When considering euthanasia, you may ask “how do I know if my pet is suffering?” Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Some pets exhibit outward signs of discomfort while others do not. However, noticeable changes in your pet’s appetite, attitude, alertness, bowel or bladder movements, sleep patterns, or grooming habits may indicate that your pet is in discomfort.
Once you have determined that your pet is uncomfortable, sought veterinary medical advice, and decided to follow through with euthanasia, you need to decide the best way for the euthanasia to be performed for your family. Common decisions include whether or not to be present during the procedure, where the procedure is to be performed and how your pet’s remains will be handled. To help you make your decisions, we explain the procedure to you as well as discuss some of the natural changes your pet may undergo during the euthanasia to help make the experience of euthanasia as easy as it can be for your family.
At Langdon Veterinary Clinic, our approach to euthanasia is to administer a mild sedative to your pet prior to introducing the euthanasia solution. This is done to help put your pet at ease and to assist in making the euthanasia as peaceful as possible. Once your pet is mildly sedated, we apply a single IV injection of a medication that will stop the heart, respirations, and brain activity. The medication used is an ultra-concentrated form of an injectable anesthetic. The medication works very quickly. Once injected, the medication will typically take only seconds to work.
After euthanasia has been performed, paw impressions can be made. The Animal Memorial Services can perform a communal or private cremation. If electing a communal cremation, your pet’s ashes are not returned. With a private cremation, your pet is cremated alone and you receive its ashes. For private cremations, you will often have the option to have the ashes returned in a plain box, so you can spread them or bury them, or in an urn.
If you are considering burial, you should consider local laws which, at times, town and city municipalities do not permit. Before burial, you should also consider if other animals have access to the location as they may become attracted to the burial site and dig up your pet’s remains. You should also consider your permanence at the burial location. Some people experience renewed grief over their deceased pet at a later date if they move from the location in which it is buried. Regardless of how you think you may feel, you should at least consider these factors before burial is considered.
The amount of grief one experiences varies greatly when a pet passes. Some people can cope with the loss of a pet very easily and move on. Other people may never recover fully from the loss of a pet. Grief is a perfectly normal emotion to have following an euthanasia. If you need help dealing with the loss of a pet, there are several means of support ranging from family members to books and from Langdon Veterinary Clinic to pet loss support hotlines.