Putting Your Dog to Sleep – Coping Guide

If you have had or currently have a pet dog, then you already know that they are essentially going to be another one of your family members.  From spending time with them every night, to taking them with you on walks or vacations, your dog is like a part of your family.  With that being said, this only means that you are going to form a very strong emotional bond with them as the years move forwards.  What this means is that one of the most difficult decisions that you will ever need to make is also going to be one of the hardest days of your life, that day being the day when you need to decide whether or not you are going to say goodbye to your pup.  

You dog has been a part of your life for the past several years, if not longer.  They’ve been there for you through the good times and the bad ones as well.  In fact, if you think about it, you will more than likely be able to agree with the statement that your dog has been there to help you crack a smile, cuddle with you on those lonely nights, and to even make a mess for you to clean up as soon as you turn away.  Unfortunately, though, life happens and there will come a time when your furry four-legged friend will not be able to stay with you any longer.  Whether this be from simply growing old, has become injured or is constantly living in pain, or is deteriorating to a point where they are becoming a danger to either themselves or others, there will eventually come a day when you will need to make the decision to let your dog go.  

While this is not going to be an easy choice for you to make, there is a very good chance that you may end up struggling with the guilt for many days after the decision has been made, this same guilt lasting potentially for months.  You may even find yourself wondering whether or not you did the right thing and euthanized your dog?  What if you made the decision to do so too soon?  Should you have waited a little bit longer?

If you find that you are having these nagging thoughts, it is going to be very important that you know this is a natural feeling.  Most people who have pet dogs that they have been through similar situations with are going to have these very same doubts.  Just know that these are not going to be a sign that you have done anything wrong.  Here are some of the ways that you can use to help cope with the fact that you had your dog put down and come to terms with the fact that you actually did the right thing, even if it was an extremely hard decision for you to make.

What Happens When You Put a Dog to Sleep?

Once you have made the tough decision that you are going to have your dog put to sleep, it can be very tempting to continuously put off the entire process ‘for just another day’.  However, the longer that you wait to have it done, the tougher it is going to become for you to actually go through with it, as well as the more suffering you are actually going to be putting your dog through.  What you need to do instead, is to resist the temptation that is there and start getting yourself prepared, as well as your family and your pet too.  Here is the process of getting your dog euthanized.

The Pet Euthanasia Process


The first step that you are going to need to be aware of is that of preparation.  For this, you are going to want to make sure and check with your vet to make sure that this is a procedure that they will be able to complete at their office or whether or not they can do it in the comfort of your home.  These are the things that you are going to want to be sure you have figured out ahead of time, making sure that the vet you are using is able to do it at your home if that is the route you would like to take.  Be sure that you have allowed everyone in the family to have plenty of time to say their final goodbyes and give as many extra hugs and cuddles as they would like to.  

If you have younger aged children who do not necessarily understand what is happening, be sure that you sit down with them and fully explain what is going on, but in a child friendly manner.  There is a very high chance that they are going to have some difficult questions that you won’t have a clue how to answer, so take a little bit of time to think of what you are going to be telling them and how you are going to tell it.  While this is more than likely going to be one of the more difficult discussion that you will ever have, it is going to be an essential one if you want your child to be able to cope with the loss of their best friend in any type of healthy way.  When the time comes for your dog to actually be euthanized, make sure that they have their favorite blanket, as it can provide an extra amount of comfort to them as they will have the familiarity of their favorite blanket.

The Actual Procedure

Once you have prepared for the euthanasia process, the next step is going to be the actual procedure itself.  When it comes to this, it is going to be very easy and uncomplicated.  First off, you will have the doctor allow your pet to settle and get comfortable where the procedure will be taking place.  A lot of times, it is even going to be best for your dog if you are able to sit with them, giving them the extra comfort that they deserve, as well as keeping them calm during the process.  Once they have calmed themselves, your vet will then potentially give them a sedative in order to prevent them from fighting or moving around too much.  A couple of exceptions to this will be if your dog is already very sick or old, as it will more than likely not be necessary.  

Once your dog has been sedated, the vet will then give the shot.  While the actual shot is going to vary, for the most part, it is more than likely going to be pentobarbital, which is actually a seizure medication, but works well in these situations as it will easily make your dog fall unconscious when it is given in larger doses.  This shot will happen through an IV that goes into one of your dog’s legs.  

After the shot has been administered, your dog is going to very quickly become unconscious, having their brain and heart function shut down (in a very gentle manner) a few moments later.  As your dog goes to sleep, there is a chance that they are going to make a few involuntary movements and their eyes may not necessarily close all the way.  On top of that, there is a chance that they are going to urinate as well.  If you do witness any of this, you have nothing to worry about as they are all going to be normal reactions and are not a sign that your pet is in any type of pain or suffering in any way.

After the Procedure

After the procedure has been completed, the next steps are going to be to decide what you would like to do with their body and the plans that you have to lay your beloved dog to rest.  If you are planning on burying them at your home, be sure that you double check any city regulations there may be, as well as to make sure that it is legal in your particular area.  If you don’t wish to have them buried at your home, you can also choose to have them laid to rest at a pet cemetery.  Pet cemeteries are going to be a great option and will allow you to visit them whenever you would like.  One other option is to have them cremated.  Of the three options, this is going to be the most popular one that most dog owners end up choosing.  Either way, you are going to need to decide what you are going to do with your dog’s body, that decision being what is best for both you and your family, as well as your pet.

How to Tell When to Euthanize Your Dog

When you must make a tough decision like having your dog euthanized, you are going to want to be 100% sure that you are making the right choice.  Just keep in mind that while you may not want to go through with it, you must keep the interest of your dog at the very front of your mind.  If you had to choose with euthanizing your dog and having them live in consistent pain for the next 3 years, you would probably agree that living in pain is not going to be a very good quality of life.  With that being said, here are some of the reasons when you may want to consider euthanizing your dog.

  • They are in Poor Health:  If your dog is in a battle with some type of extreme illness, there is a very good chance that they are suffering This means that having to get up every day, move around, and even just lying down in one spot can be painful for them.  This is going to be a very low quality of life and one of the nicest things you can do in this situation is to have them put to sleep peacefully.
  • They are in Constant Pain:  If your dog has injured themselves or has fallen badly, they may have injured themselves in a way that will never be healed correctly.  This means that your dog is more than likely going to be spending the rest of their life in pain or not be able to move around as they normally do.  Instead of watching your dog suffer for the next few years, it may be a better choice to have them put to sleep instead.
  • They Started Showing Aggression Problems:  If you notice that your dog has started to become much more aggressive towards other animals and even humans, euthanasia is often times going to be the recommended option to make.  

Managing the Guilt

If you have had to get your pet euthanized, there is a very high chance that you are suffering from some type of guilt.  If this is the case, you are going to need to remember that you actually did them a favor.  If the option to euthanize was ever in question, just remember that they were constantly in pain and were not able to enjoy their life anymore, or they simply go too aggressive and couldn’t be around anyone or thing without the risk of biting, you really did not have any other options available to you.  

While the entire situation of having your dog euthanized is always going to be a tough decision to make, there are certain circumstances when the choice needs to be made.  Just do your best to remember the good times that you have been able to have with them and know that they are now in a better place where they are not suffering in any way.  Yes you may feel guilty for some amount of time, just know that it was a decision that needed to be made, even if it was one that you had no intention of making in the first place. 


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