The decision to put a pet to sleep may have to be made for a great number of reasons. The vet will always take great care to discuss your pet’s treatment and welfare and will help you make the right decision for your pet when the time comes.
Once the decision for euthanasia has been made it can be performed in the surgery or at home. You will be asked to sign a euthanasia consent form. This is a legal document and must be signed by the owner or agent who must be over 18 years of age.
At the surgery we will try, where possible, to arrange for euthanasia to be performed at quiet times of the day, to allow plenty of time both before and after for you to say goodbye. You will be given the opportunity to spend time alone with your pet following euthanasia if desired.
Some owners prefer us to come to the house for what is a very distressing time for all the family who would prefer to say their goodbyes in the privacy of their own home. It can also be less traumatic for an elderly or unwell pet. Some owners prefer not to be present while their pet is put to sleep, some prefer to come back into the room once their pet is asleep, some simply like to say goodbye and leave remembering them as they were. This is entirely your own decision. Those that stay often remark how quick and peaceful the euthanasia is.
The euthanasia itself is in most cases very peaceful, painless and takes only a few moments. A veterinary nurse who will help hold your pet during the euthanasia will assist the vet. You can help hold your pet or simply talk to your pet during the final moments.
The vet will clip some fur from one of the front legs so that the vein can be seen. The nurse will raise the vein by clasping her hand around the pet’s leg. The vet will wet the clipped area with a cotton wool swab and the injection will be given. The only thing they will feel is the prick of the needle.Your pet will fall asleep quickly and will be supported and laid gently on their side. The vet will check to make sure the heart has stopped beating with a stethoscope. There will be some muscle twitching and sometimes several reflex gasps. This is quite normal reflex muscle activity once the animal has died and the heart has stopped. Your pet may also urinate and defecate as the bladder and bowel relax. After euthanasia the eyes do not close but the lids can be closed after about ten minutes.
In some instances it may be necessary to sedate a dog or cat prior to euthanasia. This is only necessary if the pet is fractious, aggressive or particularly wriggly. We prefer not to sedate pets prior to euthanasia as it means a stingy injection and slows the process of euthanasia by lowering their blood pressure. Following euthanasia you will need to consider what you want to do with your pets body. You can take your pet home to bury in the garden. We will wrap the body in a blanket or towel in which it can be buried. The grave needs to be about two feet deep.
You may prefer for your pet to be cremated. There are two options for cremation. Your pet can be cremated individually and the ashes returned in a wooden casket or a box from which the ashes can be scattered. Or we can arrange for your pet to be cremated with other animals. This is a less expensive service but the ashes cannot be returned.
In some situations you may not be able to make a decision straight away. We are able to keep your pets body for a limited period while you make a decision.
We are all pet owners in this practice and understand that the death of a beloved pet is very sad and deeply upsetting. We are here to help and support you through what many people see as the most difficult part of pet ownership, saying goodbye.
If you have any questions or concerns on this delicate and sensitive matter please do not hesitate to contact us.