Pet Euthanasia – What You Need to Know

Pet Euthanasia – What You Need to Know

The difficult decision to “put down/put to sleep” or euthanase (euthanatize) a family pet is an issue all too often faced by pet owners and their vets. The truth is that most pets do not have a massive lifespan (3-6 years for rodent-type animals and up to about 20-25 years for exceptionally long-lived individual dogs and cats) and we humans often outlive them many times over. Consequently, most people who take on the love and joy of owning a companion animal will at some point need to face the sad realities of their pets mortality and perhaps need to consider making the ultimate sacrifice: having their pet humanely killed in order to relieve its suffering and pain.

This page gives you a complete practical guide to the euthanasia of pet animals from a vets perpesctive.

The euthanasia topics are covered in the following order:

1) What is euthanasia? – a basic definition and summary overview of what putting down a pet entails.

2) Reasons for euthanasia: why people euthanase (euthanatise) pets or livestock:
2a) Valid reasons for putting an animal down.
2b) Not so valid reasons for putting an animal down.

3) How to decide when it is time to put a pet animal (e.g. cat or dog) down?:
3a) How will I know that it is time to euthanase? – hints and tips on how and when to make that hard decision.
3b) How to recognise that a pet is in pain.
3c) I just want to let my pet die at home – is this okay?
3d) I just want a few more days with my pet at home before putting him or her down – what are my options?
3e) Why won’t my veterinarian just tell me when to put down my pet?

4) The euthanasia process itself:
4a) What euthanasia methods are available to vets for putting down domestic animals?
4b) Euthanasia procedure: how is euthanasia solution given to pets? – this section contains detailed, specific information on how humane euthanasia is performed on dogs, cats, mice, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, ferrets, reptiles, fish, horses and livestock animal species.
4c) Is euthanasia painful?
4d) Is euthanasia instant?
4e) What can I expect to see/happen as my pet dies?
4f) How can I tell if a pet has died? What are the signs a pet is dead?
4g) Are there times when routine pet euthanasia takes longer or is more distressing?
4h) Do I need to be in the room with my pet to have it put down? Am I a bad owner if I don’t stay?
4i) A step-by-step explanation of a typical euthanasia procedure in a veterinary clinic – this section provides detailed info on euthanasia logistics (where it will be done, how each step is performed and in what order, paperwork that needs to be filled in and so on).

5) Hints and Tips to help you cope better on the day – making the process of pet euthanasia a little easier. 

6) What should I do with my pet’s body?
6a) Burial at home.
6b) Pet Cemeteries.
6c) Cremation.
6d) Leaving the body with the vet – what happens to it?
6e) Can I leave the body to science?
6f) Can my pet’s body be of use (e.g. organ donation, blood donation) before he or she dies?
6g) What if I can’t decide what to do with the body right now – can my vet hold the body until I decide?

7) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about pet euthanasia and your children:
7a) Should I bring my kids to witness the euthanasia of their pet?
7b) What can I explain to the kids about death?

8) What about my remaining pets?
8a) Will my other dog (or cat) grieve? What are the symptoms of grieving?
8b) How should I treat (behave around) the remaining animal/s after this one has died?
8c) Should I let my other pet/s see the dead body?

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