As pet owners we endeavour to make sure that our faithful companions stay fit and healthy enabling them to live to an old age. Unfortunately our pets do not live as long as us and at some point we will have to prepare to let them go. Sadly, few of our pets pass peacefully away in their sleep. We all therefore wish to do the right thing at the right time fulfilling our responsibility and commitment in their final days. We hope these words will help you and your family in a time of conflicting emotions.
Nobody knows their pet better than you and your closest family and friends so let them help and share in making a reasoned judgement on your pet's quality of life.
Indications that things may not be well may include:
- Loss of appetite
- A reluctance to play and move around as normal
- Restlessness or becoming withdrawn from you
When the time is right to put your pet to sleep you may see evidence of a combination of all the above indicators and your pet may seem distressed, uncomfortable or disorientated within your home.
Is there nothing more I can do?
As your vet we will discuss all treatment options available for your pet to relieve their symptoms but there will come a time when all forms of treatment have been exhausted, we have discovered the disease is incurable or you feel your pet is suffering too much. You and your family may wish to talk with your Veterinary Surgeon to help you all come to this final decision; in this case we will arrange an appointment for you.
What will happen?
We hope this section will help you and your family understand your pet's end-of-life journey. This is known as 'euthanasia' but often referred to as 'putting to sleep'. After discussing with your family and your vet and having decided that the time has come you can contact your surgery and make an appointment, we will always make this appointment at a time that is convenient for you and at a quieter time of the day.
Euthanasia is the last act of kindness which we can do for our pets. However, it can be one of the most difficult decisions we ever have to make. At Bath Vets we are here to support you during the entire procedure and make those final moments with your pet as peaceful and stress free as possible.
The euthanasia procedure can be difficult and confusing, so this page aims to help you understand what happens.
Can I have a home visit?
Euthanasia of your pet can take place at home or at the surgery. Our receptionists can help you with organising this. If you decide the euthanasia should take place at home, a date and time will be arranged and a vet and nurse will come to your home at the designated time. Should you decide coming to the surgery is more suitable for you, an appointment will be made. We will do our best to fit in with you. However, ideally we would prefer to book the appointment at a quieter time of day.
Will I have to wait in a crowded waiting room?
On arriving at the surgery, you may wish to wait in the car with your pet or, alternatively, you will be welcome to wait in our designated comfort room. Just speak to our receptionists to inform them where you would prefer to wait.
Do I have to stay?
Most people choose to stay with their pet during the procedure. However, it is completely understandable if you would prefer not to stay with your pet and, in this instance, he or she will be looked after by one of our nurses. All our nurses carry out all their duties with the utmost of care and compassion. So please be assured that they will look after your pet as if they were their own.
What happens next?
Before the euthanasia is performed, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This form gives us permission to go ahead with the procedure and will also outline details of the options following euthanasia.
How is the drug administered and how quickly does it work?
In most situations, euthanasia involves an intravenous injection i.e. into a vein on your pet’s front or back leg. An intravenous cannula is placed into the vein at which point your pet may feel a small scratch, similar to us having a blood test. Some pets may benefit from some light sedation if they are particular stressed or upset prior to placing the cannula. The sedative, which is administered by injection into the muscle, will make your pet sleepy and relaxed. If you feel that you would prefer your pet to be sedated first, please let us know at the time of the appointment so we can discuss this with you.
Once the cannula is in place and only when you are ready, we will administer the euthanasia injection. There is no rush to proceed with this step, we will only start when you are ready. The injection is often brightly coloured, usually a pink or blue colour, so please do not be alarmed by this. When the injection is administered it travels throughout the body very quickly and your pet will drift into an unconscious state within a few seconds, breathing will slow down as well as the heartbeat, after a few more seconds the heart will cease to beat. This procedure is very peaceful and quick – usually within 30 seconds. The vet will listen to your pet’s heart to confirm that he or she has passed away.
What should I expect following my pet’s euthanasia?
Please be aware that your pet’s eyes will remain open following death, so do not be concerned by this, it is perfectly normal. You may also notice occasional muscle spasms or twitches. Sometimes pets will take a reflex breath that gives the impression that he or she is breathing. Be reassured that this does not mean they are still alive; it is simply part of the process that occurs after death. Quite often pets will pass both urine and faeces following death, this is due to the muscles relaxing. Again, this is completely normal, so please do not be alarmed.
How long can I stay afterwards?
You are welcome to stay for as long, or as little as you want following the procedure. Please do not be afraid to show your emotions, as veterinary staff and pet owners ourselves we all completely understand what you are going through.
If you would like us to take a fur clipping or a paw print from your pet then please let us know at the time of the appointment and we can arrange this for you.