How does pet euthanasia work? What should I expect?

After first discussing your pets needs and condition, a calming sedative for relaxation and pain relief is given carefully under the skin with a tiny needle. Peaceful relaxation usually sets in in about 10-15 minutes. At that point, a small IV catheter will be placed and an injection of an anesthetic will be given to allow your pet to go into a peaceful sleep. At this point an injection of a highly concentrated anesthesia that is specially made for euthanasia is given. These medications are given with the specific intent of helping your pet pass painlessly and peacefully.

How long does the appointment usually last?

Home visits typically last 45-60 minutes.

Why should I euthanize my pet? Is "dying naturally" a better option?

Most diseases will not 'instantly' take the life of your pet. More typically there is a prolonged downhill trend that can lead to a long and painful end of life process. Depending on the disease process, there may be measures that you and your veterinarian can take to slow the disease progression and make your pet more comfortable for a while. But there comes a time when euthanasia is the right thing to do. Euthanasia can help your pet pass before they experience too much discomfort from a disease they cannot recover from.

How do I know it's time?

There is no hard and fast answer to this question, but the primary concern should always be "what is best for your pet?". The more information you have in regard to the causes of your pet's condition, the better decisions you can make for your pet. Your regular veterinarian can offer valuable assistance in this regard.
The following is a list of some things to consider when assessing your pet's quality of life:

  • No longer interested in food or water
  • Incontinence (accidents in the house) or unable to go to the bathroom without falling down
  • Mobility concerns
  • No longer greeting you when you come home;
  • Lack of grooming (cats and some dogs);
  • Isolates themselves from the people or other pets in the home, particularly in places they usually do not go;
  • Decreased interest in playing;
  • Unable to stand or walk on their own;
  • Change in attitude (depression, aggression, confusion);
  • Not wanting to do the things they love;
  • Fewer "good" days than bad.
  • Is there a reasonable expectation that your pet can return to a good quality of life, given his/her medical condition(s).

Should children be present during the euthanasia?

Children should always have the opportunity to say goodbye instead of coming home to an empty house. Older children (over 5 or 6 years old) are amazingly resilient and will impress you with the heavenly comments they think of. Of course, this decision is to be made by the parents and the parents alone. For children younger than 5 or 6, they seem to be unsure about what's going on and are more upset by the parent's emotions than by the loss of the pet. Still, honesty is usually the best policy even for this age. Again... no matter what anyone says, you're the parent and you know what's best!!

Should other pets be present during a euthanasia?

Other household pets need time to say goodbye, as long as they are not disruptive to their sick housemate. If needed, other pets can be placed in another room, then allowed to come say goodbye after their friend has passed. It seems there is much more closure when they are able to see and smell the body of their friend, though it is not unusual for other pets in the house to "grieve" in that they may not want to eat as much or act depressed. A little extra TLC is in order here, for both of you.

Am I able to stay with my pet during the euthanasia procedure?

Yes, you are welcome to stay for as much of the procedure as you are comfortable with. Some people elect to be present for the entire procedure while others only want to be present for just the sedation. It is your personal decision.

What if my pet has bitten a person?

Euthanasia appointments can be scheduled but there is a waiting period of 14 days if your pet has bitten someone. Please contact the city or county animal control officer if your pet has bitten any person.