Pet parenting is a privilege and brings so much joy to our lives. Our pets become family members and share in our life experiences, all the ups, and downs, and are a rock for us throughout. For sure, one of the hardest parts of being a pet owner is when the time comes to consider euthanasia. It’s a difficult decision to come to and we want to make sure that our pet is as comfortable and pain-free as possible during this process. In-home euthanasia is often the least stressful option for our pets as they’re in their own surroundings and don’t have to be moved. You may be wondering what the process is, is in-home euthanasia painful for pets? We’ll discuss everything you need to know now.
When Is It the Right Time?
Booking a euthanasia can be difficult for many reasons, but particularly if we’re not sure if the timing is right. Is it too soon? You can judge the best time by monitoring your pet’s quality of life. This can be done by measuring their good days compared to bad days. This means that if they start having more bad days than good days and the balance is tipping, this would be an indication that it's time. Another helpful way is to keep in mind things that your pet liked to do on a daily basis. Maybe they liked to have a stroll around the garden or play with a toy for a few minutes. When they stop doing these little things, it can be an indication that they’re not enjoying things like they used to and that their quality of life is deteriorating.
It can be a difficult decision to make but you don’t need to make it alone. Ask other family or friends to help you monitor these signs too and consult your veterinarian for advice. They’ll advise you on how to monitor their pain levels.
Arranging a Euthanasia House Call
When you’ve decided that the time is right, the next step is to schedule an appointment for in-home euthanasia. Reach out to your veterinarian and book a time that suits you. Your vets will take the time to explain the process with you before the procedure.
If you can, book the appointment for a time when your house will be quiet. You want to ensure that the environment is calming and relaxing for your pet at the time. If you’d like family and friends there, arrange this with them and have them arrive sometime before the vet does so that there aren’t too many people arriving at the same time and overwhelming your pet.
The most important thing is that everyone remains calm around the time of the visit as pets feed off of our emotions. If you’re feeling very nervous your pet may pick up on that. So try to be as calm as possible and you can play some music, light candles, dim lights, or do whatever you think makes the environment calming for your pet. If your pet particularly likes any toys or blankets you can give them to them or feed them some yummy treats or their favorite foods.
What to Expect When the Vet Arrives
When the time of your appointment comes, the vet will arrive with their vet technician with them. They will discuss the process and the aftercare options with you and answer any questions you may have.
In most cases, they’ll give your pet a sedative injection mixed with a strong painkiller that makes them sleepy within 5-15 minutes. This will keep your pet calm and relaxed throughout. They may give this injection into the vein, muscle, or under the skin. Either way, it will be a quick injection and won’t hurt any more than a usual vaccination or injection shot.
The vet may prepare some equipment while your pet is getting sleepy. Continue to focus on your pet and reassure them as they’re getting sleepy. If they usually liked cuddles you may let them get sleepy on your lap or on the couch if they preferred that, anywhere where they’re most comfortable. Remember, that you don’t need to stay for the whole process if you’d prefer not to. Everyone is different and if you’d prefer not to be present for some parts just let your vet know.
The Euthanasia Procedure
Once your pet is sleepy, your vet will give the final injection when you’re ready. The injection is an overdose of an anesthetic drug and isn’t painful. This may be into the vein or abdomen depending on your pet’s case. If it’s into the vein, they may place an IV (intravenous) line which involves clipping a little bit of hair. The injection usually works within a couple of minutes and doesn’t cause any pain to your pet. They may take some deep breaths or huffs as the injection works, this is completely normal. They can also get some muscle twitching and their bowels and bladder may empty, again this is all completely normal.
Your vet will listen to your pet’s heart with a stethoscope a couple of minutes after giving the injection. This will let you know when your pet’s heartbeat has stopped. Your pet is very sleepy at this point and isn’t in any pain or discomfort.
After your pet is gone, you can have as much time with them as you’d like. If you’ve decided on cremation, your vet will take your pet with them whenever you’re ready or a member of the cremation service may arrive to facilitate transport once the procedure is finished.. Some people decide to keep their pet’s collar or take to a lock of hair before they go.
To summarize, humane in-home euthanasia of a pet is a very difficult time and your vet will support you throughout the whole process. Rest assured that a visit for in-home euthanasia for your pet is calming, as they’re in a familiar environment and surrounded by family. They can stay in their bed for the procedure, cuddle on the couch or even be in your arms, wherever they’re most relaxed. The procedure isn’t painful and allows your pet to drift off peacefully at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a dog feel pain when euthanized?
No, the euthanasia process isn’t painful and most vets will give a sedative shot (with a pain killer) beforehand.
Do pets feel pain when put to sleep?
No, the procedure isn’t painful. They receive a sedative injection beforehand and the final injection doesn’t hurt.
Do dogs cry when euthanized?
Not usually, sometimes dogs may vocalize as they get sleepy but it isn’t due to pain.
Do dogs know when they are being euthanized?
No, they don’t but they can detect if their owners are nervous so I’d recommend keeping things as calm and normal as possible.