The decision regarding euthanasia of a beloved pet may be the most difficult decision anyone makes in their life; obviously, the consequences are irrevocable. Whatever the decision is, it should be one that you can always look back upon and know that the best decision was made and that you would make the same decision over again in the same situation.
So how do you know if it is time? There are several criteria used in evaluating life quality and you should consider them carefully.
Is your pet eating? Basically, quality life involves eating or at least interest in food. An animal that is hungry has vitality that must be considered, though this is not the only consideration.
Is your pet comfortable? The pet should be free of debilitating pains, cramps, aches or even the psychological pain that comes from the development of incontinence in an animal who has been housebroken for an entire life.
Does the pet still enjoy favorite activities? The elderly pet does not necessarily need to continue chasing balls or jumping after discs but he should enjoy sleeping comfortably, favorite resting spots, the company of family, etc. You know your pet better than any one and only you can truly answer these questions.
If you are considering euthanasia, discuss the pet’s condition with your veterinarian prior to making a decision. Every veterinarian has a story or two about the pet that was brought in for euthanasia, but turned out to have a relatively simple problem and ultimately achieved a complete recovery.
Should You be Present?
Again, this is a very personal decision. On one hand, you probably do not want your pet to be alone with strangers in the final moments, but on the other hand you may not be able to watch your pet’s death. To help ease this transition between life and death, a sedative is given first. Some owners will stay through this step and leave prior to the actual euthanasia.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Different clinics have different approaches. Typically, appropriate forms must be signed in order for the procedure to take place. If the owner is to be present, an intravenous catheter may be placed. The payment transaction is done prior to the procedure so that the owner will not have to tearfully sign checks or credit card slips just following the emotional height of the procedure.
The intravenous catheter serves several purposes. The catheter ensures clean access to the vein, even if the owner is holding the pet. The catheter also allows for a sedative to be administered prior to the euthanasia solution.
The procedure itself is very fast. The sedative is given first so that the pet is euthanized from a sleeping status. The euthanasia solution, generally dyed a bright color so that it cannot be mistaken for anything else, is delivered and death comes peacefully in a matter of seconds. The owner is allowed to remain with the pet for final private goodbyes. At the end of this time, after the last goodbyes, the owner simply exits the room when ready and the hospital staff takes over.
Let the veterinarian know in advance if you would like a lock of hair or the collar as a keepsake.
What Happens To My Pet Afterwards?
Most clinics offer several disposal methods.
1. Your pet’s remains can be part of a group cremation. There is an extra charge for this service.
2. If you wish, you may have a private cremation and the ashes will be returned to you either in an urn of your choosing or a cedar box (the basic option). There is an additional charge for the service and the urn.
3. Many city ordinances prohibit the burial of a pet’s body at home, so check what is legal in your area.