One of the hardest decisions for any dog owner is deciding whether to have his dog euthanase (often called “putting to sleep”;) involves the injection of a drug that brings about death peacefully, quickly and painlessly. Consider the following factors when making this very personal decision.

How will I know it’s time?
Knowing when euthanasia should be considered depends on your dog’s health.
Many owners choose euthanasia when their dog is terminally ill, critically injured or has lost quality of life because of age. If your dog has lost the ability to do the things she once enjoyed, can’t respond to you, is in unmanageable pain or requires expensive treatment for illness you can’t afford, euthanasia may be something to consider.

Veterinarians can help you make the decision by evaluating your dog’s condition, telling you about her chances for recovery and discussing possible problems or long-term care, but the vet won’t make the decision for you.

What happens during euthanasia?
Euthanasia is a peaceful and virtually pain-free process. To perform the euthanasia, first a catheter or needle will be inserted into a vein in your dog’s front or back leg. Your veterinarian will inject a drug into the vein, which places your dog in a state of relaxation.

The actual drug used to perform the euthanasia is a concentrated solution of pentobarbital, which is also injected into the vein. In most cases the injection works very rapidly (5 seconds). The injection causes your dog’s heart to stop beating.

When do I say good-bye to my dog ?
People say good-bye to their dog in many ways, and at different times during the euthanasia. You may:

Say good-bye before your dog enters the exam room.

Accompany your dog into the room, say good-bye prior to the euthanasia, and then leave before the euthanasia is performed.

Say good-bye in the exam room prior to the euthanasia, leave, and then return to the exam room after the euthanasia to say your final good-bye.

Be present at the euthanasia and say good-bye during the procedure.

What happens to the body?
After the euthanasia is complete, you’ll make a decision about what’s to be done with your dog’s body.

Decide whether to have your dog cremated and keep the ashes in an urn. Your veterinarian can help you set up this service.

Ask whether you’re allowed to take your dog’s body home for burial. Be sure to check permits in your area or ask your veterinarian about the possibility of this option.

Decide whether you’ll bury your dog in a pet cemetery. Many areas pet cemeteries where your dog’s grave will be well cared for and where you’re welcome to visit anytime.

Although the decision to have a dog euthanized is a personal one, don’t make it alone. Your veterinarian, family and friends can be there to support you and assist you with whatever decision you choose.

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