For all animal lovers, euthanasia is a difficult decision to make and perhaps the hardest thing they will ever have to do. It is when we have to humanely say goodbye to our furry best friend, our family member. The number one question I always get is, “When will I know it is time?” Unless medically a veterinarian can determine a pet is suffering and can tell a family that, euthanasia is a decision a family needs to make. I try to get families to either write down or think about all of the things that are important to their pet: what makes them happy, what makes them wag their tail or purr, what do they like for treats and are they eating, do they like to go on walks and are they still going out with you, or are they hiding? Etc. This is important to do especially when we are considering quality of life. A big difference between veterinary medicine and human medicine (right now) is that we don’t have to watch our furry loved ones suffer. They don’t know what is going on, they don’t know why they don’t feel well and we can prevent them from suffering, wasting away or living in pain.
The second question I typically get is, “Is euthanasia painful?” The answer is no. A catheter is placed in your loved ones little arm and here at VSSF, they are administered 2 injections- one is Propofol for sedation and the second is Euthasol for humane euthanasia. Some pets require an additional sedative. Typically, the process of euthanasia takes less than one minute. Afterwards, the doctor listens with their stethoscope for no heartbeat and lets your know when your pet is at peace. Some families decide to be present during the euthanasia process and others decide not to be, whether it is because it’s too difficult to watch or they want to remember their loving face alive. Regardless of your choice, here at VSSF we respect your decision. If you decide not to be with your pet during the euthanasia, it is our promise to you that your pet will get extra love during the process like they are our own pet.
As you know, VSSF is open 24/7, that means that a doctor is here 24/7 if you need our help or support.
NOTE: A veterinarian can say no to performing a euthanasia if they don’t feel it is time for an animal or they don’t believe they are suffering (i.e. if you’re moving and can’t bring your pet, they’re young and healthy and NOT vicious, if you don’t have time to train them, etc)- we can provide options for rescue groups though, recommendations for training or shelters so they can be adopted out into another family.
Stacey West, DVM
Veterinary Specialists of South Florida