Euthanasia – What To Expect

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The decision to say goodbye to your family member can be one of the most difficult you’ll have to make. We’re here to guide you through the process with compassion. Knowing what to expect can make the process a little easier.

What is Euthanasia?

Euthanasia, also known as “putting an animal to sleep”, is a humane way to end an animal’s life. A mixture of painkillers and sedatives is administered to your pet, helping them to fall asleep and gently pass away.

Euthanasia allows us to minimize a pet’s suffering and give them a quick, painless and more dignified passing. Your veterinarian may suggest euthanasia if your pet is elderly and no longer has a good quality of life; or if they have a terminal illness and are in pain. In these situations, euthanasia is often the most compassionate choice for your pet.

What to Expect During Euthanasia

Euthanasia can take place at the veterinary office, or, many veterinarians, including Small Door, now offer at-home euthanasia, if you feel more comfortable saying goodbye to your pet at home.

You can choose whether or not you’d like to stay with your pet during euthanasia. Some owners decide to stay with their pet throughout the entire procedure, others choose just to stay through the initial sedation, while some prefer to not stay for any of it. This is a personal decision, and you are free to choose whatever feels right for you.

Wherever the euthanasia takes place, you’ll first have some time together with your pet to say goodbye. When you’re ready, the veterinarian will administer a sedative that is a mix of painkiller and a calming agent via a tiny needle. This will help your pet to relax and avoid any stress.

About 5-15 minutes after the sedative, an IV catheter is placed, through which the euthanasia solution (which is simply an overdose of anesthetic) will be administered. This is a painless procedure, and your pet will gently pass away within a few minutes.

Sometimes your pet may take a few gasping breaths or their muscles will start to tremor slightly. This is a normal part of the body passing on and a natural reaction to the multiple drugs in their system. Your pet is not in any pain, and is unaware of what is happening. The sedatives and pain medication ensures this.

Your veterinarian will check your pet’s heart to make sure they are gone. If you choose, you can then take some private time with your pet.

After Euthanasia

When your pet passes away, you will need to decide whether to bury or cremate their remains. This is a personal choice, and you should choose whatever feels best for you. Your veterinarian can help you with the arrangements, whichever you decide.

Coping with the loss of a pet can be incredibly difficult. Many people benefit from speaking about it with others who understand. You might consider joining a support group such as the AMCNY’s Pet Loss Support Group.

Talk to us about Quality of Life and Euthanasia

If you have any questions about measuring or improving your pet’s quality of life, or would like more information about our end of life services and the options for your pet, please feel free to reach out to us.

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