We’re here to help you through the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect?
Pet euthanasia is a massive overdose of anesthesia. A tired, relaxing asleep feeling is what your pet experiences. Dr. Allegra will first administer a sedative injection with a tiny needle under the skin to help your pet relax and become sleepy. The injection may sting briefly so if your pet still has an appetite it may be helpful to set aside a delicious and long-lasting treat, such as bacon or lunch meat for a dog or tuna or meat (beef, chicken, or lamb) baby food for a cat to offer as a distraction while the injection is given. Once your pet is comfortably sedated, Dr. Allegra will shave the leg for better visualization and the final injection will be given into the vein. As the anesthesia overwhelms the brain and shuts it down, the breathing speeds up and stops within 30 seconds, followed by the heart slowing and stopping over one to three minutes. Faster breathing is the main change to expect. You may also see that the eyes remain slightly open, the skin may twitch, and the tongue may relax out a little. Rarely, there may even be movement or vocalization. Because unconsciousness is the first effect to occur, you can rest assured that your pet is comfortable and peaceful throughout this process. Occasionally, one to three sudden deep reflexive breaths can occur. Home visits typically last 30 to 60 minutes.
Things to think about or prepare ahead of time:
- Set aside two large dry bath size towels and a bedsheet (one large towel and a pillowcase or thin baby blanket to use as a cover for a cat or a small dog less than 20 lbs) that Dr. Allegra can take with her.
- Consider lighting candles, playing relaxing music, laying out blankets and pillows, or reading a poem or prayer.
- Would you like a fur clipping or clay paw print impression? These are included at no additional charge and are optional.
- For cremation transport of pets weighing more than 25 lbs, Dr. Liu will need at least one other strong person to help her carry the pet to the car on a stretcher.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME?
It may help you to know that our pets are designed to accept and hide signs of pain and discomfort until the late stages of illness. By the time we are noticing signs, the situation may have progressed to an advanced stage. Humane euthanasia can be a kind and loving decision to ease suffering for a pet whose quality of life is declining and may only continue to deteriorate.
You may wish to ask yourself, from my pet’s perspective, is life a joy or a drag? Pick the top five things your pet loves to do. Write them down. Once he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been compromised to a level where many veterinarians would recommend euthanasia.
There is a saying in veterinary hospice that it is better a week early than a day late in regards to the decision to euthanize. Having had extensive experience as a strictly end of life care veterinarian for many years, I have found this to ring true.
You may find the following links to canine and feline quality of life scales to be helpful:
Please reach out if you find you need further discussion and assistance with assessing the quality of life for your pet and help with the euthanasia decision. Dr. Allegra is available for phone consultation and is glad to discuss these and any other concerns you might have. She is here to help.
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I SCHEDULE?
As difficult as the decision for humane euthanasia is, it is actually best to try to plan ahead in order to assist your beloved pet in having a planned, gentle, and peaceful exit and minimize any pain and suffering. In many cases, with terminal or painful illnesses or conditions causing a decreased quality of life, it is reasonable and kind to consider making the decision sooner rather than later. It is best not to wait until the last minute until your pet stops eating or is in obvious pain and distress and you are having to scramble in a crisis to try to find someone to help. Your pet may needlessly suffer, and it will be emotionally painful for you as their beloved owner to watch. It may be difficult for Dr. Allegra or even a referral service to be available, and you may have to make a stressful trip to the emergency clinic for humane euthanasia.
Same-day appointments are sometimes available, but scheduling a day or two ahead of time is appreciated and will help ensure Dr. Allegra’s availability.