Pet euthanasia: The most difficult decision you will ever make

pet euthanasia

Making the decision to humanely and peacefully put your pet to sleep due to pain and suffering is the most difficult decision any pet owner has to make.  Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss pet euthanasia.

Making the decision that it is time for pet euthanasia is the first step.  Dr. Anna Coffin says that this is a very personal decision, and each person deals with this process differently.  Many times we extend our pet’s life because we don’t want to let go and say good bye but is that fair to them?  Here are some tools to help guide you through this difficult process.

Use this Quality of Life Scale (HHHHHMM)to help you make the decision of pet euthanasia: 

  1. Hurt:   Is you pet in pain?  If so, is it being managed successfully.
  2. Hunger:   Is your pet eating enough to maintain a normal body weight.
  3. Hydration:   Is your pet dehydrated? 
  4. Hygiene:   Is your pet clean from urine and feces?  Is your pet’s hair coat matted?
  5. Happiness:   Does your pet express joy or interest?  Is it responsive to people, toys, and treats?
  6. Mobility:   Can you pet move without assistance?
  7. More good days then bad days

Score each of the items above from 0-10  (0=Unacceptable, 10=Excellent).  A total of >35 points is an acceptable quality of life for your pet.

To help you keep track of more good days then bad days, take two jars and place them on the counter.  Label one jar for good days and label one jar for bad days.  Each day drop a coin into the jar to track your pet’s well-being.  If there are more bad days then good days, it may be time to consider pet euthanasia.

Things you need to decide before pet euthanasia:

  • When is the right time?  Pick a specific date and time.
  • Where will the euthanasia take place?  At home or at your veterinarian’s office.
  • Will you be present with your pet during the procedure? 
  • What to do with your pet’s remains?  Burial service at home, let your veterinarian take care of it, or private cremation with ashes returned.

What’s the process:

When done properly, pet euthanasia is a quick, painless, and peaceful process.  The drug used for this procedure is an anesthetic drug that is given as an overdose.  The medication will stop your pet’s breathing and then shortly after that  your pet’s heart will stop beating.  Some pets will lose control of their urine and bowels after they have passed away.  They do not close their eyes when they are gone.  Occasionally, some pets will moan, gasp or twitch shortly after they are deceased.  This is just electric energy leaving their body.  If  your pet is anxious prior to the procedure, ask your veterinarian about some anti-anxiety medication or sedative to help calm them down.

What’s next after pet euthanasia?

Hold on to the memories!  Many veterinarians will prepare a clay paw of your pet’s foot.  Take a picture or a lock of hair and make a shadow box.  Hang their collar on the rearview mirror of your vehicle.

pet euthanasia

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