What Happens During a Pet's Euthanasia Appointment

Dog Euthanasia: "Putting the Dog Down"
Dog Euthanasia: "Putting the Dog Down" | Source

Answers for Your Concerns

If your dog or cat has arrived at a point where nothing more can be done medically, your vet may suggest you schedule a euthanasia appointment. As sad as this may be, you may also have questions about what happens exactly and what to expect. As a loving and caring owner, you want to know what will happen that day so you can better deal with it all when that day arrives.

Having worked at an animal hospital, I have seen my fair share of euthanasia procedures. If this is the first time you will have a pet euthanized, you may have questions that perhaps you do not feel comfortable asking your veterinarian. I can help to clarify what happens and how.

What Happens During the Euthenasia

  • First of all, scheduling a euthanasia is a bit different than from making a normal appointment. At most vet hospitals, special time slots are reserved for euthanasias. These are usually the very first appointments of the day or the last in the evening.
  • You will be asked if you want to be there during the procedure. If not, you can drop off your pet at any time during the day. The vet will euthanize the pet when he has a free moment or at the end of the day.
  • If you decide to stay, then you will be given one of those specially reserved slots mentioned above. At these times, there are no other clients or pets scheduled as a form of respect.
  • This is done both for the owner's, pet's, and veterinarian's benefit. Your pet will not be disturbed by other pets. This is very important as very sick animals are very vulnerable from strong emotions and stress. Your pet will get the quiet ambiance it deserves. The veterinarian will not be rushed or under any pressure. There are no other clients waiting or emergency appointments coming. You will be allowed to take your time in saying goodbye to your pet.

Choosing Disposal Options

Once the appointment time has been set, the receptionist will ask you if you want your pet cremated or if you will have it buried.

  • If you want your pet buried, you may do so yourself, however, make sure to ask your local municipality if you are allowed to bury your pet in your yard. Special restrictions may apply.
  • If you choose to have your pet cremated, you may choose between a private or a communal cremation. Private cremations take place when your pet is cremated on its own and the ashes are returned to you in an urn. In communal cremation, the pet is cremated with other pets and usually the ashes are spread in a pet cemetery. In this case, the ashes are not returned.
  • Usually, a private cremation costs more. Both euthanasia and cremation services have higher charges the more your pet weighs. Ask about prices if finances are a concern.

Some owners may have doubts about what happens to their pet's body if they choose a communal cremation. They may fear the body may be given to a research lab and experimented on. This is a myth. I can say from experience that all the pets that were slated for communal cremation were sent to be cremated along with others. The cremation service used to come every Tuesday to pick up the bodies. I had to sign a report to confirm that he came to pick each one up.

After deciding how the body is disposed, you may be asked if your pet has bitten or scratched anybody in the past ten days. As horrible as this question may sound under the circumstances, it is required by rabies laws. If your pet did indeed scratch or bite someone, it must undergo a rabies test.

Once the appointment is made, it is important to make arrangements to have someone accompany you and drive, if possible. You may not expect it, but owners are often overwhelmed by emotions as they drive themselves to and back from the hospital. This can be dangerous and may be the perfect ingredient for an accident. Please give this option consideration. I have seen the most composed owners break down in tears and call somebody to pick them up because they were unable to drive.

Dog Euthanasia Explained by a Veterinarian

The Appointment Day

Forms to fill out.
When the day arrives, you will be taken into a room and given forms to sign to authorize the procedure and attest that you are the legal owner. Other forms will ask you to confirm the form of disposal you have selected. Please be aware that if you selected communal cremation, you will not get the ashes back. Finally, you will sign a form stating your pet has not bitten or scratched in the past ten days.

Bills to pay.
Payment is usually done up front; however, some owners may be too emotional and in those cases, some hospitals will send the bill.

Final goodbyes. Most hospitals will allow owners to spend time with their friend alone before the vet comes in. A blanket may be placed on the floor (for large animals) or on the examination table for the pet's comfort.

Will your pet feel pain? Once the veterinarian arrives, he may ask if you want your pet to be given sedatives, especially if your pet seems to be particularly anxious or in pain. Such sedatives may take about 15 minutes to take effect. An area in the pet's front forearm will be shaved to allow either a catheter or a needle to directly inject the solution.

How Do They Put a Pet Down?

The euthanasia solution is a very bright color so veterinarians will never mistake it with any other injectable solution. The most common solution consists of pentobarbital, a liquid barbiturate commonly used during surgery. This will be, however, an overdose amount, allowing the dog or cat to drift into an anesthesia-like sleep that will ultimately halt the breathing and cause cardiac arrest. Because this solution has an anesthetic effect, the pet will be unconscious and pain-free. The barbiturate will depresse the central nervous system, causing the pet to sleep (thus the terminology "put to sleep.")

This solution is injected into a vein. The only pain the pet will feel is indeed the needle. The solution acts pretty quickly: Most pets will take a deep breath and become unconscious within ten seconds, just as a person falls to sleep counting backwards during surgery. The vet will then use a stethoscope to verify the absence of a heartbeat, confirming therefore that the pet has passed to a "better life."

In some cases, the pet may have some involuntary muscle twitches or may urinate or defecate. These are just automatic nerve reflexes. The eyes will likely stay open, just as when anesthetized. These are very important aspects to consider as they may be disconcerting to the owner; for this reason, pet owners should be warned beforehand.

You will then be left alone with your pet if you wish. If your pet will be buried, the staff may put it in a large black bag for you. If you opted for cremation, once you leave, the pet's body will be wrapped in a black bag and stored in a big freezer until the cremation services arrive.

It usually takes an average of a week to ten days then for the ashes to return. Most hospitals will call once the remains arrive. Urns will vary in size depending on how large your pet was.

The euthanasia procedure is never an easy procedure. Even as a staff member, I often found myself in tears as I said goodbye to pets that had been longtime patients. I hope that this article has answered your questions and prepared you for what to expect. I offer my deepest sympathies, hoping that one day, we may all reunite with our furry friends over the "rainbow bridge."

What Happens When Pets Die

The Rainbow Bridge Poem (Author Unknown)

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

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Comments 86 comments

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West Virginia

I am sorry, I ncouldn't read the whole article without choking back the tears. Silly as this may seem I put my cat to sleep in 1992. I still get emotional! I chose to stay with my bpet and so did my daughter who came with me.

This is a good article. I didn't get to have my pet buried nor was able to get my cat;s remains such as a cremation. It did cost a lot of money though. I seem to remember $1,500.00. Be prepared for the cost as well and sorry if yo already included that in your article. See animals are like chidlren and best friends to me and I get emotional with them and about them. I feel their pain--literally, being an empath.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for the feed back! The first days I worked at the vet's, I had to lock myself up and dry the tears because i was unable to stay composed and professional. And these were pets I never saw before! Ultimately, I got used to it, but still to this day, I feel so sorry for owners going through this. I think it is the most difficult choice for pet owners to go through, and all owners have my deepest condolences...either for losses of days ago or losses of many years ago..

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West Virginia

Trying to understand myself in this, I don't understand how I can still be so emotional over his passing and not the cat that I lost this March. The only thing that I can think of is that I had to put him to sleep and end his life from Feline AIDS and my cat that died naturally. I try to push out of my mond that I killed him and she died natrually in her own time. This may coe up in those who have yet to put theirs to sleep too. He would have died soon anyway. I was with him as I stated in my last comment. What happened to me was very spiritual and I will share it with you here........When he got the shot andthey were pushing the fluid into him. I was holding him from above his body. He leaped out of his body. There was a definate jump before he died and I did not imagine it. At that moment I felt Ice shards go through my body and out through the top of the room. I saw him standing at the top of the room looking back at his body and me. Telepathically he said "Thank You' and let me know that he would be back. His name was Bambi. He ws 11 years old.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 years ago from USA Author

When it come to spiritual facts, I am a believer. What happened to you sounds like something amazingly beautiful, and I truly believe this special kitty is grateful. He surely must have had a great 11 years with you. Bless your heart for taking care of him!

Feline Aids is in fact a terrible disease, I hope one day they find a cure for it.

I had a very special kitty too. Her name was Belinda. She was very special and somehow always smelled like baby powder:) I got married and left her with regret in 1998 with my parents. Once I fixed my house, I was ready to go and get her and finally let her live with me. Once I arrived at my parents house (1 hour flight away) I asked for her and my mom tears in her eyes, told me she had some how escaped. I looked for her for days.. and finally gave up. I never could come to a closure as to what happened to her and if she was still alive. Then last year, 10 years later, my mom revelaed to me the truth. She somehow got injured and climbed the stairs crying out loud and came to lie on floor stretched out in obvious pain. Unable to lift her head or get up that evening she died. 10 years later I was still crying for this cat. Cats are very special creatures, they seem to steal our hearts and souls like no other animals. As a child, I also had many spritual events take place involving cats, so I am not surprised for what you saw that day..

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West Virginia

Well sorry for not posting ba back right awya. I now have a cat that smells like cookies. His name is Charlie and I wrote a hub about him. He's the one who thinks he is a dog. hahaha. He is sooo precious!

Eternal Evolution profile image

Eternal Evolution 7 years ago from kentucky

This is a very good yet sad hub. I have never had a pet euthanize, but perhaps one day i'll have to. It would be a heartbreaking decision, but it's better than watching your beloved pet suffer This information is helpful.

geneandcol 7 years ago

i,m sorry but didn't know how to begin. we just had our beloved 16yr old shih tzu(nickels) put down. he was soooo healthy his whole life til the last few yrs when he became sligthly deaf and blind but could still get around just great. when he had to go out we would help him down a step to avoid him tripping because of his perception being bad to avoid injury. i stopped letting him sleep in our bed with us out of fear of him falling out. well, i let him in the bed with us and he worked his way to the edge and either just walked off or rolled off, all i heard was a thud. he was paralized on all fours and with the best care the vet could give him for a week he never improved. we didn't want him to have to live like this and we had to let him go. i will beat myself up for letting him in the bed for quit some time and i'll never really know if i'll get over it, he was our baby and we will love him forever.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 years ago from USA Author

Please do not torture yourself with guilt. He had a great life with you and 16 years old is a remarkable age for a dog. I am sure if he was watching you from the above he would not want you to feel like that. Try to keep his good memories alive and do not batter yourself for what was an accident. You have no guilt over this and all you did was wanting to have him close to you and happy. I am sure if he could, he would lick your tears away, tell you to stop feeling sorrow and just focus on all the great times you had together. Grieving is a process, so it may take some time to feel better. Ultimately, try to celebrate his life instead of focusing on his death!  My best wishes.

SafariWoman profile image

SafariWoman 7 years ago from Hawaii, Florida or Somewhere Inbetween

Thanks for the article. Unfortunately I may need to imagine myself in this situation all too soon in preparation.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 years ago from USA Author

I always somehow hope for a dramatic turn around, you never know, but having been in the same situation many times in my life as a pet owner, it is never a bad idea to be prepared for the worse..

crayonbrains profile image

crayonbrains 7 years ago from The World Is Mine !

''One day we may all reunite with our furry friends over the Rainbow bridge''AMEN to that!I wanna Thank you Alexadry for a very informative hub! I shudder at the thought of losing my pet..but now i know what to expect in case a pet needs to be 'put to sleep'

Michelle smith 7 years ago

Just found out my dog Buck a half Rott. and Boxer who will be nine in Dec.has bone cancer.He is a gentle giant and a friend to all.Im just trying to decide on his arrangements for when the time comes.Would like him to be at home when the time comes.These are very diffcult decisions for us,But want to be prepared

Rosalyn Roberts 6 years ago

My cat (Spankey) is 19 years old and has been my best friend for all those years.. I can never express how much I love him... However; the last several weeks, he has been getting confused - lack of interest in anything...sleeping in strange places and likes being in the dark alone.. I know it is time but, my heart is breaking.. I can't imagine my life without him. He has always loved his tummie rubs and we have our favorite sugar spot on top of his head. Tomorrow, i will have to have him put to sleep and reading these posts have helped a little - however; I know I will be depressed for a long time. I do have two other cats which will help somewhat... I LOVE MY SPANKEY.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

if you had not mentioned about him lacking interest in normal things, I would have thought that he had feline Alzheimer's. Yes, pets get Alzheimer's too only it is called ''Feline cognitive dysfunction or feline dementia. Google it, you may find some interesting information. However, you mentioned he has lost interest in anything and this may be his way of saying his time has come. You took great care of him, I only know one or two cats that at our clinic lived so long. I know how tough it is, keep him alive with all your good memories, I am sure you have gone through a bunch together in those 19 years! My very best wishes I will keep you and Spankey in my thoughts.

Rosalyn Roberts 6 years ago

Hi Alex: Thank you so much for answering my post. Spankey "is" still eating....and he is still so beautiful and loving - He just doesn't want to socialize anymore - he wants to be alone in dark places...I would so hate to have him put to sleep if he were just depressed...I did get a kitten about two months ago - but, Spankey seemed to adjust quite well... Please let me know your thoughts on his just wanting to be alone... Thanks.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

You are very welcome. It could just be that as cats age they feel the need to value their personal space more. Is the kitten bothering him? Sometimes, senior cats cannot keep up with boisterous kittens and may seek some quite time by hiding. Senior cats will sleep more sometimes even up to 18 hours a day, so he may just be looking for some peace and quiet. I am happy to hear he is still eating and loving!

Ve 6 years ago

I am going into deciding this for my dog. I've been avoid even thinking about it but my Mom thinks it's time. Where I think he still has time left.

Can dogs get Alzheimer's too? I think that's more of what is going on as my dog seems confused a lot but he still eats like a little piggy, goes out, and responds to a good rub with some tail wags. how ever he's had 2 seizures in 2 or so months and he's 17 years old

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

Yes, you are correct, indeed dogs get Alzheimer's as well. It is called canine cognitive disfunction syndrome. You can google it. At times, dogs are prescribed a medication called ''Anipryl '' when it is at its earlies stages. It perhaps can buy your dog some time. My best wishes!

Missi 6 years ago

We have a Westie who will be 15 in April, but stopped eating a week ago and we went to our vet to see what was going on and he spent two hours with us. Macleod has large cell lymphatic cancer. He is my first real dog that was my own as we had family pets growing up. He has been a wonderful dog so much personality and so much fun to be with and have around. He is being a real trooper but I know he has to go to Rainbow Bridge, he has a brother a Yorkie that is 6 and has an enlarged heart and has seizures and his breeder gave him to me because they did not think he was going to make it, but he has and he and I have a special bond and then we got a toy poodle that walks with a limp because her Mom stepped on her when she was born and messed up her shoulder, but boy can she run. Macleod has been very accepting of both of them and any animal I have ever brought home as I dog sit and house sit. Anyway Macleod is sick and we have to put him to sleep, he is on some antibiotics but won't eat a lot just some treats and he sleeps a lot, so I have to make an appt for him in the next couple of days and I wanted to know what was going to happen and your site has helped me out with that. Thank you for the info it has been very helpful. We are going to have him cremated so he can be with us all the time.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

Your story is very touching and it is nice to hear that you take care of many pets in need. Sounds like Macleod has had a great life with you, 15 years is a surely a great age for a dog, you took very good care of him! Please make sure to let the vet know you want ''private cremation'' and you want the ashes back. This so not to confuse it with ''communal cremation'' where pets are cremated with other pets and the ashes are not returned.

I am glad this article helped you even though it is not in one of the best circumstances. Sending a virtual hug to Macleod, he sure sounds like a great dog, cherish these last moments with him and keep them locked forever in your heart!

Victoria 6 years ago

I have had four older dogs euthanized (it never gets easier). Usually as the drugs take affect there is no movement or reaction. THis itme they had a hard time finding a vein to put the catheter in. Once it was done we said our goodbyes. Just before the vet put in the needle our dog lifted her head fro the firs titme in days and started to scrambled on the table. She had beenso frail and weak but once suddenly stronger. THat haunts me. I know it isn't aobut her knowing what was happening. BEesides it was time. But that had never happened before. I had read there could be face twitches, spasms but this was a dog who acted afraid of the needle...can you help me understand?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author


This happened right before giving the euthanasia solution right? If that is the case, this is quite common. We have had this happen to clients and they were trying to give the procedure second thoughts as they were amazed their pet seemed to have suddenly regained strength. It does seem that being at the vet gives very sick pets an adrenaline rush that may cause them to appear to have strength again.

We had a client with a cat that was 18 years old that acted terribly sickly and then started to walk around and act in health once in the waiting room. She therefore cancelled the euthanasia appointment only to reschedule it that evening because once home, the cat was back to laying down listless.

I have also seen the same happen to some dogs right upon being injected the Sleepaway solution. Their forces are gathered for one last struggle but this is only temporary in most cases as the adrenaline rush withdraws. Your dog certainly did not know what was happening but perhaps was fearful of the needle, especially if they had to poke her repeatedly to find the vein.

Many dogs seem to get stronger once at the vet because they are very nervous, their heart pumps faster, their body gets into a fight or flight mode, which gathers their last strength making them appear stronger. Yet, as said this is only temporary.

I hope this helps you understand what likely happened. I know her behavior might have been perceived by you as giving you hopes, but really from my experience all it is is a temporary adrenaline rush, quite common in dogs that do not like to be at the vet. Should you have taken her home, very likely she would have gone back to her frail self and you had to reschedule the appointment causing her more distress.

We all would like our pets to go peacefully, but at times, those needles, smells and other things at the vet that dogs associate with something unpleasant will cause reactions as this. In some cases, it helps to give sedatives prior to the appointment, but it is often hard to predict how the dog will react once exposed to all those things at the vet that cause an adrenaline rush.

Don't let this haunt you, it is quite common especially if your dog did not like going to the vet in the first place. Your dog is know in a better place with no more pain and is watching over you, instead of over worrying, fill your life know with fond and meaningful memories of her.

Kind regards.

Beverly Thompson 6 years ago

I just want to thank you for your site. I had my dog, Chief put to sleep just Saturday and I'm struggling with my grief. He had heart failure and had become listless and unable to do anything without a lot of breathing effort-deteriorating rapidly thelast couple of weeks. I had him for 12 years and miss him dearly. I was with him when he went down and I am comforted now knowing that the "death med" was painless.He simply laid his head down-but of course I wondered later if he felt his heart stop. Thanks so much for the information. I needed to hear that.

Judy Jones 6 years ago

We just had our 15 year old cat, Snoopy, put to sleep 4 days ago. He was diagnoised 2 weeks ago with bone cancer. We did choose to stay with him because we had to also have our cat, Tigger, who was 21 years old euthanasied several years ago. It helped to see how peaceful it was, just like being sedated for surgery ourselves. My question is, a large amount of fluid poured from his nostrils immediately following the pocedure. What caused this? Our decision to put him to sleep was because when we came in from work that day he was having difficulty breathing. As in humans, did the cancer reach his lungs and that was fluid from the lungs? Tigger did not do this but he had renal failure, was deaf and then went blind.

Kelley 6 years ago

We my sister and I just came back from euthanizing our beloved lab Ripley. It was so hard, we knew she was in pain, All day she could not stand up so we carried her to the car. At the vets she stood up!! As if to say I can do this, we stayed til the end, crying of course. We know we did the right thing but we had Ripley for 16 1/2 years and she was the sweetest loveable almond eyed dog. RIP Ripley, you are in our hearts forever

Keith 6 years ago

Thank you all for your testimonials. My 13 year old poodle mix has been dclining for almost the last year but still enjoyed a quality of life that gave everyone even more loving memories. She stopped eating on Tuesday. By Wednesday night she was unable to even stand. Her breathing became labored and she was having short twitching movements. Last wekk I threw away a rug there was no way of getting the smell of rine out of. My baby has been pee incontinent for 6 months. I made arrangements with my vet to have her put to sleep today and that's what happened. They gave her a shot to relax her, then an injection to euthanize her. She also had the adrenaline burst of energy and whelped when they gave her the first injection. I held it together and had the supreme gift of cuddling her as she drifted off. Now I'm really hurting, but I know I fulfilled my last duty to her. She has meant the world to me. I will always carry her in my heart and I know today will become tomorrow and the rock in my stomach will dissolve.

brielle 6 years ago

Today I put my beloved cat to sleep after 13 1/2 years together. Two weeks ago he started walking in circles & was very confused. We tried treatment for a couple things but ultimately realized he had a brain tumor. Today he couldn't even maintain the strength to stand for much time at all. I had to hold food under his nose for him to eat and he hasn't drank on his own for days. I have witnessed euthanasia a couple of times prior to this, but I am confused by what I saw today. My boy was very, very weak for the past 2 days. Because he was dehydrated, I know they had a tough time getting a catheter into the vein, but were able to do it. The first injection sedated him, but caused him to start to vomit. I understood this because he hasn't eaten much at all. But once they administered the 2nd injection, he struggled a lot, experiencing muscle contractions like he was struggling to breathe. I don't mean to be graphic because I don't want anyone to be afraid to bestow the one kindness we can offer pets over humans, but this has really been bothering me and I can't stop crying about it. I don't want to think his last moments were stressful in any way. The vet compared it to something that happens in all animals, particularly horses she treats. Is this normal? Was he properly sedated? I can't stand the idea that he was confused or struggling!

Elaine H. 6 years ago

A very helpful site for a grieving pet owner! Thanx.

Pat H. 6 years ago

Thank you so much for this article.. I am losing my friend of 21 years today, but until now I did know what would happen. I'm very upset, but know this is the right decision and now I know it will not be a painful one for Mogwi.

6 years ago

I am sad to think Brielle is tormented over the last moments of her beloved pet. What she describes sounds like a reflex action. In the final moments of consciousness, all her darling pet would be aware of would be the presence of Brielle. Today, I had to have a darling cat put to sleep. She was the mother of another cat which had to be put to sleep less than two months ago, so I speak from sad experience. Brielle, you did the best for your pet. You did the right thing, and you were with your pet until the very end, which is the last gift of love.

brielle 6 years ago

J - thank you so much for your kind words. I am very sorry for your losses, as well. I really struggled at first but know it was my emotional response to losing Felix that was bothering me the most. I have complete faith in my vet and know that she helped me do the right thing. It's just so hard to let go of the animals who bring us so much joy. J, your reassurance means a lot to me. Peace -

Debbie 6 years ago

We had to have our beloved Willow put to sleep on Saturday after a double thyroid removal operation which in effect was successful and ten days later the cat experienced a sudden brain bleed and became very weak and waif like - the vet did all she could but unfortunatley could not perform miracles and save him. RIP Willow until your Daddy is reunited with you - thank you for 15 wonderful years of love - you will be so missed - you were the best darling

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bd160900 6 years ago from San Diego

I thought this was very informative. thanks for writing

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Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

This is probably the hardest job out there. To put an animal to sleep that has been nothing but a loyal friend and companion must be difficult for you.

Having had my best friend put down I commend you for being able to do this, I don't think I could.

This article is very helpful for those having to contemplate euthanasia.

Gazzy 5 years ago

we put our beloved border collie gizmo to sleep today had a few fits in past year but friday had a massive one that lasted over half an hour he had arthritus for a while and was on medication for it but just wasn't working anymore his quality of life wasn't good at all was stroking him as he was given the injections i couldn't look at it i felt sick that this was his last moments alive with us. after the injection was given i looked at his chest and could see it wasn't moving my stomach sank i carried on stroking him and looked into his open eyes to see he wasn't there anymore cant believe he has gone he had two sets of puppys and we have his son from the first litter still with us been giving him lots of attention but im worried when he finaly realises he will go down hill fast i love my two dogs bestest friends ive ever had r.i.p gizmo

Sally 5 years ago

I took my 15 year old cat Lulu to be put down today; I thought I'd been prepared for it as she had been ill for some time, but the reality was shocking and heartbreaking as I'm now left with the image of her lying on the table with her eyes wide open and her tongue hanging out. I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight as it's all I can see every time I close my eyes. Finding this site has been so helpful though, and it's been reassuring to see that what happened is normal and she wouldn't have been aware of what was going on. As hard as it was, I'm glad to have been there with her as couldn't have forgiven myself if I'd sent her in on her own. It's such a tough decision to make, ending a pet's life, but if it means they stop suffering it's the only way. Sounds silly but i'm posting this because I want her to be remembered forever; she was a mad, often naughty, smelly old cat but I loved her and will really miss her.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

And she will be surely dearly remembered and missed! Cats just have that special charm that makes them so unique, and so special little creatures!

While remembering eyes wide open and tongue hanging out are not really the best last memories, try to remember her at her peak top shape: her body is after all just a ''shell'' enclosing a spirit now finally free of pain forever and in peace. I am sure if she could talk, this would be the memory she would prefer you had of her. Remember her as you just described her '' a mad, often naughty, smelly old cat '' that will be truly missed.

RIP Lulu! My deepest condolences.. sending you a virtual hug!

sally 5 years ago

Thanks Alexadry x

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Just to make you feel better, when I worked at the vets all cats and dogs put ''under'' for surgery had their eyes open and tongue sticking out. My vet had to put drops to lubricate the eyes since they dried out during surgery.

Putting a pet to sleep is the same process of putting a pet under for surgery, it is just an overdose of the same meds used to put a pet under for surgery. So the pet drifts to sleep the same way, (and looks the same!) only that in euthanasia the pet does not wake up anymore..

Serenity 5 years ago

We had to make the terrible decision to put our Chocolate Lab/golden retriever mix to "sleep" one week ago. He was 18 years old. He had led an adventurous life with us out in the country. He was an inside/outside dog, basically wherever we were, so was he. Sampson had taken a rattlesnake bite to the face to prevent me from being bit over ten years ago; he had "attacked" a water moccason to prevent it from coming near my son and was bitten that time too. He "saved" us from a porcupine, and had to have surgery to remove the quills from the inside of his mouth, and once even tried to fight a longhorn bull that nearly gored me, giving my time to get away. He never hesitated to put himself in harms way, and yet he survived all of those heroic acts. He became old and arthritic, he was spoiled in his older years, sleeping with us, sometimes getting a heatiing pad when his hips would ache, and took medicine for his arthritis. Yet he still walked with us everyday, and had to be held back from his attempts to hunt birds during our walks. In the end, it was stomach cancer that did him in. His passing at the veterianarians office was peaceful, he seemed so tired, almost as if he was ready to go. Our vet sedated him, and he went quickly and peacefully. My sixteen year old son and I held him as he died, my son having known him his entire life. God Bless all of those who help animals like our Sampson, and their families, during these times. We call them pets, but they are more than pets. They are friends, family, and heros.

Diana 5 years ago

As a vet assistant, I would like to commend you on your article. It is very accurate and well written and surely will serve someone well when wondering what to expect re: this procedure. Thank You

seniffx 5 years ago

Our 17 year old Toy Poodle was euthanized a few hours ago. Simba became blind and deaf 2 years ago so his quality of life was not good cuz all he did was walk around the house all day very very bored and scared. This morning after walking up the stairs from outside he began struggling to breathe and soon began drooling and panting, he was really out of it. I did not go with them to the vet, but they told me that soon after the shot, Simba stood up and became lucid for several minutes until the effects kicked in and he was held by my mother until he went limp. They were told it was a stroke and I know he is better off, but could he have had some other temporary condition like an insect bite or ate something strange, asthma attack? Because they swear that Simba became 100% normal again, wagging his tail and wanting to walk. I searched google and found no other accounts of a pet becoming very lucid after the shot. Perhaps the shot surprised him. Its strange how they claim he went from not moving at all and drooling, but after the shot he became normal. If this was Simbas way of saying goodbye, it has mixed results cuz my mother is wondering if they and the vet jumped the gun. I am not questioning euthanization, I just want to know if this happened to anyone else and what other ailments could resemble a stroke. Once again, Simba was blind and deaf and so very very bored and had breathing problems, almost no teeth, so there was not much for him to get out of life cuz the outdoors was everything to him and he could no longer enjoy outside. Him and I were best pals, I knew him for the last 17 years of my life. He would come downstairs to see me every day until he went blind and the stairs scared him. It was so very strange without him coming down to see me every day, I was used to it for 15 years. Without his sight and hearing, I spent less and less time with him and I know its gonna bother me. For over 5 years I worried every day that I would be told Simba died, but it never happened. I loved him so much. When I was a boy, I was mean to him. It got to the point where Simba would growl when I approached him. Then one day I felt super guilty for being mean to this little guy and for the next 9 years him and I became great friends, and he gradually quit growling until there was nothing but trust in his eyes towards me. I have yet to cry, it is very strange.

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carolinemoon 5 years ago

Thanks for more information.

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davidparklg 5 years ago

Great hub, alexadry. You have good interpretations about pets here.

jeff 5 years ago

Just put our 17 year old girl sammy down tonight. Sammy spent many years roaming free and would be with me wherever we went and loved to go on hikes or long walks and long runs. So much pleasure to watch sammy in a heaven on our runs on the mesas and canyons of chinle arizona. Bad arthritus in her hind legs and chf made walking much more difficult her final year. today she could barely get up and would plop right back down. I had decided that when she got to this point it was time for me to let go. Tommorrow I would call my vet. But sammy was very agitated through the night and was moaning and telling me she was miserable and couldn't sleep. Should I call emergency medical services tonight or waite until morning so she could be cared for by the Vet I felt comfortable with. Not wanting her to be miserable through the night we made the call to the on call emergency vet services. In addition I gave her one of my wifes 0.5mg lorazepam kind of winging it hoping the dose was safe (sammy weight was down to 36 Pounds)and hoping that that would help calm her agitated mind. The Lorazepam did seem to help a little and perhaps we could have waited till morning but alas we were carrying her to the car to the on call tech and vet. The tech arrived and was nice and comforting but when the vet arrived he did not address us. I was not feeling good about him but thought he must love animals and people who love animals and soon that would become apparent. We placed her on the table and he was ready with the injection still not saying much to us. Could you examine her first. What for she is 17.( I mean please for my sake show me you care and you are going to take care of my girl. I was picturing holding and petting sammy as she gradually drifted peacefully to sleep. The Vet took out the syringe and stuck sammy and she let out a painful scream as she looked at me terrified for the last time and before I could come out of sensory overload she was gone. My wife and I were sobbing and we both talked about her inocence and how she trusted us and I kept saying I am so sorry sammy. We were both bothered by her last moments and wished we could take it back and bring her to the vet we know. I remember our vet had talked to us about end of life a little. How she would be sedated first before being given the lethal injection. I guess I would say theres great importance psycologically to being helped to feel you are in the hands of people who respect your pet and respect the strong feelings we have as pet owners in the life of our pet and at this difficult moment when we truly want to believe we are helping our loved one.

Simaslovingmommy 5 years ago

This site has been quite helpful....I have been faced with the prospect of euthanizing my chow for some time...he just has gone downhill for so long..but, I keep holding two kids from college are coming home today to say their goodbyes to Simba...he is kidney in failure...blind for months,deaf..bad arithtis..and suffers allergies...cannot hold his bladder..I have known this time was coming..he is nearly 14....and hasn't enjoyed life for some's one of the hardest decisions for me to make..but I am slowly coming to terms with it as being the kindest thing I can do...I'm so afraid if I don't do it like the vet recommended....he will one night be in such pain and suffering that it will be worse than now..and I will have wished I had done it sooner and spared him even worse than what he is suffering now....even knowing he was only likely going to make it a few more months..I still don't seem prepared as well that that time has come...I keep putting the appt off..but...I know it is time now....he needs that long rest from it all....I use to feel that it was a cruelty and not my place to make such a choice for him of his life..but, I finally believe we were given this route as a loving way to help our pets thru...especially seeing as his age...the time is upon either way..and after two days of his moaning in pain...not helping him this way seems even more cruel than I felt doing it was b4..I luv him more than I think he could ever know..and will be with him thru his final breathe....for today we will enjoy him as a family at the lake and with ice cream treats...and the warm fall breeze and the sun on us...and tomorrow I will make the appt for my dear friend who has long stood by I will do for him as he reaches the end.

Tkay 5 years ago

Thank you so much for this article Alexadry, and thank you to everyone that posted their stories! Your article and stories have helped me. I hope to post my own, and hopefully it helps someone else who has lost a furry friend/family member as well.

My family and I put our cat Tigger down, about 4 years ago now, he was 21/22 years old. That cat and I grew up together; There are baby pictures of myself and him playing together (with him as a kitten). He lived a long and happy life, but his time came (his kidneys were to the point of failing long story short) and we had to put him down to avoid letting him die a painful death. Our vet explained to us what to expect, but nothing could really prepare us for what we were about to really witness. Like Brielle's experience, I never got those last haunting images out of my mind of him being put to sleep. I didn't expect those reactions from him. But now that I read this article, and everyone else's experiences, I feel much better knowing that those are common and normal reactions. Now I can look at those last memories of not sadness, but love and kindness of being there for him to the very last moment.

Tomorrow my family and I have to put our other cat Sassy to sleep. He is in his 20's, we've had him since I was a little girl. His body is withering away to nothing but bones, he is disoriented all the time/lost/confused, has severe arthritis where it takes him forever to lay down/get up, doesn't use the litterbox at all anymore and urinates/defecates where ever he pleases (to the point where it has attracted a fruit fly infestation), is severely dehydrated all the time, sleeps most of the day away, and throws up most of the food he eats almost every day. He has a health condition that requires a surgical biopsy to identify exactly what he has - which requires the vet to remove part of his intestine... The vet said one of the conditions could be cancer, which is incurable. So we didn't want to put him through more pain in misery for something that can't even be cured, for an insane amount of money that we can't afford. He is a very old cat, and has lived a long and happy life, and his bad moments definitely outnumber the good now... It's just hard to believe that this all is happening again, so fast. I hope our last remaining family cat, Squeaky, will be okay. He's lost two friends now and will have no other furry friends to play with while we are at work, but I can't bear to get another cat, the experience of putting them down is just too heart wrenching.

But once again, thanks for the article, I feel like this has given me more knowledge and understanding about my past experience before, less guilt, and strength to deal with tomorrow. ~Hugs to everyone~

Adam 5 years ago

Hardest thing I have ever had to do was deciding to put my best friend Dexter (Jack Russel) down.

Three days earlier he was normal jumping, playing, barking, eating what ever. later that night he was not begging during supper time, I said to my wife where is Dexter. He was not acting normal but we thought maybe he was not feeling well and got into something that upset his tummy.

Three days later with out drinking, eating, playing, jumping, or anything but sleeping other then I did have a walk (his last walk with me) I was optimistic that he maybe feeling better. He started throwing up and breathing funny that day, we decided that's enough he's going to the vets.

We waited so long because of our financial state is not good (on parental leave and wife in school) I left it in mother natures hands but she failed me and I had to bring him in to find out what is happening. Prognosis was he had Pancreatitis and would cost me 850 bucks I said yes fix him please. Later that night the vet called and told us it was not Pancreatitis but Kidney failure, I was crushed because now this was way out of my reach to help would cost me 3 thousand dollars plus monthly vet visits to save him. I had to decide now to put him down and let me tell you I was a mess a grown man uncontrollably crying.

Dexter was only 3 years old and we got him at 1 half months old, he was my best friend always near me and had to go where ever I went. The thing that hurts the most is he would not look at me but stared at my wife before and during the euthanization, that hurt me a lot. Did he think I abandoned him? I stood by him until his last breath and heart beat and I cried out SORRY...

Dexter March 2008 - Oct. 2011

Cricket Born July 6, 2001 Passed away November 12, 2011 4 years ago

Our dog, Baby cricket was such a wonderful Angel. He was our light, he guarded each and every one of us for the past 10 years and 4 months. He made sure everyone was okay. Cricket made sure he said good bye to each one of us before he left us. We love him so much and unforgettable. He died peacefully at home on Saturday Nov 12th in our hands. Our wish is we want Cricket to come back to us as the length of the time is too short. We miss him so much.. Cricket had a very beautiful life we took him every where we went he followed us all the time. Cricket is resting in peace and we will always love him and remember him every day. We have had him since he was 7 weeks old. Cricket baby we love you so much....

Tonya 4 years ago

As everyone else has already stated, thank you very much for this article. Yesterday we had to have our Newfy/lab put to sleep. She had a heart condition that lead to CHF. After a particulary rough morning for her, and fast breathing that didn't ease up thru the day we took her back in to the vet where they hooked her back up to the Echocardiogram. Long pauses followed by runs of PVC's and back to long pauses. We made the impossible decision. She had lasted 5 months longer than the vet originally thought. I went in with her by myself (my husband had to work and couldn't be there) and my family sat in the waiting room with my daughter. Our vet gave her a sleepy medication prior to "the shot". And then left her and I to be alone until it had taken full affect. Only within a minute she was limp and gasping for breath while fluid poured from her nose and mouth. Her head rocked back and forth over and over again and I started screaming for the vet. She ran in, saw what was going on and quickly gave Chloe "the shot". It was traumatic and awful. It's all I can see right now. She had warned me that Chloe's nose and mouth dripping might get a bit worse as she relaxes and all the fluid retention... but Im terrified that she was aware of everything and felt pain and fear. Exactly what I didn't want for her which is why we chose to have this done before another episode happened. (Episodes where wide eyed panic, couldn't breath, purple tongue and ears that lasted over an hour and only medication to calm her down would bring her out of it, only this last episode that morning didn't end).

is the back and forth bobbing of her head normal, do you think she felt pain? I held her until long after her heart stopped.

I hope you are still on this, I really need some answers....



alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

I am very sorry to hear about this dramatic happening. Having witnessed several euhthanasia appointments I can say most dogs thankfully go peacefully. However, occasionally I have heard some sad stories as yours even though I never witnessed one like that. It is hard for me to determine what exactly happened and I wished your vet could have given an explanation. I hate for you to have such memories stuck in your mind. It could be she had an adverse reaction to the drug which is usually a sedative such as valium or xanax. Since you said she went limp though when the sedative was given it could be the head bobbing was simply a reflex of which she was likely not aware (sort of like a seizure). However, I am a bit confused: you said she started reacting to the sedative and then was immediately given the actual euthanasia solution. But then you state the episode lasted an hour? were these episodes taking place prior to deciding to put her to sleep or where they taking just place after giving the sedative? One thing I can say is that sometimes with severe heart conditions the medication may not get to the dog's system at the ideal speed, therefore it may take longer to take effect.

This forum has reports of dog euthanasias gone wrong:

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Donna 4 years ago

Today, I let my best buddy Monkey go free. Free of pain and sadness. Monkey had Feline AIDS. He was 13 yrs old and older than 2 of my children. He started becoming unwell about 3 months ago. He developed ulcers in his mouth which left his mouth smelling terrible and making it hard for him to eat. We went to our vet who gave him antibiotics which cleared up the infections and he'd bounce back to his happy old self. Unfortunately the ulcers kept flaring up and the antibiotics stopped working. He'd lost so much weight. He stopped coming to me for cuddles, he stopped sleeping on my daughters bed. He would just sleep in his basket all day. In the last four weeks he became even more withdrawn. He would run and hide under a bed all day and would not come out, even for his food. I told my husband he needed to take him to our vet, who was also our friend. Today I hugged and kissed my boy, told him I loved him and said my goodbyes. As I heard my husband's car drive away, I couldn't stop crying. I knew that I would never see my boy again. As I write this, I wipe the tears away. I loved my boy so much. The cruelest thing I could have done, was to let him keep suffering. The kindest thing I could have done for him, as hard as it was, was to say goodbye and to let him go to be free of pain and now he is happy again. Running free. I know he is happy now and one day we will be together again.

Tonya 4 years ago

Thank you so much. I will go check out all those links. Im sorry my post was so "all over the place." My mind feels jumbled right now.

Her last episode (her episodes were very wide eyed, acting scared, breathing insanely hard and fast, gasping and wheezing... the only thing that would ease them was a small dose of valium our vet had prescribed us. We actually caught the tale end of an episode once on EKG and her heart was in massive runs of PVC's, pausing and then would thump a regular beat here and there.

So with that... her last episode started at 6:45 in the morning. Valium was given as well as supplemental oxygen. She relaxed but in her sleep her fast heavy breathing continued... which prompted our visit to the vet that day. The vet hooked her up to the EKG and sure enough her heart had no more regular beats. long strings of PVC's or defibrulations, then a pause and more defibs.

So once family had said their goodbyes I went into the room with just her and me. We laid on the floor and the vet came in and told me that they were giving her a "sleepy medicine" to calm her and relax her prior to the shot. The sleepy stuff was given by injection and the vet told me that she would gently fall into a sleep like state. She warned me that the fluid dripping from her nose and mouth will get worse as she relaxes, from the CHF. And it did. She completely relaxed into me and Then she started gasping for breath like a fish out of water. That is when her head began bobbing side to side, her tongue hanging out. When the vet heard me screaming for her, she came running in, ran back out to get "the shot" and within a second of the shot being given the gasping and bobbing ended and she was gone. Horrible.... I miss her like crazy, seriously so much. And it kills me to think that her last few minutes here with me were awful. I appriciate your quick response and I am heading over to those sites now. Thank you so much.


BRENDA 4 years ago

I WAS TOLD MY LT 17 YR PEKE W JUST GO TO SLEEP VET ON THE RT ME IN FRONT TECH ON LEFT HERBIE WAS IN KIDNEY FAILURE DEHYDRATED SUDDENLY HE RAISED UP ON HIS BACK LEGS AND THE MOST PAINFUL SCREAM THAT I W NEVER FORGET HE WAS LOOKING RT AT ME HERBIE WAS 2 WHEN I GOT HM 1 OF 300 RESCUED PUPPYMILL AND THE SWTEST BABY I PROMISED NO ONE W EVER HURT HM AGAIN THEN THIS HE WAS LOOKIN RT AT ME LIKE HE WONDERED WHY THEY SD HE DIDN'T FEEL ANYTHG WITH A SCREAM SO HORRIBLE I FEEL SO BAD AND APOLIGIZE TO HIM IN MY PRAYERS THEN HE LAID DWN THEY WERE LISTENING TO HIS HEART LIKE IT DIDN'T STOP FOR A FEW MIN WHAT HAPPENED AND WAS THIS AS PAINFUL AS HE SOUNDED I FELT HIS LAST BREATH ON MY FACE I NOW HAVE winston a peke 17 w arthitis he has been doing so good takes vetprofin and a thyroid pill he we w walk all around our building he w run up the hall now he is doing this lt hop w his front legs and seems to not want to put his left foot dwn i dont see a thing hes licking the top of his paws vet increased vetprofin to half morn half nite he doesn't want to and cant walk well wth this hop hop hes doing i tell him no hop walk he will a few steps and starts the hop again before this a couple wks ago he was active played w toys hes eating but evev needs to hop when hes sitting so ive been helping him eat he eats good this hop started when he wanted me to pk him up and hold him and then when walking please any ideas i am 56 on oxygen and i love him so he keeps me going

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Sorry to hear about your experience with your Peke, it is hard to say if he was in pain or not...if this happened after giving the injection to be put to sleep it could been a reflex of which he was likely not aware. However, if you look up at a few posts above you a dog owner endured something similar and there are links I posted about this. About the arthritis, have you tried glucosamine supplements? I would set an appointment with your vet and ask about trying something like Glycoflex, here is a helpful article,

Michael 4 years ago

My best friend in the whole wide world has just passed, and she had fur.

Miss you Cassie more than you will ever know.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Sorry to hear that, they sure leave a big gap in our lives. My deepest condolences.

Jamie 4 years ago

I have made the decision to put down my cat "baby" she is 19 years old and she has been slowly declining. I can see the pain in her when she gets around. She has also lost control of her bodily functions and she can't groom herself anymore. I have really went over this decision in my mind and I know that it is time. Thank you for your article. I now know what to expect when I have to put my fur baby to sleep.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

I am happy my article on pet euthanasia appointment was helpful to you. I send you a virtual hug during this difficult time.

Cindy 4 years ago

I put my dog, 12 years old, to sleep 3 weeks ago. It was the worst day of my life. I thought he would just go to sleep peacefully. Right after getting the injection, his entire body jumped off the floor. We were mortified. The vet said he didn't feel anything but I don't believe it. Has anyone else experienced such a horrific thing when euthanizing a pet?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Cindy, look a few posts above yours and read Tonya's post and then the links I gave her about people experiencing the same thing, unfortunately this happens at times even tough rare, sorry to hear that, it sure sounds devastating!

Cindy 4 years ago

Thank you for your kind words. I read Tonya's post and the links. None of them talk about an animal actually jumping off the floor. I believe they put him in cardiac arrest and I still believe he felt the heart attack which is why he jumped. As the links said, we can't change what happened. We can only make sure it doesn't happen again to another animal we own. I will never put a dog to sleep again without the sedation first. We were not given the option nor did we know about the option. Duke was my baby and I can't forgive myself for letting this happen to him. Thank you again. This is a wonderful site for not just getting information but also for sharing our emotions. Take care.

Amore 4 years ago

I just put my dog to sleep today. He was three-four years old. He was kinda just given to us. I was told by the previous owner that he had his annual check up the day before we got him. I should have double checked, but I trusted him because his previous owner was my cousin. Not even a year later, Duke (my dog) began to cough up blood. I took him into the vet as soon as they opened the next day...and it turns out that he has heartworms. Apparently he has had them for a few years and his case was really bad. We didn't know how bad until recently (yesterday) when the blood became more excessive. Needless to say, he wasn't a good candidate for the treatment. I've never experienced this before and it was one of the hardest things I've EVER had to deal with in my life. Making that initial judgement call, watching him prance around the office not having a care in the world, and then watching him leave us and prance to the gates in doggy heaven. Although I know that I made the right choice since he was in so much pain and discomfort, it was a hard choice. I just know deep down that it was the right thing to matter how hard it was. He just seemed like he went to complications. This article was very sweet and made me feel somewhat okay about my decision.

Jon 4 years ago

Hello all. We had my kitty Kiggy put to sleep on May 21, 2012. She was just shy of her 15th birthday. She stopped eating and slowly stopped drinking much water, something we didn't recognize right away I guess. She started sleeping in our dark hallway. She would be hard to awaken, but she would wake and stretch and walk, a little hard. 3 days after this started occurring I was becoming very worried. When she wouldn't drink her favorite milk, we took her to the vet. The next morning, the vet called and said she was in end stage renal failure, they could do no more for her. My partner talked to the doctor, I was asleep. He came in crying and said it was bad. The doctor said she would have a heart attack or seizure and die or the poisons would get into her brain. For those in the know, her creatinine was 10 and her BUN was 300. These are very high numbers, even for a human. Kiggy weighed 5 lbs wet on her heaviest day. Thinking she only had hours to live, and with the vet recommending euthaniasia, we hurried down in less than an hour. They gave us 10 minutes to say goodbye and she was gone. After that, I started researching online and started becoming alarmed because of all the success stories, vets recommending to never take a first opinion on something so serious, and to give some time if possible to see if the kitty responds to treatment. We were never consulted or brought into an office and explained what was going on in any detail, we were never given options for treatment or outlook other than death. We were also not told her eyes would stay open or that her tongue would jet out before she was euthanized. This has upset me so much I cannot sleep to this day, and the vision starts coming to my head at work and causing me to drift off. This has not gone unnoticed by my bosses, or the crying jags that force me to head to the break room or restroom.

I can't believe she could seem normal just 3 days before being diagnosed with such high numbers. She only had one night of re-hydration and medication, and only one blood test and xray set done. She looked a lot better when they brought her to us to say goodbye, and she was alert and responsive for us, and according to the vet records. Due to not having any information on what would have happened if we had tried to treat her for a while has given me such guilt it is eating me alive. The vet has called me due to my concerns and has not been able to help much, aside from apologizing for not consulting with us fully and giving us the story and options. She also says that she was sorry for not preparing us for the euthanasia process. We blindly trusted this vet, hopefully it was the right decision. We were so distraught we weren't even thinking. We were afraid she would die painfully any minute. The vet said during one call that bringing her home to pass or treatments would have been other options, and again sorry for not talking to you first. This cat stayed by my partner through 6 years of end stage renal failure and dialysis, cancer surgery, heart surgery, and through seizure from diabetes and undoubtedly saved him. She stayed with him when I had to go to work. I am also guilty that I could not help her the way she helped us. But please, if your vet does not talk with you when recommending such a drastic step, ask questions, get answers. For me, it is too late. I am very devoted to those closest to me, and Kiggy was one of those 4 and I let her down without demanding info and options as well. I am also not convinced that they are indeed asleep if their eyes are open, and perhaps she did not want to die just yet. I can't be sure, and for me, the thought of her being conscious as her heart stopped with fear or wanting help is something I cannot even justify, even as an act of kindness. If she had trauma or was obviously in pain, this may have been an easier decision. Unfortunately, this experience has caused me to flip on euthanasia and I won't consider it again, the way I feel now. This could be bad for a pet that may need this help in the future, but the lack of info for me was the deal breaker, too late. Please please be sure to ask questions and snap out of the haze for the sake of your pet so you don't end up like me. I wish I had :(

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Jon, I am so sorry you went through such an ordeal and thank you for sharing your story. When a pet is put to sleep they are given an overdose of drugs generally given when going under surgery. I have seen a lot of pets put under anesthesia and their eyes were open and tongue was sticking out. Indeed, the vet puts drops in the eyes so they are lubricated for the time being. Now, because the anesthesia product (pentobarbital) is an overdose, it will initially work as a normal anesthetic, but being an overdose, it will eventually halt the breathing and stop the heart. I compare it to somebody dying during surgery but without being opened up. So if this helps ease your mind, she was not conscious at that time. If it makes you feel better , go to google images and google cat anesthesia. You will get pictures of cats that will look just like your cat put to sleep. Don't look though if this may further disturb you.. this is just to show you that the way your cat looked was not a sign of suffering, just being unconscious as if being put under very best wishes..

annegil3 3 years ago

I had my pet euthanized last week and was told he would just be given a shot which will put him to sleep and that would be it. First of all, I didn't like the way the assistant clutched onto his head (they wouldn't let me hold him due to insurance reasons). But I talked to him and brushed him and when I was told it was "done" asked for some private time. During which my dog took a deep breath, followed a few minutes later by another deep breath. I freaked out and called the doctor in who told me it was normal - it was just the brain making the body work. However, he told me that's how the dog would pass - the brain would stop working thus making the body stop working ... which is it?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

The deep breath/breaths you have witnessed is not uncommon. The deep breath is a sort of reflex triggered by the brain after the heart stops and is often referred to as "agonal breathing". Basically, the dead body is registering high carbon monoxide in the brain tissue, and thus, is stimulating involuntary breathing. It's not a sign of suffering, if you were thinking about that. The injection stops the heart and then after minutes without oxygen the brain dies. I hope this help, I 'm sorry for your loss.

Cathy 2 years ago

I have something I am trying to understand...when I took my chihuahua to the vet, she was almost gone...the vet took her from me and the next thing I knew, I could hear my dog screaming...I had no idea I know that the vet must have used a heart stick...I had no idea why the vet took her away from us when she did or what she was going to do...if I had known what was going to happen, I would have kept my dog home in my arms. Please someone explain that what the vet did was right. I have struggled with this for years. I can still hear my dogs cries in my ears.

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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Oh my, are you really sure though that it was a heart stick? I only recall this being done once on a rat in the vet clinic I used to work for.They told me that was the only way to euthanize a rodent. I can't think of a good explanation for using a heart stick for a pet like a dog or cat. In some cases dogs may vocalize when being put to sleep, so this is not unheard of, even though quite rare. At times, the solution leaks out of the vein and can sting which can scare the animal. . Here are a few explanations about those vocalizations:

cal287153 2 years ago

Necrrently, I had to do something I never thought I would have to do. I had to put my little Tina in the hospital for 4 days with sudden kidney failure. One week prior to this , i had taken my Tina to the vet with a cough her regular vet was not in that day. So The attending vet thought Tina had congestive heart failure and put her on LASIK, The treatment was only to last one week. ... one week ....until the cardiologist could see tina for an exam. and a cardiac ultrasound . On Friday morning. Of that same week. I dropoed TINA off and planning to pick her up after work that same evening. When i arrived the other doctor and the cardiologist had left without as much as a phone call. . Thankfully my regular vet was there waiting for me. she told me the ulrasound was negative , that there was nothing wrong with her heart . So it was probably conjestion in her lungs i eas relieved but only briefly .We had already known Tina had had mild kidney value elevation for some now, but she was stable and happy .she seemed to deal with it well. Suddenly the dr's face changed when she explaind the results of the new lab work from that day. Appatently the lasik had sent her kidney levels skyrocketing off the charts .she was in kidney failure.. I was informed the office was closing and I needed to take her to an emergency hospital,right away for IV fluids . my vet provided Tina with a catheter and IV bag of fluids to take with us to save time. And keep the cost down. She explained we will know in 24 hours if Tina was improving or not. When I arrived at the emergency Hospital , I was told 24 hour treatment was not enough time to show any inprovement tina needed 48 hours because iv had to be given slowly as not to damage her heart.. Tina would then be given another blood test to see where her kidney values were, and if there was any improvement. I knew this eas not was good. I WANTED TO VIST HER but they discouraged me tina was taken off the IV When I visited. I didn't understand why had to take it off in the first place.I'm a medical assistant I know how to monitor An iv. .....then on SUNDAY NIGHT i had resolved to take her home . she was not showing signs of improvemevt.. The vet stated that tina BUNand

Phophoris levels were now at an identifyable number but still at the dangerous level . And she talked me into another 48 hours of Iv. my heart was telling me that Tina has had enough already. she was not used to being away from home that long .she was 15 years old,.had suddenly gone into kidney failure .she was scared .lonely .frightened. and in pain..she thought i abandoned her. I Initially said "no "to the additional 48 hours,but of course the vet made me feel that if I did not do this .my Tina would definitely decline. I KNEW IN MY HEART THIS WAS NOT going to do aything but put tina into distress. Tina had not eaten on her own at all. They were giving her babyfood through a syringe . I was asked to bring Something in for her to eat ,and the doc and I agreed on hard boiled egg wih boiled chicken and a little broth .and trying to get her to eat on her own.when I got there Sunday night the doc refused to allow her to eat whay I had made for her.. She insisted on giving tina the soft KD food. This was best she assured me. Tina was looking worse and she smelled of urine. She was not used uriniting on herself and it made her feel sick. I know it. She had another foul smell on her monday morning when I reakized it was the food the forced her to eat.. when the ER vet stated she has still not Eaten on her own

And haf diarrhea all night .(which was still all over her body. I realised again she needs to get out of here. But instead I went to the store to get the baby food oatmeal she loved . I told the er doc even a healthy dog eould be sick from abruptly changing their food. TINA did eat some of the oatmeal that night. I did not see her agsin until Monday after work. That is when i saw how she was wasteing away to the point of no return. I told the nurse I had to take her home. She yelled at me . Told me Tina is a renal failure patient, , and if I took her home now she would remove her catheter. I lost my temper and stated I brought her in this place with an iv fluid bag and catheter.... and was taking her home with that as well. The dr came out and again convinced me tina should stay for more Iv treatment. I went home crying . I was only home for a few hours. When I could not stand it any longer. It was 4:am when I finally brought her home. I contacted my vet who agreed to come to my home to uthesnise her. Tina held on to me tighter that she ever had in her whole life that day. She could not get close enough to me . The owner of the vetinary practice was the one who finally showed up at my house at 6: pm that Monday evening. Here is the Amazing thing that happened. Justminutes after he called . I took tina out to to pee she could hardly stand up. I picked her up very gently and carried her back into the house. Now. There is a mirror we always looked into before going ustairs i would tell her "i love her "all the time therewhile looking into that mirror. .but this time she turned her head to the other direction. she looked for the first time at my Thomas Kincaid print my son had given me some years before. Whenshe looked at this picture(it is actually a set of 3 vertical pictures) but she didn't stop there, she continued to look straight up past the picture on the wall and straight to the ceiling. She continued to gaze as if in a trance. Her sight was fixated on something? As she continue d to stare at the ceiling I thought she was having a spasm but soon realized she was not. my daughter saw her do this as well and we both looked at each other as though we knew what she was looking at. I sort of just ignored it for a moment,and continue to go up the stairs. I REAIZED THEN, no matter where I walked up the stairs , INTO THE HALLWAY. into the back bedroom to get something I needed. and then into my bedroom . her stare remain focused on a certain spot that no one could see but her. .She wasn't distracted in any way from focusing her gaze on whatever it was she was seeing. . Sowhen I went into my bedroom saw my camera, I Took multiple pictures of her through the Mirra . It was all I could do while being careful holding her in my arms. . then in just a few moments later she lowered her head back downslowly ,and snuggled her faceagain back under my Neck . She had a vision. I I believe it was of Heaven. I then laid down on the bed with her she was still snuggled under my neck and holding on to me so tight . I COULD HEAR THE the doctor come into the house a few minutes later. she was very peaceful then. he even commented to me how calm she was . he let her lay therewirh me while the nurse checked her catheter to make sure it was working properly. Then he prepared her injections. When he was about to hold her leg to inject the sedative she lifted her head and yelped. I told her every thing is going to be alright now . Close your eyes .mommie is here. Her body went limp and shortly after he injected her last dose. And her heart had stopped. Her heart was full of love. She knows what real love is . And I have so much regret for leaving her there in that hospital for so long. She stayws in the house with me until the next morning because I wanted to take her myself to the crematory. I believe she had a vision of heaven, because that is where GOD has taken this little angel Tina . I miss her with all my heart and soul.

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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

cal287153, your story brought tears to my eyes. You and Tina had a very strong bond, and I am sure she felt your love in those final moments. She had a wonderful life with you. My deepest condolences.

cal287153 2 years ago

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, Tina was one of a kind, she nodded yes for things that were ok ,and she cried real tears when things were not . She knew what love was. and I always promised her I would take care of her. When she was worried her eyes showed it . I would talk to herto cslm her fear, even if I was going to be back in 10 min. She did not really how long i would be. I do work full time, but, i never left her in 15 years without getting that nod yes. She trusted me. By the 3rd day in that er hospital she stopped nodding. Thats when I knew she was not going to make it. Thats when her soul screamed for me to bring her home. I felt it . For the next 12 hours or so she held on to me so tight .I will never forget. I have a picture of her reaching to get close as she could to my neck , and there is a tear in her eye. Tina has never weighed more than 6 lbs . But on that day she felt like she was only about 4 lbs. It breakes my heart. And I feel such guilt. I miss her.

cal287153 2 years ago

Some people say they think they see or hear their loved pets after they pass away. But I dont have that feeling at all. So I believe she is in heaven. I believe .

Casey 2 years ago

This really is a subject that will resonate with any animal lover anywhere anytime, isn't it? I cried many times as I made my way through the article and down the comments. Felt I had to write to thank you for comforting me in a time of epic sadness.

I'm currently snuggled up close with my childhood cat, Dipsey; it's his last night in this crazy world and I'm having an impossible time coping. It's a long story, and I'm probably going to treat this like a therapy session, do I apologize in advance.

My mom got Dipsey for me when I was ten. I'd always wanted a cat and one day she walked in the house with a box that meowed! :) Dips has been our beloved cat for 16 years now. Skittish and moody, he's only recently become my best friend. He's gone through phases with the whole family; why he had to choose now to start cuddling and shadowing me around the house... Uuugh, my heart!

I've been away for 7 years, only home to Houston for holidays and a few summers until this last August. My parents and I are moving to Ecuador in less than 2 weeks and my sister has just left for school in Amsterdam for four years. While this is an amazing opportunity and exciting adventure for all of us, the thought of leaving Dipsey behind has cast a heavy dark cloud over the experience. He's not good in the car, at all, and dad really isn't entertaining the idea of a cat traveling to Ecuador with us. (Dipsey just started snoring! Stop it with the cuteness!!!). We've searched everywhere, but nobody wants our fat old cat . After many prayers and sleepless nights, we took him to the vet (he pooped on my mom in the car on our way! :) The vet said he either has diabetes or kidney disease and my mom almost immediately decided not to run any tests, we are going to have to put him down.

This is where I'm having trouble. I get it, I've heard it 100 times the past few weeks, "When he pees it fills up half the litter box and he has started to miss the box. A new home and family, plus shots and regular vet visits would just cause him stress and discomfort - moving across the Equator would give him a heart attack! He's lived a good long life..." But I just don't understand putting down a coherent, loving, able cat. He is a member of my family! I love him so deeply, yet tomorrow I'm going to be with him as he slips off to cat heaven. I can't believe its come to this.

I keep bursting into tears. All week. My eyes are so puffy!!! I just keep reminding myself of the good times, how happy he has been. When he was a kitten sleeping on my pillow and chasing my feet under the covers. The time when I was 16, he woke me up by attacking my long hair - staying attached after I stood up! - like a scene in a dang horror movie. I love this cat. I'm trying to breathe through it as best I can but it really feels selfish ending a life because taking care of his needs isn't convenient anymore.

My mom really is one of the sweetest people/animal lovers I'll ever know. She's not a witch, there's really not a mean bone in her body. I almost always agree with her on family matters, but this time its been really hard to see her side. She truly believes she's doing the right thing for Dipsey. I don't know if it's right but ultimately she's the one that has scooped most of the poop and puke through the years, she's the lady of the house, so it's her decision. She's tired of worrying about him and thinks this the most peaceful way to go about it.

We had a garage sale the other day and at the beginning someone pointed out the neighborhood cat in the neighbor's bushes, he had obviously passed during the night with one paw up in the bushes. It was a crazy sign I rather would have done without. Our maid volunteered to remove him from the bushes. She was so fragile and ritualistic about it. I keep thinking of that fuzz ball and what that sign meant.

My eyes are fuzzy and I'm afraid I'll fall asleep without finishing, so here is where I will conclude my story.

Thank you again for your article. I think it has prepared me a bit for tomorrow.

Patt Smalley 2 years ago

I had to have my 20 yr old female Red Healer put to sleep yesterday! This was my first time being present for this procedure! I wanted to be with her during her last moments! I loved her so much & put it off as long as I could until she lost full control of her hind legs:( she was already blind, but could see shadows, loved her treats & could smell really well.

I was reading the earlier posts because I can't get the vision out of my mind! I was told they would give her an injection & she would go to sleep peacefully! I had given Ginger a Xanax the night before, she was very restless!

When we got to the Vets she still seamed to be a little out of it which was good, she wasn't nervous! They took her to put a catheter in then brought her back in the room. The Vet came in explained she will take some breaths at the end so we were ok with that but when she put injection in Ginger let out this scream of pain & started to spasm even the Vet looked concerned & checked to make sure her heart had stop beating??? Was there a better way to do this! Did the Vet put solution in too fast? I can't get the vision out of my head!

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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Patt, I am sorry this happened to you, this happens at times but it is quite rare. Did she scream immediately when putting the solution or after a bit? Did she tend to yelp when she was poked such as when given shots? Sounds like the vet used a catheter which is good in avoiding the injected solution from going around the vein which may cause a stinging sensation that causes many dogs to cry out. Maybe a hallucination? If so, most likely she was already passed out.

Mark 2 years ago

Just had to put my dog down the other day. She was 14. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. After she was given the sedative, she laid down on my lap and her tongue protruded from her mouth slightly. Although her heart was still beating, I knew she had left her body. Like I said, experiencing this was the toughest thing I've ever had to go through, but I am grateful that I was there with her. She was always timid while at the vet, but on this day, she was unusually calm.

To all of you who have gone through this before, my heart goes out to you. Just know that our pets are once again happy and healthy and are probably looking over us now wondering why we are so worried about how they passed :)

Angela 18 months ago

l had to make the big decision to have our beloved Nanook put to sleep last week his breed was a mareema an Italian sheep dog an was 12 yrs for some time he had stiffness in his back legs had him to the vet to see what they could do I use to massage his back legs and all over he seemed to love this and eased him a little. And he got slower with his walking finely he didn't want to get up and no longer greeted us when we came in so unlike him . But this last Saturday I tried to get him up to go out for a wee but he didn't want to he hadn't really lost appetite as I fed him by hand on the floor and ate it all. But I so wanted him to move to try and get his legs moveing finely he did just get up to walk outside no sooner did he stepped outside then he fell over on his side and wee 'd . I managed to roll him on to his quilt and covered him to keep him warm and talked and cuddled him he had a thing about lifting his front leg so I could tickle him under his leg ,he looked at me as if to say I've had enough but l wanted to hang on to him but I was being unfair as he whimpered at night even in the day time I would go to him and he would be ok for a while. I finely rang the vet to come and seem him and cheque him over he had a slight heart murmur and temperature and was anaemic . They said he looked tired l didn't want to let him go he was part of our family and l still feel guilty but his legs wouldn't have got better so if was the kindest thing but doesn't make me feel any better. After the vets had gone and he lay there as if he was asleep I noticed he had blood and mucus from his mouth I wiped it away and it happened again why do you think this happened .l wanted him buried in my garden as its somewhere l can talk to him and think of all the lovely memories we all had with him .rest in peace our beloved Nanook

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alexadry 18 months ago from USA Author

I am sorry to hear about your beloved dog. I am very familiar with the Maremma dog breed as I was raised in Italy and often encountered this beautiful white dog. He sounds like he had a wonderful life with you. The blood you have seen could have possibly been because he bit his tongue, but sometimes it could be a sign of an underlying heart problem and sometimes lung cancer or a lung embolism. The only way to truly know for sure would be to have a necropsy performed. You made a good choice as you may have spared him from a painful death. I am sure he's watching over you and thanks you for this last gift of kindness. Sending you my deepest condolences.

Clare 11 months ago

hi i had to get my best friend put to sleep last week she was an 11yr border collie whom recently went blind a cpl of mnths ago due to her developing diabetis i gave her insulin injections twice daily the past 5wks she was doing well the vet was impressed how well her blood sugar was stablising in such a short time only 4 her to collapse last week i phoned the vet cos her gums wer pure white & her face was really cold took her in 4 blood tests & xray thenbthe vet called an hour later explaning her spleen was bleeding & she was very anemic & advised we let her go as she had other health issues & the removal of her spleen would have her little body go through a hard time with no guarantes she would make it,i am truly heartbroken & lost without her i loved her as child as i wasnt able 2 have kids she helped me cope & made things bearable but im struggling with guilt as the vet gave her 4 injections b4 her heart stopped 1 in her front leg 1 in her neck & 2 in her chest he comented that i had a strong wee dog so im feeling so guilty that i took his advice instead of removing her spleen & letting fate decide. Is it comon to put it in the chest aswell as a vein x

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alexadry 11 months ago from USA Author

Hello, sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved dog. Spleen problems unfortunately often have a grim outcome, and the surgery could have been too much for a frail dog. I remember our vet once did a splenectomy on an older dog and the dog didn't make it and died while being under. It was very sad to tell the the owner. I would say that your dog at least had the opportunity to be with you in her last moments and you had time to say your final goodbyes. Please don't feel guilty. I know we often think "what if" but "what if" we did it differently and we ended up instead regretting it even more? Things would have progressed and it may have entailed more suffering. Some vets prefer to give the final injection into the side of the dog's chest rather than the legs,and there's really no difference on the route used as any way it delivers the solution. Here are wishes for you to recover from this loss.

Clare 11 months ago

Thankyou 4 ur words im finding it hard accepting imade the right choice in letting her go maybe once that happens i wont feel guilt as well as pain x

Sherry Marcoux 3 months ago

Thank you for all your comments! I just put my 15 year old Wheaton Terrior down this week. She too, picked her head up right before the final injection and I cannot get that out of my head. It was hard enough already but I knew it was time until that....It is so helpful to have a sight like this to help me deal with my pain.

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alexadry 3 months ago from USA Author

Sorry about your loss Sherry. May you fill your thoughts of all the wonderful memories of your dog in her life rather than those last seconds. I am sure if dogs could talk to us from the above they would lick our tears away and want us to remember all the good times.

Karen 10 days ago

I didn't realize when our VET took our cat to prepare her for the injection to euthanize her that they would give her a sedative. When they brought her back to the room her eyes were open but I realize now that she was unconscious - If I knew I would have said my goodbyes when she could actually see me and hear me. Not just pretend which I feel it was really - she may have been able to hear us as someone in a coma might hear you but 15 minutes before I could have looked her in the eyes and she would have looked back at me. They did not advise me. Be aware and say goodbye before they take your pet out of the room.

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