This is not a question anyone ever wants to consider. In fact, it is one of the worst questions there is. Yet, sometimes we need to make these decisions on behalf of a beloved pet, so we’ve decided to talk about it here in the hope that it helps. And we want you to know that we’re sorry you’re going through this.
What Is Pet Euthanasia?
This is what people commonly refer to as “putting a pet to sleep.” But at Farewelling we do like real talk, so it’s basically a medical procedure—an injection administered by your veterinarian—when a pet is near death already and suffering as a result.
When Should I Put My Pet to Sleep?
This is always a terrible timeline to navigate, but your veterinarian can help you by discussing your pet’s current diagnosis and quality of life. At the intersection of those two things you may find guidance. If you do decide to help your pet die, here are some things to consider.
Can I Help My Pet Die at Home?
The answer depends on several things. First, you’ll want to consider the emotional side of making this choice. Will it be a comfort to you to know that your pet was in their most familiar environment, or will the experience be harder for you at home? There’s no right response. It’s whatever is best for you. However, only certain veterinarians will make house calls, so access to a vet who offers this service may affect your decision.
What Happens When I Euthanize My Pet/Put Them to Sleep?
First, you’ll likely have the opportunity to choose whether or not you want to be with your pet for the procedure. Again, we know this is an awful choice to have to make, so just think about your pet’s comfort as well as your own well-being.
The procedure itself is fairly straightforward. Basically, it’s just an injection that is administered by the veterinarian. Sometimes the vet will first give a sedative to help if the pet seems agitated or uncomfortable. The effects of the injection (often pentobarbital and sometimes phenytoin) take a very short time to work, and your pet should feel no pain at all.
How Can I Comfort My Pet?
Bring a favorite blanket or toy, and talk to your pet in a soft, low, soothing voice. Tell them you love them and that everything will be all right. Depending upon your pet’s medical condition and their appetite, you may even be permitted to give them a small favorite treat. Ask your veterinarian first.
You may decide to leave the room once the drug has been administered. If you stay, just be aware that certain things may happen that might be upsetting, such as bodily fluids leaking or the pet dying with their eyes open. Of course, we don’t want to dwell on these aspects, but it can be good to be prepared in advance, so that’s why we’re sharing.
If putting your pet to sleep feels like the right choice, we’d really like for you to take the time to grieve your loss after the procedure is done. When you’re ready, check out the Rainbow Bridge poem to feel some relief from your pain, because losing a pet is no different than losing anyone you love.
And if you choose to let your pet die naturally at home and need help with the logistics—like whether to opt for burial or cremation—click here.