2 minute read
10 Sep 2018
11:52 am

How to cope with putting a pet to sleep


Making the decision to put down your pet is never easy, but there are ways to help cope with this emotional process.

Euthanasia is derived from the Greek word for “good death”. It is a painless process involving putting your furbaby to sleep when their quality of life deteriorates.

There is no easy way to make this decision, but remember that you are responsible for your pet’s welfare.

Here are some facts to better understand this process:

What exactly happens when your pet is euthanised?

Vets usually use a sedative tranquillizer drug administered into the vein. The actual drug is an overdose of a barbiturate and can be given in tablet form or a painless injection under the skin.

The animal is restful and the owner has time to say goodbye. Unconsciousness usually follows within 30 seconds.

Physical signs that could manifest as death occurs:

Eyes may remain open

• There may be a last gasping breath

• There may be vocalisation

• There may be muscle twitching

• The heart may continue to beat for a short while after breathing has stopped

• The bladder and possibly the bowel contents will be released

• Usually you will notice a release of tension as your pet “goes to sleep”

These signs differ in each animal.

How can you make the process less stressful?

• Book an appointment during a quiet time of your vet’s day

• Sit with your pet in the car while you wait for the vet to see you. Ask the receptionist to call you when the vet is ready

• Try to settle the bill up front

• If you can, try to take the day off work. Losing an animal is as significant as losing a family member

• Plan a sentimental burial (ashes or body) for closure

What happens to your pet’s body?

Your pet’s body is cremated. If you wish to have the ashes returned to you, emphasise this to your vet before the procedure.

Pet owners do sometimes elect to keep their pet’s bodies; arrange this with your vet.

Information courtesy of Bayer Health Care Animal Health. Visit their website on

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