In the veterinary field, euthanasia is a medical procedure that's used to mercifully end a pet's life. Typically, when a pet is euthanized the veterinarian will first inject a calming anesthetic. This is followed by an injection of the euthanasia solution, which causes respiratory failure followed by cardiac arrest. The whole process takes just a few seconds and causes virtually no pain.
One of the toughest things about euthanasia is knowing when the time is right. Although some may tell you, “your pet will let you know,” that's not always clear for pet owners. To help you make an educated decision, first ask yourself these questions about their current quality of life:
• Is my pet interested in surrounding activity or is it withdrawn and tired all the time?
• Does my pet seem to be in pain?
• Has my pet stopped eating and drinking?
• Does my pet have control of its urinary tract and bowels?
• Can my pet walk on its own without significant suffering?
• Has there been any irreversible organ damage?
• Do my pet's good days outnumber its bad days?
• Are there any humane veterinary treatments available?
• What would I want if I were in my pet’s situation?
• What is my veterinarian's opinion?
Remember, no one knows your pet better than you. So after you've asked yourself these questions, think about your intuition too. Even though it's one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner makes, it can also be the greatest act of love.
Unfortunately the tough decisions aren't quite over. If you decide to euthanize your pet, you have several more choices regarding the actual procedure.
Home or office visit?
When it's time, you can opt for a home visit or you can bring your pet to our animal hospital located just north of Battle Creek. There are pros and cons to both, so if you aren't sure talk with your veterinarian.
Do you want to be present?
You can choose whether or not to be with your pet as it's being euthanized. Be sure to think through your feelings carefully. Many pet owners have later regretted their decision not to be present because of feelings of guilt and abandonment that linger after the pet's death.
Alone or with support?
Euthanasia is a completely personal experience. Perhaps you may want a friend to lean on during the procedure or maybe you'd feel more comfortable if it's just you and your pet. Whatever you decide is okay. It's your right to experience this your own way.
What about the remains?
You can either take your pet's remains home for a personal burial or choose to have them cremated. If you decide to bring your pet home, your veterinarian will provide a box for the remains. If you opt for cremation, you can choose to have your pet's cremated remains returned to you.
After going through this incredibly emotional experience, many pet owners are flooded with a variety of feelings. Guilt, helplessness and anger are some of the tougher ones to work through. You may also feel relief and peace now that your pet is no longer suffering. Whatever you're going through, give yourself time to feel the emotions. Making this decision takes an extraordinary amount of selfless love. And after consistently receiving this gift from your pet, take solace that you're giving that same love back one last time.