Veterinary hospitals throughout the world receive calls each day for advice dealing with an anticipated pet euthanasia. Aside from behavioral problems, one of the most common reasons for pet euthanasia is old age.
Old Age & Other Ailments
• Many geriatric pets have limited mobility.
• Often pain associated with illness may be so acute as to prevent the animal from taking in adequate nutrition, which then further debilitates it.
• Older animals may also suffer from
incontinence, sometimes as a result of failure of the kidneys to concentrate urine, and sometimes simply because the bladder sphincter muscle is no longer functioning properly.
• Whatever the symptoms, veterinary advice should always be sought in an effort to alleviate suffering. However, the occasion will ultimately arise when available therapies are no longer effective.
• Sometimes, the pet may still young, but has been unfortunate enough to acquire an ailment that is not treatable and is causing pain or discomfort. In these cases, very often euthanasia is the only kind thing to do.
• Some owners call and request that their animals be put down for behavioral problems that they feel cannot be resolved in a less dramatic fashion.
• It is the responsibility of the veterinarian to discuss other options with the owners. In the case of the misbehaving dog, a good trainer may provide the solution.
• In the case of a cat defecating or urinating in the house, a veterinary assessment is encouraged to determine if there are, in fact, medical problems. If reasonable effort has been expended and no solution found, euthanasia will be considered.
Look For Better Options
Sometimes people wish to rid themselves of animals either because they are moving to other housing or a landlord has given them an ultimatum. Occasionally, because of advanced age, medical, or behavioral problems, the owners or the local animal shelter cannot adopt these animals out. In these types of situations, vets feel torn, but most would prefer to see the animal safely put down at an approved facility rather than be left to fend for itself.
If you expect that any time in the future you will make a move that will require leaving your pets, please start to work on a solution immediately.
Occasionally parents are advised that the cause of their child's long-standing bronchitis may be allergies to the family pet.
• Do not panic! A trial withdrawal for a month will reveal whether or not the problem may be resolved with permanent change.
• In many cases, elimination of a single allergic factor does little to improve the signs of the allergy sufferer. The child responsible for the loss of a beloved family pet may feel a tremendous amount of guilt. Although we do not suggest sacrificing the child's welfare, we recommend that all options be analyzed for long-term repercussions before any final decisions are made.
When It Is Time
Once you have established that there is a just cause for having your pet euthanized, contact your regular veterinarian to arrange an appointment.
• Many vets prefer to book appointments for euthanasia at the end of a business day, after the rest of the clients have been taken care of.
• An appointment later in the day allows for some quiet time, so that the client does not feel conspicuous.
• In most cases, you will be asked whether or not you wish to be present while the procedure is performed. Although it can be very nice to spend the last few moments stroking and comforting your pet, if you are given to loud displays of emotion, you may do more harm than good. It might be wiser in these instances to send a friend or allow the staff at the hospital to assist the vet.
• Realize that animals can sense your discomfort and may mirror it in their own behavior. If your animal is inclined to be difficult at the vet, a tranquilizer given before arrival may be sufficient to calm it.
• Most veterinarians perform euthanasia by slow intravenous injection or a long acting barbiturate. Other than the initial placing of the needle into the vein, there is no discomfort and the medication takes effect almost immediately.
• Normally the veterinary office also arrange for burial or cremation, depending what is available in your are.
Although this is never an easy time for a pet owner or veterinarian, once all other available options have been explored, it may turn out to be the kindest thing that you can do for your beloved companion animal.
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