What To Expect During Pet Euthanasia

https://www.cuteness.com/   By Krissy Howard|

 

Making the decision to euthanize a pet can be one of the most difficult things a pet owner will go through. Whether your pet has been sick for a long time, or your companion has simply reached the end of their time on this mortal plane, it’s never easy, no matter how prepared we are. For some people, euthanasia may seem scary as many don’t really know what to expect, and may not be sure what the process actually entails. Understanding the medical procedure, and what happens from start to finish, may help some pet owners find peace of mind when considering their options.

Elderly Dog lying on couch
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How to know when it’s time

Many people can tell when it’s approaching time to consider humanely euthanize when their pets’ quality of life becomes poor. Whether your pet is chronically ill or is simply reaching the later years of his life, some fairly common, obvious signs of a diminishing quality of life can include loss of appetite, incontinence, difficulty breathing, falling, and bumping into things or becoming easily confused, although these symptoms will vary from pet to pet. Some people like to think of five or so things that their pet loves to do, like going for car rides, or eating dinner. Then, once their pet is no longer able to do or enjoy half of those things, it may be time to speak to your veterinarian about end of life care and options.

It’s not uncommon for people to have a hard time understanding whether their pet’s quality of life has taken a turn for the worse. After all, we’re with our pets day in and day out, and coupled with the emotional attachment we share with them, it can be hard to look at things from an objective point of view. Asking for the medical opinion of your veterinarian, along with input from a close, trustworthy friend or family member, may help you move forward along in the decision making process. For some people, having a number to assign to our pet’s quality of life can be helpful in making the decision to euthanize, and there are a number of online surveys, checklists, and calculators that can help shed light on the reality of the situation.

red cat looking up
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What happens during euthanasia

 

Pet euthanasia is commonly referred to as “being put to sleep” or “being put down,” both of which are kind and accurate descriptions of what happens during the procedure. After you have spoken with your veterinarian, who should explain exactly what the procedure entails, an IV cathedar is usually placed in your pet’s vein, which will allow for quick and easy administration of any shots needed during the euthanasia process. Then, depending on the circumstances of your specific pet, a sedative may be given to your pet, which will leave them calm and relaxed, causing them to become very drowsy or unconscious. To stop the heartbeat and brain function, a fatal dose of sodium pentobarbital is given, which American Humane assures will result in a gentle and painless end to your pet’s life in a matter of minutes.

After your pet’s heart has stopped beating, it’s not uncommon to see your pet move parts of her body, which the American Veterinary Medical Association assures are not signs of pain or life, but muscle spasms. Because your pet no longer has control over her muscles, her eyes and mouth will likely remain open, which may be a shocking sight for even the most prepared pet owner during such a difficult time. Your pet may also release her bowels or bladder shortly after having passed on. It’s important to understand that these are completely natural functions of the body and are not indicators that your pet is still alive — your veterinarian will confirm that your pet has passed by listening for a heartbeat through a stethoscope.

veterinary concept, stethoscope in the heart of a dog.
credit: SaevichMikalai/iStock/GettyImages

Having your pet humanely euthanized can be done either at home, or in your veterinarian’s office, either of which will follow the same medical protocol. An at-home procedure is preferred to some as it allows for a more personal and intimate setting. This may also be less stressful for a pet for whom going to the vet is a traumatic experience, or for pets who cannot easily get up out of bed, or into the car. These appointments do need to be scheduled in advance. In-office procedures can also be scheduled, or may be the best choice in emergency situations, or for pets who should not wait or may not be able to wait for an at-home visit. Whether at-home or in-office, your medical professional will allow you time alone with your pet, before and after they have gone, to say goodbye.

After they have gone

Popular after life options for pets include cremation and burial, which are done at the discretion of the pet owner. Both at-home and in-office euthanasia services make afterlife options easy for grieving pet owners, and unless you will be burying your pet yourself, have local crematory services who handle all details, from pick up to drop off, to additional memorial services.

Girl crying and being consoled
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Saying goodbye to a beloved pet will look different for everyone — there is no single way, right way, or wrong way to grieve. Finding support from friends, family, or other pet owners who have lost their companion animals can be of great help during the mourning process, as countless thoughts and feelings will arise as you adjust to, and eventually accept life without your pet. Among feelings of sadness, mourning, longing and loss, sometimes, people who have euthanized their pets may be overcome with feelings of guilt as well, worrying that they made the decision either too soon or too late. If you need help during this painful time, there are countless grief hotlines designed specifically for those who have lost their pets, including the ASPCA pet loss hotline at 877-434-3310, along with several national and local options.

What Should I Do With a Deceased Pet?    By Krissy Howard|

 

It’s something that no pet owner wants to think about — saying goodbye to our beloved companions. Assuming you see your pet’s life all the way until the end, the sad truth is that you will have to say goodbye, at some point. With the potential for so many feelings to come up at that time, thinking about what to do with your pet’s remains is not something most people want to think about, but it’s an important detail that must be addressed. Whether you’ve had time to plan for their after-life services, or were forced to part ways before you expected to, there are several options for safely and respectfully handling your pet’s body after their soul has moved on.

dog and cat play together. cat and dog lying outside in the yard. kitten sucks dog breast milk.
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Burial options for your pet

 

After their pet has moved on from this life, many people like to bury them, sometimes with a memorial marker to acknowledge or visit. If you’re a homeowner or live on a property where burial is allowed, burying your pet close to you can be a great way to continue to feel connected to your pet. Many people find comfort with the idea that the pet will be laid to rest in a space that was familiar to them, as well, especially if they can be buried in a favorite corner of the yard, or under a tree they enjoyed resting or playing near. The ASPCA does warn, however, that not all properties will allow for pet burial, so always check with your local laws or terms of agreement if you’re part of a homeowner’s association. The same thing goes for public land, like parks or even some forested areas. If you wish to bury your pet but cannot bury them on or around your property, check online for pet cemeteries in your area, which offer a safe place for pets to rest after they have passed on.

Cremating pets after death

 

Another option is to cremate your pet, which is becoming an increasingly popular option among pet owners. Cremations are offered either as an individual service, which means that your pet will be cremated alone, and their ashes can be returned to you, if you wish. Group cremations are another option, which cost less than individual services because pets are given a communal cremation, and so the return of their ashes is not possible. If your pet has been euthanized, either at your veterinarian’s office or by a doctor in a home setting, the practice will typically have a relationship with a local crematory service, and will handle all arrangements once you decide which route you wish to take.

Man with a dog hiking and playing in forest
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Once the ashes are returned, people will typically either keep, bury, or scatter their pets ashes. For those who wish to scatter the ashes of their pets at a national park, many will allow you to do so, with permission granted by the specific part. To scatter ashes at Yosemite, for example, pet owners must submit an application, and adhere to specific guidelines, like scattering off of trails and waterways. Additional options, like having your pet’s ashes pressed into a piece of jewelry, or having them blown into a glass ornament, are also possibilities, along with countless others.

Choices for those in need of financial help

 

Of course, not everyone will be in a position to have their beloved pet cremated or buried in a cemetery due to financial constraints. We often can’t predict when our pets will move on, and some people undergo serious financial burden caring for sick pets in the later stages of their lives. Group cremation is less expensive than individual cremation, and while you will not have your pet’s remains returned to you, if cremation is important to you, you can have this wish realized thanks to such services.

For those with absolutely no financial room to do anything with their pet’s remains, there are local services that can help with the removal of the body, safely and securely. Calling 311 in many areas will dispatch an animal control officer to your home, who will safely remove your pet’s remains for you, at no cost. Additionally, your local city or county animal shelter may be able to help you with the disposal of your pet’s remains, at little to no cost to you. Often, these services will result in your pet being taken to your local landfill, which many not be something everyone is comfortable with. As with any after life option, reach out and ask any questions you need to have answered in order to make an informed decision about handling your pet’s remains.

Woman strokes cute sleeping cat at windowsill
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Additional options

While burial and cremation are the most traditional ways to send your pet’s body off, there are additional options for those looking for services that, perhaps, better suited their pet’s personality. Rather than cremating your pet’s remains, which uses extreme heat to disintegrate the body, Aquamation, a service offered by pet funeral home Resting Waters, relies on flowing water to gently break down organic matter. Taxidermy, in which an animal is freeze dried, then stuffed with cotton, is another option, although this is not terribly common for house pets, and is more often seen done with wild game.

Drugs Used to Put a Dog to Sleep           By Adrienne Farricelli

Scheduling a euthanasia appointment is one of the toughest and most dreaded decisions a dog owner can make. Yet, this tough decision is also the kindest act of love owners can ultimately give their dogs in order to allow them to peacefully drift into a pain-free world. The word ”euthanasia” derives from Greek roots meaning ”good death”. Indeed, putting a dog to sleep is a peaceful, and in most cases, painless experience, thanks to the effect of fast-acting drugs capable of allowing the dog to drift into a anesthesia-like sleep and never wake up.

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Sedatives

 

Some dogs may be particularly anxious the day of the euthanasia appointment because they dislike being in unfamiliar surroundings and around people they do not know. This is pretty common since many dogs have learned to associate the vet’s office with unpleasant procedures and tend to feel uncomfortable any time they step into an animal hospital. If your dog is particularly apprehensive or fractious, a good idea would be to ask the vet for a sedative to give the dog a couple of hours before putting the dog to sleep, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Sodium Pentobarbital

 

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends using sodium pentobarbital in order to euthanize animals. The AVMA, ASPCA and the National Animal Control Association, along with HSUS, concur that this method is the most compassionate, humane and safest way to put a pet to sleep. This drug is a Schedule II barbiturate which is injected into a dog’s vein and works very quickly. In most cases, the drug works within five minutes by causing the heart to stop beating, however under some circumstances (such as if the dog has poor circulation) it may take slightly longer, explains veterinarian Holly Nash in an article for Pet Education.(reference 3)

Beuthanasia D

The use of Pentobarbital combined with a neuromuscular blocking agent for euthanasia purposes is an unacceptable practice. A combination of Pentobarbital sodium and phenytoin sodium, however, has recently obtained approval by the Food and Drug administration but for use in dogs only, according to HSUS. The portion of phenytoin sodium takes effect during the deep anesthetic stage induced by the pentobarbital sodium. Because of its cardiotoxic properties, it adds to the depressive effects on the heart leading to the complete stoppage of its electrical activity.

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COMMENTS FROM LOVINMYPUP.COM:

The death of a pet is a gut wrenching time in a pet parent’s life,     The loss leaves a hole in your heart.   Euthanasia is an emotional  thing to watch, however, it is such a gentle procedure that pet parents are often surprised as their best friends pass over the rainbow bridge.  I chose this article because of its steps and iit’s detail.  If you are looking at a first time euthanasia this article will help you understand the process.    Lovinmypup is very sorry for your loss.  But always remember that your pup’s spirit will always be in your heart.

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