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Dear Bailey

Dear Bailey,

My 13-year-old dog is sick, and my parents told me we may have to euthanize him. What does that mean? I don't want him to die.

Thank you,


Dear Leslie,

I am sorry to hear your dog is sick. I can tell you love him and have enjoyed many wonderful years together. While that is a wonderful thing, it doesn't make it easy to think about a beloved dog dying.

Pet euthanasia is a procedure that quickly and painlessly ends the life of an animal by giving the animal an injection that stops its brain and heart activity. Some people refer to euthanasia as "putting a pet down" or "putting a pet to sleep." Sometimes children want to know more about what happens during this procedure. If you are curious, ask your parents or guardian, and they may have your veterinarian explain it to you.

The decision to end a pet's life by euthanasia instead of letting a disease run its course is difficult. For a seriously ill dog, a veterinarian can not tell an owner exactly how long a dog will live. However, the veterinarian can give an estimate as well as an assessment of how the disease may affect the dog as time passes.

Whether the dog is in pain, whether he is able to enjoy doing the things he has been used to doing, and ways the dog's illness are affecting or will affect your family are a few things to consider when thinking about euthanasia. As your dog's health expert, your veterinarian can help your parents make the decision that is best for your dog and your family.

Thanks for your letter. I hope this response answers your question and will help other kids who read it too.

Yours truly,


You can send Bailey your questions about dogs. Please use the mailing address to the right, or e-mail Bailey at

Bailey receives letters every week from kids like you, so keep checking your mailbox and Kids' Corner for a reply. Thanks for writing!

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