When it’s time to say good-bye: what to expect during euthanasia
Unquestionably, one of the most difficult parts of being a loving pet owner is saying goodbye. Our beloved pets simply do not live long enough; and it’s inevitable that we will eventually face the difficult decisions ahead. It’s never easy. Our goal at Cumberland Vet Clinic is to help make the process as gentle and compassionate as it possibly can be. Being prepared for what will happen is an important step.
How do I know when it’s time?
This is a question veterinarians get asked all the time. There is no right answer. It truly varies in every situation. I often try to guide clients in assessing their pet’s quality of life. In my opinion, it comes down to quality of life over quantity of life. If we can keep your pet comfortable, pain free, and enjoying a reasonable quality of life; then it certainly is not time! However, if they are constantly suffering and in pain, then it’s time to make some hard decisions.
I know from personal experience that it can be very hard to make that final judgment. With any of our clients we are more than happy to discuss this on an ongoing basis if we are nearing this point.
Do I schedule this?
Yes. It is best to notify us as to when you would like this appointment. We always do our best to accommodate
Do we offer house call euthanasia?
Yes, we are happy to offer house call services. Many people prefer this, as it allows their pet to be comfortable in their own environment.
Do I have to be present during the procedure?
No. Everyone chooses to deal with this in different ways. You are welcome to be present for some, all, or none of the procedure.
What can I expect during a euthanasia appointment?
We will have a room open and waiting so that you do not have to spend time in the lobby. There is a small amount of paper work to fill out which we will go over with you. We let you dictate the pace at which things move. Some people choose to take lots of time with their pet; others want things to move along quickly.
We start the procedure by placing an intravenous catheter in your pet’s leg. This is exactly the same procedure that we perform in sick pets or those undergoing surgery. At this point we are not administering any medication to your pet. We will offer time alone with your pet if you choose. Once again, it’s completely acceptable to have a much or as little time as you’d like. Once you are ready, we administer the injection of euthansol via the intravenous catheter.
What drug do you use for euthanasia?
At Cumberland Veterinary Clinic, we use Euthansol. The drug name is pentobarbital sodium.
How long does it take for the drug to work?
Pentobarbital sodium is a barbiturate. It takes effect within seconds of an intravenous injection.
What should I expect as this is taking place?
Proper euthanasia is a pain free procedure. To an observer, it basically looks as though your pet is falling asleep. You will notice their breathing to slow down. Many times they take a slightly deeper breath before their breathing stops. Following this, their heart rate will slow and stop.
A couple things that owners may not expect is that your pet’s eyes will remain open and that you may experience reflex muscle movements of the body. One that is very important to be aware of is that in some situations there will be a reflex in the diaphragm muscle, which will mimic breathing. This is NOT your pet trying to take a breath, but rather a normal reflex, which can occur.
What do I do with my pet’s remains?
We are happy to arrange cremation services if you choose. We work with a third party and can facilitate the entire process. I would recommend considering this decision in advance so it is not something you need to worry about when the time comes.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health or quality of life, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to discuss options to improve quality of life and help navigate the road of senior pet health issues. Euthanasia is never an easy decision, but sometimes it is a necessary decision. As pet owners ourselves, we know how hard it is, but we are here to help!!
Written by Dr. Mike Bugg