Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
The Dreaded Euthanasia Appointment
What causes pain during a dog's euthanasia appointment? It's the day all of us dog owners dread, a time we all wish our pets will leave planet earth in a peaceful, pain-free way. They say euthanasia is the ultimate gift of love and the gateway to a place with no more pain and suffering. We imagine our dogs' tired and aching bodies healing and our dogs frolicking over the rainbow bridge. Yet, there are some very rare circumstances where the euthanasia appointment turns out not being as peaceful as expected.
No, it wasn't the occasional and expected muscle twitch or a sigh to cause concern. Owners report that their dog's pupils dilated and their dogs acted out in sheer terror, panicking and perhaps even screaming in pain.
This is an article that is not pleasant to write about, but I hope it offers some closure to those who wonder what happened to their pets in their last moments. I also hope it can help those in the process of making this decision, understand that there are options to make the procedure more comfortable for pets.
Of course, there is no way to ultimately know what may have exactly happened, as there are several possibilities. Asking the vet may be the most appropriate action as he or she may be better able to determine what caused the reaction. Some vets may attest that this has happened in the past and may have some theory as what may have gone wrong, while others may be as shocked as the owners and may be unable to provide a reasonable explanation.
I know of many owners though that didn't feel like questioning the vet, either because at the moment they were overwhelmed with sadness, or they didn't want to appear as if they were blaming their vet for their dog's painful passing.
I know of several dog owners who go home, and cannot get the last images of their dog's passing to leave their mind as they wonder if their dog was really in pain, if it was perhaps some odd reaction to the drugs or if their dog was simply just anxious.
While mourning a pet is already an overwhelming situation, mourning a pet that has seemingly suffered during what was expected to be the end to pain and suffering, must be very difficult to go through. I can't imagine how it must feel. This article will hopefully offer some clarity.
Does Euthanasia Cause a Heart Attack?
Many people believe that euthanasia stops the heart, causing something similar to a heart attack. This is far from true, explains veterinarian Cherie Buisson.
Sodium pentobarbital works by triggering unconsciousness, which stops brain function. Because the brain is what tells the heart and lungs to work, when the brain stops functioning, the respiratory center is depressed, breathing ceases, and the heart stops pumping.
The pet is unconscious, so it's more like dying when being under anesthesia on the surgery table than dying from a heart attack.
Are Dog Euthanasia Appointments Painful?
The euthanasia appointment should be quite a quick, for the most pain-free process. Those who have read my article about the dog euthanasia process or other articles have heard that it consists of an injection of sodium pentobarbital, a liquid barbiturate which was formerly popular for being used as a pre-anesthetic.
Because this drug is given in an overdose amount, it has the power to put the dog to sleep as if undergoing anesthesia, but in this case, it will cause death by cardiac arrest.
The term "put to sleep" is therefore used to depict its similarity with going under anesthesia; the only difference is the dog won't ever wake up from it.
Read More From Pethelpful
For the most part, the dog euthanasia process is quite peaceful and pain-free. I remember the first time I assisted a dog euthanasia appointment, the owner was holding and hugging the dog, and when he said goodbye—I just remember it like yesterday, he came out of the room teary-eyed and hugged his wife who waited outside and told her as he cried: "It was so peaceful."
As I continued working for the clinic, and later, volunteering to assist vets, I could hardly tell the difference between a dog that was put under for surgery and a dog that was put to sleep, if it wasn't for the fact that a dog put under had an endotracheal tube in its mouth and was hooked up to beeping monitoring machinery.
Signs of Discomfort
Now, there were some times where the pet wasn't very comfortable, but for the most part, these were pets who didn't like going to the vet in the first place, so it was normal to see them anxious and vocalize if they were restrained or pricked with a needle.
Even sickly, lethargic pets seemed to come to life, with a last burst of energy to fight the needle. But this was mostly lasting for the prep time only, then as the euthanasia drug took effect, these pets quickly were gone within seconds, and you could almost palpate the pet's relief from days of suffering. So are euthanasia appointments painful? Let's see what vets have to say.
Some Veterinarian Perspectives
Veterinarian Paige Garnett explains how the term euthanasia derives from the Greek terms "eu" meaning good and "thanatos" meaning death.
The goal is to cause a death that is without pain or distress. He explains how pentobarbital is fast acting causing minimal discomfort to the pet other than the needle prick.
Once injected into the vein, the barbiturate depresses the central nervous system, removing awareness and causing the animal to fall into a state of unconsciousness similar to anesthesia. In this state of deep anesthesia, within seconds, the animal stops breathing and succumbs to cardiac arrest.
Veterinarian Chris Bern confirms that most euthanasia appointments go very smoothly and quickly with the pet passing on to better life within 10-20 seconds. In some cases though of very sick and debilitated pets with poor circulation, the process may take a bit longer.
Generally, according to the Humane Society of the United States Euthanasia Reference Manual, after 5 seconds the pet is unconscious, within 10 seconds the pet is in deep anesthesia, within 20 seconds the pet stops breathing, within 40 seconds the heart has stopped circulating blood, and finally, within 2 minutes the pet is clinically dead meaning that all voluntary/involuntary functions have ceased even though you may still stumble on the occasional muscle twitch.
Yet, if the euthanasia appointment is so quick and peaceful, why are there cases of pet owners reporting their pet started screaming as if terrorized or in pain? Why are they unable to sleep thinking about their pet's final moments? And why are some vets unable to give a reasonable explanation?
In the next paragraphs, we will look at what some vets have to say about these euthanasia procedures gone wrong.
Dog Euthanasia Appointments Gone Wrong
There are horror stories of dogs dying during flights and horror stories of dogs dying because they ate food that was tainted. And then there are horror stories of dog euthanasia appointments gone wrong. What do these episodes have in common?
They share the fact that they are not the norm, and are a sign of something going wrong. Luckily, these incidents are quite rare, but let's try to get a grip, at least a possible explanation as to why a dog's final moments were not as peaceful as expected. Following are possible explanations.
Was Your Pet Anxious?
In some cases, as mentioned before, pets may be stressed and agitated when at the vet or when pricked with a needle. These animals may make the procedure difficult by moving excessively, making it challenging for the vet to find the vein and inject the solution.
These animals may struggle and vocalize, but usually this happens before the injection is given. Once the shot is successfully given, these pets drift into sleep and pass on.
These are animals that for the most part have a history of not liking to go to the vet to begin with, so their behavior has nothing to do with feeling pain because they are being put to sleep, they simply would have behaved the same way whether they were getting their yearly shots or some other procedure done.
Of course, we all wished our pets final moments were peaceful, but some pets are anxious and easily stressed by nature. If you own a pet like this and are concerned about the final day, read on as there are some options to make the final day less stressful.
Was Your Pet in Pain?
If your pet was already in pain and suffering, he might have vocalized from the pain of his condition. For instance, a dog with severe arthritis, may yelp when his leg is moved to inject the solution, or for a dog with a painful cancer even just moving may be too much pain. Luckily for these pets euthanasia is often quick, and they will soon be on their way to a pain-free world.
Were Your Dog's Veins Hard to Find?
In some cases, veins may be difficult to deal with. For instance, dogs who are dehydrated, have low blood pressure, or are very old and sick may have constricted veins that are difficult to find or that may collapse when poked.
Repeated attempts to prick the vein only aggravate the situation, causing some dogs to resent being handled, vocalize and put up a fight.
At times, these dogs will need to be forcibly held down and restrained, which makes the last moments less peaceful than expected.
Did Your Dog React to the Sedative?
Many veterinarians administer sedatives before giving the pentobarbital injection, this is called the two-injection method. These sedatives can be given under the skin, in the vein, or in the muscle. Most vets use tiny needles. The purpose is to relax the pet or even cause unconsciousness before the euthanasia solution is injected.
The sedative effects may take up to 20 minutes to kick in. When the sedative is given, after a few minutes some dogs may move their head side to side, the eyes may appear glazed, and the dog may appear dizzy or confused.
Veterinarian Mary Gardner explains that under sedatives, some dogs may get loopy and lose control of some functions. She claims, "When you get "sedation," you (and pets) can get loopy, and you lose control of some functions. Some dogs can bob their heads. As a vet, I hate this not because the dog is anxious or feeling scared, but because the owner is scared. I know medically pet is fine, but sometimes there are no words of comfort I can give the owners. "
There are several pre-euthanasia drugs vets may use. The best ones are anesthetics that cause the dog to lose consciousness just as when you go under surgery. One of the most preferred is what is called a "pre-mix," a combination of the drugs xylazine and ketamine. These drugs though, may cause a stinging sensation when administered intravenously. Telazol ( tiletamine and zolazepamis) is another preferred drug that causes loss of pain and consciousness, and stings less than pre-mix.
Some vets may choose to use sedatives instead of anesthetics, but the main disadvantage is lack of pain relief and no loss of consciousness. For this reason, their use is less preferable than the anesthetic. Examples of sedatives are acepromazine and xylazine and they should be ideally be used with anesthetics to lower the chances for reactions. For more on these drugs, see The Humane Society of the United States Euthanasia Reference Manual
And then there are dogs who develop unsightly reactions and side effects to the sedatives. For instance, some dogs may develop seizures as a reaction to "pre-mix." Dogs aren't conscious when they have seizures. Some vets prefer Telazol because there are less chances for seizures.
Acepromazine may cause visible balance issues, seizures, excitement, and even 'paradoxical reactions' such as aggression.
Any animal or human can develop these side effects. Not to mention the fact that, since these drugs are given intramuscularly (in the lumbar muscle along the spine or the large muscle of the rear thigh), they tend to sting, but if injected slowly or as an IV injection, the chances are lower. Luckily, the pain/reactions/side effects are temporary until the final injection is given.
Did the Solution go Outside the Vein?
If the euthanasia solution is accidentally given outside the vein, it could cause a burning sensation. This occurs because the solution is thick and very caustic to the body's tissues and is meant to go inside a vein. How does it end up going around the vein?
Just Answer veterinarian alhdvm theorizes that a vet may be injecting the solution and then the dog moves (but not necessarily has to) and soon there's a hole causing the solution to go around the vein instead of inside. This may cause the dog to cry out in pain.
If the screaming reaction happens right after the injection starts, this is most likely the scenario. If instead the vocalization starts after most of the solution has already gone in the vein, there are more chances something else may be going on, such as some type of "hallucination."
Another possibility is that the pet simply feels the solution. Just like people "feel" the liquid going in their veins when they are getting IV medications or fluids, dogs may feel the solution often simply because it's not the same temperature as their blood supply and it may feel "odd" to them, explains veterinarian Mary Gardner.
Therefore, to an animal this can be quite frightening as they don't know what is happening to them; whereas, us humans can rationalize the happening and reassure ourselves.
Note: According to Petmd, none of these drugs causes an “awake” form of paralysis.
Did Your Dog React to Pentobarbital?
As with all drugs, dogs may have a slightly abnormal reaction to the euthanasia solution. Let's remember that the euthanasia solution is an overdose of anesthesia.
If we look at the different stages of anesthesia as described in the Euthanasia Reference Manual, we will see that there are brief excitement phases characterized by loss of voluntary motion. Because the euthanasia solution is an overdose and takes effect quickly, the stages aren't pronounced as in the case of anesthesia, but they may occasionally pop up, such as in older, sick dogs with poor circulation.
In such dogs, it may take longer for the injection to take effect, and the process may be more pronounced. The sight is more distressing to the owner than it is to the dog who most likely has lost consciousness and isn't even aware of its behavior. Even humans may act out in odd ways during anesthesia, and they won't recall the event as they were unconscious at the time.
Did Your Dog Have Normal Reflexes?
Finally, when death occurs, it's normal for some reflexes to take place. Most vets will warn about these. The dog may twitch, gasp for air, take a final deep breath or vocalize. Some pets may urinate and defecate.
Older and sicker pets may engage longer in unconscious breathing. These are normal reflexes that take places as well in natural death in dying dogs, explains Dr. Cherie Buisson. A reflex is not a sign of pain. To the untrained eyes, these may appear as proof that the pet is suffering and "fighting for its life," but in reality, these are unconscious, voluntary responses.
Veterinarian Cherie Buisson has her own heartwarming versions of the meaning of such reflexes. She explains that twitches are just like hiccups and the dogs' body way to get rid of energy, heavy breathing is "where they hit the Rainbow Bridge running” and lip twitches are the pups' smiles once they get there. She claims that her clients "love hearing that their dog is at the rainbow bridge, smiling."
How to Minimize the Chances for Negative Experiences?
As seen, in many cases, the euthanasia appointment is more disturbing for the people witnessing it than the dog. As humans, we often tend to humanize things and interpret them from our standpoint, rather than a scientific manner. We think "the dog is fighting for its life" when in reality all that the dog is doing is undergoing natural, involuntary reflexes us humans go through as well during the process of dying.
Yet, there are a few steps you can take if your goal is to have your dog dying "peacefully"—even though things can't be granted as some reactions cannot be controlled completely. Here are a few tips:
Euthanize at Home
Some pets get distressed at the vet's office. Even just driving there can be enough for causing stress in sensitive pets. They may have had unpleasant procedures done in the past or simply resent being handled/restrained by strangers in a small room.
At home, euthanasia may be a viable option for pets who dislike the vet's office and all the negative connotations that have accumulated throughout the dog's life. There are several vets willing to come to your home if you want your pet euthanized at a place he feels more comforted and less stressed.
Consider though that if your dog disliked the vet being anywhere around him, he might still be somewhat stressed. Another option some vets offer is euthanasia in the trunk of your car, especially if your pet has mobility problems.
Ask for an IV Catheter
As simple as it may sound, asking for an IV catheter can really make a difference. Here are 2 main advantages: 1) it prevents the dog from having to be repeatedly stuck with needles, 2) it ensures the solution goes all in the vein preventing it from going around it causing the unpleasant sensations mentioned above.
Most vets will take the pet to a back room to insert the catheter. Once the catheter is in place, good vets will flush some saline solution to ensure it flows well before bringing the pet back in the room and injecting the euthanasia solution. However, it's also true that some dogs hate having IV catheters placed.
Some vets will work out a compromise by giving the first shot and then placing the IV catheter so they won't struggle or feel pain as they would when wide awake.
Ask for Anesthetics
If you want your dog unconscious for the procedure, ask your vet if he uses anesthetics. Anesthetics are much more preferred over sedatives or nothing because they make the pet completely unconscious and it "may" reduce the chances for witnessing neurological episodes and muscle spasms, which as we have seen are involuntary reactions and not a sign of pain or a dog "fighting for its life."
The two injection approach, which consists of an anesthetic followed by the euthanasia solution is considered more peaceful to both veterinarians and pet owners. Just Answer veterinarian Dr. Karen claims: "I think many vets do use a pre-sedative because we are trying to avoid the shock of an owner seeing a dog react that way. However stressful these behaviors are, they are not secondary to pain. It was more neurological in nature than a reaction from pain."
Yet, there are times where every animal should be treated as an individual case, and some vets may prefer to bypass the two injection approach and go straight to the euthanasia solution.
Most vets will take the time to explain what happens during the euthanasia process, but some may be rushed and fail to clarify some important subtleties, which leads to owners getting upset when they witness neurological responses. Some owners for instance, weren't aware their pet's eyes would stay open and were disappointed by it.
In reality, even when a pet is put under for surgery, the eyes remain open. Indeed, when pets undergo surgery, vets use lubricant eye drops to prevent them from drying out too much. If the sight of your pet's eyes being opened bothers you, ask to be away when the pet is put to sleep and return when the procedure is done, asking your vet to close the eyelids. Your dog will appear as if he's sleeping.
More tips can be found here: veterinarian shares tips on making your dog comfortable for the euthanasia appointment.
Forewarned is Forearmed
Acknowledging what happens and acknowledging things that may go wrong is helpful. That way if things go well, you'll likely think, "Is that it? That was very quick and peaceful!" and if things don't go very well, at least you know what may likely have happened so those last moments won't haunt you day after day as you wonder whether your pet suffered.
Truth is, the death of our pets is never pleasant to witness, but it's far better than suffering day after day, and most of all, our dogs will be eternally thankful for this last gift of unconditional love.
Are you tormenting yourself, wondering if you did the right thing? Then, learning more about the stages of grieving a dog can help you understand your feelings.
For Further Reading
- Dog Euthanesia: Everything Pet Owners Should Know
cohdra It may just feel like days ago when your best friend was just a puppy romping around and now you wake up to find a white muzzled friend, with a touch of arthritis but still happy to see you around. It is a very sad fact to acknowledge this,...
- Pet Euthanasia vs. Natural Death
As your pet nears the inevitable, you may be wondering if you should opt for euthanasia or natural death. There are pros and cons of each. This article will go over both options.
- What to Do When Your Dog Dies at Home
What to do if your dog dies at home? As much as the death of a dog at home may be devastating,you must think quickly. Learn the options and what to do in the meanwhile.
- Dog Euthanasia: Putting a Dog to Sleep at Home
Considering putting your dog to sleep at home? Learn why more and more dog owners are choosing this option versus having it done at the vet's office.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: We just had to put our dog down because he had lymphoma really bad. We were told by our vet that the end was near. Does our dog know that we loved him and were not mad at him or thought he was a bad boy because we put him down?
Answer: Fortunately for us, dogs do not understand they are going to be put down and what happens after they are given the injection that puts them to sleep. I assume that dogs who are put down though feel loved or at least feel reassured by our presence if we are close to them, pet them and talk to them. If there is an afterlife, and I strongly believe there is one from anecdotal evidence from those humans who underwent near-death experiences, I am sure our dogs would understand and would lick our tears away and not want us to cry because they are finally in a better place free of pain. They wouldn't want us to suffer but to rather cherish all the great memories.
Question: My dog was given a sedative before euthanasia. The vet said it would take 5-10 minutes to take effect and said they'd return after that. Within a minute, my dog began vomiting - he was choking. I lifted his head but could hear him gurgling and drowning in his fluids. My husband cleaned up the vomit. The vet returned to give the final injection and my dog arched his back during this procedure. We are traumatized. Why would this happen?
Answer: I am so sorry you went through this. It must have felt devastating and although distressing, replaying the last moments is a human's way of processing things and attempting to recover from trauma. I cannot comment on the effect of the sedative. Dogs may react differently to various types of sedatives. These effects may also be more pronounced in dogs suffering from certain conditions. However, I can provide an insight on the back arching.
I took two courses on end-of-life and hospice care, and both mentioned that when dogs die it is possible for them to arch their neck and back in their last moments as a reflex. This is more common in cats than dogs, but it's still common enough in dogs to the point of warranting a need to mention it. Despite how harrowing it is to watch, a dog is usually unconscious at this point. These movements are described as spinal reflexes that do not involve any brain activity.
Question: We just put our dog to sleep less than 24 hours ago. While most of the procedure went as expected, something happened that I need to be clarified. After 90 percent of the medication was administered, she let out this low cry and pulled her paw away. The vet could not explain why. What happened? Did she feel pain? My husband and I are in great distress over this.
Answer: I am so sorry to hear this last memory of your dog is causing distress. It is understandable as we all wish a peaceful ending where the dog just closes its eyes and drifts to sleep. I cannot give an exact answer to your individual situation, but from what I can attest, sometimes these episodes occur. If the solution was injected directly and the cry and paw movement occurred right when the needle entered the skin, one may assume it was a reaction to the needle "pinch," or perhaps the sensation of the fluid being injected, but since it occurred once most of the solution had already gone in, there are chances that the reaction you saw is associated with the way the euthanasia simulates the brain as it causes the dog to reach a deeper level of anesthesia (the solution is an overdose of the anesthesia solution.) These happenings can and do occur (vocalizations, movements) when an animal is induced for anesthesia every once in a while before they are anesthetized. I know it is hard to witness this. Please know that it went fast and now she's at peace.
Question: I euthanized my dog recently and it was horrible. My dog threw her head back, opened her mouth wide and her eyes were almost bulging, as if she was screaming in pain. The vet immediately said the needle must have missed the vein so she immediately did another injection. Was she in pain?
Answer: So sorry this has happened to you. If no catheter was used, it is possible that the solution went around the vein rather than directly in it, which may cause a burning sensation. If that was the cases, it is known as sodium pentobarbital perivascular irritation.
Question: Our dog screamed and made frantic running-like motions during euthanasia. It took three injections before he passed. He screamed the whole time. What happened?
Answer: I wished vets would provide an explanation when this happens as they must know best and can help owners better understand. I am guessing that perhaps some of the euthanasia solutions ended up going around the vein causing a burning sensation that may have frightened him. This appears to happen more likely when a catheter is not used. It is called perivascular extravasation. Of course, this is just an assumption. Only your vet can provide clarity on what truly happened, have you thought about contacting your vet for an elucidation? My deepest condolences.
© 2014 Adrienne Farricelli
Marie on July 07, 2020:
We've had dogs over 30 yrs had put loads a sleep can honestly say was peaceful we were prescent at all . lost one Febuary all had great lives spoiled rotten . Loved missed very much I understand it's upsetting times a great healer . what helped us everyone may not feel the same we gave back rescued unwanted dogs that for us helped us grieve give back to unwanted dog . it's rewarding too helps grieving process as no time limit on it kept all there caskets when I go there coming with me . my rainbow bridge girls would have wanted us to continue not be put off theyl never replace them . they helped the loss less heartbreaking as had mind occupied instead sitting upset 24/7 I'm sorry for all you're bereavements of you're loyal family members xx
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 15, 2020:
Chemoboy, so sorry about your loss. These sedatives sometimes can cause some odd reactions. Working for a vet I have seen occasional reactions like that when dogs were going in for surgery and were given sedatives and pre-anesthetics. I once gave a sedative to my cat and gave a little too much and her head became super wobbly, and I had quite a scare. It sounds like though things went pretty smoothly once he got the actual euthanasia solution. Again, so sorry for your loss.
Chemoboy on June 14, 2020:
We put down our best friend the other day. An 8 yr old English Lab. He was a beautiful loyal and smart dog but he developed major knee issues and we made the call. We had never had this dog to a vet in a yr since we moved to Florida so it was a new place for him. He hates the vet or hated the vet I guess. They gave him a ore shot of some sort of sedative in his rear thigh. It didn’t take so they gave Truman another shot. He was a you g dog and didn’t want to go. We didn’t either. But his head started going side to side and my wife gad to go to the car as he wasn’t making eye contact. Then he had seizures with his eyes wide open and displayed not moving, I had to help hold him down as they tried to find a vein he was looking straight forward not moving his eyes. They tried to get a catheter in his vein but just couldn’t get it to cooperate. They then gave him 4cc of lorazepam that worked enough to let them get the euthanize shot in and was gone in 10 sec. He seemed to open his eyes and looked at me and I said “ see you on the other side buddy “ and he was gone. My 90 buddy dying in my arms.
It was a terrible end. I take it from your text he really wasn’t aware of what was going on and his brain was about shut down. He had been with me through cancer and was truly hoping he would be here for the next round coming soon.I’m not sure we will get another dog after this. But if we do it will be a big head English lab. I take dogs over people any day.
Trumanthewonderdog.blogspot.com RIP Truman
Sue Miller on May 30, 2020:
My young dog was not given a seditive before euthanasia injection. We had never had a pet put down before, so we hadno knowledge. He screamed for over a minute and crapped all over. The vet then gave him a second shot of something after we freaked out at her. The whole thing was horrible. Do research and ask lots of questions before you need to euthanize your pet. Since then, we have had pets very peacefully euthanized. They were sedated first.
Brianfsilvis on May 18, 2020:
I’ve euthanized hundreds of pets. I’ve found the best procedure is a massive overdose of telazol and acepromazine in the muscle this produces An unconscious state in 3 to 5 minutes. 1 in 10 reacts by looking back at the injection site . Then give the euthanasia solution Iv. Zero complications. Some vets don’t like to use telezol because it’s expensive well worth the cot to make the euthanasia go smoothly
Betty shell on May 18, 2020:
I'm sorry I have to disagree with this whole article I had to put Howard and Hubert down my last to a shih tzus Howard's eyes were bulging out his tongue was hanging out of his mouth he wasn't eating he wasn't peeing he wasn't doing anything and as I held him as he was euthanized he didn't move he I told him I loved him and I would love him forever and he said thank you as his Spirit left him my last dog Hubert he couldn't walk he couldn't eat the night before he was to be euthanized I said I can handle that he'll burn if you died tonight in bed I cried and I cried and I cried and I held him I took a meant to be euthanized I had them on my chest I felt his Spirit leave and then I felt all the weight that he had carried for me all those years and since we got to grieve together with both dogs it was probably their desire that I properly grieve so that I wouldn't grieve for them on my life
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 11, 2020:
Dear Marianna & Jeff Eby, the process of losing a dog is very difficult. It sounds like in both your cases the procedure went pretty smoothly, which is a blessing. May all the good memories prevail at this difficult time.
Jeff Eby on May 11, 2020:
My dog, Beezer developed cancer in his thigh. It was diagnosed after a surgery to repair a torn acl didnt seem to help. It was an absolutely terrible experience. I definately took him to the wrong vet. As he was being taken for xrays i asked if they would sedate him. Their reply was "Oh, we dont do that here. The diagnosis was bone cancer with a hairline fracture to his thigh. We went back a week later and when they took him back that time he peed about a gallon all the way down the hall. He was screaming when he came back and the bone was fully broken. I was on my knees crying and the assistant was pushing paper at me asking for payment. They wouldnt give him a local to stop the pain and he had to suffer through the ride home. He couldnt stand forever but was very afraid to lie down because the process hurt so bad. I had never geard a dog moan before. It was horrible. I got him down and spent the day waiting for a dufferent vet to come to the house to euthanize him. I laid there all day with him reminding him of all the people and dogs he had known in his 9 years and he would wag his tail at their mention. When the vet showed up Beezer actually wagged his tail when i told him the doctor was going to make it so he had no more sore leg. The process worked very smoothly but i was sad that right as the anesthetic hit he immediately went away, mentally and emotionally. I felt that i should have been looking him in the eyes but wasnt. Anyway, it was the best i coukd do for him and now he is buried in the garden. I still miss him so much that when i think of the last painful month of his life i still cant help crying.
Marianne on May 09, 2020:
I took my Pom to be euthanized and right after the shot she fell asleep and started snoring. She was literally asleep. We each held her and cuddle and fifteen minutes her breathing was slow and the vet gave her a small amount and she took her last breath. It was an experience we will never forget.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on February 04, 2020:
Done properly, first an anesthetic is given, to put them under as if for surgery, and after they are asleep, the drug that stops the heart is given.
There should be no pain at all, unless there is incompetence afoot.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 04, 2020:
Rufus was surely a true character with so much personality, I am so sorry for your loss.
I think your vet is the best person to ask these questions since she was there with you and Rufus in his final moments and gave the injections.
All I can say is that it's not unusual for some dogs to perk up significantly when at the vet even if they are sick. It happens in cats and dogs who are even deadly sick. I have several stories of pet euthanasia appointments rescheduled because the owners thought their pets were feeling better, only for them to schedule again once home because their pets returned to being sick, sometimes even more than before. My veterinarian always explained to me that this was due to the "adrenaline rush" when going to the vet.
It may happen in some very critical cases that dogs pass before the final injection is given. This may or may not be the case. I think your vet is the best position to provide clarifications. It sounds like overall your pet's passing was peaceful considering he didn't flinch or appear in any distress.
RufusXaviersMama on February 03, 2020:
My westie was a true character; some would say a jerk (he peed on people he didn't like! He ate cell phones as a puppy), a clown (he would fly into any water he could find, laugh at me and run away when I tried to give him his ear medicine, a forever puppy ("act your age, not your paw size Rufus.") I loved him so much. I had him 13 years, I found him as a stray in Phoenix one particularly hot summer, and even though he was a feral little dog, he captured my heart in seconds. I was happy when the vet I rushed this stray to told me no one had claimed him, so he was mine if I wanted him (and the vet bill :)).
He was no stranger to airports. He traveled with me everywhere. We lived in two countries together and visited 4. Countless states.
Last month, after his annual labs (we checked kidney and liver each year because he was on daily prednisone for IBD and Atopic Dermatitis) - we were told he was in end stage kidney failure - creatinine of 8 and GFR was really abnormal. The vet recommended overnight hospitalization with IV fluids. I declined. Rufus hates the vet. He is absolutely terrified. He shakes uncontrollably, which worries me because he was very arthritic.. He hides under the stool... He runs into my arms... The vet said we could do sub cutaneous fluids at home, but it was less aggressive.
We opted for that, but didn't pick it up right away - our toddler for 5ths disease and for two weeks we were fighting with his fevers, and also Rufus was drinking like crazy. He would kill an entire gallon of water in a day. He was also urinating.
Finally after two days of looking really bad (he frequently had a single bad day, his irritable bowl disorder and skin condition caused a lot of inflammation - he would always perk up after pred). I couldn't get any pred in him because he was vomiting. We always go the vet when this happens.
Rufus perked up the minute we were in the car. Jumping from seat to seat..he suddenly wanted to eat, he was shaking scared before the vet and running around greeting everyone at the vet after his visit..It was like old Rufus returned.
Over the next 24-hours though he started having little seizures and wouldn't move. He wouldn't drink and the huge pees weren't happening.. He only stopped shaking if I pet him. His vet came by after she closed her practice in the late afternoon. She administered the sedative into his back, he didn't even flinch. Within seconds I actually thought he may not be breathing.. She hastily, but quietly, grabbed the pink injection and injected where she had shaved his leg. I didn't even know she was injecting the lethal medication.
Is it possible that the sedative was enough and she was worried he was suffocating so she rapidly administered the euthanasia medication? Did he suffer? He didn't look like he did. He was in the same position on my bed he had been in all day, I was just holding his chin and looking into his eyes...He didn't even flinch.
Why was he acting perfectly normal 24 hours before?
Im so confused.
Pat on January 09, 2020:
Keeping your dog alive and in pain is not only selfish, but cruel.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 30, 2019:
Joann, so sorry this happened to you. We all want a peaceful death for our dogs and not always things go this way. If you Google "dog gasping dying" you may find an article that addresses what's called agonal breathing. Basically, it's a reflex and not a sign of suffering.
Joann on December 27, 2019:
I just euthanized my dog yesterday. A catheter was put in her arm for the medications. My vet did 3 injections, one right after the other. After the 3rd injection, he listened for heartbeat. She lied peacefully on the floor with her eyes closed, like she was sleeping. I asked if she was gone and he said "yes". He left the room and I stayed with her. About 30 seconds passed and she lifted her head, opened her eyes and mouth as if she were gasping for air, but it was blocked by her blue tongue. She did this 3 times before she lay her head down, eyes and mouth still open, and blue tongue hanging out of her mouth. She was definitely gone. I closed her eyes and best I could tried to put her tongue back in her mouth. It was horrible. I didn't talk to anyone after that, I just left. I don't think I could ever euthanize a dog ever again. It seems it would be more compassionate to shoot them in the head.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 21, 2019:
Ron, so sorry this happened to your dog. Of course, every case is different so there are no rules set in stone about what may happen. My article just reports what veterinarians explain might be happening in certain cases. I wished things would go as peacefully as we hope for. Sending you and your wife my deepest condolences.
Ron Neil on October 21, 2019:
My beloved Irish Wolfhound, Alfie had a catheter and he still leap off the table and howled the most haunting scream that I will never forget. Say what you want but when you have your dog from puppy to grave, you know when you dog is in pain. I know it doesn't support your narrative but he fought for his life. It took, what seemed like an eternity for him to pass. Me and my wife are devastated and what we wanted most for Alfie was a peaceful passing for his cancer. It was not. I have leaned a few good things from this article for the next time and for that I'm thankful. Respectfully. Ron Neil
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 05, 2019:
Hi Claire, I am sorry you feel that I am telling lies. Can you please explain why you feel this way? What are you referring to exactly? What mistakes? Please elaborate. So sorry for your loss. It sounds like you are very hurt. I lost my heart dog recently and can empathize.
claire shields on October 05, 2019:
so rather than admit that sometimes we make mistakes u would rather tell lies than be honest and make a pet owners day better, i had to euthenise my first dog in march which was so hard and now theres just no excuse tut tut
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 14, 2019:
Hello May, I doubt your dog knew what was happening (being put to sleep) other than the fact he was at the vet getting injected with a syringe.
Perhaps he was a bit anxious about being at the vet and poked, or the sedative may have caused a bit of a dissociative effect or an idiosyncratic drug effect took place (sedative drug causing anxiety rather than calming down) but this sounded very short-lived and the final euthanasia dose put a stop to it. You can always ask your vet for clarifications if this can help you.
I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a dog is very tough and it takes time to accept the loss. It is a normal part of grieving reliving the episode of our dogs passing as our brains try to get over the trauma that way.
Don't let these thoughts haunt you, your dog is in a better place now and wants you to cherish all the good memories he has blessed you with in all these years. Hugs.
May Bundy on September 14, 2019:
I had to put down my 13 yr old eskimo spitz/pomeranian Now what keeps haunting me is when they added the sedative he started trembling.But stopped when given the final dose. Did he Know i was having him put to sleep? It was aug 22 2019 , i got boomer at 5 wks and not having him its so hard for me, he was all i had. I just want to know if he knew what was happening?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 18, 2019:
Bunnie, we did hospice care for our dog after attending two courses on end of life care for dogs and she died naturally at home. I think we made the right choice as she was talked to and gently caressed in the place she loved best.She was terrorized of needles so couldn't imagine subjecting her to that and her illness just caused her to get weaker. We had a backup plan to do euthanasia though if we saw her in pain that couldn't be controlled or distress. I wish a peaceful passing for your dog. You may want to read my hub on signs of a dog dying so to know what to expect. https://pethelpful.com/pet-ownership/The-Dog-Dying...
Bunnie on June 09, 2019:
You lay out so many possible things that can go wrong, I find it hard to believe a vet would be surprised when it doesn’t. I have had 2 pets euthanized and neither went great in my opinion. Most animals who have been ill are likely to be dehydrated creating the struggle to find veins. Compound that with small legs and veins they may have in the first place, ... well. It took 45 mins of jabbing my chihuahua to give her the relaxant; her struggling & panicking the whole time. I don’t know an animal that is ok with some stranger coming at them with electric razors, holding them down & sticking needles in them. The idea of a peaceful euthanasia is a myth in my opinion. And now they charge outrageous amounts to do this, likely after you have already spent thousands to help your pet to this point. I sit this moment with my dog in my lap, listless but peaceful after years of heart disease and now kidney failure. I hope she passes naturally in my arms rather than having to subject her to stress and pain of euthanasia.
Joel on April 23, 2019:
I am sorry for you all for your losses of our best friends.
I have last week parted with my almost 12 year old stuffy.
I am a typically strong man though this has hurt. He was physically to me ok as in no noted cancer or health concerns but his back legs where going on him. He would have them slide out daily and some of the looks I felt when he was going in or out a door way and they both gave out on him leaving him on his stomach. Watching him try to get up at times was hard too.
He never went toilet inside which made me feel more guilt as I questioned if it was too soon to put him to rest.
We took him to the vet and they told me it’s a good time and that anything I do is just delaying the inevitable. I asked if he was in pain and he said there would be some discomfort there after he did some tests and watched his reactions when trying to plant his feet.
I couldn’t do it to him at the vet. We have another dog who is his shadow and I couldn’t let her not have time, so I organised them to come to home a week later.
I tried to take him for a walk but he wouldn’t go past next door without slipping and didn’t seem to want to go far. I shared my lunch with him as he never lost his hunger and love for food. I laid and rolled a tennis ball with him as his love for them was unconditional, even if he couldn’t chase it anymore.
I organised my wife and 3 year old to say goodbye as they couldn’t endure what was to come.
It was all fairly peaceful and I held him stared into his eyes and talked to him (though he was deaf as anything these day) although I still hate the fact he had a muzzle on.
I just still can’t shake the guilt and the sorrow. I miss my boy. I will always love you Tito.
Selina Bentley on March 05, 2019:
I just put my 11yr old Chihuahua down 3 days ago. This isn't the first pet I have gone through this with although the smallest in size. The vet administered something to sedate him first, warning me it may sting and it did because he cried and cried even after the needle was out. That wasn't the distressing part for me at least... What is haunting me is the fact he would not relax. The vet left and came back 5 times before asking if she could give him another dose. Sobbing.. I answered of course. She gave him a second dose and he laid his body down but never did he relax. She claimed to if given enough for a 30 pound dog and his weight was 8 pounds. With his body trembling and breathing seemed to struggle I asked her when she came back to the room can she please give him the second medicine because i felt maybe his adrenaline was flowing too much and was afraid at this point in time which was definitely not what I wanted him to feel in his last moments. She said yes and came back with helper who actually had to take over during to the vet not being able to get IV in his vein. Finally it was over. But now I'm haunted with how this played out for my beloved friend and I'm plagued with guilt. Can anyone tell me what may have happened or has anyone had this happen? Thank you
Cheryl Plautz on December 27, 2018:
Yesterday I had to my 14 1/2 year old Dalmatian down. He was losing his battle with cancer and degenerative disc disease. The vet explained the sedative was suppose to relax him and he wouldn't be in pain. The shot to euthanize him left him crying and screaming in pain. I was knelt down looking into his eyes and the last thing he saw was me while he was experiencing this terrible pain. It was devastating to experience.
Sue on November 22, 2018:
I just had to put my beloved Pomeranian to sleep. He screamed when the vet injected the sedative. I’m haunted by the fact that his last conscious moments were so painful. The vet and techs were very compassionate but this last moments have upset me so much. I’m not sure how to get past this.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 16, 2018:
I am so sorry for your loss Evermaze. May you feel comfort knowing that your dog had a wonderful life. Re-living the last moments is our way to deal with traumatic events in our lives and part of the grieving process. It tends to get a little better with time, although we never really get over it entirely. We all wish our dogs to go peacefully, but it doesn't always work that way. Even among humans unfortunately. Wishng you strength during this difficult time.
evermaze on October 15, 2018:
I lost my dearest old friend Sebastian, a twelve and half year old Border Collie, not more than four weeks ago under horrifying circumstances. Sebastian had been on painkillers and joint injections for months for his arthritus, he slept a lot but would rally for his walks and still enjoyed his food and had spent the entire winter sleeping in front of the fire. As long as he seemed to cope I was happy., I didnt want to have to make the decision of euthanizing again, I wanted for Sebastian to pass away on his own terms, I had to put down my two previous dogs because both had cancer, both were thirteen, one a lab collie/cross called Sam and the other a border collie called Sally. The process whilst sad, was easy, I was there to hold them and love them till the very end.
But it was not to be for my dear Sebastian, oneday four weeks ago I was in the garden, when I heard him screaming, I yelled out to tell him I was coming, the screaming was terrible. When I got to him his back legs had completely collapsed and splayed out to sides under him, he could not get up on his front legs and he was wreathing in agony, thick saliva everywhere. I held on to him to try and stop him from hurting himself, it was the screaming that was so terrifying and I was crying with him, I hated to see him in so much pain.
We got him to the vet, she said he was in a lot of pain and it would be best for him to let him go. I agreed, I hated seeing him suffering so.
Sebastian was stressed, in pain and frightened, I talked, patted loved him. He was on the floor when they put the sedation in, and as it finally began to take hold it was then he started to scream, I held him, I was devastated he seemed to be in so much pain. Then the vet put the next injection, she tried at least five times, finally getting half in she moved to the other paw, the same thing at least trying five times to find a vein, Sebastian was screaming still on and on it went, finally they picked him up to take him to theater I couldnt stay any longer, the grief and pain I was feeling with what was happening to my most cherished dog was too much, they took him and I collapsed in my husbands arms,devastated, I wanted to say stop, still hearing Sebastians screaming. Finally after nearly ten minutes the screams stopped.It was the cruelest thing I have ever witness and my old dog did not deserve to die in such a way. The vet tried to explain, but it did not help with the guilt and pain I felt inside as if I had killed him. It has been a tough four weeks, Sebastian is buried in a beautiful place in the garden, with a headstone to mark where he is. The screams still ring in my ears, I see his frightened face and I ask that he forgives me. I loved my dog as I love all of my dogs. Sebastian was my best friend and I will miss him forever, he will never be forgotten and I know in my heart that he had a wonderful home and a wonderful life.
Thank you for writing this article I had searched the internet to find out why, you have answered many of my questions, there is little doubt in my mind that the young vet did not handle things so well, but I know she will do everything in her power for it not to happen again. No pet owner should ever have to face such a terrible thing.
Thanks again Eve
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2018:
Michelle, so sorry for your loss. Your love for Bear and his love for you is very evident in your post. You made the right decision and helping him transition to a new life with no pain was the ultimate act of love.
Michelle Bridges on February 28, 2018:
I had my dog, Buster Bear, for 16 wonderful years. He was my best friend and I had hope that he would be with me for few years more. One day (2-3 weeks prior) he stopped eating. But he was always drinking water which gave me hope that I would find something that he would eat. I tried so many times during those last weeks but I just saw him wasting away. On the day my husband decided that it would be best if we took him in to stop his suffering. The vet walked us through what was about to happen. I really didn’t think I had the strength to stay in the room. But in 1999 I had to put my cat to sleep and I was there alone with her and opted to wait outside until it was over. From that day I still regret that I didn’t stay for her. I vowed that day to never do that again. I made a promise to her that if I had to do this again, my babies wouldn’t be left alone and as painful as it was to me. I realized that day that the next time this happened I would be the last thing my babies would see before they left this Earth. My Bear was my best friend, my first love, my world, and my heart. We took him in, and as the shot was being administered, he had what looked like a moment of clarity. I would love to believe he was memorizing my face for the last time. The procedure was quick and he was gone within a matter of seconds. When I told my husband about this, he said that he did indeed see the same thing and it was a beautiful moment with Bear and me. I so want to believe that he actually did this before he passed because he wasn’t gone yet. The vet was listening to his heart and finally said “he’s gone”. But he did have a reaction that haunts me. It was like a violent yawn. The vet said that it was common in dogs as skinny as he was. She said from just looking at him that he most likely had cancer. I prayed and prayed that he would pass peacefully in his home like his two brothers did. He was a stubborn pup and a fighter. He didn’t want to leave me and I feel like I betrayed him. But when my husband found him on the floor instead of being in his rightful place, basically so close to me that we couldn’t be separated, he wears barely moving and was cold already. Thankfully I have had my vet for nearly 20 years and they are so wonderful and caring during this time. And I stayed true to my promise. I was indeed the last thing he saw before he passed. I’m so sorry for anyone here who had a horrible experience and my heart really goes out to everyone. I still struggle with the whole “playing God” and taking his life. As much as I want to believe he’s playing with his brothers, I feel a strong need to be forgiven by my Pastor. I hope I made the right decision and I hope God forgives me. He was a medium-large dog and had a longer life than almost dogs. My husband tells be that I was lucky to have had my best friend for so long. I prattle on and I’m sorry about that. Thank you for this article. It’s really helping me to understand what was going on during his procedure.
Eileen on February 13, 2018:
Thank you for the article. My dog was euthanized in my home by a mobile vet nearly six years ago. He let out a horrible yelp of pain when they injected him, then it was over. It was so disturbing, I was not expecting it. It still bothers me and I feel sick to my stomach when I think about it.
Nunusmom on January 29, 2018:
I hope it helps in some small way to know there are others out there that shared in similar experiences and struggled with the same feelings you did. My Nunu, was my precious boy for 19 years. I struggled with the decision to help him cross the rainbow bridge and I too expected a calm, peaceful transition. I knew in my head that he was suffering but my heart saw none of that, it still saw that precious puppy from years ago. I finally came to the realization that I needed to sacrifice my comfort for his peace. It was the hardest thing I ever did and the issues that occurred during the euthanasia devastated me. I second guessed myself, blaming myself for it all and thinking I let him down and that he didn't want to go, he wanted to stay with me. I visited several pet forums in the days following and came to realize that I took on his pain and that he finally was at peace. And through sharing his story to help others, I kept his memory alive and that brought comfort to me that his story could others going through the same experience. My heart is still broken but I know I did the best thing for him. Sammy knows you showed him the greatest gift of love because you took his pain and gave him peace.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 18, 2018:
Sammy's mummy, my heart aches for you. I don't know what may have happened. It sounds like perhaps some sort of idiosyncratic adverse reaction perhaps from the gabapentin since you reported she started acting every active afterward. How unfortunate for it to happen right that day. Does your vet have any explanation? I know it may hurt to talk with him, but perhaps he can help you feel a bit better knowing what dynamics may have taken place. The scream let out when the IV needle was inserted was likely due to the pinch since an IV needle is a bit larger than a blood draw needle. I have heard that in dying humans hearing is the last sense to go, which why doctors suggest to keep talking to loved ones once they're gone. So sorry for your loss.
Sammy's Mummy on January 15, 2018:
Please can someone help me? I feel like I'm going crazy.
I had to make the difficult decision to put my 16-17 year old baby down last Thursday. It was a planned appointment and, to be honest, something that I had been putting off for so long...she seemed to be carrying on just for me.
Our regular vet came to our house and she had steak and ice cream for breakfast that day.
We'd given her a double dose of her Gabapentin, as recommended by the vet, to make her more relaxed and, in the past, this has always worked. Not that day though. She was more active and unsettled than ever.
The vet wanted to put in a cannula so that it would be easier for her and so she could be cuddled up in my arms in our favourite spot on the sofa, just like she had been so many times before.
She had to be laid in her bed for the cannula to be fitted and that's where it all started to go wrong. I already felt like I was doing the wrong thing - even though she had been ill for the past year, could barely walk anymore and was losing her ability to drink. She'd had 24 hour care for the past three weeks and I'd convinced myself that she was quite content.
The noise of the shaver upset her but she calmed down quite quickly. The cannula going in, however, changed all of that. She started to wriggle so had to be held down and then she let out a horrendous howl. She was never a vocal dog, ever, and so this was heart-wrenching. I laid next to her and told her it was ok and that I was there and stroked her head.
After that they said they'd give us a few minutes but she wouldn't calm down...no matter what we did. We tried her favourite cuddle positions, stroking her, talking to her. She was frantic. She wriggled and bucked and kicked and the more we tried to calm her down, the more she got worked up...howling and screaming.
I told the vets to use the sedation (they had it prepared just in case) as I didn't want her to be scared. They gave her IV sedatives and within a few seconds she had gone limp against me. The vet said she could still hear me but wouldn't react. Her breathing became very laboured and I actually thought she had passed as she appeared to stop, the vet checked and said she was still there and then she let out a huge breath and started breathing again.
I didn't want her to suffer at the end and so we only spent a couple of minutes on our own saying goodbye to her. I sang her her favourite song and said all of the things that I wanted to - how much I loved her, how sorry I was, how I was going to miss her and how special she was to me. I thanked her for saving my life and for her 14-15 years of love. I panicked and I feel like I rushed it...if I'd just gotten up off the sofa and tried walking around with her in my arms, would that have calmed her down? Then I rushed giving her the actual injection because I was terrified she was suffering.
The vet then came back in and gave her the IV injection whilst I was cuddling her and telling her how much I loved her. She then took some very big and heavy breaths which the vet said meant she had passed. He gave us a minute or two and then checked and she had, indeed gone.
We got a few more minutes together and her eye twitched, then her ear and then her tummy. I convinced myself she was still there but the vet checked again and said she was definitely gone.
They left and we were left cradling on the sofa. We did a pawprint keepsake kit and waited for the lady from the crematorium, wrapped up in a blanket together as she was starting to lose her warmth and I didn't want to accept that she was gone.
When she arrived, I just couldn't bear to let her go and we got another 15 minutes together.
It's haunting me. I can't sleep or get out of bed and I feel like I let her down.
I used to always say to her "Mummy's got you, Mummy will always have you" - but Mummy didn't. Mummy let someone murder her whilst I watched and she was so scared.
Her face is haunting me. When my Husband took her to try and calm her down she just looked at me with these horrified wide eyes and screamed. I let her down. I'd spent her entire life trying to protect her and keep her safe and happy and then her final minutes were just full of pure terror.
My Husband says that she looked so peaceful on me when she had been sedated - but I couldn't see that as I had her cradled on me. He said that she passed away hearing my voice and listening to my heartbeat, all snug and warm in my arms but that's not how I remember it at all. I just remember her being terrified and thinking that I had let her down.
The vet said that she would still be able to hear me after sedation - is that true? Could she hear what I was saying to her? Would she still have been scared but too sleepy to do anything about it?
I wanted her passing to be peaceful and it was the most harrowing experience of my life. I feel like she was fighting to stay with me...trying to tell me that I was doing the wrong thing and that she wasn't ready to go.
I'm sorry if this doesn't make much sense, I can barely see my screen through the tears as I write this.
Please can someone just tell me that it'll get better or that I'm not crazy for feeling this way. I just can't bear this pain.
Nunusmom on October 23, 2017:
I agree with your comment, that I pity anyone who hasn't experienced the kind of love we had with our pups. Bernie's and Nunu's stories are very similar. We had 2 special and amazing pups. I feel very blessed to have been able to spend the 19 years I had with him. I miss him soooo much every day. He was a one of a kind. He sends me signs though every now and then so I know he's okay, he's at peace and still close by.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 25, 2017:
Elizabeth, it sounds like your dog was in pain when he was whining and howling, but you know your dog best. If the pain killers didn't have any effects, it generally means that the pain is past the point that can be humanely managed if your vets tried as well to manage it without success. I am so sorry for your loss.
Elizabeth on September 23, 2017:
Hi, my dog was diagnosed with end stage kidney and liver failure. Some days later, further checks indicated he had cancer as his white blood cells were not improving.
His appetite had been downhill since. I had to use a syringe to feed him milk as I've offered everything I could but he refused to eat. Finally, I decided to euthanize him... after a final sit at the beach, I offered him some nuggets as a last meal. Surprisingly he started to eat. However, shortly after he started to whine and howl. Thinking he might be in pain, I gave him a dosage of tramadol but it did not stop. In panic, I rushed him to the clinic. They gave him 2 shots of painkillers but his whining and howling didn't stop either. I then told the doctor to euthanize him as that was already what I had planned. What I didn't expect was the howling and whining after his last meal.
Thinking back, perhaps my dog was not ready to leave since the painkillers didn't have any effects?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 06, 2017:
I am so sorry your beloved bichon went through this. It's an unfortunate event when this happens. If the reaction took place when the sedative was given, it cold have been the medication given may have induced a seizure. A seizure may have been responsible for the twitching and foaming. You can always call your vet's office for further elucidations.
firstname.lastname@example.org on July 28, 2017:
I had my beloved 17 yr. old Bichon Frise euthanized at home yesterday. I did everything in my power to give her a happy, peaceful sendoff to the Rainbow Bridge. When her vet arrived at the house, my dog was already lying in her cozy bed, relaxed and feeling my love. He and his assistant came in and after a while, he gave her a needle to relax her and sedate her prior to the final shot to stop her heart. When he put the needle into her hip, she suddenly sat up with a jolt and yelped, followed by some sorrowful cries. He withdrew the needle, and I comforted my dog for a minute til she laid back down. She started twitching in her legs for about a minute then settled down again. He then administered the rest of the sedative and then the final needle to end her life, and she took about 3 or 4 breaths before she died. I am so traumatized by my dog's reaction to the sedative needle and want to know WHY that happened?? I wanted this to be a peaceful transition. My heart is broken and I don't know if I can ever get this image out of my mind. Can you tell me why this happened, because my vet did not give me any explanation. Said it was just something in her body's functioning??? I don't believe that. I am angry that I now have to feel so much extra pain in my own heart. I wanted her to die peacefully and it didn't happen. I will be haunted by this memory forever!
Susan from North Las Vegas, Nevada on June 29, 2017:
Adrienne Janet Farricelli: I should've read what you posted before the last comment I posted because then I would've known that you had already said it all. But, on the other hand, now she's got it from two different sources so maybe it will convince her even more.
I keep reading nunusmom's comment and I'm amazed by the similiarities.... Also, it always makes me feel good that other people have experienced the kind of love that can only be received from a doggy dog, kid.
I pity anyone who doesn't know the kind of love we have experienced
Susan from North Las Vegas, Nevada on June 29, 2017:
Some days I feel okay but other days, I can't stop crying. I miss him so much. I know he wouldn't want me to feel so horrible and sad but then again I feel that there's no other way to express just how much love I have for him. And for reals, I can't help it. I just wish I could make sure that he was aware of how much I love him and how awesome he was and will continue to be.
Nunosmom seems like a continuation because if I didn't know better, I would think I had posted her comment because her story seems almost identicle to mine. I feel that if anyone can relate to what I'm going through, it's her and for this reason, I feel so bad for all the grief she's going to continue to be overwhelmed by. I hope she reads the message I sent and contacts me. My Bernie Bear was such a needy baby towards the end but I didn't mind having to take care of him. I feel guilty that I hadn't given him 100% of my attention, now but something kept pushing me to not allow what was happening to completely engulf me because I knew it would end up destroying me.. I think it may be a form of self preservation.... that cloudiness in my mind, that inability to think too much about anything happening, kinda like, "I can't think about it right now...I'll think about it tomorrow." When we are unable to fully cope with something, our mind will bury it or make our minds fuzzy in an attempt to distance us from what may cause our ultimate demise. As time goes by, my mind is allowing me to remember more and more... slowly but surely. The human brain is the most complex and mysterious but awesome computer ever created. I'm rambling.. sorry
And if I'm still in doubt about the decision I made, it doesn't matter right now because now it's all about how much I miss him.
My heart goes out to everyone here but especially nunusmom and Laura..... My heart has broken in places for you two, especially. The reason the vet asked if Cosmo had heart problems is because if his heart wasn't pumping properly it wasn't able to pump enough to get the drug through his body. That's probably why it took so long.... the sedative helped to slow his heart down even more so that the drug wasn't being circulated as it should have in order to work quickly. The vet probably injected it directly into Cosmo's heart the 2nd time. I can tell you from experience that when his tongue was hanging out, he was pretty much numb to the world. When a dog is knocked out prior to surgery, their tongue kinda falls out of their mouth but we pull their tongue out even further so that we can insert the tube down their throat that will force oxygen into their lungs because otherwise the anesthesia would cause them to die. Anesthesia is basically the same drug used for euthansia but a higher dose. All the while during surgery, it's risky for the animal which is why there's someone to monitor all the vitals of the dog during and after the procedure. If Cosmo had been aware and feeling anything, he would have surely pulled his tongue in at some point because of the discomfort of a dry mouth. The jerking was involuntary and you need not worry about him suffering during the procedure.
How come I can be rational and clear headed when talking about someone else's pet but not my own?
I use to be a vet tech and so I aided in the euthanasia of many pets. I felt an amount of sadness about each pet dying but I never felt as though it wasn't necessary. It was for the owners, mostly that I was sad for but what upset me the most was when someone chose to leave before the procedure because they were "too upset" or "couldn't handle it" because in my mind, they should have been there for their pets, especially at that time. During those times, I tried to be there in place of their owner, squeezing their other arm so they wouldn't notice what was being injected in their other arm, all the while, speaking in a soothing voice to them that they were good and did their jobs well but that now, it was their time and it was okay for them to let go and leave... .....I would push it out of my head that they were probably wondering where their mom or dad was.... my concern was that they felt no discomfort and that they felt the love of someone so that hopefully,their last emotion felt would be that of being loved and in the arms of someone who cared. Most of them did exactly as expected... closed their eyes and fell asleep peacefully. For the ones who struggled with it, their owners were present. It didn't occur to me before but I think it was because their only concern was for their owners.... even then, while they were dying. It's true what they say about dogs being the only ones who love their owners more than they love themselves. And even if they are unaware of their surroundings, it's probably automatic, like auto pilot. They are gone but the need to protect their owner is so strong and became hard wired into their brains that it can be witnessed as their last act, even though they, by all accounts, weren't actually capable of the thought process necessary to execute the act
Nunusmom on June 13, 2017:
I don't even know what to say, but I just felt compelled to write to say that reading these comments have helped me know that I am not as completely alone as I feel. My precious boy had been my baby for 19 years....my precious little boy. He had slowly declined over the years.....but during his last bath I decided I was being so selfish to keep him in his condition. I had taken care of his every need for so long and I felt he wanted to be with me but he struggled each day to stay and I was there, to comfort him and care for him. It was the hardest decision of my life. I had come to terms to let him go but he seemed to fight so hard to stay alive. It is ingrained in my mind, his final howl, what seemed like an eternity after the vet administered the medication. I held him to reassure him that momma was there and that I loved him so much. Then his life ended with a simultaneous howl from us both. And now I just feel lost......my heart is broken beyond repair and I just miss him sooooooo much. The comment consoled me that said or how I see it that I am enduring this pain now to save him from more pain. It helps me to think that I did the right thing by him and I saved him from suffering any longer. He filled my life with so much joy and love, I just hope he felt the same and knows that it wasn't an easy decision because I know he fought hard, refusing to leave this old world and his momma's side. But, it was time for him to have relief, he didn't need to hurt for me any longer. Rest easy now my baby boy, you'll always be my puppy, Momma still loves you sooooo much, just know I never stopped.
Stefanie on June 07, 2017:
We made the very difficult decision to have our 3 German Shepherds euthunized today. Diesel 14 yrs old had hip dysplasia that had gotten to a point he could barely walk, Amber 13 yrs old had the same but also had recurring swollen ears that always came back after medication. Jazmine 9 yrs old which was their daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer 3 weeks ago after she started limping on her back leg. We knew it was time to put the older ones to sleep but we knew Jazmine would have been heartbroken without them. After her diagnosis we knew they all should go together. They all had the best appetites and still enjoyed eating but that was the only joy they had other then having out attention. It was the hardest decision for my husband & me because they have been a part of our life for so long. We are struggling with wondering if it was the best day.....could we have waited longer? The only comfort I can find in this situation right now is none of them will ever have to live a day without each other. They all got to go together. We are just left with this tremendous void.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 09, 2017:
Hello, DzyMsLizzy, You had several pets and loved them dearly. Not sure how, but somehow your comment got cut off. Thanks for stopping by.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 02, 2017:
Back in the late 1980s, we had to have our senior dog put down; one moment he was fine, and 3 hours later, had lost the use of his hind legs. The vet said it was like a stroke that went to the spine instead of the brain. We were told we could take him up to UC Vet School for surgery, but less than 50-50 chance, plus $1500 just to walk through the door! We couldn't afford that. So, we made the painful choice to let him go.
He was given anesthesia, and after he was under, the second drug to stop the heart was given. It was quick and peaceful, but it still hurt us to the core; he'd not had any symptoms, so we were totally unprepared--it came as a terrible shock.
A few years later, we had to have our 15-year-old kitty put down..and we didn't get to be with him...they took him off to the back room. If I'd known then what I've learned since, it still troubles me to think of the horrible way they used to put cats down back then. Poor Imp must have suffered terribly, which is why we weren't allowed to be with him.
Meanwhile, I've had a couple of pets die without euthanasia. It was really ugly in the first case...I don't even like to remember what happened to that poor dog. It was very sad in the second instance; kitty was only 4.5 years old, and had been having mystery fevers off and on for a year--all tests negative. But, one morning, we awoke to find her gone and already stiff.
Fast forward many years, and we had to have two of our kitties put down, just a year apart. Both times it was peaceful. The first girl had epilepsy all her life (long story), but on her final day, her meds had totally ceased working, and she kept falling down, and was having mini-quakes almost constantly. Her pupils were dilated, and she already wasn't really 'there.' So, we helped her cross the Bridge. She simply went to sleep...again, peaceful.
The next one was my 15-year-old Maine Coon tabby..my 'heart cat.' He was very special to me, despite still having other kitties. He'd been sick for a year, throwing up often, and not just like hairballs, or a bit of food eaten too fast, but major spews that had me hauling out the big monster carpet shampooer to clean up. We finally got into a program for low-income pet owners, and the diagnosis was not good: most likely a cancer of the intestines. Poor Tigger! We knew he'd not been feeling well, as he was pretty lethargic, and the puking stopped, largely because he wasn't really eating much...my 15-pound cat lost over half his body weight! So, we knew we had to help him cross the Rainbow Bridge.
However, the day of the appointment, in the euth. room, didn't he perk up, become interested in looking out the window, and at the fish tank?!?! Then, when the vet came in, and I picked him up to lay him on the table, is when I felt like a murderer....but, he did at least go peacefully with no untoward incidents.
They are all (except the first 2 mentioned), sleeping the long sleep in our yard.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 02, 2017:
Bernie's Mom, thank you so much for your update. The pain of losing a dog can only be understood by dog owners who have loved and bonded with their dog immensely. And yes, many can attest the pain is far superior than any other losses witnessed in life. I like your new perspective "I am here and I refuse to let it torment me anymore because not only is it not necessary but it’s useless and counterproductive" and I am hoping to adopt this philosophy as well when I lose my own two senior dogs which have been the most precious things that ever happened in my life. Your are on your path to recovering from this, and while the pain may never go away, it seems to becomes less bitter when we cherish our dogs' lives and all the joy they have filled the days we had to fortune to share with them.
Susan from North Las Vegas, Nevada on March 31, 2017:
I've returned here so many times in the last few months but I’m finally able to say more, beginning with
Thank you, Adrienne Janet Farricelli. I appreciate your time and consideration. I'm truly thankful for you and your efforts. I am going to take your advice and join in at the pet owner mourning forums because it's been since November 16th and I still feel so much saddness and grief.
I miss my baby boy so much. I don’t think we can imagine just how painful and truly empty we are going to be left feeling. How can losing a pet impact us more than losing a parent or other close family member or friend? How could thoughts of wanting to end our own life be triggered by the death of a dog? Personally…. It’s because that dog was my baby boy who I spent more time with than anyone else.. All my time spent with other people over the course of my entire life pales in comparison to the amount of time spent with my Bernstein Bear.
My heart breaks for all those in this situation. So far, there’s only one thing that has truly helped me through this…. I had forgotten and initially it didn’t help to remember but then, I finally recognized the dept of it again. It doesn’t make everything fine and dandy again but it is helping me.
I CHOSE THIS AND IF GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, I’LL DO IT AGAIN. NO REGRETS.
Not only did I accept it but I chose it and now I welcome it….. The pain, the uncertainty and anxiety that accompanies all the second guessing… the sadness during sleepless nights and all other times… my chapped nose and red puffy eyes from crying and wiping so much, BRING IT ON !
The sacrifice isn’t just about the time we give up by helping them to pass sooner rather than later but it’s about carrying the weight of it so that they need not even be bothered by it.
It wouldn’t be fair or kind for me to not only take on that responsibility but also beat myself up about it not going smoothly and with absolute peace as intended and expected. He is no longer here to be affected by any of it.
I am here and I refuse to let it torment me anymore because not only is it not necessary but it’s useless and counterproductive.
Instead, I’ve realized that I should rejoice every time I’m struck with the grief of losing my sweetie boy because it serves as a reminder of the strong desire I had and will always have for wanting to protect him. I didn’t fail my boy, I stayed true to the vow I made to act in his best interest.. with no concern about how it may affect me because that’s what a mom does, without question. My mind is finally clearing up and it’s realizing that I did do what I was meant to do as his mamma. Who’s to say what would have happened if I hadn’t made that decision but the fact of the matter is that I removed him from harm’s way and I did it knowing full well that I would be suffering all that I have ever since that November day.
And to think, all this time I had thought Bernstein’s purpose was to help me through all those yuck time that began in 2001 but it occurred to me, that possibly, Bernie’s purpose was to help me through all those yuck times in order to prepare me for the ultimate YUCK of losing him from my life
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 12, 2017:
Laura, gosh I am so sorry you are going through this! Having two senior dogs myself, my heart aches for you. It must have been an awful situation for you. I wished I had an exact explanation for what happened. Your vet should be the best person to ask. All I can say is that the tongue sticking out is not too unusual. Common sedatives are propofol, telazol or valium and they can cause deep sedation, thus the tongue sticking out. I remember when dogs were sedated prior to anesthesia several had their tongues out. Even my cat had it once when they sedated her for a nail trim. I would not be concerned about the tongue, it's just a muscle that's gets floppy when under sedation or anesthesia. Here's a person witnessing it after a sedative if it helps ease your mind:
The euthanasia solution (usually of a bright color so not to confuse it with something else) is an overdose of what used to be used to put a pet under anesthesia for a surgery. It's usually a drug called pentobarbital that quickly removes awareness and sensations of pain from the brain and causes the heart to stop. Because of this non-awareness, vets often tell dog owners not to worry about the occasional muscle twitch, jerk or vocalizations during euthanasia as these are unconscious reactions that are neurological and not a reaction from pain.
I am not sure why it took longer than usual to take effect, but have seen it happen once with a cat. The cat didn't show signs of suffering, it just took longer than usual for the heart to stop.
It could be it was a low dose or your dog had an underlying heart problem you were not aware of. With heart problems the drug doesn't circulate as it should and it fails to reach the heart enough to stop it. It does likely have some effect, but not enough to stop the heart right away. It could be your vet injected the solution in the chest area the second time so it could reach the heart more quickly.
Again so sorry, please don't feel bad, your purpose was to ensure a peaceful passing, most likely you are more disturbed than your dog was in pain considering how these drugs work. I think our pets are watching us from the above and it all makes sense to them now that our intent was ultimately freeing them from pain and suffering. If they could, they would likely lick our tears away and try to cheer us up. Try to not let this ending obscure your wonderful memories of your bond with your dog.
Laura on March 11, 2017:
Hi. I am really hoping you can help me find some peace today. I made the difficult decision to euthanize my dog Cosmo yesterday. She was a beautiful, loving rescue dog that I adopted 14 years ago as an adult so she at least 15 years old, probably 16 or even more. Her mind was alert and fine, but her legs had given out and she could not walk any longer despite giving her Rymadil and pain meds (which worked for a little while but then stopped). I had to carry her everywhere and at 48 pounds this was not easy. She would also yelp in pain when I did this. I did not think she was ready to let go, but I did not want to see her living like this especially since she would watch my other dogs running around and going for walks, and I could tell she was very frustrated and sad by her inability to get up and walk. So I brought her to the vet yesterday and after confirmation that there weren't any miracle drugs that would make her walk again, decided to proceed with the euthanasia even though I still felt it was not what she wanted. (I have euthanized other dogs at the end where I felt we were both ready so this was a very different situation of feeling that she was not ready to let go but me feeling like I could not handle the situation any longer.) I asked the vet to give her a sedative first and I laid with her and told her what a a good girl she was for about 15 minutes while the sedative took effect. At first she was responding to me but then she went into a deep state of unconsciousness where her tongue was hanging out which I did not expect. The vet finally came in to administer the euthanasia drug. She was using something that was all one unit with a needle on the end. She tried to get it in Cosmo's back leg but could not find a vein. She then administered in a front leg. From what I experienced with my other dogs, I expected the process to take about two minutes. But Cosmo kept breathing and nothing happened after the euthanasia drug was administered. This went on for at least 15 minutes as I became increasingly upset and heartbroken. The vet asked me if Cosmo had heart problems. I said no. Finally the vet asked if I wanted her to administer a second unit of the drug and feeling like I had no choice, I said yes (I wonder now if I could have stopped the entire thing at this point?) It looked like she put the second needle into the underside of Cosmo's chest. Again, I thought Cosmo would finally leave us in a minute or two but she kept breathing and at this point she started jerking from time to time. At one point I ran to the bathroom and vomited. I came back and Cosmo was still breathing. The vet kept assuring me that she wasn't feeling anything but I did not believe her. I was sobbing harder and harder as this went on. Finally, Cosmo's heart stopped after about 15 minutes of the second administration. This entire ordeal took more than 30 minutes since the first administration of the euthanasia drug. I am now certain that I made the wrong decision and Cosmo was not ready to leave and I essentially murdered her in a very cruel fashion. I can't sleep or eat. I am searching the internet today to try to find some explanation of what happened but I can't find any situation close to this one where a dog lasted 30 minutes and had to have two administrations of the euthanasia drug and still did not die for 15 minutes after the second administration. Are you able to explain to me how this could have happened? Was Cosmo feeling pain during this process? Should I call the vet and ask for the name of the sedative and euthanasia drugs that were administered? Could the vet have administered the euthanasia drug improperly? Is it possible the euthanasia drug was bad? I feel sick to my stomach and am beside myself in grief and self-hate today. Thank you.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 03, 2016:
I am so sorry Bernies Mom, it sounds like you are going through a stage of grieving that many dog owners go through, the thinking it was not the right time, the shock of our loved dogs no longer being around us, the helplessness of not knowing if the right decision was made. You said that he had several bad days " I felt like a horrible person for allowing his suffering to continue"" Often, the adrenaline surge at the vet may make dogs act in different ways, many owners questioned themselves like you did when their euthanasia appointment came up, and some even managed to bring their cats or dogs home the day of the appointment saying that perhaps it wasn't the right time, only to find out that back home, their dogs were back to being miserable again so they had to reschedule again. "I think it was better doing it the first time around" said one owner once who regretted the choice of going back home. "Now, we have to go through this twice and now I have the bad memory of giving him a horrible night, and this will never go away."
I think in your heart you knew it was the right choice, as you were talking yourself through it, you were just perhaps misinterpreting your dog's behaviors at the vet. Your vet's choice of words "fought to live" in my opinion are a poor choice considering that many dogs and cats react to the adrenaline surge in a similar fashion. Please don't feel bad, you gave your dog peace, the ultimate gift of love that all us pet parents dread doing, but that inevitably comes. Your dog loved you very much, and I am sure he's now in a better place watching over you, and I am sure if he could, he would wipe off those tears with gentle licks and tell you to please stop thinking of that last day, and instead rejoice and cherish all the great times you had together. Dogs teach us about love, life and also death and they also teach us to cherish our memories and look at all the good things in life. And when you look out your bedroom's window, don't think your baby as helpless, think about him as that little bundle of joy who loved you so much and that doesn't want you to suffer over something that would have inevitably come.
I am sure if you joined one of those pet owner mourning forums, you would find dozens of owners or more who were in your same situation and that you can help each other go through these tough times.
Susan from North Las Vegas, Nevada on December 01, 2016:
On some days, I was glad he was still beside me and other days I felt like a horrible person for allowing his suffering to continue.
On that dreaded day at the vet, my Bernie Bear "fought to live." Those were the vet's exact words. Why didn't I take it as a sign?
All he wanted was to be with me. For 17+ years, almost half my life, that was his priority.
And, I always told him that he had nothing to worry about as long as I was there. I told him that I would always take care of him and keep him from harm. I would do everything in my power to reduce any kind of discomfort or anxiety... because he was my baby boo... He helped me through so many tough times and I owed him my life... the least I could have done was continue taking care of him, making sure he was comfortable and felt safe.
I had given him 1/3 of a sedative that morning but he still had an appetite for the pancakes I made for him... and then the peanut butter and ice cream I gave to him before his appointment. He was tired but he must have felt safe because I was there. He pulled at the pancakes from my hand and didn't want to share any with his little sister. I should've considered that as a strong case for not keeping the vet appointment.
WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH ME, WHY DIDN'T I KEEP MY PROMISES TO MY SWEET BABY BOY?!
He was still calm while at the vet because (of course) he had nothing to fear... not with his momma holding him.. I promised to protect him and keep him safe but instead I was holding him down while allowing someone else to murder him. I remember almost screaming over and over again that it was okay and that I loved him.... he vocalized and closed his teeth around my finger... I told him that he could bite me as hard as he needed but then I had to pull that finger away and then I had to pull my thumb away because it was hurting as his teeth cut into my skin... another sign... He was trying to say, "No, momma. This isn't right. Don't do this."
If we had done a trial run first, I would have surely changed my mind.
All he wasnted was to be with me.
Every day and every night, he wanted to be beside me, leaning against me as I tapped away on my laptop..... So what if he wasn't always himself, he wasn't aware of anything during those times, probably so it wasn't causing him any detriment. And his legs weren't always working for him, causing him to fall down repeatedly. .. each time he fell, he would cry out a kind of bark in my direction to let me know that he needed help getting up, again.
Still, no reason to kill him.... I've read that pinched nerves is what causes it so it's not like he was experiencing physical pain. He was frustrated with falling down a lot but as long as he could handle it, I should've also handled it for as long as needed. He had already been mostly blind and deaf for years yet he totally adapted. No matter how many times I changed my room around to accommodate him, either with the placement of steps or a ramp, extra pillows, .. foam padding glued to the bottom 2 feet of my bedroom walls... .he didn't even give attitude about wearing diapers... and most times, he stood completely still for me so that I could sufficiently clean him and change him.
All my physical problems, he seemed to take for himself.. my bladder, my spinal injuries... I rarely if ever left the house... and all those times over all those many years, he didn't complain. He was the most precious baby and I think he relied on me and loved me almost as much as I did him. He never would have hurt me deliberately like that... . what is wrong with me... I don't feel as though I will ever forgive myself... It's been 2 weeks and I cry several times all throughout the day. He may be in a nice place with no pain but then again, he may have ceased existence in every way because of me. I needed him but I thought I was doing him the biggest favor... but I think he would've prefered that I just allowed him to choose when.... and until then, it was my obligation to not terminate any function of his little body and surely not to take his last breath.
I buried him outside my bedroom window... and all I think about is that my little baby is helpless ... he's laying there in the ground with dirt and bugs on him....
He was so special. to know him was to love him... and everyone knew we had a special connection... and I know that I let my most faithful and loyal companion down.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 22, 2016:
Dear Paulette, I think your vet is right as I have witnessed some pets not "absorbing" the euthanasia drug as they normally should due to circulatory problems. I am so sorry about your loss and you are struggling about your choice. We all love our dogs and do what we think is best for them. This may help you feel better. http://www.justanswer.co.uk/veterinary/7y6bj-dog-p...
Paulette on November 22, 2016:
We had to make the very difficult decision to put down our15 year old Pembroke Corgi, Milton. He could not longer walk and we did try medication but it only offered temporary respite. He developed painful sores which I had to debris and he panted in pain. His quality of life was so diminished. My husband and I argued about what to do because he still had his spirit but his body gave out on him. Our vet was amazing and she tried everything she could to help prolong his life. She did not want to put him down as well but we finally had to face the inevitable. It was such a hard experience. I had put down my previous family corgi and he passed quickly but Milton would not die and the vet was upset about it. She had to get a vet tech and administer more medication. I knew when they put the sedative in that he was in more pain than I realized and weweredoing the right thing. I saw him finally relax and be free of pain. I feel so much guilt in putting him down because his spirit was so strong and it was like he did it want to pass on. I feel like I tricked him and made him leave before he was ready to go. My husband and I still wonder if we did right by him. It was harder that he would not pass away and the vet had to administer additional mediciation. I asked her why he would not pass away and she said because he was so sick and his circulation was weak. I am not sure if she told me this to make me feel better or I feel he suffered.
Diann on September 08, 2016:
I had my beloved Corgi put down yesterday and it was horrible. She twisted, turned and screamed in total fear. I have had to have other pets put down and it always went so peaceful. I hope that she can forgive me but I will never forgive myself for putting her through the hell that she went through.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 26, 2015:
I am so sorry to hear about your dog having a seizure and being have to be put to sleep, my family went through something similar a couple of years ago with my cat. She took a turn for the worse in the night, and no vets were open at 2 AM in Italy. Sadly, she passed away at home in the wee hours of the morning. I am glad you were actually able to take your dog to the vet and found a compassionate vet and staff. I wished my family could have done the same with our cat, but sometimes with our best intentions things don't work out as we want.
McKenna Meyers on July 26, 2015:
I wish we had scheduled a euthanasia for our Corgi, but my husband was hoping he'd die peacefully and naturally. Unfortunately, my husband was out of town when our Corgi started having seizures. My son and I took him to the emergency pet hospital and they euthanisized him. They did a superb job and were kind and compassionate. However, it would have been much better if my husband had been there and we were with our regular vet. Best to plan ahead -- less traumatic and more intentional. Excellent hub.
jjwindham on July 21, 2015:
Thank you so much for your encouragement. It was certainly not the most peaceful situation. I was there with her trying to console her while they were restraining/choking her. I do hope she didn't think I had turned on her or was trying to cause her pain.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 21, 2015:
I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your girl. From your description, it seems like your dog panicked from feeling the injection. Consider that the same thing could have happened with any regular injection such as giving shots, fluids or medications. Even though she panicked, also consider that it was just moments compared to the 3 hour panic attack episode you described. I know it is tough to let go of these last final bad memories, but consider that now she's at peace and no longer dealing with this horrible disease you describe. Sending you my deepest condolences.
jjwindham on July 21, 2015:
I had to relieve my 2-year-and-3-month old Australian Cattle Dog, Pepper's, suffering last Monday. She had a genetic metabolic disorder that had caused atrophy in multiple areas of her brain. My happy, energetic, playful dog had gradually become frightened, lethargic, and almost blind. On Monday morning, she had a seizure/panic attack for 3 hours where she thought everything was attacking her. She didn't seem to even recognize us. The vet said it would continue to progress. I could not let her live like that. The vet did not give an anesthetic or sedative and said that a muzzle would be required for a dog who has seizures. The needle went in her front leg fine, but halfway through the injection, Pepper panicked. The needle came out of her leg causing it to bleed. They had to restrain her, pretty much choking her, and put the needle in her other front leg. Once it was in, she went limp, and I had a few seconds while she was unconscious to tell her I'm sorry and how much I love her. I am so sad for her that she had to go through that. She was such a sweetheart. I wonder if she would have been screaming if she had not being wearing a muzzle.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 17, 2015:
Margaret, I am so sorry to read your ordeal at the vet's. Unfortunately, as you can see, even from my previous posts, this isn't totally uncommon. A Google search will bring several cases similar to yours. It's one of those things we do not have control over, nor do the vets. As you already witnessed once, the appointment should be peaceful and the dog should drift into an anesthesia-like sleep. I can assure you that most appointments indeed go peacefully as I have assisted many euthanasia appointments. You put your dog to sleep in hopes and good faith that the same experience as with your previous dog would repeat. Please don't blame yourself as this is something not under your control. I know it will be tough to stop playing back those last images, but think about your dog, are these the memories Maggie wants you to think about? I am sure she would understand that you and the vet meant well and she would likely lick your tears off your face and tell you to cherish instead all the wonderful memories of all these years you spent together!
Margaret Yates on January 17, 2015:
When my first dog was put to sleep it was very quick, painless and peaceful so I thought it would be the same for Maddie, my beautiful, 10 year old chocolate lab. The vet said that putting her to sleep would be a kindness as she suffered with hip displasier and needed surgery on her back leg that was making it very difficult for her to walk, she was in pain and the chances of the surgery going well was 50.50 and would cause her even more discomfort, pain and stress. Weighing it all u we agreed to let her go. She was taken nto a little room at he back of the surgery and was made comfortable on a little bed. I sat down beside her and huged her, I was crying and just kept kissing her and telling her" its ok " but after three injections she was frantic, fighting and crying, it just wasn't working.. The vet said she would have to sedate her as she couldn't manage as Maddie was so distressed so she left and came back with a sedative... Still fighting which seemed like for her life and still crying she was sedated and eventually fell asleep and then the final injection was administrated and she died in my arms... I feel as though I have let her down so badly, all her life I have tried so hard to save her from pain and suffering, that's why I made the decision to end her suffering but instead she died crying, frightened and stressed.. not what I was expecting at all ... I can't forgive myself for putting her through this as she died and can't get the image out of my mind... I can't sleep as all I think about is her and am constantly crying
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 07, 2014:
Also, consider that what may have seemed pain to you, may have been normal reflexes, ie the head twitching you mention. Have you read the article at the end of the hub called "a letter from Annie?" If not, I am posting the link here:http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_letter_from_a... Your dog was blessed with 17 years of love, care and fun, rest assured she will be grateful for this last gift of kindness and being spared from further pain.
A crying former dog mama on November 07, 2014:
Yes, thank you very much for your response. I am sure my dogie will forgive me.... It's me myself who cannot let my guilt go.... Probably, I just have to remind myself constantly that even with less than a minute of evident discomfort during euthanasia (though it seemed like an eternity), still her suffering was less than what she was going through every day, even with Tramadol helping a lot. I am just wishing I'd let her be with me a day or more yet.... Well, I suppose, I better regret that I did it a couple of days too soon, than regretting that I let the pet suffer those couple of days.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 07, 2014:
I am so sorry things went this way, but you are right that things could have gone far worse if she was left to die from the painful cancer. I am sure that if dogs are really watching us from the above, your dog would understand that your wish was to free her from the inevitable pain and suffering a blocked bladder and colon can cause. You did the right thing. Sending you my deepest condolences.
A crying former dog mama on November 07, 2014:
I took my dog to the vet hospital for euthanasia.... It was the hardest depiction of my life. My dog was 17 years old and had a progressed bladder cancer. The tumor was already huge , interfering with defication and urinating. I kept my dog on trance dermal tramadol for comfort for some time. But then a day came when I thought I had to help my dog, as her days were almost over. She was showing signs of pain more and more often... Crying. The euthanasia didn't go as peaceful as I thought. First of all, my dog though at first being comfortable after the first shot, suddenly woke up and started crying. The vet gave her iv any way.... She seemed to calm down again, but still though motionless, she was giving short cries and head twitching.... The ved said it was natural, but now in after thought, I can't stop blaming myself for letting my dog go through this. I understand that the alternative might have been worse and her inevitable natural death might be much more painful..... Still......
dearabbysmom from Indiana on April 15, 2014:
A hard, but comforting read for the many who have had to put on these shoes. When it was time for my own 16 y/o Aussie, I had to trust the vet who afterward said we had made the right choice (I don't think they want to say beforehand...want it to be the pet parent's decision). This hub will find its way to someone who needs it at just the right time. Voted up.