Time To Say Goodbye: Euthanasia And Your Boxer

In the best of all worlds, your Boxer will pass peacefully at home when the time comes.

Many of us must grapple with putting our Boxers to sleep when quality of life is so diminished that euthanasia becomes the kindest choice.

If your Boxer is in unmanageable pain with no prospect of improvement, you will want to know what’s involved in euthanasia, as well as understand what the alternatives might be if you’re not sure it’s the end of the road just yet.

I am not a vet. This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes. I encourage readers to view my full disclaimer.

How To Know It’s The Right Time

If you are contemplating euthanasia, you have probably been through the wringer with your Boxer and may not be thinking straight.

Often different members of the family will have divergent opinions on what should be done.

The decision can be even more anguished when it presents early in a Boxer’s life, at a time when your dog should have had many healthy, vibrant years ahead.

Perhaps there’s been an accident or the onset of a debilitating and incurable disease.

It can help to have a set of objective(ish) criteria to apply in assessing your dog’s condition.

It may be time to choose euthanasia for your Boxer if one or more of the following describe his condition:

  • Constant, high level pain
  • No prospect of improvement
  • Has suffered for an extended period and doesn’t want to try anymore
  • A total loss of mobility
  • More bad days than good

Even still, deciding to put your Boxer to sleep is unbelievably difficult.

It’s human nature to want to keep trying, perhaps beyond the point at which it’s fair to the animal.

We don’t want to lose our Boxer.

It’s natural to want to do all we can to save a beloved companion who’s given nothing but love.

Things To Try Before Deciding To Put Your Boxer To Sleep

The only thing worse than the saying goodbye to your Boxer, is second guessing yourself afterwards.

Often an owner will be in no doubt that the time has come.

Sometimes, though, the decision is less clear cut.

It may be that your Boxer has entered her senior years but is still quite happy within herself.

Here is how to care for your senior Boxer.

None of us wants to feel there’s more we could have done or that we opted for euthanasia prematurely.

All hope may not be lost if:

  • There is a treatment but you can’t afford it
  • Your young Boxer has been diagnosed with a serious, and possibly fatal, condition
  • Your Boxer is in pain but can be medicated to provide quality of life for his remaining time
  • Your Boxer can’t walk unassisted or has lost mobility due to a condition like degenerative myelopathy
  • Your Boxer has become incontinent perhaps due to spaying which can cause a loss of muscle tone in the urinary sphincter due to the absence of hormones produced by the ovaries
  • Your Boxer is eating a kibble diet and ingesting flea/tick treatments, chemical dewormers and receiving vaccines
  • Your Boxer is on medication, especially immunosuppressant drugs like prednisone

In these cases, you may still have avenues to explore including:

  • Paying by instalments, finding a vet that will perform the procedure pro bono, asking for donations, raising money through crowdfunding, taking a loan, asking for help from family or friends
  • Seeking a second, or third or fourth opinion — particularly from a holistic or homeopathic veterinarian if you’ve already done the rounds of conventional veterinary specialists
  • Nappies, incontinence drugs, waterproof covers and other management strategies
  • Pain meds or natural pain relief alternatives including CBD oil and complementary therapies like acupuncture, laser, chiropractic etc
  • Carts, wagons, prams, slings, wheelchairs or other mobility aids
  • Eliminating toxic inputs such as flea/tick treatments, chemical dewormers, vaccines, kibble in favor of non-toxic parasite prevention and a fresh, raw diet
  • Stopping all drugs — Often a sick dog can be put on so many medications that it becomes impossible to tell what is causing what. Drugs and drug interactions can create serious side effects and symptoms that may be misread as the original disease but which are in fact iatrogenic (caused by drugs). When all hope seems lost a turnaround can sometimes be achieved by simplifying and getting off the drugs
  • Fasting

This last option warrants closer attention.

Fasting As A Way To Heal Your Boxer

Fasting might sound foreign if it’s a healing modality you and your vets are unfamiliar with or haven’t witnessed firsthand.

Holistic vets like Dr Richard Pitcairn, Dr Donald Ogden and the author of Dog Nutrition 101 Nora Lenz are among those who’ve used fasting followed by the feeding of a fresh, natural raw diet to heal a wide variety of illnesses in dogs, including in pets “sent home to die” or regarded as incurable by conventionally-trained vets.

Fasting is a dog’s natural response to illness, injury or disease.

There is an established body of scientific evidence that fasting triggers powerful detoxification, regeneration and renewal at a cellular level.

A three-day fast, for instance, has been shown to reset the immune system.

Extended fasts of three to ten days combined with quiet rest were documented by vet Dr Ogden in California in the forties and fifties.

In the 40s and 50s, vet Dr Donald Ogden used quiet rest combined with extended fasts of three to ten days to successfully treat many inflammatory conditions including:

  • Obesity
  • Underweight conditions
  • Rheumatism
  • Arthritis
  • Constipation
  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Bronchial disease
  • Allergies
  • Skin disease (9 out of 10 cases improved within two weeks with fasting)
  • Digestive pathologies
  • Ulcers
  • Kidney disease
  • Bladder stones
  • Dental disease including periodontitis
  • Eye disorders
  • Liver pathologies
  • Heartworm
  • Mild lameness
  • Kidney and bladder stones
  • Gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining)
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disorders (unless cirrhosis has developed)
  • Open sores
  • The fever stage of distemper and hepatitis  

“Animals, when sick, will recover in 99% of the cases through fasting,” wrote Dr Ogden.

“Fasting is the oldest means of remedy to animals… Every practitioner who will give this meritorious function due concern will realize that ten to 30 days’ abstinence from all food except water is nothing monstrous. I have fasted dogs and cats for periods of time ranging from one to 50 days, depending upon the pathology with excellent results and amazing recoveries being effected.”

Even if this sounds outlandish, if you’re at the point of ending your Boxer’s life, you may be willing to give fasting a try.

Here is more information on how fasting can benefit your Boxer.

Alternatives To Euthanasia For Your Boxer

Sometimes you may have more choices than you first think.

As discussed, it may be a case of more effective pain relief, a different treatment (maybe a holistic or homeopathic one) or modifying the house to accommodate your Boxer’s changed mobility or other needs.

Another important option to consider is in-home hospice care which is available for dogs these days.

Hospice care can bridge the gap between your Boxer’s normal life and the end of her life, giving you more pain-free time together at home.

With in-home hospice care, dedicated owners can make a decision to withdraw proactive treatment to slow the progression of disease but still provide comfort and pure pain relief so a Boxer can see out her final days with her family.

What Happens When You Euthanize Your Boxer

Eventually, you may reach the conclusion that you need to euthanize your Boxer.

Here’s what happens.

Most vets inject a drug called Pentobarbital to render your Boxer unconscious.

It shuts down heart and brain function within a few minutes.

As your Boxer leaves this world, she may lose control of her bladder and bowels, twitch or take a final breath.

Note: some vets administer a sedative before the heart-stopping drug.

It may matter less at this juncture, but it’s worth knowing Boxers should never receive the sedative Acepromazine.

Often the very best way to go about it is to have your vet make a house call, so your Boxer can remain at home in the environment she knows and loves.

Your vet may be able to take her body for cremation, if you wish or leave her with you for burial.

Conclusion

There is no easy way to lose a Boxer.

Euthanasia can feel worse because you’ve played an active role in the timing of your dog’s death.

May there be comfort in a decision arrived at with love after proper consideration of all the options.

References

Lenz, Nora, Fasting Dogs and Cats, No More Vet Bills, 2017 Retrieved from website in 2021

Ogden, Donald, DVM, Writings of Dr Donald Ogden, 1959

Pitcairn, Richard H, DVM, PhD and Susan Hubble Pitcairn, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, Rodale, 2018