What is Euthanasia? Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek - "eu," goodly or well and "thanatos," death = good death.
It refers to the situation when a doctor (for a person)/veterinarian (for a pet/animal) induces death with a lethal injection, of a person or animal/pet who is suffering unrelievably and his/her pet parent(s) has requested the veterinarian to do so (or the individual has requested the doctor to do so).
The act or practice of ending the life of a person or animal/pet having a terminal illness or medical condition that causes suffering perceived as incompatible with an acceptable Quality of Life (QOL), as by lethal injection or the suspension of certain medical treatments.
(medicine) the act of killing someone painlessly, especially to relieve suffering from an incurable illness.
Also called "Mercy Killing:" the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die by withholding medical measures from a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition.
Where should the Euthanasia be Done? Many veterinarians prefer to have the pet euthanized during normal business hours at their practice. If this is the case it is highly recommended that it be scheduled as the last appointment. This allows the pet the least hectic experience and allows the pet parent time to prepare and compose him/herself after his/her pet is euthanized. Preferably there is a separate room used that is less clinical and more home-like with the lights dimmed. The pet should not be placed on the usual cold, hard surface of an examining table, but on a soft towel or blanket. If euthanasia is performed while other pets and pet owners are there than ideally there will be a private exit where the pet parent(s) can leave without walking past other pets waiting for services.
Some veterinarians are able to come to your home to perform the euthanasia. This is the preferred method. Your pet will be the most relaxed and comfortable in his/her own surroundings without the added stress of having to be transported anywhere. If your veterinarian is willing to do this it is usually after normal business hours.
In some areas you can use the services of a mobile veterinarian. This is the ideal. Not only will the veterinarian come to you, but s/he can usually come more quickly. This is extremely beneficial as time is of the essence when your beloved pet is suffering. If you reside in Brevard County, Florida, I highly recommend Dr. Donna Craig, D.V.M., who operates Outback Mobile Vet Service. She is compassionate and will come as soon as possible to help you and your pet. It is quickest to contact her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Her website is: www.outbackmobilevet.com
How is the Euthanasia Done? Every veterinarian has their own protocol, however, it typically involves the following steps:
1. The pet is put on a comfortable surface. This can also be on the pet parent's lap while sitting on the floor or
in a chair. It is highly recommended that your Animal Chaplain be with you during this stressful time.
2. The veterinarian explains the process to the pet parent and answers any questions/addresses any concerns.
3. The pet owner is allowed time to speak with his/her pet in order to say good-bye and any words of endearment.
4. Ideally, the pet owner will hold, pet, and/or speak softly to their pet while the veterinarian administers a
sedative to relax the animal further (the pet will often fall asleep at this point). If the pet owner is unable to
stay with the pet during this process than it is highly recommended that another human close to the pet and/or
an Animal Chaplain be present to be with your pet.
5. Once the sedative has taken affect, the veterinarian will administer the compound that will stop the pets heart.
6. The pet parent will be allowed to be with their pet for as long as they need.
7. If the pet is to be cremated the veterinarian can make the arrangements for a group or individual cremation.
If it is done as a group cremation usually the cremains are disposed of by the cremation service.
If it is done individually, the cremains will be returned to the pet parent (if the euthanasia is performed at a
veterinarian's office the cremains are returned to the office for pick up by the pet parent. If it is performed at
your home using a mobile vet then s/he will take your pet to be cremated and will return the cremains to you
at your home).
If you decide to keep your pet's body, it will usually be wrapped in a towel or blanket for you.
It's at this point that the grieving process will begin for the pet parent. Many find it comforting and healing to hold a funeral/memorial service for their pet once the cremains are returned to them. The services of an Animal Chaplain can be invaluable at this time. Not only can s/he help with the funeral/memorial service, but is there to help you over the next days/weeks/months during your bereavement.
Also, try to surround yourself with family and friends who understand that you are grieving and respect the situation. Avoid those who can't understand grieving over a pet such as those who say, "Aren't you over it yet? It was only a cat/dog/bird, etc. Just get another one."
It is my hope that this information is helpful to you as you face the unthinkable. Just remember, you are not alone. There are many resources out there. Please use them.
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