Pet euthanasia can be performed in a veterinary clinic or at home. "The best place for a euthanasia is going to be wherever you and your pet feel comfortable," says Dani McVety, DVM, CEO and founder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, an organization that provides in-home euthanasia.
To keep your dog as comfortable as possible, your veterinarian will usually first give your dog a sedative injection that causes them to lose consciousness. The vet will then inject a high and fatal dose of a drug called sodium pentobarbital.
The most prominent sign that you will notice is a complete relaxation of the body, your dog will no longer appear tense, rather they will “let go.” You will notice a slimming of the body as the air is expelled from their lungs for the last time and you may notice the lack of life in their eyes if they are still open.
Give them all the things they enjoy most – their favourite toys, their favourite food. You know what will make your pet feel most at ease in the time that remains. If you become tearful, ask a family member, friend or other trusted person to take care of your pet so you can leave the room and have a cry.
Occasionally, a dog may give a small cry as the injection is given – as with all anaesthetics, there is a brief feeling of dizziness as the drug takes effect. Unconsciousness follows within seconds, often before the injection is finished. Death occurs within a couple of minutes when the heart stops beating.
Euthanasia provides a painless, peaceful end for a pet who would otherwise continue to suffer. Your veterinarian has special training to provide your pet with a humane and gentle death. During the procedure, your vet will inject your pet with a sedative followed by a special medication.
When there are too many bad days in a row, or if the dog seems to be turned off to life, quality of life is compromised. Bad days may mean nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, frustration, unrelenting pain/discomfort, or inability to breathe.
Once you're sure your dog has passed, the next step is to call your veterinarian's office. A vet's office will take your dog's body and either dispose of it for you or store it for you before you have a cremation or burial. They might also know of resources like a pet crematory or a mobile vet service.
Laws About Killing a Healthy Animal Yourself
If your dog could have a decent standard of living for several years, you can't kill them. Killing a healthy and happy animal yourself is always considered illegal.
Bring the props—your dog's favorite comforts.
Feel free to play it on your phone during the euthanasia. Further, consider bringing along a favorite toy or “comfort” item. Finally, whether at home or at the veterinary hospital, your dog will be lying down for the euthanasia. Plan to use your dog's favorite dog bed.
As the solution is injected, the animal loses consciousness and within minutes the heart and lungs stop functioning. Since the pet is not conscious, they do not feel anything.
This can take as little as 30 seconds (though it can be prolonged in certain individuals). This means that your dog will be asleep before their body shuts down, so will not feel any distress or pain at the point of death. They are as asleep as they would be for a surgical procedure.
Dogs do not know they are being put to sleep, but they can react to underlying pain when being handled by the vet, sense nervous energy, react to the injection, involuntarily vocalize, or have muscle spasms.
One of the most obvious reasons to consider humane euthanasia is when a pet has a terminal disease, such as heart failure, cancer or another incurable condition. It's important to talk to your veterinarian about how they will manage the disease — in some cases a specialist may be necessary.
The Pit Bull is the most common dog breed (along with pit bull breed mixes) found in shelters in the United States. They are also the most abused, neglected, and the most euthanized.
No veterinarian is required to euthanize a healthy animal; rather, they should carefully consider any other options that may be available. There are cases a veterinarian will refuse. Often, when this happens, the companion animal will be relinquished to a shelter, where they are likely to be euthanized anyway.
Some dogs seek out the comfort and company of their humans to the point of clinginess, while others become more solitary and seek quiet corners to be alone. Some dogs seem to know when they are about to die and wander off to a secluded location in the house or yard for their final moments.
The euthanasia medication most vets use is pentobarbital, a seizure medication. In large doses, it quickly renders the pet unconscious. It shuts down their heart and brain functions usually within one or two minutes. It is usually given by an IV injection in one of their legs.
Can I feed my pet prior to the euthanasia? Yes. Your pet's final moments should be happy and filled with whatever gives him or her joy- be it a steak dinner or a McDonald's burger. Whatever special treat your pet might like is fine.
The Euthanasia Process is Essentially Painless
Our vets want you to know that the euthanasia process is almost completely painless. Putting a pet to sleep is a two part process: A vet will start by giving your pet an IV which is usually painless or nearly painless, depending on your pet's tolerance for shots.
It may take a minute or two for the heart to stop. The doctor will listen carefully to your pet's heart to ensure it has stopped before pronouncing him or her gone. After that, there is no danger of your pet waking up. This is a very common fear for pet owners.