Tahmoor Clinic

02 4683 1918

Caring Country Vets

Thirlmere Clinic

02 4681 8470



When an owner and veterinarian decide that a pet is suffering or unlikely to make a recovery, euthanasia offers a way to end a pet's pain.

The decision is difficult for both the owner and the veterinarian, but we should recognise that sometimes this is the kindest thing we can do in the final stage of a pet's life.

Understanding how the procedure is performed may help an owner in this difficult decision. It may also help an owner decide whether they wish to be present during the euthanasia.

Initially, a pet is made as comfortable as possible. Some owners may prefer to have a euthanasia performed at their home. If the animal is brought to the vet clinic, we try to book the appointment at a quiet time of day when the pet and their owner will feel more at at ease.

The euthanasia solution is a barbiturate in the same class of drugs that can be used for general anesthesia. At a much higher dose, this solution provides not only the same effects as general anesthesia (loss of consciousness and loss of pain sensation), but totally suppresses the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

The veterinary nurse supports the pet's forearm and as the solution is injected, the animal quickly loses consciousness and within a minute or less the heart and lungs stop functioning.

Since the pet is not conscious, they do not feel anything. Most times, the animal passes away very smoothly, and then the veterinarian listens for absence of a heartbeat. The eyes will remain open in most cases. Sometimes, a few last breaths occur after the heart has stopped as these breaths are caused by involuntary and reflex muscle contractions, but again, the pet has no awareness at this point.

After the animal dies, there is complete muscle relaxation, often accompanied by urination and defecation. This is completely normal and is something an owner should expect. In addition, after death, chemicals stored in nerve endings may release causing occasional muscle twitching in the early post-mortem period. Many owners who choose to stay with their pets are surprised how quickly and easily their pet is put to rest.

The decision to stay or not stay with a pet is a very personal one. Some owners feel they could comfort their pet in its final minutes. Others feel their emotional state will upset their pet. Whether an owner is in the room or not during the euthanasia, owners can always have some time with the pet's body if they wish after the procedure is complete.

Euthanasia is emotional for veterinarians as well. Sometimes, the veterinarian has known the pet for a long time or has tried very hard to make the animal well again.

If you have any questions regarding the decision to euthanase or the process of euthanasia, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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