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When to consider euthanasia for your pet


Euthanasia for your pet is a hard decision. Knowing when it is the right time is always difficult and many owners struggle with this decision. My answer to this question is to follow your gut feeling.

When a pet is suffering and all other options for treatment have been exhausted, or they are (for that animal) not an option or in its best interests, then euthanasia can be a very dignified, selfless and peaceful option for your best friend

An absence of appetite, disinterest in their surroundings, owners or their favourite things and inability to enjoy the small pleasures of day to day living may prompt an owner to make the decision that the time is right.

Leaving it too late is something that causes regret long term, but doing it too early can do the same so owners need to feel comfortable with their decision. Your veterinarian can help guide you to make the decision-making process less daunting.

As a veterinarian, I feel privileged to be entrusted with the task of ending an animal’s suffering through euthanasia.

For those of you who don’t know what to expect with the process, euthanasia involves placement of an IV catheter into the arm with an extension set attached. Pets can then sit with their owners and remained undisturbed when the injection is administered.

The injection is essentially an overdose of anesthesia and as soon as the injection is given, the patient quickly drifts off to sleep as they would with an anesthetic. There is no pain.

I strongly recommend family members to attend. This helps the dog to feel comfortable, safe and relaxed throughout the process.

I am always told how happy people were that they stayed and that the process was very dignified and not how they imagined. Owners are often embarrassed when they show emotion, but we expect it and would think it strange if there wasn’t any reaction.

If I cry or feel teary during euthanasia, it’s because I am witnessing this beautiful human-animal bond and I feel the owners sense of loss.

Unfortunately, the sad fact is that our pets just don’t live as long as we do and that is the saddest aspect of our relationship with them. But if we can accept this, then we can ensure that they have best possible life with us and a dignified, respectful passing when the time comes.   

Always talk to your Vet about any concerns you may have about the health of your dog and to help you through the decision making process of what to do next.

If you do have to face this decision some time soon and are wondering about what to do with your beloved pet after they have crossed over, then Sweet Goodbye has a beautiful pet burial and farewell kit for the burial of all companion furry friends.

About the Author: Dr Melissa Meehan BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Int Med) Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service

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