How to Know When to Euthanize

The hardest part of owning a pet is saying goodbye. We all picture our pets going peacefully in their sleep at an old age, surrounded by their toys and family. We hope there is no pain, no suffering, no sadness. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and most pet owners must consider euthanasia and when to euthanize.

Losing a pet is difficult enough but having a pet in constant pain or unhappiness can be more heartbreaking. That is why knowing when to euthanize can save your pet from any additional pain or suffering they might experience.

Though it is a tough decision, in the long run, it is the best option for your pet – and you. After all, your pet is a part of your family, so do what is best for everyone involved. Sometimes showing your love is by making the most difficult choice.

Knowing When to Euthanize

As mentioned before, the point of euthanizing is to save your pet from any additional pain or suffering. When considering euthanasia, you need to consider your pet’s health and quality of life.

It’s so easy seeing your pet as the cute kitten or puppy it once was, but you need to set aside these memories and look at your pet as it is now.

Does your pet have pain that can’t be managed without medication or therapy? Does your pet struggle to use the bathroom? How often does your pet vomit or have diarrhea? Has your pet stopped eating or drinking, or does it struggle to eat or drink on its own? Does your pet have trouble walking or standing by itself? Has your pet’s mood or attitude changed drastically? Most importantly, does your pet no longer enjoy its usual activities – going on walks, playing with toys, getting treats, cuddling with you?

In other words, does your pet have more bad days than good days?

If you answered yes to a lot of these, you should talk to your vet about euthanasia and when to euthanize. Your vet will be able to best gauge your pet’s well-being and health, especially if your pet is suffering from a debilitating disease. If your pet is in obvious pain, your vet might push for euthanasia so your pet doesn’t further suffer.

Keep in mind that euthanasia is often subjective; your decision might not be needed for a few hours to a few days to a few weeks or even months. More time can often help you ease into your decision and come to terms with what is happening, but don’t wait too long; holding on can be less humane than euthanasia.

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Saying Goodbye

After making your difficult decision, it’s time to say goodbye and start making preparations.

Make sure your friends and family get their chance to say goodbye to your pet. You might be surprised at how many lives your pet has touched.

If you have children, prepare them for the loss of your pet. If this is your child’s first experience with death, consider utilizing other resources and tools to help them go through the grieving process.

Start preparing with your vet. Schedule the euthanasia and decide who should be with your pet during the euthanasia. Your pet will find comfort in you being there, even though it might be painful and difficult for you. At the same time, it might not be appropriate for young children to be present.

Most owners like to plan a special last day for their pets. For example, if you have a dog that loves cheeseburgers and walks in the park, take your dog to his favorite park and then treat him to a yummy cheeseburger afterward. Shower the dog with love and affection throughout the day. Don’t do anything that might stress him out, like bathing him. This last day is meant for him and his happiness.

Feelings of Guilt

A common feeling most pet owners feel once they choose euthanasia is guilt. You might feel like you are murdering your pet or that you have let them down by choosing their death. Another common feeling is that you are quitting and not even trying to fight for an extension of your pet’s life, whether it’s a few days or a few months.

These are natural feelings and thoughts, but please remember that you are humanely saving your pet from more pain and suffering. If you had not chosen euthanasia, your pet would be worse off, and you don’t want that for your furry friend.

More importantly, not watching your pet suffer for longer than necessary can actually save you, your family and your friends from emotional scarring. It is best to remember your pet as they are now and not at their absolute worst. Save yourself from feeling regret by helping your pet instead.

The Euthanasia Process

If you have never euthanized a pet before, the process might be scary or overwhelming. Make sure your vet explains the procedure before starting. Feel free to ask as many questions or concerns that you may have so you can feel comfortable.

Depending on your pet’s size, the pet will be placed on a table or the floor. Make sure your pet is comfortable by wrapping it in a blanket or putting its favorite toy nearby. No matter what, provide enough space for the vet and vet technician so the process can go smoothly and quickly.

Typically, the vet will give your pet a sedative to make your pet drowsier so the vet can give the main drug: sodium pentobarbital.

Sodium pentobarbital is an anesthetic that causes the heart to slow and then stop beating after a few moments. Please note that neither injection is painful to your pet. If anything, the sedative lulls your pet into unconsciousness, so your pet feels like it is simply falling asleep; they don’t feel the second injection.

The vet should use a stethoscope to confirm that your pet’s heart has stopped. Usually, the vet will ask if you would like a few private moments with your pet. If you say yes, keep in mind that you might see some twitching or intermittent breathing, as well as a release of the bladder or bowels. These events are normal.

What to Do Next

After the euthanasia process, you now need to decide what to do with your pet’s remains. You can choose between a variety of options, including burial, cremation and aquamation. You could host a pet funeral or keep your pet’s ashes in an urn or cremation jewelry. Some other options are to create a clay pawprint or keep a locket of their fur.

No matter what you decide, make sure it is the healthiest option for you during your grieving process.

Gentle Pet Crossing

At Gentle Pet Crossing, we understand how important your pet is to you, and we understand how important it is knowing when to euthanize. Along with comfort rooms and space for formal pet funerals, we also offer in-house euthanasia for our customers.

Contact us today to schedule your euthanasia procedure or to start your aquamation process.