, much less have a frank discussion about. There are always situations where the answer is so clear… a catastrophic injury with no hopes of recovery. A senior horse that goes down and just can’t get back up. A starved pony, too far
gone to be saved.

But what about the gray area? That gray area is so, so hard for me. The pets that are maybe close to the end, but the answer isn’t clear.


“Better a day too early than a day too late.”

“Pick a nice day, with their favorite things, and make that be the day.”

I’ve always guided my decisions by these trite statements. It’s never easy to make the call, to carry the pet in, and I always ask my husband… “we don’t put people down, why do we do it for animals?” He always answers, “we don’t, but many people wish we would.”

Recently, I’ve been having these frank discussions with a friend of mine. Her horse has been stuck in the gray area for years. I attended her “quality of life” appointment with her vet, and the
gray area was suddenly… not gray. The answer definitive. A date has been picked, a place selected, and a gorgeous boy will be stuffed with his favorite treats, and tears will fall.

Prior to the meeting, we wanted to make sure all of our questions were answered – and needed to make sure we knew all of the questions we wanted answers to. Feel free to use these in a discussion with your vet, should your gray area arise.


  • How much pain in the horse in? Is the pain treatable? Is full recovery possible, and if
    so, what is the timeline?
  • Is “full recovery” riding sound – or pasture sound?
  • What kind of special care will the horse require? Supplements? Medications? Special
    shoeing? Are you able to financially care for the animal?
  • If we do not euthanize now, what signs should we look for to indicate “it’s time?”


euthanasia, AAEP


You can also review the guidelines set forth by the American Association of Equine Practitioners

https://aaep.org/horsehealth/euthanasia-most- difficult-decision

You’ll also want to decide on disposal of your horse. Cremation, private burial, group burial? Your vet will be able to discuss each option with you and help you come to a decision. Here in North Texas, we are lucky to have Pine Hill Pet Cemetery that offers all options with a variety of price ranges.


euthanasia, pine hill


My experience? You assume I have one! (I do.) It is personal, and I’ve made the call for no less than 1 horse, 2 dogs, and numerous cats. No one can tell you what to do, and only you and your vet can make the decision that is right for you.


If you have any considerations you’d like to see added to this list, please add your comments below and we will update the list above.

Join Hunky Hanoverian later this week as we share one reader’s euthanasia experience in her own words.

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  1. My heart jumped when I saw the title of this post, so glad it’s not what I thought!! It is definitely the most difficult decision we deal with as animal owners. I too sometimes can’t help but think we wouldn’t treat an elderly relative like this so why our pets??

    1. So sorry to scare you!!

      But yes, a difficult topic for sure. I work at a large university hospital and it often makes me think of death and if humane euthanasia should be a choice for people as well. So many things to consider, it’s so tough!

  2. I totally freaked when I saw the title pop up! I’ve had to euthanize a horse before, and last week we put down our dog who’s been with us for 9 years. It’s definitely one of the hardest decisions, because you can never know everything and with that lack of knowledge comes guilt. At least with me. Maybe there was something I missed or didn’t account for…it’s just a sucky decision.

    So glad nothing is wrong with Rio!

    1. So sorry to freak you out! Totally didn’t consider rh ramitications of the title!

      Sorry to hear about your dog. Guilt is a major factor in euthanasia for sure, which is why I feel strongly that asking lots of questions beforehand can be beneficial in most scenarios (obviously we can’t always KNOW all the answers, but sometimes it does help to at least ask). I worked at a ver clinic for years and it is always hard when those situations arise 😞.

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