Making an end of life decision for your pet is one of the most difficult and complicated decisions you will ever make. Do you allow them to pass naturally, or do you euthanize them because they are suffering? This decision is never easy, because you want to make the choice that is right for everyone involved—for your pet, yourself, and your family.

When Should You Euthanize Your Pet? 

If your pet is in constant pain and unable to enjoy daily life, or if they have suffered extensive trauma, it might be time to consider euthanasia.   

It is important to consider not only your pet’s quality of life, but yours and your family’s as well. Caring for a terminal pet—especially one that is suffering or needs complex care—could be a strain on your family both financially and emotionally. If you can make the decision as a family, it can be helpful for all involved, but keep in mind that younger children may not completely understand what is happening. 

If you decide to proceed with pet euthanasia, there are several things to consider. Some families choose to stay with their pets until they pass, while others do not. These decisions are deeply personal, and you should choose the option that is best for you and your family’s mental health. 

At East Valley Animal Hospital, we have a dedicated comfort room for mourning families. If you decide to stay with your pet while they pass, you can do so in privacy and take all the time you need. 

The Euthanasia Solution Is Pain-Free

Veterinarians typically use a barbiturate, the same solution as anesthesia, but in a larger dose. It produces the same effects as anesthesia—loss of consciousness and loss of pain sensation—but it also suppresses the respiratory (breathing) and cardiovascular (heart) systems. Your pet will fall asleep and pass away completely painlessly, but if you are worried, a tranquilizer or sedative will be given as well. 

What to Expect During Pet Euthanasia

Due to the solution that is used your pet will only experience falling asleep. You may notice that they breathe deeply one or two times, or see some muscles twitch, but this is not a sign that your pet is in pain. It is merely your pet’s nerve endings sending their final signals. 

Immediately after pet euthanasia, people will experience an array of feelings. They will often feel emotions like grief, anger, and sometimes even guilt. All of these emotions are valid, but it is important to remember you are making the decision that is right for your pet and your family.


Making End of Life Decisions for Your Pet

Deciding between a natural or assisted death for your pet is always difficult. Although it’s one of the hardest choices you will ever make, the final decision is up to you. While your veterinarian can explain your pet’s condition and their chances of recovery, they cannot make any decisions for you. 

But whether you choose euthanasia or allow your pet to pass at their own time, you should plan what to do with their remains before that time comes. Deciding whether you would rather bury or cremate your pet will help you avoid having to make painful choices while you grieve.

Compassionate End of Life Care in Gilbert, Arizona

End of life decisions are extremely difficult, so having a veterinarian that is kind, caring, and knowledgeable is a must. At East Valley Animal Hospital we do all we can to extend your pet’s life with excellent medical care

However, when the inevitable happens, we are prepared to help guide you through the end of your pet’s life. If you have questions about euthanizing a pet or about our facilities, please contact us to learn more.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/31/23). Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.