Pet Euthanasia: What You Need to Know

One thing to remember, the word euthanasia means “good death” in Greek. Our utmost goal is to make sure there is no pain or struggle for your pet.

Each vet clinic is a bit different when it comes to the pet euthanasia process. We will share with you what we do at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital.

Make an Appointment

If you can, make an appointment. By calling ahead, we can have a room ready for you. No one likes to wait in a lobby, especially if you are putting your pet to sleep. You don’t have to call far in advance either. We will work with you to get you in—the same day if needed.

Do You Want to Be With?

Many families are present during the euthanasia, but not all. You do not have to be present if you don’t want. We support your decision either way.

What Happens?

Once you arrive, we’ll quickly get you in a room. If you need a few minutes, we are happy to give you that. You let us know when it is time.

If you like, you can be up by your pet’s head talking with her, holding her the whole time. One of our technicians will gently hold a leg and the doctor will inject a drug into the vein. The drug makes your pet unconscious and stops the brain from working. Once the injection starts, your pet will go limp in a matter of seconds.

If your pet is in pain, agitated, or is struggling in anyway, we may want to give a light sedative before. We can do this by injection or use the same anesthesia we do in surgery. With many exotic species, we will give a gas anesthetic first before euthanizing. This ensures they are unconscious and never experience any pain. We never allow a pet to struggle.

After your pet is gone, we find many families like to have a moment alone with their pet. Take as long as you like.

Other Questions
urns for ashes

We have a service that cremates the body afterwards. There is a fee to this (this is the only thing we charge for). You can request to have your pet’s ashes returned to you if you would like, but you do not have to. Many families do receive the cremains. They keep them in a special urn or bury them outside in a pet’s favorite spot. There is no right or wrong here.

clay paw printOur service will clip a bit of your pet’s fur and make a paw print in ink on white paper if you would like. We can do a clay paw print impression as a keepsake as well. Let us know what you would like for remembrances.

Afterwardslittle boy hugging old dog

In our culture when a person dies, we have certain customs, norms, and rituals. These will be a bit different for each family, but they exist nonetheless. This isn’t the case for our pets. Our society doesn’t acknowledge the passing of a pet with any formalized ritual or tradition. We must make our own. This can be a good thing, but it can make the passing even harder for some. Without norms or customs—what do we do? How should we feel?

As you will read in most grief and coping information, there is no one right way to process the loss of your pet. We all know a story of a person who just drops off the dog and gets a new one the next day. What we may not hear about is the person who has a hard time letting go. The person who doubts the decision, has trouble coping, hates having to come home to an empty house, or can’t focus at work.

If you are struggling, there are resources available to help. Talking or writing about your pet helps to process your emotions. Take each day at a time. Allow yourself the time you need to grieve.

It may not happen in a day and that is perfectly fine.