What Happens When a Pet is Euthanized: Learn What to Expect During the Appointment all Pet Owners Dread

dog euthanasia

You and your vet have decided that time has come to put your pet to sleep. You still however, may have many questions on what to expect on that day. Here are some answers.

It is the day all pet owners dread, perhaps the hardest choice pet owners will ever make. Yet, your pet has shown that the time has come in several different ways.

It’s hard to make decision – image by buzzfeednews.com

It could be the lack of a tail wag, the loss of that special spark from the eyes, or more simply, a general loss of zest in life. As you come to accept that your pet’s body has become frail, you still wonder what will happen exactly that day and would like to know what exactly to expect.

  • Will my Pet be in any Pain?

Perhaps this is the most common thought and the biggest concern. The procedure is very peaceful and the only pain felt should be the prick of the needle as its injects the euthanasia solution.

The procedure is very peaceful – image by wikihow.com

Some particularly nervous pets may be given a sedative prior the injection, so to calm them down. Of course, if your pet is in any sort of pain because of an illness, that pain will still be there, but the procedure is ultimately done for that: to do your pet a favor and release it finally from the pain of this physical world.

  • How Long does the Procedure Take?

This depends on how busy the vet is at the time of the appointment. The good thing is that most veterinarians will schedule euthanasia appointments first thing in the morning or last in the evening.

The process won’t take long – image by happytailservet.com

This allows the owner the advantage at being at the vet in the least busy times when there are not many other people and pets around. When the vet is not busy, the procedure is very swift, once the injection is given the pet will drift into a deep sleep within seconds and within a few minutes, its heart will ultimately stop.

Just a deep sleep – image by gublogbygudog.com

Of course, the whole procedure takes longer if sedatives are given prior as it may take some time for them to take full effect.

  • What are my Choices?

Upon booking the appointment, you will be given a variety of options as to how to dispose of your pet’s body. You have the choice between, burial, private cremation and communal cremation. If you are choosing burial, make sure your municipality allows you to bury your pet wherever you have chosen.

You can choose pet burial – image by theconversation.com

In a private cremation, your pet will be cremated and you will be given the ashes back, in a communal cremation your pet is cremated along with other pets but the ashes will not be given back to you, rather in most cases, they will be spread in a pet cemetery. .

  • Why am I Asked if my Pet Has Bitten or Scratched?

Rabies law now requires that pet owners sign a statement stating that their pets have not bitten or scratched other people or pets in the past 10 days. As annoying as it may be to answer such questions and sign the form at a difficult moment such as a euthanasia, this form is mandatory to fill in order to have the pet euthanized.


You must sure that pets have not bitten or scratched other people or pets in the past 10 days – image by firstaidshow.com
  • How Does the Injection Work?

The injection consists of an over dose of the commonly used barbiturate solution given to put pets under anesthesia (Pentobarbital ). The solution however, in this case, is very colorful to make it distinct from other solutions. The process is, therefore, very similar to putting a pet under for a surgical procedure, only that the pet passes away once under because the over dose stops the heart.

The process is very similar to putting a pet under for a surgical procedure – image by askthevetatl.com
  • Will My Pet’s Eyes be Open?

Because, the solution is the same as when going under for surgery, most pets will keep their eyes open. This is because the solution works very quickly and the pet is unable to realize what is happening. If you have a hard time accepting the eyes open, you can have your vet erinarian perform the procedure, close the eyelids and then call you when it is done so you can spend a few last minutes with your pet.

Most pets will keep their eyes open – image by upworthy.com
  • What Should I expect?

Some times upon passing to better life, there may be some visible muscle twitches but this is normal. Often a last deep breath is taken. In some cases, cat or dogs may be heard vocalizing and there may be some loss of bladder function and some bowel movements. These as well, are normal occurrences the pet is not aware of.

They will pass to a better life – image by thepettown.com
  • Where Can I Get Support?

There are many options for pet owners that need support. Of course, friends and family may be very helpful. However, sometimes a bit more is needed. Shelters may be able to provide resources, from pet loss hot lines to support meetings for pet owners in your same situation. A variety of books have also been published on the topic.

You may need family or friends to support – image by yourteenmag.com

Euthanasia appointments are the most difficult appointments to schedule. It is not unusual to have second thoughts. Only you as an owner will be able to make the ultimate decision because you know your pet best. A good thing to keep in mind when debating on the decision, is to give primary importance to the pet’s quality of life.

Should you have an upcoming euthanasia appointment, keep in mind to have a friend come with you for moral support. There are many cases, where it may difficult for a pet owner to drive back home and the friend may be helpful to take over the task of driving safely.

You will meet your pet in another life…- image by animalfoundation.com

The euthanasia procedure is never an easy procedure. Pets are very special creatures, they seem to steal people’s hearts and souls, but hopefully one day, owners and pets will be able to finally reunite once and for all, over the rainbow bridge…


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