Putting Your Dog to Sleep (Euthanasia) – A Final Act of Love

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 07/15/21 •  6 min read
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Euthanasia, or putting your dog to sleep, is a heart-wrenching decision that pet parents must deal with. It is, without doubt, the most excruciating decision to make as a pet parent.

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In this article, we’ll take a look at what euthanasia is and how to be prepared for this eventuality in your pet’s care.

What is Euthanasia?

You’re probably very familiar with the terms “putting your dog to sleep” or “putting your dog down.” These are alternatives terms for “euthanasia.” Euthanasia comes from the Greek words “eu,” which means good, and “Thanatos,” which means a “good death.” So, euthanasia is all about a humane death, with no pain, fear, stress, or anxiety.

Euthanasia is one of the hardest things we have to do as responsible pet parents. It’s very difficult to put a dog to sleep, no matter their age. Most people believe euthanasia happens most often to senior pets; however, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s necessary to euthanize puppies and dogs in their prime. This may be due to serious genetic problems or medical issues that would cause long-term suffering.

The whole point of euthanasia, or putting your dog to sleep, is provide them with a final act of love. This is done to relieve their suffering, pain, and discomfort.

Why is Euthanasia a Difficult Decision for Pet Parents?

Euthanasia is not a topic anyone looks forward to considering. Why is it so difficult? There are many reasons this is a difficult decision to make.

First, pet parents have trouble with euthanasia because they’re dealing with the death of a loving companion. Our fur babies become a part of our family and life while also burrowing their way deep into our hearts. The loss of such a companion is traumatic.

Another reason it’s difficult dealing with euthanasia is that you may feel as if you’re “playing God.” Making such a momentous decision carries a huge responsibility. However, do remember that the decision is also shared with your veterinarian. You’re not making this decision alone.

Others may worry about the timing of euthanasia. You may wonder if everything possible has been done to keep your canine companion alive. Has every option been explored?

Some people are extremely emotional and find it very difficult to talk with the vet on this topic.

If you feel any or all of these issues, then you’re a normal, loving, devoted pet parent. It’s important to talk with your vet in order to make an informed decision for your dog. This is a selfless action you can take on the part of your fur baby to end their suffering. Euthanasia is a loving decision based on compassion and care for your dog.

How to Know When It’s Time to Euthanize

This is a very difficult topic for pet parents. Our goal is to keep our dog with us for as long as possible. However, the real issue here should be the welfare of your fur baby.

There may be cases when it’s necessary to euthanize your dog after an accident. There are times when it’s simply not possible for the vet to “fix” your dog. Fixing could cause longer and more intense suffering. That’s not something most pet parents want for their dogs.

Other times, your dog will give indications that the end is nearing. There are signs you can watch for, which can include the following:

These are not all indications that a dog has reached the end of his life. Instead, these symptoms could be caused by treatable health issues. This is where talking with the vet comes in. They can advise you on whether or not the condition(s) can be treated and help your dog to live a comfortable life.

On the other hand, the vet may also explain that everything possible has been done. There’s nothing more they can do. At this point, the vet may recommend a specialist veterinarian; however, the dog’s condition may be past the help of a specialist.

The goal here is not to let your fur baby suffer too long. When a dog is miserable all the time, and the vet says there’s nothing more that can be done, then it’s time to let your canine companion go. This is the last act of love you can show your dog.

Talk with The Vet About Euthanasia

It’s essential to talk with your vet about euthanizing your fur baby. It’s OK to ask any and all questions that come to mind. Be sure to let the vet know if you’d like to be there and ask about their process.

These days, more vets are offering euthanasia at home for their pet patients. This might be an option that would be best for you and your dog. You won’t have to take him to the vet, which can be difficult when a dog becomes unable to move well. And you can avoid the stress of visiting the vet that some dogs experience. So, be sure to ask your vet if this is an option for your dog.

Another issue that pet parents sometimes forget is to ask the vet about aftercare services. Many vets work with pet cremation or burial companies. It’s possible to have your dog cremated and then pick up your dog’s ashes right from the vet’s office.

What Happens During Euthanasia?

In most cases, the vet may give your fur baby a sedative injection. This works to relax your dog, so he will feel no stress or anxiety. Then, the vet will give your dog barbiturate medication.

This works to depress the central nervous systems, starting with the cerebral cortex.

Your dog will go unconscious at this point. Within a few seconds, the medication works to stop the breathing and the heart. Your dog will feel no pain at all. Death usually comes within a few seconds after injection.

We understand that euthanizing your dog is one of the hardest decisions you’ll make as a pet parent. However, it’s also the most loving, selfless decision you’ll make for your fur baby. Your love will keep him from unnecessary and prolonged suffering.

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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