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How To Prepare For Euthanasia

Nothing can fully prepare an owner for the sad eventuality of their pets passing. As a pet bereavement counsellor it still surprises me just how many people have never had to put a beloved pet to sleep before. Some may have a memory of an old family pet being “put down” but no knowledge of the processes before, during and after the decision has been made. Others have simply never had to deal with the act of euthanasia. There are some things that you can be prepared for which will make the event much less stressful.

In most cases deciding the time has come is one that has been made over time due to old age or long standing ill health. This gives owners time to come to some acceptance of the situation, sadly this is not always the case as some accidents or ill health can be sudden and completely unforeseen.

Either way euthanasia is and should be seen as an act of kindness and not a negative procedure. We can stop our pet from suffering unnecessarily when there is no longer any viable medical or surgical intervention available to them. Remember animals do not understand about the length of life only the quality of it.

During the euthanasia procedure an overdose of anaesthetic is given into the veins that run in their back and front legs. Occasionally if these veins have collapsed the Vet may inject into the kidney or directly into the heart. The procedure is no more painful than the initial scratch of the needle, and does not take long to take effect. Almost all pets will not close their eyes when passing away and this is perfectly normal, as is the expulsion of bodily fluids.

It is important to consider the options after your pet has been put to sleep. You do not have to make a decision straight away, especially if the circumstances were unforeseen. There are generally 3 options available; home burial, cremation without the return of ashes and individual cremation with the return of ashes 10-14 days later. You can speak directly with the crematorium service as some do provide the option of attending the cremation or a burial within their cemetery.


Anne-Marie Clark has been a registered Veterinary nurse for over 12 years. Aside from managing day to day pet ailments she has a broad knowledge of emergency and critical care. Anne-Marie also as a special interest in the nursing care of endocrine and neurological disease.

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