Answering Your Questions About Pet Euthanasia
The decision to euthanize a beloved pet is fraught with indecision, anxiety, and profound sorrow. To help you prepare for this difficult time in your pet’s life, your friends at Pacific Animal Hospital have provided answers to some frequently asked questions.
How do I know when it is time to euthanize my pet?
If your pet can no longer do with you and your family the things he or she once enjoyed, if your pet cannot respond to you in the usual ways, or if there is more pain than pleasure in his or her life, it may be time to consider euthanasia. Also, if your pet is terminally ill or critically injured, or if the financial or emotional cost of treatment is not possible for you, euthanasia may be a valid choice.
The doctors at Pacific Animal Hospital understand the special bond you have with your pet and can examine and evaluate your pet’s condition and discuss your pet’s chances for recovery and potential disabilities and long-term problems. We can explain medical and surgical options and possible outcomes. Of course, pets may have short-term illnesses that cause them to be lethargic, stop eating, or be in pain, but if the illness is prolonged with little hope of recovery, it may be time to make a decision. Because the doctor cannot make the decision for you, it is important that you fully understand your pet’s condition. If there is any part of the diagnosis or implications for your pet’s future health that you do not understand, please ask to have it explained again. Rarely will the situation require an immediate decision. Usually, you will have time to consider all the information before making a decision.
As you make your decision, you may wish to discuss the care of the remains for your pet’s body with your family and veterinarian. You have several options, and your veterinarian can provide information about cremation and other alternatives.
Will I be able to stay with my pet during the euthanasia procedure?
Yes, many owners choose to stay with their pet to provide comfort during the procedure. Other owners feel they would be overcome with grief and prefer not to have the memories of the euthanasia procedure. We provide support and understanding in either situation. If you choose to be with your pet, please make an appointment to come in and we will help and guide you through the process. If you choose not to stay with your pet, you may spend some time at home or in the hospital saying goodbye, and then leave before the procedure.
What exactly happens during the euthanasia procedure?
We place an IV catheter for the comfort of your pet and family. Often a sedative is given to relax your pet and relieve any anxiety. We encourage the family to be close and possibly hold your pet during the procedure. The solution given is designed to facilitate a very gentle, rapid, and humane passing.
What happens to my pet’s body?
You may choose to have your pet’s body cremated with or without ashes returned to you. Our staff will help you with this decision and answer any questions you may have.
How can I say goodbye and bear the sorrow upon losing my pet?
Saying goodbye is profoundly sad and painful but is an important step in the natural feelings of grief, sorrow, and loss. Your pet is a very important part of your life, and it is normal for you to feel like you are losing a close friend or family member—because you are. Once the decision for euthanasia has been made, you and your other family members may want to spend a last evening with your pet at home or visit your pet in the hospital, if appropriate. Family members who want to be alone with the pet should be allowed to do so.
After your pet has died, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow. Please see our information on Grieving the Loss of a Pet.