9 Things Vets Wish Pet Parents Knew About Euthanasia

It is never easy to watch a pet get older or develop a disease. After seeing your pet’s physical condition diminish, you may wonder if euthanasia is the right option.

Before you take this incredibly difficult step with your pet, there are several things veterinarians want you as a pet parent to know. Knowing the following things about euthanizing a Pet should make the process easier for you, your vet, and your beloved family pet.

1. You Know Their Quality of Life Better Than Anyone

You will probably feel inclined to ask your vet for a professional opinion before deciding to euthanize your pet. There is nothing wrong with discussing the matter with an expert. However, you know about your pet’s quality of life better than anyone. You are also their primary source of treatment. For this reason, only you can decide how much time and effort you can put into them.

Even if you are the most qualified to make this decision, that does not make it any less difficult. If you need help finding the correct option, there are some online tools you can use.

The Lap of Love is an organization dedicated to helping pet owners through the transition of life with and without their pets. To aid in this process, they have a quality of life quiz. This quiz asks the owner about their pet’s ability to do their favorite activities and whether or not they still enjoy them. After taking this quiz, you will receive a score explaining where your pet is at and whether euthanasia is a viable option or not.

Another option is the quiz offered by VIP Vet Visit. This quiz asks similar questions with the hope of guiding you to a decision.

2. Do Not Wait Until They are in too Much Pain

It is a difficult thing to let your pet go. After all, you likely have been with your pet since they were young and playful. It is difficult to let go of a family member. However, do not wait until they experience an excessive amount of pain or discomfort.

Not only will it be painful for them to live, but it will be hard for you to watch. Pay attention to your pet’s decline. You want to remember your pet as the young playful puppy or kitten it used to be. 

If your pet struggles to move without help, recognize that you may be prolonging their life for too long. When it comes time for them to pass, you do not want them to go in pain or be without you. We will discuss these points more in later sections.

3. This Choice Does Not Define Your Love for Your Pet

No matter how long you have been with your pet, you have given them an immense amount of love. From playing fetch to cuddling on the couch, these are the things that your pet remembers. You should not feel guilty about your decision or think that making this choice cancels out all the love you have given them.

Many think that because they decided to euthanize their pet that they are the thing killing them. However, this is not the case.

Choosing to euthanize a pet is usually done out of love. When your pet gets too old or too sick to live a full life, sometimes the best thing you can do is love them enough to let them go.

So long as you have never neglected or abused your pet, they will pass knowing you love them and that they love you too. Love your pet to the very end and then lovingly remember the memories you made with them.

4. Euthanasia is Not Painful

When thinking about euthanizing a pet, the main drawback may be the fear that it will be painful. When we think of death, we often associate it with pain. However, the passing of your pet does not have to be a painful event. The assumption that euthanasia is painful likely stems from the lack of understanding of the procedure.

When you bring your pet in for this procedure, the vet will give your pet an IV. If your dog or cat does not do well with needles, this part may be a little painful or frightening for them. However, this is the extent of pain they will feel.

After hooking up the IV, the veterinarian will give the animal a sedative. This sedative helps relax your pet and alleviates any pain they feel. Because of this sedative, your pet will feel no pain during the euthanasia process. For this reason, many pet parents choose to euthanize their injured or ailing pets to ensure they pass peacefully.

After the sedative sets in, the veterinarian will issue the final medicine. Your pet will pass peacefully during this process.

In addition to questioning the painfulness of euthanasia, many pet owners wonder how long it will take for their pet to pass. Once the vet administers the final medicine, it should only take a few moments for your pet to move on from this life. With this information, you can rest assured that their death will not be drawn out over a long period.

5. You Should be With Your Pet

Because losing a pet is such a painful process, you might consider stepping out of the room during the final moments. However, vets want pet parents to know that they can and should stay with their family pet. They have been by your side when you needed them most, so you should do the same for them.

Vets want grieving pet parents to know that when they leave their family dog or cat alone during these final moments, they often search for them in their last moments. Being alone as they pass often leads to feelings of fear or anxiety. Not only is this difficult for your beloved pet, but it’s harder on the vet too.

Your vet cares about your pet. Their entire job is to help them be healthy. Seeing them in pain or scared is difficult for them too. Do not make this difficult part of the veterinarian’s job description any harder. You may even regret giving up the opportunity to say goodbye to your family pet.

So be there during your pet’s final moments. As you comfort them, you may even find some comfort for yourself. 

6. Some Vets Can Euthanize Pets at Home

For most pets, a trip to the vet’s office is a scary experience. If you do not want your pet to feel anxious or nervous during its final moments, consider having the vet perform the euthanasia service at home. Home is where your pet will feel most comfortable.

Some vets may charge more for performing this service at home; however, it will be worth it to know your pet feels no anxiety during this process, only love.

You may have to call several veterinarians in your area to find one willing to come to your house. In some areas, you may have to discuss the logistics with the vet to get them to agree to perform the euthanasia at home. Explaining your pet’s circumstances may help convince the vet that home euthanasia is the best option. 

Another reason you may consider having the vet perform this service at your home is if transporting your pet in its current state is difficult. For example, a larger dog that struggles to walk on its own will be harder to move. 

Speak with your vet so you fully understand the process of home euthanasia. Know how long it will take, the steps the vet will take, and what you will do after. Have plans to bury or cremate your pet planned before the vet arrives.

You should also consider what you will do with the rest of your day. If you have to go to work that day, maybe another day would be a better option. Do you want your kids to be there? If not, choose a day while they are at school or a friend’s house.

7. Pay Beforehand

The part of euthanasia very few people discuss is payment. While this is a difficult conversation, it is a necessary discussion. Know how much the service will cost before scheduling the appointment.

At most vet clinics, this procedure is not that expensive; however, not everyone can afford it. Take the time to discuss a payment plan with the vet. Will they take installments or do they have any discounts you can use? Do not make an appointment without knowing that you can or can not pay the bill.

Whether you take your pet to the vet or have the vet come to you, pay for the service beforehand. Many owners make the mistake of paying after. However, after losing a family pet, no one wants to stand in a waiting room paying for it. Pay for the service before you arrive or when you first walk into the clinic. You could also arrange to pay the bill at a later date. No matter what, have a plan for paying that will help you and your family feel most comfortable.

8. You Can Bring Things

Bringing your pet to the vet to be put to sleep is an awkward, painful situation. For this reason, many owners bring their pets in ready to leave as soon as possible. However, what many pet parents do not realize is their vet will allow them to bring things in with them.

If your pet has a favorite toy or blanket, bring them in. Let them play one last time or just have them there to help comfort them. If your pet has a preferred type of music, sit down and listen to a few tracks. Take this time to be together and to show your pet how much you love them. Vets also want pet parents to know that they can bring treats and whatever else they need to feel comfortable. 

However, if you feel the need to bring in a lot of stuff for the procedure, consider asking the vet to come to you instead. This should make the process a bit easier for everyone.

In addition to bringing things with you the day of, you can also celebrate your pet’s life the day before. Take them to their favorite park, let them chase squirrels if that is what makes them happy. If your pet is no longer able to do these types of things, just bring them there to enjoy the fresh air. Doing this will help them feel comfortable and makes some memories with them before they pass.

9. You Do Not Have to Decide Today

There is no right or wrong answer for when you should euthanize your pet. As mentioned earlier, your vet may offer some advice, but ultimately the decision is up to you. Because this is such a difficult choice, do not feel pressured to select an option quickly.

Deciding whether or not you should euthanize your pet takes lots of time and thought. You should prepare well in advance and be sure that you want to follow through. Consider factors such as burial or cremation.

But most importantly, consider your pet’s quality of life. All of us have heard the phrase, “you are not living, just alive.” We do not want our pets to just be alive. If they are no longer capable of walking, eating and drinking, or using the bathroom on their own, the amount of time you have to decide is limited. 

Pay attention to your pet’s health. What do they have most often: good days or bad days? If the good days still outnumber the bad, then you have some time. However, if your beloved family pet has more bad days than good days, it may be time to let them go.

Speak with your other family members about the options. You may even choose to pray about the decision before settling on one choice. No matter what, take some time to sit with your pet. Ask them how they feel. They will not be able to tell you what they want or need, but they may be able to show you. Listen to your pet, and regardless of what you choose, keep loving them.

Carolina Pieters

I'm Carolina and created this blog, to provide practical advice and emotional comfort for those dealing with pet loss.

Recent Posts