What To Expect With Euthanasia

For most families, deciding to euthanize their pet can be very intimidating often leads to many unanswered questions. A common one is, can their pet wake up after euthanasia?

Euthanasia works by giving the pet an overdose of anesthetics. It is painless and is like being put to sleep before a surgery, the high dose of anesthetics will cause the heart to stop. Once that happens, there’s no danger of the pet waking up.

A typical pet euthanasia can take between 30-60 minutes. Most pets will fall asleep within a few minutes of receiving the first dose of the sedative medication.

Here’s some of the things you can expect during pet euthanasia.

Choosing To Be With Your Pet

The first thing your veterinarian will ask you is whether you would like to be present during the procedure or not.

Many people believe that being there in the final moments of a pet’s life can be comforting for them. It can also provide you with a sense of closure as you watch your pet pass away in their sleep.

This decision is completely up to you, and either way is fine.

If staying in the room while your pet is euthanized is too painful for you, you can ask a member of your family or a close friend to come with you. They could stay in the room and provide your pet with the comfort of being there with someone they know.

If nobody is available, veterinarians are very caring people and will gently comfort your pet as they pass away.

Medicine Given

Many veterinarians will begin the pet euthanasia process by placing an IV catheter into the vein of the pet. This way, then the drugs are administered, they go directly into the bloodstream and work very quickly.

The purpose of using an IV catheter is so the veterinarian only has to poke the pet once with a needle. It helps make the process as painless as possible for the pet.

Once the IV catheter is in place, the next thing the veterinarian will give the pet is an anesthetic like Propofol. This is what will make the pet feel sleepy.

And lastly, once the pet is sedated, the veterinarian will give the pet the last injection of Euthasol. Which is basically an overdose of anesthesia.

Eyes Stay Open

When a pet passes away, their eyes will remain opened. This can be unsettling to some people who are not aware or prepared.

But it’s actually the relaxed position of their eyes. It is the same for humans as well. So, although it can be unsettling, it’s completely normal and something you can expect to see.

Loss Of Bladder & Sphinter Control

When a pet passes away, there is the possibility that the pet may lose control of their bladder and sphincters, and urinate or poop.

If you are getting your pet euthanized at the veterinarian, then they will put towels underneath your pet to absorb any bodily fluids that may leak.

If you are getting the procedure done at your home, you may want to put a few towels underneath your pet to do the same thing.

The more prepared you are, the easier the process will be.

Twitching Of The Muscles

Sometimes when a pet is passing away, there may be some twitching of the feet or the lips.

This is caused by the release of chemicals stores in the nerve endings, and muscle twitching is completely normal.

Breathing Patterns

Lastly, the last thing you may see during a pet euthanasia is what is called “post agonal breathing.”

It looks like the pet has completely stopped breathing and then all of a sudden, they take a deep breath. It can happen a few times.

This is caused by the involuntary muscle contractions and the body’s way of getting rid of carbon dioxide that’s building up.

This is completely normal. However, it can be very unsettling to someone who is unaware.

This happened a few times when my dog Onyx passed away. She stop breathing for 30 seconds or so, and then all of a sudden take one big breath.

It scared me at first, because I wasn’t aware that this was a normal reaction of the body.

What To Do With Pet’s Body

You will need to discuss with your veterinarian ahead of time if you plan on getting your pet cremated or if you will be burying them.

You can either get your pet cremated with other pets or on their own. The latter is a more expensive option. You can also choose to get your pet’s ashes back or not.

It’s best to plan this ahead of time so that after the euthanasia you don’t have to worry about anything, or worse, have to pay bills.

Pet Urns

If you choose to get your pet’s ashes back, most veterinarians will offer various choices of urns.

You can choose between different materials, colours and sizes.

When my dogs passed away, I personally liked the urn with a ribbon of my pet’s name on it.

Here’s what they look like:

There are many different types of urns available for purchase online. You can one with your pet’s photograph or even one made out of granite with their name engraved.

Paw Prints

Many veterinarians will offer you the option of making a clay paw print of your pet’s paw.

Paw prints can be made before the procedure or after they have passed away. They can be very meaningful and serve as a way to remember your lost pet.

Dealing With The Loss

Euthanizing a pet is extremely difficult and emotional draining.

Plan ahead and take the entire day off work to spend time with your pet before it’s time to bring them to the veterinarian, as well as time to grieve afterwards.

When you get back home, the house will feel quiet and empty.

Everything will remind you of your pet, and how they are no longer with you.

Try to do something that is comforting to you. Whether that is watching an old family movie that you love, knitting or simply reading an old book.

Try not to dwell on the “what if’s” thoughts. It’s very common for pet owners to feel guilty after the loss of a pet.

There’s no specific timeframe for how long grief will last. It can last days, weeks, months or even years.

If you’re having a hard time dealing with the loss of your pet, a good way to heal is to join a pet loss support group. There are many online forums and groups on Facebook that can lend a listening ear.

Sometimes talking to someone who understands and who has also gone through the loss of a pet, can make a big difference.

What To Do With The Ashes

It typically takes a week or so before you will get your pet’s ashes back from the veterinarian.

Once you pick them up, store them in a safe place where they won’t be disturbed or knocked over.

It may take a few weeks, months or years before you are ready to do something with the ashes.

You can scatter them in a place that was meaningful to your pet, like a special hiking trail or a park.

You can bury them in your garden, in your backyard, in a pet cemetery or anywhere that’s meaningful for you.

Lastly, if you plan on getting buried in a cemetery when you pass away, there may be the possibility of getting your pet’s ashes buried with you.

You will have to contact the cemetery directly as to their rules and regulations. They are different with every cemetery.

Getting a Pet Memorial

Getting a memorial for your pet can often provide the closure and healing one desperately needs.

There are many pet memorials available online. Not all of them are made of high quality materials.

Here at Furever Memorials, we offer custom-engraved memorials for pets that are made of 100% granite. You can choose to have your pet’s photograph engraved.

They’re the same quality you would expect to see in a cemetery for a human.

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