Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital
Unit 4, 2 Noonan Road
- 02 9829 1947
Euthanasia is a difficult decision to make when our pets age and/or get very sick. Some people say that euthanasia is a privilege that we have as pet owners, to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.
Most animals are very tolerant, and generally do not express their pain. Since our pets can't talk we rely on other indicators to guide us to make this difficult decision. Appetite is a strong indicator of how an animal is feeling. Try to assess the pet's quality of life - if you were in their position, how would you feel? Are they alert? Can they get up to go to the toilet? If your pet is a cat, is s/he still grooming? Does your pet still seek your attention, or does s/he just want to be alone? If you are unsure, having your pet examined by a vet is recommended.
Making the final decision is always difficult. Although we can help provide information regarding your pet's condition/illness, ultimately the final decision is up to you. The important questions to ask are: does my pet still have a reasonable quality of life, and if not, is it possible to attain (perhaps through surgery, medications, dietary change etc)? You are generally the best judge of how your pet is feeling as you know them best.
Many of you may have experienced this already, but for those who don't know, euthanasia is performed by injecting a large overdose of an anaesthetic agent into a vein, usually a vein on the front leg. Generally it is very quick and painless, although they will feel the prick of the needle in the skin. Generally by the time we have finished injecting, the animal has passed away.
When your pet passes away, you may choose to stay with them. If being with your pet becomes too much, you can leave the room at any stage. Some people may find this experience daunting and very upsetting. To try to make the experience less overwhelming, there are several things which may happen that we like to make owners aware of. First, it is common for pets to have a few big breaths afterwards, despite the fact that they have no heartbeat. This is a normal reflex and does not mean they are alive. They can also have muscle twitches and movements (including movements of the legs), and they may urinate/defecate as their muscles relax. Very rarely, some dogs will vocalise while the injection is given - often they have already lost consciousness and are not aware of what they are doing.
The other big decision that needs to be made is what to do with your pet's body. Some of the choices are:
1. You can take your pet home for burial. In some areas it has become illegal to bury your pet at home, if you would like to do this, it is best to contact your local council for the specifications about where you are allowed to do this.
2. You can leave your pet with us, where we arrange group cremation without the ashes being returned to you.
3. You can have your pet cremated and have their ashes returned to you to take home.
4. There are some designated pet cemeteries available in the Sydney area.