Hello, I am really struggling with the decision to have my 9 yr old  Cavalier put to sleep

She is in the last stage of CHF with a grade 5 heart murmur and been on several meds over the last 6 months which have prolonged her life, but as of last week her cough is back, she is struggling to breathe with up to 32 breaths per minute and basically sleeps all day. My vet wanted to wait a few more weeks before we decided, but on the advice of another vet friend we are considering letting her go as soon as tomorrow. My issue is that she is still responsive and happy to see us, I have been waiting for her to tell me it’s time but she just seems to not be letting me know if she is in pain or suffering, I have googled so much info and believe that it’s kinder not to prolong this, but my guilt is making it so hard to let her go. Please help put my mind at ease, thank you.


I’m so sorry your Cavalier is suffering with end stage heart disease, and that you are struggling with the decision of euthanasia to ensure your pet isn’t suffering, it’s not an easy decision, especially as no one can make this for you.

Your lovely dog is suffering from a terminal disease, and as you’re aware the medications can only help with the clinical signs of the disease to a point, and they can’t stop the underlying heart disease progressing. At a time, the medications no longer help. The return of the cough may indicate more fluid on her lungs, so the medication may need to be tweaked. Possibly either the diuretics need to be increased or another one added, and this may, or may not buy you more time.

I always consider their quality of life when asked this question from a pet parent. Are they eating and drinking, able to toilet and have a sniff around the yard? If there is still good quality of life, and it’s fair to monitor them closely, but on the other hand, if their quality of life is poor – such as struggling for breath, inability to toilet easily or have a sniff outside, less interested in food, it makes the decision to alleviate your pets suffering easier.

It’s important to be aware that things could also deteriorate very quickly, and these dogs can suffer acute ruptures of the valves in their heart. There’s no way to predict if and when this could happen.

I really can’t guide you to a decision, and I simply don’t know enough about his case, but it’s clear to me that you have provided your pet with every chance, have been seeking regular veterinary care and have been administering daily medication, daily monitoring of her sleeping breathing rate and his state of mind, particularly over the last 6 months, and even now you’re now searching for further answers and opinions to best look after your pooch, you are clearly a devoted pet parent and your girl is so lucky to have someone like you on her side.

Your decision will be the right one.

If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a live video call or start a chat to discuss in more detail, as soon as possible.

Chat soon & Big hugs,

Dr Claire