Dog Euthanasia: When Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

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Woman in striped shirt holding her sick dog with him looking over her shoulder (Caption: Dog Euthanasia When is it time to say goodbye)

Euthanasia of a pet is one of the toughest things — if not the toughest thing — a pet owner may ever have to do. Yet this is a decision everyone must be prepared to make when they commit to taking on the responsibility of giving a pet a forever home. Let’s discuss the unfortunate process of dog euthanasia. When is right time to put dog to sleep, and how to cope when your friend is gone?

How To Decide When It’s Time To Euthanize Your Dog

Deciding when it’s time to send your pet on is the first step in this incredibly tough process. Here are a few things to consider before making this big decision:

  • Is your pet in pain?
  • Do they seem to enjoy life still?
  • What is their medical diagnosis?
  • Can you afford treatment?
  • Are they struggling to perform normal bodily functions?

By asking yourself and assessing the truth of questions like these, you’ll more easily determine whether it’s the right time to make this decision. And remember, no one knows your pet like you do. Trust your heart and your judgment here, no matter how difficult the answers are.

The Euthanasia Process

Red headed girl comforting a dog being put to sleep (Caption: How To Know When To Put Your Dog Down)

Once you’ve come to terms with the hard fact that it’s time to euthanize (commonly explained as “put your pet down”), you’ll need to prepare yourself emotionally for the next steps.

Make The Appointment

Your regular vet will often perform this procedure at their office or clinic, but you can do it at home. Talk to your vet to discuss which option is best for you and your pet. If you don’t feel comfortable or your regular vet doesn’t perform this service, ask them to give you a recommendation. Other than who, you’ll need to ask yourself when. Be sure to consider your needs here; it will be emotionally taxing for you, so plan a time that is considerate of your pup’s needs and yours as well.

How Does Euthanasia Drug Work

The procedure itself is quick, easy, and painless for your pet. Your vet should allow you to be present during this procedure (if you wish).

  1. A sedative is administered to calm and relax your pet.
  2. An IV is inserted and flushed with saline to determine its proper insertion into the vein.
  3. When you’re ready, an assistant will hold your pet while the vet administers the euthanasia solution.
  4. Within seconds (it’s a fast-acting medicine), your animal’s muscles relax, and the heart stops beating.

What medication is used to euthanize animals? Pentobarbital is most commonly used to sedate animals when putting them to sleep.

Saying Goodbye

Whether you choose to be there with your dog for the whole procedure or whether you prefer to say your goodbyes before, making a plan and sticking to it will help. Keep in mind that if you decide not to be present in your dog’s final moments, it could be a source of guilt later. Some even suggest that other pets who remain are present as well. This is a personal option to discuss with your veterinarian.

After it’s all over, you must consider aftercare. Most veterinarians will keep your pet until these arrangements are made and carried out. Ensure you’ve discussed this with your vet beforehand, so there’s no miscommunication about what to do with the remains before they make it to their final resting place.

Euthanasia At Home

Sick Beagle sleeping on sofa

While most of these procedures are done in a vet’s office, there is the option to perform euthanasia in the comfort of your own home at an additional expense. There is an online directory listing veterinarians who offer in-home euthanasia.

While the process of the actual procedure is much the same as outlined above, you’ll want to make sure that a few key things are taken care of.

  1. Your personal vet may not be able to come to your home. So, make sure you’re hiring a licensed veterinarian to perform this in-home procedure and that you’ve discussed the procedure beforehand so you’re comfortable with the process.
  2. Choose a comfortable place, and consider using your dog’s favorite bed and blankets.
  3. Give your pet lots of love.

Laying Your Dog To Rest

The final step in this process is choosing how your dog will rest after euthanasia. Both burial and cremation options are discussed in greater detail in our Dog Cremation article.

Parting Thoughts

This is a tough time for you, your family, and the other animals in your home. Be sure to take the time to process this loss and take care of yourselves. After all, your dog is your family, and losing a family member is life-changing. Visit our article on Dealing With The Death of Your Dog to learn more. Sometimes talking with others dealing with the sadness associated with losing a beloved pet can be helpful.

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