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Euthanizing My Pet – Ask A Vet

Sometimes it helps to share your feelings with someone who knows from personal experience how distressing the loss of a cat can be, and who will listen with compassion and without judgement.

Our Pet Bereavement Support Service offers support to grieving pet owners, through a national network of trained volunteers. We’re here seven days a week via phone, email and webchat.


We also have a if you’d like to join a community of people supporting each other through their grief.

Grieving The Loss Of Your Cat

Grieving the loss of your cat is completely normal. She has been an important part of your life and provided companionship and love. Take that personal day from work if you need to, and talk to your friends and family. If you have other pets, let the routine of caring for them provide some normalcy. No other pet will ever replace your cat, but they all bring different things to our lives and are special in their own way. And most of all, look through old photos and videos to remember your cat at her best and consider ways you can honor her memory.

Can I Stay With My Pet At The End Should I

This decision is completely up to you. Often, people will talk this through with their friends or family to decide what is right for them. Some people find being with their pet at the end of their life helps with coming to terms with the loss, or they feel they want to be there to reassure their pet. Others find it too distressing. Every pet and owners situation is different, so it is important not to feel guilty if you are unable to be there. Sometimes people choose to be present at the start, but to leave the room during the procedure and return at the end. Your vet understands how difficult this is for you so shouldnt pressure you either way. Do whatever feels right for you and your pet.

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What Is The Process Of Pet Euthanasia

There are several stages in the pet euthanasia process, covered in greater detail in other blogs. When it comes to the act of putting your cat to sleep, the vet will give your pet two injections. The first one is a sedative to put your pet into a deep sleep. This deep sleep ensures that your cat will feel nothing when the second pet euthanasia injection is administered.

The effects of the second injection act within a minute or so. Your cats heart will stop beating, and they will pass away peacefully and painlessly.

You should be aware of a few reactions that can occur when your cat is being put to sleep. Sometimes they will take a deep breath at the end, and it is also possible for them to urinate and defecate. These are natural nervous reactions, and they take place once your pet has already passed away. Understanding that these things can take place will prepare you if they do.

You should also understand that your cats eyes may not shut completely. You, a friend, or the vet will have to do this at the end of the pet euthanasia process.

About Dr Sarah Wooten Dvm Cvj

I keep telling Kitten she doesn

A 2002 graduate of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sarah Wooten is a well known international speaker in the veterinary and animal health care spaces. She has 10 years experience in public speaking and media work, and writes for a large number of online and printanimal health publications. Dr. Wooten is also a certified veterinary journalist, a member of the AVMA, and has 16 years experience insmall animal veterinary practice. To learn more, visit

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What To Expect After The Euthanasia

Once the solution has been administered, your vet will listen to your dog’s heart to confirm the death. Your vet will let you know that your dog has passed on. At this time, your vet will probably step out of the room to give you a few moments alone with your dog.

This is an emotional time, and the veterinary staff will provide plenty of tissues and privacy. You are in a safe environment where everyone understands what you are going through. Stay as short or as long as you are comfortable. If you have already made aftercare and payment arrangements, you can simply slip out when you are ready.

Be aware that your dog’s body may release urine, feces, and possibly other bodily fluids upon death. This occurs due to the relaxation of all muscles. Know that your dog’s eyes will remain open. Sometimes, there are muscle spasms or sounds as the air and energy leave your dog’s body. This does not mean your dog is still alive it is simply part of the process that occurs after death.

Keep Your Cat Cool With Some Homemade Air

Fill a small soda bottle with cold water and leave it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, wrap the bottle in a towel and put it in your cats favorite lounging spot. If she gets overheated, shell appreciate the kitty cooling room. Dont fill the bottle to the top: Water expands when it freezes, and you could have a mess on your hands if you dont leave some air space.

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Seek Out Social Support

When we lose a close relative in death, the world around us tends to help us move through the grieving process. Family and friends may draw closer together for some time, we take time off from work, and people generally offer their support. The loss of a pet, however, is often met with much less sympathy or support. For example, a survey conducted by Quackenbush and Glickman revealed that 45% of pet owners that had lost a pet missed one to three days of work, even though most employers do not consider the loss of a pet to be grounds for bereavement leave.

While our immediate family members and veterinarians are likely able to relate to the pain we feel and offer needed support, some expect us to just get on with it. The world around us simply does not understand that our pet was not just a dog and that we cannot just get a new one.

According to research by Clements, Benasutti, and Carmone, The loss or death of a pet, and the surrounding traumatic events, can unbalance existing social roles and family relationships, and can result in the disruption of dyadic relationships between the owner and other significant people .

It is important not to push our friends and family members away, especially during this stressful time, and it may be helpful to open up to them and share our feelings. After all, who better to remind us of the wonderful times we shared together with our now departed pets?

Should I Bring My Family Or Children With Me

When is it time to euthanize my pet?

Sometimes, other family members may want to join you to say goodbye to your pet. Everyone should make their own decision about whether they want to be there when your pet passes away. You can let the vet know who would like to stay and who would prefer to step out for the procedure.

For some children, losing a pet may be their first experience of death. They may feel that they have lost their best friend an important member of their family and they may feel very sad and lonely. The way in which children, young people and those around them deal with the loss of a pet may lay the foundation for how they cope with other losses later in their life. Bringing children to the appointment can give them a sense of closure, particularly for older children, but it can also be distressing for some. If they are too young to understand what is going on, they may not understand why you are upset. You know your child best and will be able to consider what is best for them on a case by case basis.

If you are bringing children or young people to a euthanasia appointment, make sure that they understand what is going to happen beforehand, at a comfortable level for their age. If bringing a vulnerable adult or young person then they will also need support in understanding the procedure so that they are prepared for what will happen.

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Making Special Requests For Burial Or Cremation

It is not unusual, nor unreasonable, for pet owners to save a bit of their pet’s hair as a physical remembrance of their special friend. Some people want their pet to be buried or cremated with a few photos, or a rose, or even a personal letter or poem addressed to their pet.

Just remember that it is YOUR friend and YOUR pet that is passing away, and you can do anything you wish to ease your transition into the time of separation from that friend.

Not Interested In Favorite Things

As your cat’s health deteriorates, she will lose interest in things she once enjoyed. She may no longer want to play with her toys, may turn her nose up at favorite treats, and may even stop purring when petted. Disinterest in the world around her and a lack of joy for things she once loved are signs that your cat is ready to pass on.

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Making The Call To Put Your Cat To Sleep

Is it possible for your cat to feed, drink, sleep, and walk around in a reasonable amount of comfort?

Does he or she recognize your presence and extend a greeting?

Is it true that feeding time piques the cats interest?

Euthanasia should be addressed whether there is a persistent and incurable failure to feed, fatigue, symptoms of pain, anxiety or irritation, or trouble breathing.

Since you and your family know and love your cat better than anybody else, make an informed decision about its quality of life.

Your veterinarian will assist you with this and can also make a suggestion. Having a time limit might be a good idea if you want to see if your cats health improves.

Sadly, few cats die happily at home while sleeping. Most people hit a point where their quality of life is unsatisfactory and they must consider euthanasia.

It can be physically exhausting to have a chronically sick cat. Treatment also necessitates a significant time investment.

Not every owner can cope, and if there is no hope of the cat getting better and you are unable to provide your pet with the level of treatment needed for a stable life, euthanasia could be the better choice.

There is the risk of a rapid and spontaneous decline in certain invalid cats. If you are unable to pay for emergency treatment for your pet, euthanasia could be a safer choice.

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Euthanasia Decisions And Your Cat

When should I put my dog or cat down?

Our culture has evolved to embrace the human-animal bond with love and respect. Our cats are members of the family and many of us describe ourselves as pet parents. Because of advances in veterinary medicine and preventive care, as well as the migration of cats from the barnyard catching mice to the bedroom sharing a pillow with us, cats are living longer and in closer relationships with humans than ever before. The longer the relationship, the stronger the bond. The stronger the bond, the more challenging it is to consider the end of a cat’s life, including the difficult decisions around euthanasia.

Although it is heart-breaking to think about the fact that our cats’ lives are generally shorter than our own, thinking about a cat’s eventual need for euthanasia and making a plan ahead of time will relieve much of the stress associated with decisions made when the end of life is near.

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Assessing Your Pet’s Quality Of Life

We have heard from countless pet owners that the death of their pet was worse than the death of their own parents. This might sound blasphemous to some, but to many, its the cold truth. Deciding to euthanize a pet can feel gut-wrenching, murderous, and immoral. Families may feel that they are letting their pet down, or that they are causing their best friends death. They forget that euthanasia is a gift that, when used appropriately at the right time, prevents further physical suffering for the pet and emotional suffering for the family. The hardest part of the experience is making the actual decision, and Im asked on a daily basis, Doc, how will I know when its time?

As veterinarians, our job is to help a family make this difficult decision. There is no perfect moment to make this ultimate choice, unless the pet is truly sufferingsomething we are trying to prevent in the first place. Rather, there is a subjective time period, which may be hours, days, weeks, or months, when euthanasia is the appropriate decision. Prior to this time, veterinarians may refuse to euthanize a pet because they still have a good quality of life, but after this period passes, we may advocate for euthanasia, because their sustained suffering is obvious. During this subjective time, however, the family has to make whatever decision is best for them. Some owners need time to come to terms with their pets decline, while others want to prevent any unnecessary suffering at all.

What Happens To Your Pets Body After An In

Prior to the actual appointment, you will have already discussed the details of how your pets body will be handled post-euthanasia.

Body care options are important to consider in advance. Choices to consider are home burial, burial at a pet cemetery, cremation arranged by the owner, or cremation arranged by the veterinarian. Special arrangements are best made in advance, says Dr. Krier.

For cremation, Dr. Krier says that he will typically bring a soft-sided, rolling stretcher to help transport your pet to his car. He explains that you can wrap your pet in a special blanket or sheet, and if you would like, you can even include favorite toys or handwritten letters with your pet to be included in their cremation.

End-of-life decision-making can be extremely difficult. Veterinary hospice and in-home euthanasia services are welcome options for pet parents who want to experience these moments in the privacy of their own home.

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Can I Bring Someone Else To The Appointment

Its okay to bring other people to the appointment with you. It can be difficult to take in information at an emotional time, or you may feel that you might not be able to drive or be alone afterwards. In this case it may be a good idea to invite a friend to come with you to the euthanasia appointment. They dont have to come in with you but it could be helpful to have someone to support you immediately after the appointment.

Immediately After The Euthanasia Procedure

How to pick up a cat like a pro – Vet advice on cat handling.

If you do choose to visit with your pet after they have been euthanized, ask your veterinarian to be sure that your pet’s eyelids are closed. Some pet owners have been saddened even further by looking into their deceased pet’s eyes.

I generally ask if my clients would like to spend a few moments alone with their pets. Some people do, and some people do not.

If you have arranged to take your pet home, a container will be ready to receive the pet. The veterinarian will usually place the pet into the container and will have someone help carry your pet out to your car for you.

Here’s another suggestion: You may want someone to be with you after the euthanasia appointment to drive you home. You may be surprised how difficult it can be to concentrate on driving after undergoing such an emotional event.

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Preparation For Euthanizing A Cat At Home

Preparedness is vital in deciding the times to put the cat pet to sleep through euthanasia. Bidding the cat farewell is a thing that these pet owners will eventually face, and it is among the difficult moments of owning a pet. Euthanasia requires both the pet owners and the cat to be well prepared. Preparation should start with consulting a vet who will give the ideal procedures. A vet will also prepare the pet owner on what to expect during the process.

Pet owners are also informed of the various possible options they may use to put their cat down. Most vets are the best people to help one understand the entire procedure of performing euthanasia at their homes. The pet cat is often bonded to the point of becoming more of a family member. Breaking the euthanasia news to the family, and especially to the children is likely to affect them emotionally, and thus it requires preparations. It may be a loss too hard to bear, though it may be a lesson to them about the inevitability of death.

Feline Veterinarian Dr Lynn Bahr Addresses This Issue

Here is Dr. Bahrs answer, and I whole-heartedly agree with everything she wrote:

It has been a month since the question about the FIV+/heartworm+ cat was posted. He was unnecessarily euthanized, and it is my hope that his death did not occur in vain.

Only in emergency situations should the decision to end a life be done hastily, and then only to help eliminate pain or suffering.

Euthanasia is a terminal solution that should never be undertaken lightly. Only in emergency situations should the decision to end a life be done hastily, and then only to help eliminate pain or suffering. Otherwise, there is no rush or immediate need to euthanize an otherwise healthy cat based on test results alone.

While we dont know all of the details of this particular story, we can use it to educate ourselves and our veterinarians to do better.

If you dont agree with your veterinarian about a treatment plan, let them know that and see if you cant find a better solution together. If not, go somewhere else.

Veterinarians are smart, caring, well educated, compassionate beings, but not all are cat lovers or focused on caring specifically for cats. Keeping current with the latest and greatest medical care for multiple species is not easy. It can be difficult for general practitioners that treat dogs, cats, and exotics to be experts in all of the conditions that affect them. That is likely the reason the system failed this owner and her cat.

About Dr. Lynn Bahr

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