I had an interesting exchange the other day with a client regarding the words we animal caretakers use for euthanizing our beloved companions. She lamented the routine use of phrases such as “put him/her down,” and she asked me if I had any alternatives that sounded less harsh.

In writing a book about my experiences with animals over the last twenty years, I’ve had to give some thought to this question. The need for the use of a term comes up frequently when dealing with the question of whether an animal prefers to have assistance with his/her passing, or prefers to pass naturally on his/her own.

Phrases I prefer are of this nature:

  • Help her to leave her body.
  • Help him to let go of his body.
  • Help him to transition.
  • Assist them with letting go.
  • Helping to release them from their bodies.

These phrases mostly imply that there’s somewhere they will be going, which is consistent with my belief in an afterlife, for animals as well as humans.

And sometimes in my writing, I just use the formal word “euthanize,” for the sake of variety.