Euthanasia – Saying Goodbye

It comes to a time when we have to say ‘goodbye’ to our beloved pet. This is a very difficult time and our emotions are heightened making it impossible to comprehend the situation. They have given us so many wonderful memories. Our pets are a part of the family, they bring joy and laughter to our lives and just like many things they are a huge responsibility we commit ourselves to for as many as 15 years. Pets are euthanased for a variety of reasons. For whatever that reason may be, we understand it’s a difficult process. As veterinarians and veterinary nurses we have all had to say goodbye to a beloved pet at some stage in our career so we can sympathise with your feelings.

How do I know when to Euthanase my pet?

This is never an easy decision to make and your veterinarian will always be there to support you as much as you need. Depending on the motives of your decision there are a few things that you can consider to assist with the process:

  • How is their quality of life?
  • Can they walk to go to the toilet or do they need assistance? Do they soil the bed?
  • Are they in pain?
  • Have they lost their appetite?
  • Are they depressed?
  • Do they find it difficult to stand from sitting?
  • Have you noticed sudden behaviour changes like barking or anxiety?
  • Do they look comfortable?

What matters most is your pet’s welfare. Your veterinarian will advise you whether their illness or injury is treatable or whether it may be time to say goodbye. In some cases if there are a few days spare we suggest taking your pet home for some last minute pampering and indulging.

What happens when I bring my pet in for Euthanasia?

An appointment will be booked for you with the vet, at which you will have time to discuss any concerns your may have. We understand how distressing this time will be for you, but in saying that it’s important to remain as calm as you can for your pets comfort. Coming to the vet can be a very stressful time for all animals and if they sense you’re scared most of the time they will be scared too.

If you wish to hold your pet you are welcome to do so. Feel free to bring along their favourite belongings to help relax them. In some cases pet owners wish to not be present and this is absolutely fine too. It is incredibly important to us that this experience is as comfortable as it can be for you and your pet. We also ask that you do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about being upset. All of our vets and nurses understand the difficultly of the situation and would feel the same in your position.

The Injection

To help reduce any stress, your pet may first be sedated with a small injection under the skin. Then, the vet will usually place a catheter in the vein in their front leg to allow for medications to be given swiftly and help make the process as smooth and painless as possible. The catheter placement causes minimal discomfort. In some cases the veterinarian won’t use a catheter but will inject straight into the vein.

When you are ready to say goodbye, the vet will then inject a euthanasia solution that is a highly concentrated anaesthetic. They feel no pain or discomfort at any stage, within seconds your pet will drift off into a deep sleep and eventually their breathing will stop and lastly their heart stops beating. As your pet’s muscles begin to completely relax their bowels and bladder may release some urine or faeces, which is completely normal. Your vet will give you as much time as you need in the consultation room to say your last goodbyes.

Where does my pet go after they have been euthanased?

The vet will place your pet in the sleeping position and as for hygiene reasons they will be placed into a pet body bag. Whilst your pet is still alive consider what you would like to happen to your pet after they have gone. This can make it easier and it is less likely you will regret your decision. There is the option for you to take your pet home for burial, have them privately cremated where the ashes are returned to you, or they will be cremated communally. If you take your pet home for burial we can provide you with a bag that decomposes to avoid burying them in towels or blankets.

Will my other pets grieve?

It is likely they will. Animals form strong relationships with each other and when one suddenly leaves it can cause reactions of stress and anxiety.

  • Its important to not rush out a buy another pet, allow yourself and other pets to grieve.
  • Now that one pet has gone keep your other pets in routine, don’t change their food or exercise habits.
  • Avoid being over affectionate, sometimes this can cause separation anxiety.
  • If you have several pets, don’t get involved in their domestic arrangements, let them work it out.

Our vets and nurses are more than willing to help you through this process. If you are unsure as to whether your pet is ready to be euthanased or you are not ready, come and speak to one of our helpful vets or nurses. We can provide you reassurance and the guidance you may need to make an informed decision.



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We have always found Quentin, David and staff very pleasant and helpful. Visits are never rushed and our dog's checkups are very thorough. The options for treatment are clearly explained so the best choice can be made. Our dog has the intelligence and strong will that his breed is known for but he is always very happy even excited to go to the North Nowra Veterinary Hospital and that surely is a strong a recommendation as any.

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