Having a pet euthanised would have to be one of the most gut wrenching decisions a pet owner ever has to face. It’s like losing a relative. It’s not uncommon to hear of pet owners swearing that they will never own a pet again. However, we mustn’t forget that owning a pet brings a life time of laughs and fond memories. I have made it my mission to find a way to make our beloved pets final moments as painless and as peaceful as possible. This is why I use sedation for pet euthanasia.
An awesome little dog called Eastie
“Eastie”, a handsome little Jack Russel, came to Julie and her family from across the nullarbor. A surprise announcement from her travelling son, Dan, upon arrival. He was a rambunctious little character, full of life, as most Jack Russels are. One of the coolest little dudes you could meet. However he went on to suffer a herniated disc requiring hemilaminectomy surgery on his spine (a procedure that cost Julie in excess of $12,000). He improved, however a short time later, he suffered a similar injury. The family had to make a difficult decision to have Eastie euthanised and they called me to provide pet euthanasia at home.
On a late Thursday afternoon, I visited them at home. A whole group of family and friends had gathered outside to honour little Eastie, celebrate his life and to pay respects at his passing. For a dog with spinal pain, Eastie was putting on a very brave face. While Julie and her son Dan had a few last cuddles, I was able to give him a sedative injection under the skin at the back of his neck. A small injection that is a bit like having a vaccination. Over the next 3-5 minutes, whilst still being cuddled by Dan, you could see the pain and tension in Eastie’s body disappear. He looked extremely comfortable being held by the ones he loved, outside on their verandah. By now he was fast asleep, snoring away happily.
Eastie was unaware of any needles from then on. It meant that I could give Eastie the final injection in the vein in his leg, still whilst he was being cuddled by his owners. He slipped away peacefully without a care in a world. You could see the relief on Eastie, but also on his owners faces, in amongst the tears. Their little loved one was finally free from pain. And in a way that made another fond memory out of a really crappy situation.
The benefit is for both pets and their owners
Sedation is for the benefit of both the pets and their owners.
Without sedation, pet euthanasia can be a very abrupt and confronting process. The final injection is fast acting. With sedation the transition from a conscious pet to passing is a gradual one. Using sedation means the process of saying good bye is much smoother, and peaceful.
For the pet, this means that no one has to restrain them so that a vein can be accessed. Placement of an IV catheter is not necessary, limiting anxiety for both pet and owner. Pets do not need to be separated from their owners, they are much more relaxed in their own environment, surrounded by people they love and recognise. Pet euthanasia at home is the best.
Apart from a small injection under their loose neck skin, they don’t experience any pain from needles going into their arm.
Difficult to access veins
Every now and then a vein could be difficult to find, particularly in older, sick pets who often have poor blood pressure. With sedation, the risk of discomfort to your pet is minimised should there be difficulty in accessing a vein. There is no discomfort. Pet are completely relaxed and unaware.
Surrounded by loved ones
One of the biggest benefits to sedation is that pet owners can remain close to their pets. In Eastie’s case, Julie and Dan were able to hold Eastie all the way through the process. Other times, I’ve sat on a bed with the pet on a pillow and the owners and friends all sitting on the same bed! It makes the process very personal and intimate, rather than clinical.
Freedom from pain at last
Seeing that final relaxation as the sedation kicks in, that final bit of pain relief on the pet’s face and body, is rewarding enough. They slip away feeling pain free, rather than suffering. Most will be happily snoring away.
The owner can focus on saying goodbye to their pet, rather than worrying about their pet being anxious and having to keep them calm.
After a pet has passed
Generally after a pet passes away, very occasionally they can appear to gasp for breath. This a delayed response of the nerves rather than a pet being still alive. However, its disconcerting as a pet owner to see. This is more likely to occur with euthanasia without sedation. In my experience, sedation reduces the incidence of this happening after a pet has passed.
My experience with sedation for pet euthanasia
As a vet, I started performing sedation prior to pet euthanasia approximately 9 years ago. At the time it was out of necessity. I was running a little house call practice and had no nurse to assist me. Since I would never ask an owner to hold up a vein, I started giving sedation to help the animal be still for the final intravenous injection. However once I gave sedation that first time, I’ve never not given it since. Even at the vet hospitals I’ve owned since, I’ve adopted this as the new norm in all situations.
I’ve performed this procedure thousands of times. Yet every single time I am still amazed at just how peaceful it is for everyone involved. Especially for the pet.
I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’d encourage you, if and when you are faced with this difficult life decision, to elect to have your pet sedated prior to pet euthanasia also.
Our In Home Pet Euthanasia Service
If there is anything else we can do to help or to answer any questions you may have, please feel free to get in touch.
If you’ve had a positive experience with pet euthanasia you would like to share, please leave it in the comments down below.
Thanks for reading,Dr Shanon Donovan
Perth Vet Care Mobile Vet