It may be particularly difficult if you are in the position of having to consider euthanasia for your pet, as it is a heart rending decision.
However, considering a euthanasia decision shows the enormous amount of love and compassion you have for your pet. It shows that you know and understand that you may have to put your pet’s care and wellbeing before your own thoughts of loss.
When a pet we love is suffering, there is often no other choice but to make the difficult decision to have their life come to an end humanely and with dignity.
Euthanasia for a beloved pet is a highly personal decision and there are lots of important factors to consider, including:
Amount of pain and suffering. Is your pet experiencing pain and suffering which outweigh any pleasure or life enjoyment?
Loss of quality of life. Is your pet still enjoying life and being able to continue with day to day tasks which bring them happiness?
Activity level. Does your pet still enjoy activities or are they able to be active at all?
Response to affection. Does your pet still interact and respond to love and care in the same ways?
Maintaining appetite. Does your pet continue to eat regularly and without discomfort?
Maintaining grooming and personal hygiene. Older pets will often need help, which as owners we are happy to provide, but loss of this independence may be distressing for your pet.
Your family’s feelings. Is your family unanimous in the decision? If not and you still feel it is the best thing for your pet, you may need to speak with bereavement services or your veterinary surgeon as a family to help understand the reasons for differences in opinion and to come to a decision you can all agree upon.
Signing a Consent Form
As part of the euthanasia process, the vet will ask you to sign a consent form. While this can appear insensitive, this document is important to give your legal permission for the vet to carry out the euthanasia procedure.
To enable the euthanasia process to be as peaceful as possible, sometimes the vet will recommend that a sedative injection is given first. This allows your pet to gently fall asleep and prevents any distress. The vet will assess your pet’s overall health to help decide if sedation will help your pet. If you have preferences regarding sedation of your pet please discuss these with your vet.
Clipping and cannulas
If your pet is to have an injection into the vein, the fur may be clipped and an intravenous cannula may be used.
The euthanasia injection
Before the vet gives the injection, they will usually ask you if you are ready, and then if you wish to, you can usually hold your pet’s head, paw or body in the final moments as he or she passes away.
The injection is not painful. The euthanasia solution is a type of anaesthetic agent which is usually a coloured solution, such as yellow, pink or blue, so it is easily distinguishable. The pet will be given a concentrated overdose of the anaesthetic so that they peacefully fall asleep and then pass away. This usually happens quite quickly, often in less than a minute, and many owners are surprised by this.
After the injection
It’s best to be prepared that often after your pet has passed away, the body can undergo various changes. These are post-death reflexes, but if you are not prepared for them, it can seem as if your pet is alive. Your pet may appear to gasp or suddenly have several deep breaths, this is often described as a dying breath. Sometimes the pet’s bladder or bowel may relax and empty at the same time. Stretching of the legs or tail and small muscle movements are also common after-death changes.
After your pet has passed, your vet will check your pet’s heart with a stethoscope and confirm that their heart has stopped and that your pet has passed away.
When is the right time to leave?
This is a very personal decision and the right time is different for everyone. Please remember we are here to support you and your pet whatever you chose.
Some owners may prefer to leave before the sedation is given.
Others may choose to stay until their pet is sedated but not for the final injection.
If you stay with your pet for their final injection, do not feel obliged to stay with your pet after they have passed. Some people prefer to leave as soon as possible and some people prefer to spend time afterwards. You may be able to leave by a different door out of the consulting room, if one is available, so you can avoid having to go through the reception area.
What are the choices afterwards for my pet?
You may be able to choose to bury your pet at home but for many owners this is not possible. In all other circumstances your pet will be cremated and you will be asked to make some choices about your wishes.
If you have chosen to have your pet cremated, we will be able to provide you with information about your choices. Once you have made your decision we can help to arrange this for you.
Take the time to talk to family and friends about memories with your pet. Reminisce over any photographs of your beloved pet.
Cats Protection have a confidential phone line called Paws to Listen, a service for any cat owner suffering grief or bereavement of a beloved pet. The line is open between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, on Freephone 0800 024 9494
The Ralph Site is a website that provides support to pet owners around the loss of a beloved pet, you can visit their website via the link the ralph site or alternately send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here at Gilmoor vets we use the services of a (PCS) Pet Cremation Services to look after your pet. We can provide you with their brochure which provides information on the services that they offer. If you have a personal preference of an alternative crematorium please discuss this with us so that we can assist you in the best way possible.
(Please ask our staff should you need any help, advice or if you wish to request an end of life/bereavement pack)