Is euthanasia painful?
When done properly, no. When the euthanasia drug is given directly into the vein, the pet should not feel anything. Involuntary movements of the body can occur during euthanasia, but these are only reflexes. The euthanasia drug causes the brain to lose consciousness, followed quickly by respiratory and cardiac arrest. Dr Cassie will sedate your pet so they will be asleep for the injection.
How will I know when it's the right time to euthanase?
You know your pet better than anyone else. Watch for signs that tell you they are not happy anymore. There is more information about this on information page. There is a link for a quality of life scale that you can use. Most people say that they wish they hadn’t waited so long, and no one has ever told me that they euthanased too early. Look for a time when the bad days outweigh the good. If you are unsure about this decision, please contact me.
I don’t want my pet to suffer but I don’t feel like it’s time to say goodbye. Is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable as his condition progresses?
Absolutely. This is the time for palliative veterinary care. Talk to your regular vet about getting supportive medication to manage pain, infection and to help slow the progress of the disease. Hydration is very important and occasional fluid therapy is beneficial for many ill pets. If your pet is very weak, you will need to assist them in getting up and going to the toilet. A good quality diet is also important. Physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage can all help enormously. Also, make life as fun as possible for them. Playdates, car rides, lots of cuddles. Quality of life is more important than quantity, so help them feel the best they can.
Does my pet know that they are about to die? Will they be scared?
I feel that animals are very intuitive and most of them do know why I am there. They are at the end of their life and they are ready. Some pets can sense their owner’s anxiety and sadness, and this can make them nervous. The sedation helps to keep them calm and relaxed during the whole process. Providing euthanasia at home takes away a lot of the stress that they may usually feel when visiting a vet clinic.
Should my other dogs/cats be present for the euthanasia of their companion?
I think that you should allow them to be present if they want to, but do not force them to if they feel uncomfortable. For animals, we cannot simply just tell them that their friend has died and hope that they understand. For this reason, I think it is important for them to at least witness the body afterwards. If you have an animal that you worry will be very affected by the death of their friend, talk to Dr Cassie about how you can make it easier for them.
Should I allow my kids to be present?
I think that children can learn a lot from the experience. Not only does it give them a chance to say goodbye to their friend, they also get a chance to witness death in a peaceful and comfortable setting. Death is a natural part of life, however it is not something that is witnessed or talked about openly in our society. If you choose to keep the kids away, it is important that you acknowledge their grief and help them mourn in a healthy way. Be honest with them regarding what is happening and avoid confusing phrases like ‘going to sleep’. Go to my Grief support page for more info.
My pet hates new people, especially vets. Will you be able to give the sedative?
We should be fine. As I’ll be coming to your home, hopefully they won’t know that I’m a vet. We can distract him/her with lots of treats and cuddles and I’ll get them to focus on you rather than me. It’s a small needle, similar to a vaccine and most pets don’t even notice that I have given it. If we feel it’s necessary, we can use a muzzle for the injection and then take it off so they can relax while it takes effect.
What if I don’t feel like I can't watch? Do I have to be there?
Do what feels right for you. We will be at your home, so you can step out and come back in at any time during the procedure. I will proceed with the euthanasia, and you can come back in after your pet has passed or stay in another room. There is an option to just stay for the sedation until your pet is asleep and then leave once they are no longer conscious. I can take care of everything by myself if it is easier for you.
Will my dog urinate and defecate ?
Not necessarily. If they do, I will already have a towel tucked under them for protection. We can gather anywhere you like, I’ll take care of protecting your home.
How long will the appointment take?
Usually from 45 minutes to an hour. It depends how quickly your pet responds to the sedation. But if you’d prefer a shorter visit I'll do my best.
Should I get the clay pawprint?
If you aren’t sure, I would do it. You don’t have to keep it. It can be a lovely keepsake to remember your beloved pet.
Do I have to bury my pet right away or can I wait a few hours?
Spend as much time as you want to with your pet. There is no reason to rush and it is a normal process to mourn over the body. however, your pet's body will start to change. Rigor mortis can set in quite quickly and this is a completely natural process. If you have your burial site prepared, and the dimensions of the grave or burial box are set, I recommend tucking your pet’s body into a position that will fit into the available space. It is not easy to bend the legs or tuck the head once rigor mortis has set in..
Why won’t they just die in their sleep?
Most owners hope for this. Wouldn’t it make it easier if they just passed peacefully in their sleep? If we don’t intervene nature will take its course and they will eventually die on their own. The problem is we cannot guarantee that the death will be peaceful or pain-free. If your pet is at the point where you think they may pass in there sleep, it is time to consider euthanasia.