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Old Australian Shepherd under a blanket

Euthanasia is a final gift of love to a suffering pet

Q: Rosie, my 15-year-old dog, is nearing the end of her life. If she doesn’t die on her own, our veterinarian will help her pass. I know nothing of the procedure since I’ve never been through this before. My vet is very kind, but I’m afraid that if I ask her about it, I’ll be so distraught that I won’t remember what she said. Please explain the process to help me prepare.

A: I am very sorry for the sadness you are facing. Knowing what to expect should ease some of your discomfort.

The procedure is called euthanasia, Greek for “good death.” When a pet is dying slowly and no longer enjoys life, a peaceful death is a final gift of love.

The first thing to think about is whether you want Rosie euthanized at the animal hospital or in your home. If your vet doesn’t offer home euthanasia, she can often refer you to someone who does.

You’ll be asked to sign paperwork granting permission for the pet euthanasia. You may also wish to clip some of Rosie’s hair to save in a locket or frame with her picture.

Most people choose to be with their pets during the procedure, but some, concerned that their sobbing will upset their pets, wait in another room.

For pet euthanasia, your veterinarian will place an IV catheter and inject a sedative before she administers a lethal overdose of an anesthetic. The procedure is peaceful and painless.

Think about your wishes for Rosie’s body. Most people choose pet cremation with or without return of the ashes, or burial at home or in a pet cemetery.

My thoughts are with you and Rosie.

Editor's note: If you are seeking resources and information for coping with pet loss, please visit: https://figopetinsurance.com/blog/coping-pet-loss.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

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