5 Things You Should Know Before Euthanizing Your Dog

Discussion in 'Memorials' started by Vicki, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator

    5 Things I Wish You Knew Before Euthanizing Your Dog

    Kelsey Beth Carpenter July 19, 2016

    Euthanasia. The word itself makes all our stomachs drop. It is a gift to pets and a curse to owners – having the power to decide is something we are not comfortable with. However, when going through the euthanasia process with your own pets, you are in a position to make numerous decisions that can change the course of the overall process. As a Veterinary Technician, I witness euthanasias on a daily basis. Let me share from personal experience the 5 things I wish every pet owner knew.

    1. It’s ok to cry.

    People apologize to me all the time for crying over their pets. Whether it’s time to say goodbye, or you are simply having a hard time watching us draw blood on your dog, I wish you knew that I GET IT. Many of us who work in animal medicine (myself very much included) are totally neurotic, hypersensitive, and obsessive when it comes to our own pets. I may seem calm and collected while working with your cat, but that’s because it’s my job and I can’t afford to be any other way if I’m going to be good at it. You best believe that the second my dog so much as sneezes, I go into a total state of panic, lose all common sense, and forget everything I learned in tech school. So, when you are crying over the pet that you have loved for years, I assure you, I have nothing but respect for you. I respect how much you care. I respect your ability to make such difficult decisions. I respect your bravery. And please know that no matter how demonstrative you may be with your emotions, you are still keeping it together more than I would be in your shoes.
    dog laying down

    2. Be there, if you can.

    I am lucky to work in a hospital where the vast majority of pet owners stay with their pets for the euthanasia process. However, this is not always the case. I urge you to stay with your pets, if you can, for multiple reasons. First, for my sake. One of the absolute most difficult things I do as a Veterinary Technician is take on the role of comforting and loving a pet as they pass on when their human is not there to do so. It is an incredible weight to try to act on your behalf, and it is emotionally exhausting in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. When you stay with your fur baby, I can focus on my own job, instead of doing both of ours.

    Second, for your pet’s sake. The vet can be a very scary place for animals — they don’t understand what all these noises and smells are, or why these strangers are poking and prodding them. Do you want them to experience that fear alone? And have it be their very last memory? Your pet doesn’t know what we are doing or why — they only know that you are there, that you said it’s ok, that you love them. I remember being a child, and how scary going to the doctor was, but how much more confident I felt with my mom there reassuring me. I imagine that is exactly how pets feel. If you can find the strength to be there, please do so. Please let your love, your touch, your presence be the last thing your pet experiences.
    pit bull face

    3. Keep the collar on.

    One of the saddest things I witness during the euthanasia process is when humans take their pet’s collar off when they are still very much awake. To many pets, taking their collar off can have negative associations. For example, I know my own dog panics when I remove her collar as she knows it’s bath time! I want your pet to be as comfortable as possible, and that means not making any major changes immediately prior to euthanizing. Pets are much smarter than we give them credit for, and they pick up on the smallest of cues. The unknown is scary to your pet, so even if they don’t know what the cues mean, the idea that something is new and strange and out of the ordinary is enough to cause them some sense of anxiety. So, keep the collar on until your pet has passed. Let them go in the state that they always were.

    4. Make it a celebration.

    Bring treats. Tell stories. Laugh and cry at the same time. Surround yourselves with all his/her favorite toys and beds and blankets. It’s ok to cry, and it’s also ok to celebrate! I love when people tell me they took their dog to the beach or napped in the sun with their cat right before coming in to the hospital. This is going to be one of the hardest days of your life, but it doesn’t have to be for your pet. I promise that the more you celebrate your pet’s life, no matter how long or short, the easier it will be to continue to live your own once this is all said and done. It is ok to cry in front of your pet, to tell them how much you will miss them, to let them see you be absolutely beside yourself. I’m sure your pet has seen you at your worst before — I know mine has. But remember to celebrate, no matter how miserable you are. I promise it will make it easier for both you and your pet. What’s more, It will allow you to reflect on the euthanasia experience with positivity — you will remember that you celebrated and you will feel good about having done so.
    dog laying down

    5. Prepare.

    I want this moment to be entirely about you and your pet. In order for that to be the case, several things must happen. First, you must understand the euthanasia process. If possible, talk to your Vet or Tech prior to coming into the hospital, or prior to starting the process – ask them to walk you through the steps of euthanasia so that you know exactly what to expect. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel comfortable with the process (or at least, as comfortable as you can be). Know what you’re walking into, so that your focus can be entirely on your pet. Second, take care of business ahead of time when possible. Sign any required paperwork. Pay the bill. Decide on after care. Even go so far as to prepare you next meal ahead of time, arrange a ride, rent a movie, invite friends over — whatever you think might help you cope when you return home from the hospital without your pet.

    The less you have to deal with during and after euthanasia, the better. I want you to be able to focus entirely on your pet during the euthanasia, and then entirely on yourself afterwards. Let’s do whatever we can to make that possible.

    Every euthanasia is different. Some are planned, some are sudden. Some may happen in your home, some in the hospital. Regardless, they are difficult – to prepare for, to cope with, to experience. I hope these 5 things will help you to plan ahead and to make the process as beautiful as it can be for both you and your pet.

  2. marke

    marke Well-Known Member

    that's a good article on something i and i'm sure many here can relate to very well . definitely stay with your dog for the process , i can't think of any reason why , if you brought them in , you couldn't .... i feel sorry for a dog that would be left there to die alone with folks they didn't know ......... the last one was always the hardest , and then the next one seems even harder , it never gets easier ......i'd add , give them a good life and you'll have no regrets ............jmo
  3. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    There are plenty of people that find it "too hard" to stay with their pets. I've been the one to stay more than once when the actual owner couldn't bring themselves to do it, and I was not an adequate replacement. My youngest daughter is a vet tech. She worked in a regular clinic during her schooling but is now working at a 24/7, 365 days a year emergency clinic on the evening shift. It goes without saying that an ER sees an increased number of euthanasia clients. She's been a stand-in more times than I can say and it does take a toll on the workers. They also see too many that have pets that are suffering but end up going home because the owner isn't ready yet or they don't want to pay (and this clinic is VERY reasonable for an emergency clinic, imo). Then there were the clients when she worked in the regular practice that all the workers knew well. Everyone cried when it was their time to go.

    I always try to make arrangements ahead of time to have a payment method on file specified for euthanasia so that I, or someone I love, doesn't have to think about that when the time comes. Another thing is that not all clinics sedate first. I always request sedation. I think it makes things easier on both the people and the pets.
    Vicki likes this.
  4. marke

    marke Well-Known Member

    personally i couldn't not stay with my dog , it's the last thing i got to do for them ......... i would think folks who find it too hard , either don't care that much , or haven't paid enough attention to realize how sentient a dog is . imo if and when they get it they'll realize they made a mistake on something you don't get to redo ..........
  5. DennasMom

    DennasMom Well-Known Member

    We've only had to do this for our dog once. My DH and I both were there, holding and loving on our pup. Letting him know he was not alone. He was on heavy pain meds for a tumor in his spine, and couldn't move. But he was still looking at us with those "if you want me to try, I will" eyes... We knew it was the best thing for him to release him from his pain, and to be there to help him go peacefully while in our arms was the very least we could do for him.

    Once we could reflect on the experience, DH and I both agreed, we'd like to be able to leave this world with such peace and love, too.

    I was the one who took our cat in, as DH was out of town. She was 18, and had started coughing up blood... she looked at me and let me know she was ready. Up to that point, I wasn't sure (she was still going up and down stairs for food and the litter box). Once we got to the vet, we sat in one of their care rooms (with a couch) for a good 15 minutes. She relaxed, and gave me one little purr of a thank-you, and then was gone with the pain/sedation injection, well before the actual euthanasia drug.

    Yes, it's hard. But not being there would have been harder, come the morning-after.
  6. YoungDexter

    YoungDexter Member

    Though people usually give different opinions, it's still nice to have this kind of information. Thanks for sharing :)
  7. Nik

    Nik Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine not wanting to be with my dog at the end. I was anxious when they took him away for x-rays and stuff and got quite agitated and upset that it took them so long to bring him back to us after we got all the info we needed and had to make that decision. I still don't understand why they couldn't bring him back to us quicker. But, we were with him at the end and as hard as it was there was no way that either me or my husband would have been away from him if we had any choice in the matter.
  8. Elana P

    Elana P Well-Known Member

    A good article about a heart breaking subject.....

    I have always gone in with my pups and kittiess when and if it was time for that last kindness that ends all suffering.

    I wrap my arms around them, and place my face next to theirs, close my eyes, hold my hand next to their noses, and whisper sweet nothings into their ear. Things like their favorite pet names, their favorite words, tell them how good and wonderful they are, and how very much I love them.

    When it's all over, I go to the car and sit there , and cry and cry and cry endless tears of goodbye.

    I could never leave my loved ones all alone, hurting and scared with strangers, even if the process kills me a little bit every time.
    PippatheMastiff likes this.
  9. cj-sharpy

    cj-sharpy Well-Known Member

    I hugged my Max till the very end.
    Through the shaving, the sedative and the last injection.
    It broke my heart, and I mean that. I destroyed me.
    Every part of me wanted to run.
    I was upset, I worried that was upsetting him. I knew he liked the vet and that she liked Max.
    She talked me through every stage (I think she was trying to keep me focused to stop me falling apart).
    Just as he started to "go" I told him to go.
    "Go on then".
    The daft thing is the way I said it was like he was an idiot. To an outsider it might have sounded awful.
    But when we were walking and we were miles away from anyone I would take his leader off and let him have a sniff and a run about, he would look at me like I was mad until I said "well go on then" then the daft sod would bound off and have his fun with out me.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    PippatheMastiff likes this.
  10. PippatheMastiff

    PippatheMastiff Well-Known Member

    I cry right along with the pet owner. I can't help it and tried to hide it at first, but I found it helps them! They're more likely to acknowledge their emotions when the see a tear running down my cheek as I hold their beloved pet for its final journey. And I'm always asking questions about the pet's life, bringing up memories of when they first got him, etc. It helps them to be more calm and able to concentrate on talking to their pet during the process. It's never easy for any of us, doctors included.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  11. PippatheMastiff

    PippatheMastiff Well-Known Member

    Dang, all your stories have got me bawling my eyes out.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. scorning

    scorning Well-Known Member

    The one thing I wish I had know about was the availability of at home hospice and euthanasia. I used this for my Doberman who had cancer and it was the so much better than going to the vet. We used lap of love: http://www.lapoflove.com/Locations-Washington-Seattle.
  13. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Me too! This is the second time that I've read this and the second time that I've cried. I wasn't there when my Beagle went, but my Dad was and he said that as the medicine took over, Coffee licked his face one last time, and then he was gone. He was full of cancer, and I must admit, we held on too long. He suffered because we couldn't do without him.
    My Che, such a damaged dog, I got him from a shelter and I was too stupid and too young and too dumb to be a good pet parent. He needed a strong hand, and I didn't have the skill or the strength. I failed him. When the destruction and aggressive displays became too much, I finally gave in. I took him running on the golf course at the hospital. He ran like the wind, swooping in and chasing off the seagulls and ducks...it was a glorious day and a very sad one. I took him across the street to the vets and I stayed with him, but it was wrong...it wasn't his time. I was weak and too young to have a dog. IT WAS OVER 30 YEARS BEFORE I TOOK A CHANCE AGAIN.
    I took in a cat from a neighbour who was moving, he begged me to take her. I wasn't a cat person, but, he said he couldn't take her with him. I gave in. She Was The Best Pet. An Amazing Cat. And we had 10 years together. When she became sick, I'd take her to bed with me, and she'd wake me up licking and licking my face, and I'd caress her and nibble on her ears. Somehow this helped, I don't know why. But, finally one day, she came into the bathroom where I was getting ready for work, and she got into her cat box and laid down. She was telling me, and I finally had to listen. I took my daughter with me, she had to know that you don't leave your pet alone. I held her as she left...it still hurts.
    Recently at the vets, there was a lady who came out of one of the examining rooms and she looked distraught. I went to her and touched her arm asking if she was okay. She collapsed into me, and I hugged her and hugged her and cried with her. She took me back into the room where her husband was on the floor with their pet of 13 years, and the sorrow was so intense. I knelt down and spoke to the old dog and stroked his ear and said, I hope, something loving and supportive to his family. It was a picture I will never forget.
    Now, at our vet's there is a sign, asking for people to notice when a candle has been lit, because a beloved pet is leaving their family. It's a solemn time...a time for all pet parents to reflect on how small a part of time they have with their fur families.
    My WatchCat waits for me in her urn, someday my Bailey will too. My husband and my family have orders that, no matter what, my babies go with me. And, someday, when I open my eyes on the other side, I will be with them again. And that, indeed, will be heaven.
    PippatheMastiff likes this.
  14. PippatheMastiff

    PippatheMastiff Well-Known Member

    I think if your vet will go to your home it's absolutely the best. No stress, familiar sounds and scents, plus your other pets can spend time with the deceased pet so they're not confused about where they went.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Bailey's Mom likes this.
  15. PippatheMastiff

    PippatheMastiff Well-Known Member

    I love the candle idea.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  16. HeatherD92

    HeatherD92 Active Member

    I'm bawling like a baby. I dread this day, I don't even want to imagine it.
  17. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    I meant to add something to this post and I forgot. My 21 year old daughter now works exclusively at an emergency vet clinic. Because she's young and has no children of her own she volunteers to work extended hours on holidays so parents can be with their families. I received a text at about 10am on Xmas morning. She was already emotionally exhausted. They were swamped and it was all euthanasia clients. Almost everyone had "just wanted them with me for Christmas." My own parents had said the same thing about five years ago with their dog in renal failure and with no emergency clinic available their dog suffered through the night and was let go the next morning. My daughter worked a 12 hour shift on Christmas and when she came here after work I could see how drained she was. There wasn't a a break during the day and 90% of what came is were euthanasia clients. My heart broke for the people that had to let their pets go and for the staff at the clinic. I'm just going to be a broken record and say one day too soon is always better than one day too late. Almost every person said that they wished they hadn't tried to wait because now the holiday was tainted for them.

    And now for something not exactly related, but sort of:

    Please also remember your emergency clinic staff. These people chose this job to help and save animals but the unfortunate truth is that in emergency you lose an awful lot of animals in an often not nice way. It's hard and in the time my daughter has worked at the clinic I don't think anyone has ever sent them a thank you note or brought the midnight shift a pizza or coffee. Also understand that an ER clinic is open 24/7, 365 days a year. The shifts are usually 9-10 hours (12 hours for a lead tech and the docs) and if something comes in at the end of your shift, and it usually does, you stay a few extra hours even though you're back on at 6am. Because it's the animals that matter, not you going home. They have specialized equipment that your regular vet doesn't. They're going to cost more and don't expect them to offer you a payment plan because they can't. They will offer you options like Care Credit, but that's all they can do. Please don't assume that they're just out to make money, because that's not true. My daughter works hard, takes very good care of her clients both skin and fur, and more often than not she gets yelled and cursed at.

    People often remember to thank their regular vet because they develop a relationship with them. Please also remember the people that are there, doing the really hard stuff, when nobody else is available.
  18. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Boxer Girl, you are so right. This last time I was still aware enough that this was hard for Dr. Margaret and I hugged her and thanked her, but I need to send along a card for the staff thanking them for all their efforts. Thank you for reminding me.

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