COPING WITH EUTHANASIA
Euthanasia may be recommended in the case of terminal illness or unmanageable pain. It is never an easy decision, however we feel it is an act of kindness as it allows your pet to die with dignity and without further suffering.
The euthanasia process
Euthanasia is typically a very peaceful and painless procedure. The veterinarian will give an intravenous injection of pentobarbitone. This acts similarly to an overdose of an anaesthetic agent – they are first anaesthetised and then their heart will stop. The vet may place a catheter in the vein prior to injecting. For some very nervous pets, it may be necessary to use some sedation prior to euthanasia.
It happens very quickly – within seconds they lose consciousness, and within 30-60 seconds of injecting the heart stops. It looks like they are going to sleep, however they don’t close their eyes. Once they have gone, there will sometimes be a large ‘gasp’ or ‘wheeze’ as the muscles of the chest relax. There can also be a loss of muscle tone of the bowels or bladder resulting in soiling.
Do owners stay with their pet during a euthanasia?
This is a personal choice, however most owners choose to stay with their pets. In some instances it may be preferable to leave your pet with the nurse and vet while they are euthanased.
Can we have our pet euthanased at home?
We can accommodate a home visit for euthanasia with some notice. A vet will come to your house with a nurse to perform the procedure. Another alternative is booking an appointment at the clinic during quieter times.
What happens to my pet’s remains?
There are several available options for your pet’s remains.
- Individual cremation – your pet’s ashes are returned in a vessel of your choosing, for example a scatter bag, urn or wooden box.
- Group cremation – your pet’s ashes are not returned.
Grieving for your pet
Everybody grieves differently and there is no ‘correct’ way. Do not be afraid of showing your feelings in front of the vet – they have likely lost their own pet at some point. It is natural to mourn the loss of your pet and it will take time to recover, sometimes months. Talking about your loss can help.
If you are not coping with the loss of your pet, there are grief counselling services available.
Helping children cope with euthanasia
There are some excellent resources and books available, which are targeted specifically at helping children cope with euthanasia. The most important points are to be honest with your children and give them time to accept the loss. Encourage them to talk about your pet and their feelings.
- Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas
- Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker
- The Legend of the Rainbow Bridge by William N. Britton