Euthanizing a Dog

You pick up that new puppy for the very first time. Unwillingly and with no effort, the bond takes root. We always fear losing these pets that mean so much to us. Nevertheless, that time inevitably does come. And we dog owners simply have to face our dogs mortality. It is one of the most heartbreaking moments we ever have to go through. Every individual dog owner faces that final day with a beloved dog slightly differently from every other dog owner. Be sure to tell the receptionist that you would like to schedule the appointment at a time when the veterinarian is not in a hurry with other appointments or surgery. Explain that you have never had to go through this experience before and would like to know what to expect regarding the euthanasia procedure. You have a right to take your deceased pet home for personal burial. You may also choose to leave your deceased pet with the veterinarian for burial or cremation.

It is your personal choice whether or not to be present in the exam or surgery room when the veterinarian administers the euthanasia solution. Many people simply cannot bear to see the moment of their special friend’s passing. Others wouldn’t let a hurricane interfere with their being present. It really is up to your personal preference. Some people choose to stay in the waiting room during the procedure and then briefly view their pet after it has passed away, maybe then spending a few moments in private with their pet. There are a multitude of pet owners who have regretted not being there with their pet when the pet was being euthanized, and their feelings that they may have abandoned their pet at a crucial time has created a certain sense of guilt that simply will not go away.

No one is comfortable with death, especially your veterinarian and animal hospital staff who face death every day. Let me be very clear about something, it is perfectly normal and acceptable to cry. I have often wondered why some people don’t cry. This can be a very sad time and even though the animal hospital staff might have to go through this all too often, there really is no getting used to euthanizing a dog. The animal hospital staff has often formed a strong connection with many of the pets in their care and often joins in the crying; so you really have no need to pretend that you can handle it when inside you feel terrible.

When the veterinarian is ready to administer the euthanasia solution the assistant will help hold your pet and put a slight amount of pressure on a vein, usually in the foreleg. Many pet owners choose to help hold their pet and if possible even have the pet in their arms at the time of euthanasia. Your veterinarian will try to accommodate your wishes, but remember that it is imperative that the solution be injected within the vein for the procedure to unfold properly.

How Long Does it Take to Put the Dog to Sleep?

Usually within six to twelve seconds after the solution is injected the pet will take a slightly deeper breath, then grow weak and finally lapse into what looks like a deep sleep.

Some pet owners will be more comfortable if they do not observe the pet’s final moments and would rather be in the waiting room during the injection. Then when their pet has passed away, the owner may wish to be with their pet privately for a few moments. If the pet owner chooses to have the pet cremated the veterinarian generally will make the arrangements through a cremation service and notify you when you can expect to have the ashes returned. It is perfectly reasonable to ask “How do I know that the ashes that I receive will actually be those of my pet?” Everyone wonders about that. Your veterinarian should be willing to provide you with the name and phone number of the cremation service.

Many, many dog owners experience a very strong and lasting sense of pain and grief after the passing of a special dog. Part of their trouble stems from having so few human friends who actually understand the deep sense of grief they are experiencing. Even a close friend might say “Oh, just go get another one” or “Yeesh, it was only a dog”. This can be a very lonely and private grief since the pet owner often is reluctant to disclose the source of their saddened state for fear of ridicule. Plus it is very common for the pet owner to think they see or hear their deceased pet in the home or out in the yard long after it is gone. If someone hasn’t personally experienced the loss of a loved pet they simply will be unable to connect with the pet owner who is grief stricken.

Those pet owners who feel they need to talk to someone who understands their sadness have hope! There are a number of grief support groups and counselors in town and online that specialize in pet loss counseling. Never feel ashamed or belittle yourself for having strong feelings of loss and sadness over a deceased pet.



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