Euthanasia

The Final Act of Caring
Euthanasia means ‘good death’ and euthanasia is the act of humanely ending an animal’s life. Most often, euthanasia is achieved by administering an anaesthetic overdose that will quickly and gently end a life. To help facilitate a relaxed and peaceful process with little or no pain or anxiety, our vet will recommend a sedative be given initially to induce a deep sleep. The entire process often goes smoothly, and your pet will pass peacefully. Please feel free to ask questions and trust that everyone has your pet’s best interest at heart.

Knowing When The Time Is Right

This can be difficult and complicated. It is important to consider your pet’s overall comfort and quality of life. Review the medical care options and your ability to provide for their daily care. Things to consider include the amount of pain, mobility concerns, change in appetite, the ability to express joy, interest, and playfulness, hygiene considerations, having more bad days than good ones, etc. Sometimes, even with all the facts at hand, it can still be difficult to know when the time is right. There may be conflict within your family and other caregivers regarding when the time is right for euthanasia. Think about what is important to you, your pet, and everyone who loves them. When no more options are available to prevent suffering, euthanasia becomes the kindest choice. If euthanasia is not acceptable because of religious, spiritual, or personal preferences, talk with your veterinary practice team about animal hospice care. Many decisions usually need to be made going forward and your veterinary team is there to help guide and support you through this process.

Who Will Be Present

Think about who you want present for your pet’s passing: children, other pets, extended family members or friends. Everyone is welcome to be there, however, no one is ever made to stay. People may choose to remain present or move away.

Choosing The Day and Time

The right time to choose euthanasia is a combination of when the decision has been made and those wanting to be present are able to be there. Decide on the preferred day and time; remember that this needs to work for the vet’s schedule as well, but always keeping in mind your pet’s health and what is best for them.

Where In The Home

In deciding exactly where, we often consider things like where your pet is most comfortable, safety, privacy, sufficient space for those who will be present, and post-euthanasia body handling. Sometimes a compromise will have to be made.

Aftercare Preparations

You will need to decide on the arrangements for your pet afterwards. Finalising details before euthanasia will minimize decision-making after. Options may include burial at home, cremation, a private service at a crematorium, and more, depending on what is available.

Grief Support

It is important to take care of yourself before, during, and after the euthanasia of your beloved pet. It is helpful to surround yourself with people who understand your bond and how difficult this loss may be. Your veterinary practice often has information about pet loss support groups, books, and other resources to assist you in your time of grief. Remember, you are not alone. Your pet is special and losing them may be overwhelming.

What Does The Procedure Involve?

Once the appointment is made you will be given the option to settle payment before the procedure so that you do not have to deal with this when feeling emotional afterwards. When the vet arrives he/she will explain what will happen and the order that things will take place. You will need to sign a “Euthanasia Consent Form” to allow the euthanasia to be performed. You can choose to be present for the entire procedure, or leave before or during, as you feel comfortable.

When you are ready, the vet will give your pet an injection of a sedative usually through a tiny needle prick given just under the skin of the neck. The injection may sting a little. This will allow your pet to slowly relax, be relieved of any pain, and get as comfortable as possible. Your pet will fall into a deep sleep in 5 to 15 minutes.

In dogs and cats, access to a vein is often needed and a catheter is inserted and taped. When you are ready, an overdose of an anaesthetic is given, and your pet will fall asleep as the injection is given. The breathing and heart usually stop quite quickly, though sometimes it can take a few minutes. You may hold your pet, if you wish to, while the injection is given. Their eyes will not close all the way and some pets lose urine and faeces. The vet will confirm that your pet has passed.

You will be given time to remain with your pet for a final private goodbye and then the vet will take your pet away if you have chosen cremation. 

As a matter of courtesy we will inform your vet practice of your pet’s passing for their records.

 

The following resources may be helpful:

Pet Bereavement Support Service

0800 096606
www.bluecross.org.uk.

Open every day 08.30 to 20.30.
They will put you in touch with your nearest befriender.

Animal Samaritans Pet Bereavement Service

Ease Pet Bereavement Service

Speaking to a member of your practice team