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How do I know if it is the right time to put my pet to sleep?
Unfortunately, our dogs can’t use words to share with us how they are feeling mentally and physically. Therefore, many pet owners turn to vets asking them to decide on euthanasia for them. Unless the dog is visibly in pain, the vet will not know what to make of the situation.
Eventually, it’s up to you to observe your pet and understand his quality of life. Here are some guidelines that might help you in making the right decision.
- Does your pet still have an appetite?
- Is it able to walk?
- Does it show a sign of pain, such as yelping?
- Are the medications you are giving it working?
- Does the vet think there is anything else that can be done for your pet?
- Do you have a feeling your pet is giving up?
- Is the dog avoiding its bed, and prefers to sleep on cold surfaces?
- Is your desire to have your pet by your side overshadowing its suffering?
Book a Quality of Life Assessment with our experienced vets, or talk to the vet about these answers. The vets will help you in the decision making- process, having your pet’s best interest at heart.The death of a dog doesn’t affect only your family members, the other furry companions in your house will also notice its absence. There are a lot of dog owners who tell stories and claim that their other cat or dog knew that their friend was going to be put to sleep. While vets can’t confirm this, we do know that pets notice the absence of their friends and they miss them. It’s also worth mentioning that different pets may have different reactions to your pet’s euthanasia depending on their relationship. Siblings, for instance, get more upset than unrelated dogs.
What are the advantages of putting my pet to sleep at my home?
Going to a euthanasia procedure at the vet clinic after everything that your pet and you have been through can be devastating, especially these days during Social distancing and Covid-19, where clinics are busy, and some even meet you at the parking lot.
That is why many owners choose to say their final goodbye to their pets at home. Some of the benefits of such arrangement include:
- You will have as much time as you need to say your final good bye.
- You will avoid a public place, or busy clinic in moments when all you need is privacy.
- If your pet is in a lot of pain, that last ride to the vet office can be a horrible experience for you and your pet.
- Your family and your other pets will have a chance to say their goodbyes.
- If your pet is generally scared of vet clinics, home euthanasia helps to spend their last moment in a safe and comfortable place.
How can I prepare for my pet’s euthanasia?
As euthanasia is a planned procedure, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself and your pet for it. Here is a list of things you could do before putting your pet down:
- Make sure you are well familiar with the process (and hopefully this article will help with that).
- Ask the vet any questions you have so that there are no surprises.
- Decide on whether or not you want to be present during the euthanasia, and discuss with the vet how you can be involved in the procedure to make it as compassionate as possible.
- Talk to your children about euthanasia and explain the procedure.
- Celebrate your pet’s last days. Whether it’s a trip to its favorite park or one last photoshoot, surround your pet with love, care and joy one last time.
- Plan the post-euthanasia process whether it’s burying or cremation.
- Create a support mechanism for you and your family. If you need, ask a friend to accompany you or make a plan for the day of euthanasia. Perhaps go out to dinner and make a toast for your beloved dog or hold a wake with family and friends.
How do I explain to my children that my pet will be put to sleep?
The passing of a family dog is an unforgettable experience for children. As a parent, you need to make sure to turn that experience into one in which they learn about the acceptance of life and death and how to deal with grief effectively.
Before you bring your child to say the last goodbye and witness the euthanasia procedure you need to consider their age, and ability to understand what is going on
- Children of 4 years and under cannot understand much about the concept of death; they should stay home so parents can be fully present for the pet’s passing.
- 5-year-olds can understand that their pet is sick, that it will not get better, and that the pet is not here anymore. Luckily, they can be easily distracted by other activities and toys. Once they see other family members crying, they can feel confused and sad, but as soon as they get back to their routine they will forget all about it.
- 6- and 7-year-olds may be able to understand almost everything that is going on, but they will not be able to come up with the right questions. Nevertheless, you need to provide them with the answers. At this point, you need to make sure your child knows what “dying” means. If you are religious, you can introduce the concept of the soul to your children. No matter how you decide to explain the idea of death, the child needs to know that the pet has died and that it will not be coming back.
- Children 8 and over are mature enough to grasp the fact that the pet is in pain, although they may not understand the disease process. They will want to know what happens next. Try to avoid saying things like “the dog will be put to sleep”, because some children are very literal. The best way to make them understand the situation is an honest explanation of euthanasia. Tell them that your loving dog is sick and can’t get better. Explain to them that because you all love it so much, you will not let it suffer, and that you are going to help it die with comfort and dignity.
What happens during my pet’s euthanasia?
- The appointment for euthanasia is the most emotional appointment dog owners will have to make for their dogs. If it is a home visit vet, let the vet know in advance that a euthanasia is needed or may be needed. This will allow the vet to be prepared and organized and talk you through the process.
These are the steps the veterinarian is going to take during the euthanasia procedure:
- The veterinarian will want to insert an intravenous catheter in your pet’s leg, because this is the most effective way of administration the medication. Your pet will feel a very slight needle prick.
- Once the needle (or a catheter) is inside the vein, the vet will start giving the pentobarbital solution that will cause the euthanasia. This solution can be thick and brightly colored (blue or pink) and will not cause any discomfort to your pet.
- The euthanasia solution will rapidly travel throughout the dog’s body, causing unconsciousness within seconds. You will notice the dog’s breathing slowing down until it stops. A cardiac arrest (heart failure) will soon follow, which leads to clinical death. You might notice your pet has muscle twitching, urinating or last gasps after the administration of the euthanasia solution. It is important to note that your pet is completely unaware of these movements, and it does not feel any pain. Such movement are normal.
- In some cases, it might be hard to find a vein due to low blood pressure, so the vet will consider injecting into your pet’s body or heart. If that happens, the vet will administer a sedative to your pet before injecting the actual euthanasia solution. This will make your pet relaxed and sleepy before the actual euthanasia takes place.
- The vet will check the heartbeat of your pet. Once no heartbeat can be heard, the vet will confirm death and leave you alone with your pet .This is an emotional time and you are allowed to stay as long as you need.