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The pet euthanasia process

Pawssum provides pet care by trusted, local vets in the comfort of your home.

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How can I prepare for my dog’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 dog down:

1. Make sure you are well familiar with the process (and hopefully this article will help with that).

2. Ask your vet any questions you have so that there are no surprises.
3. Decide on whether or not you want to be present during the euthanasia, and discuss with your vet how you can be involved in the procedure to make it as compassionate as possible.
4. Talk to your children about euthanasia and explain the procedure.
5. Celebrate your dog’s last days. Whether it’s a trip to its favorite park or one last photo-shoot, surround your dog with love, care and joy one last time.
6. Plan the post-euthanasia process whether it’s burying or cremation.
7. 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


Should I be present during my dog’s euthanasia?

It is extremely painful even to think about the death of your loving pet, let alone witness it firsthand. The decision about leaving or staying is deeply personal, and whatever you decide it should come from a place of love and compassion you have for your dog.

Choosing to stay you will receive:

• A level of comfort, closure and acceptance of your dog’s passing. This will provide you with a healthy ground for the grieving process.
• The knowledge that your dog had a peaceful and painless departure surrounded by people it loved the most.
• The most important thing you will avoid is feeling regret for not being there for your pooch.

Some owners prefer to say goodbye before the euthanasia procedure takes place. Reasons include:

• The fear that being present will upset the animal.
• The fear of death itself.
• They don’t want the euthanasia process to become their last memory together.

Whatever you decide it is important to know that during your lifetime you will have multiple dogs – but for your dog, you are the most important figure in its life. So being there will mean a lot to it, and in the end, it will give you comfort knowing you have done everything possible to make your dog feel loved and special.

What happens during my dog’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 your vet know in advance that a euthanasia is needed or may be needed. This will allow your vet to be prepared and organized and talk you through the process.
These are the steps your veterinarian is going to take during the euthanasia procedure:
1. Your veterinarian will want to insert an intravenous catheter in your dog’s leg, because this is the most effective way of administration the medication. Your dog will feel a very slight needle prick.
2. Once the needle (or a catheter) is inside the vein, your 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 dog.
3. 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 dog has muscle twitching, urinating or last gasps after the administration of the euthanasia solution. It is important to note that your dog is completely unaware of these movements, and it does not feel any pain. Such movement are normal.
4. In some cases, it might be hard to find a vein due to low blood pressure, so your vet will consider injecting into your dog’s body or heart. If that happens, your vet will administer a sedative to your dog before injecting the actual euthanasia solution. This will make your dog relaxed and sleepy before the actual euthanasia takes place.
5. The vet will check the heartbeat of your dog. Once no heartbeat can be heard, the vet will confirm death and leave you alone with your dog .This is an emotional time and you are allowed to stay as long as you need.

What happens after my dog is put to sleep?

The are several options available after your dog’s euthanasia. You need to accept the option that you and your family will be at peace with.
• If you want your back yard to be a burial place for your dog, you need to check the rules in your local area. In Australia, many local councils have restrictions on burying animals on residential properties. If you choose to bury your dog in the nearby woods, it is best to use a closed container so that other animals cannot get to it.

Burial should be considered after consultation with your vet because the euthanasia solution used is a concentrated anesthetic that can remain in your dog’s tissue for some time. That means that if wild animals or other pets dig around the burial site, they may get in contact with the solution, which can have a life threatening impact.

• The cremation of beloved pets is becoming increasingly popular in Australia. Many cities have a crematorium for beloved pets. At the end of the process, you can have ashes back if you wish.

• Your dog can be contributed to veterinary medicines. For some owners, it might be comforting to know that their dog is helping a new generation of veterinarians to expand their knowledge.


Pawssum Vets are open for business during the Coronavirus epidemic, Australia-wide 7 days a week until late.