Coping with pet euthanasia

Although pet owners know they may one day need to make the decision to have their pet put down, the prospect of euthanasia can be difficult to deal with.

20th February 2013

I was sat at the vets the other day when I had another one of my thoughts, how many people know what to do if it comes to having their dog put to sleep.

I have had 4 dogs and each of them have been lost in slightly different circumstances.

Even though as pet owners we know that there will probably be a time when we will have to make the decision to have our cat or dog put down (especially as the chance of them passing in their sleep is rare), it is still a very hard thing to come to terms with.

When I came back to the office and researched the subject I actually found very little to read and much of what is written is very generic.

I believe there is a lot to be considered and much of it is based upon personal choice. I would always suggest people consider if they wish to be present when the actual euthanasia occurs.

There is no right or wrong choice and it depends entirely upon the owner; some people feel that it would be too distressing to witness and so either say their goodbyes before or after the process. Others like to stay with their pet throughout.

It is also recommended to talk to any children in the household before the event; our pets are part of the family. Talking will give them time to say goodbye and in turn help them adjust to the loss of their cat or dog.

A few years ago I had to have a dog put to sleep, he was 16. When I spoke to the vet they asked if I wanted my other dog there, at first I thought this was very strange and had never heard or come across this before.

The more I thought about this the more it made sense. Surely dogs mourn and miss their companion, after all they had been together for 6 years and were very close. To me it seemed that the Collie relied more and more on the younger dog.

As our Collie slipped away we all had cuddles and said goodbye. The vet then said do you want to let Archie (our younger dog) down to say goodbye; at this point I still wasn’t sure and certainly wasn’t ready for what I saw next.

He simply jumped down, walked up and touched the corner of our Collie’s eye with his nose; he gently snuffled and then walked to the door to go. In under a minute that was it, two dogs that were inseparable had said goodbye.

He never showed any sign of missing him; he just went home as if everything was normal. I cannot say this reaction is normal, after all it is the first time I have experienced it but I really felt it helped.

Surely it is the same for animals as it is for people in that each individual will deal with the process in a different way.

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