Preparing for Pet Euthanasia, Familiarize Yourself With the Details
- Do you want to be present?
- Do you want anyone else to be present?
- What about kids?
- How do you want to say goodbye?
- Do you want a momento?
- How would you like your pet’s body taken care of?
- Do you have support afterwards?
The Pet Euthanasia Process at PCAC
This time in you and your pet’s life is difficult and special. We want to be able to devote the right amount of time to you and your family through the process. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment. This will allow us to set a time that works best for you, your family, and the clinic and we can usually schedule you with the doctor of your choice.
Upon arrival you will be taken into our bereavement room that is set up with a couch and possibly a bed on the floor for your pet. Feel free to sit with your pet on the floor or get them on the couch with you, we want you both to be comfortable. Typically, one of trained technicians will come into the room first to discuss after life body care and have you sign some paperwork. They may ask to take your pet to our treatment area for a few minutes to place an IV catheter.
An IV catheter will help us properly administer the medications with less pain and worry. If the technician places this in the room with you, you may see that they shave a small area on one of the legs to help visualize the vein. They will then insert the catheter needle so expect to see blood. This will be wrapped with tape and an elastic material called vetwrap to keep the catheter in place. The technician will then use a saline solution to flush the catheter to make sure it has stayed in place. This solution is harmless and has no medicine in it.
After the IV catheter is placed you will have as much time with your pet as you would like. When you are ready, the veterinarian will come in and answer any questions you may have and talk through the rest of the procedure with you. Before he begins the procedure, he may flush the catheter with the saline solution again.
When you are ready the doctor will first administer a sedative through the IV or under the skin. This can help calm your pet down if he is anxious. Once your pet is relaxed, the doctor will administer a pink solution that is an anesthetic. The amount of solution given is actually an overdose and that is what helps your pet die quietly and quickly.
Please know that your pet’s heart may take a few seconds to stop beating, but during this time they do not feeling anything. The veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart with his stethoscope until the heart stops beating. He will let you know that your pet has passed when that happens. Sometimes during the euthanasia process and after the heart has stopped, a few things may happen that can be difficult to see. Your pet may vocalize as the medication is being administered, their muscles may continue to twitch, they may lose control of their bowels or bladder, and they may have agonal breathing. This is not an actual breath, it is just an involuntary muscle contraction. Also know that their eyes will not shut.
You may visit for as long as you like. This may be a minute, it may be longer. If you have elected to take the body home, we will help you wrap it up and place it in your car. Please make sure, before you leave, that you are okay to drive home or have somebody to drive you. And always know what we are here to help and offer support if needed.