How to Deal with Guilt From Pet Euthanasia
When it comes time to euthanize your own dog, it can be one of the hardest periods in your life as an owner. If you’re here, it’s because you’re weighing some options or at the very least looking for comfort while making an incredibly difficult decision. Your pet has been the reason for so many great days, wonderful moments, and years of smiles.
To consider euthanasia for your old friend can be so hard to come to terms with. But in many cases, it’s an option that can ensure that your pet does not suffer in its final stages of life. Even so, you may be wondering how to deal with the guilt you might feel from making such a difficult decision.
While our pets are the light of our life, just like us, they can’t live forever. The thoughts you are having about euthanasia are completely normal and valid. A lot of us have been there and it may help to get involved with the community if you need support. Otherwise, there are some great places online full of pet owners dealing with the same thing.
We really encourage you to reach out!
What Happens When You Put a Pet to Sleep?
When you put a pet to sleep, there are a few things that must be done first. This isn’t something that you’ll be ready to do overnight; lots of planning should go into it. The process takes a lot of preparation, namely for yourself, your local veterinarian, and most importantly, your beloved pet.
Below, we will explain a little bit about the process. Knowing more about how everything works can help you come to terms with it, and hopefully find comfort.
Pet Euthanasia Process
Overall, the process of pet euthanasia is actually quite simple and uncomplicated. Usually, the hardest part of the process is the mental preparation that goes into it. Luckily, this isn’t a hard process in itself. Sometimes, such mentally taxing events can be made worse by a complex procedure. If you’re wondering more about what you need to do, read on below.
The first part of the general euthanasia process is the stage of preparation, where you’ll make the right arrangements and also prepare yourself and your family to say goodbye the right way.
As arrangements go, you have the option of either bringing your pet to a veterinarian’s office to have the procedure, or you can call the vet to come to your home. No matter which option you choose, there are pros on each side. The right choice solely depends on what you think is best for your family’s processing and your pet’s comfort.
If you have children in your household, they may or may not have gone through this before. If the concept of euthanizing a pet is completely new, it might be time to think about how to communicate the concept to your child. It’s imperative that you communicate this to children in gentle, soft terms that they can both understand and process it in a healthy way.
The actual procedure is carried out as follows: the first thing will be ensuring that your dog is completely comfortable where they are. If you can, you should keep your pet close company throughout the entire process. To help them get settled if they are a bit restless, the vet may administer a sedative before the next step.
Next, your veterinarian will administer a shot with the right amount of medication that gently puts your pet to sleep. Normally, this medication will be pentobarbital, which is a medication used otherwise to treat seizures.
The shot will cause your pet to fall into a peaceful sleep, and then after that, the medication will cease the functionality of their heart and brain. Overall, this is a completely painless process for your pup.
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Why Vets Use Euthanasia
One question that may be on your mind is why veterinarians choose to offer euthanasia as an option. It can seem wrong at times to make a life-altering decision for your pet, but in reality, it is a thing for a very good reason.
First of all, vets are there in the first place to make sure your dog lives a comfortable life. In the same sense, they want to make sure that if your pet’s life is becoming too uncomfortable to be enjoyable, there is something that can be done.
If your dog has been suffering from a debilitating illness, there’s not a way that they themselves could end the pain. It’s very important that once it’s no longer a comfortable life, there is an option for them. Luckily, euthanasia has proven to be an ethical and comfortable way to peacefully end life.
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Do Pets Suffer When They’re Put to Sleep?
The answer to this question is no. The way the process works is that the veterinarian will ensure that your pet is comfortable before and during the shot. Ultimately, the goal of the procedure is completely centered around ending any suffering. So, it’s only right that they’ve developed the process completely to ensure maximum comfort.
When the IV is administered, the medication will first and foremost bring your pet into an unconscious state before any of their bodily functions are shut down. That way, your dog will not feel anything past the point of the initial injection, which will not be any different from the regular shots they got before.
Overall, there’s no need to worry. This is a difficult thing to come to terms with, but one thing that can bring you comfort about it is that it’s designed to be completely peaceful.
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Deciding When the Time Is Right
Perhaps the most difficult part is knowing exactly when the right time is to set up the appointment, or on a grander scale, knowing when it’s time to start thinking about euthanizing your own dog. Neither of those things is easy to decide on, so it’s good that you’re here. Next, we’re going to talk about a few things that might help you know if it’s a good idea to take the steps.
The first reason that you might want to euthanize your own dog is that they are in poor health. As pets age, they become more susceptible to debilitating illnesses that have the potential to cause major discomfort as they progress. Sometimes, it’s hard for them to even move around, let alone eat or take care of some basic needs.
When they are in such poor health that every day seems like a struggle to get through, that is a large indicator that it might be time to start thinking about euthanasia to end suffering.
The second indicator that its time is that they are in pain for another reason. Again, as their age grows, their bones and muscle tissue become less strong. If they were to have a bad fall and hurt themselves to the point of spending the rest of their life in pain, it can be the right time to consider this.
If they are young, they have a much better chance at a happy, pain-free life. But, if they’re older and their health is consistently declining, it could be better to start the process.
Always remember that your pet doesn’t have any control over how much pain they endure and for how long it lasts. This is why it’s so hard to make that decision for them, but in many cases, pain is felt so strongly that it makes sense to end the level of suffering.
There is another reason you may be considering euthanasia for your dog. If they are suffering from an aggressive problem that cannot be cured, or if you’ve exhausted all other options, it may be the right choice to start the steps.
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Old Pets vs. Young Pets
Depending on the age of your pet, the steps you take might look a lot different. In fact, the choice you end up making (whether to go through with it or not) might be considered from different points of view in these cases.
For example, if an older pet falls ill or becomes injured, they have a lesser chance of bouncing back to full recovery than a younger dog would. That’s why euthanasia is overwhelmingly performed on dogs over the age of 10. Similarly, young dogs have better immune systems overall and can move around a lot more. That’s why they have a much easier time dealing with illnesses and most of them remain temporary.
In sum, the reasons you might be considering euthanasia will probably be very different depending on the age of your pet. To help in any decision-making, the best bet is to set up a call with your veterinarian. They’ve performed these procedures on dogs of all ages, and if you’re unsure if it’s the right time it can help to chat with them.
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Managing Guilt From Pet Euthanasia
If you’re feeling guilty about making the decision to euthanize your dog, it’s important to remember that these feelings are totally normal. In fact, you’re definitely not alone. We really want to emphasize that there are healthy ways to deal with grief as well as coming to terms with euthanasia.
To help manage the guilt and the grief, something that can help us to understand why we feel these things. Euthanasia is one of the hardest decisions pet owners might ever have to make, and it’s natural to feel wrong about it. When your pet’s life is in the equation, there’s no easy way to feel after you’ve made the call.
But what you’ll need to remember after the procedure is that you did everything you could do to preserve that life. Euthanasia should only be considered as the final option to end suffering or other incurable problems. So, if treatment has made it to that point, you can rest assured that there was nothing else you could have done.
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Grieving the Loss of Your Pet
When you feel the grief coming on, make sure to take a step back and reassure yourself that you made the right call and that your pet is in a happier, more comfortable place. If you wouldn’t want to live your own life in constant suffering, your pet wouldn’t either.
Something that can help is that, if you believe in the afterlife, imagining that your pet is waiting for you on the other side. In fact, if you’ve had multiple pets, imagining being reunited with them can alleviate so much of the pain associated with losing a friend.
In any case, the best move is to try and remind yourself of all the good times and remember the way they made you feel. Your pet has undoubtedly made you a better, happier person, and to thank them for the gifts they gave you can help you feel at peace. If they’ve lived a happy life with you, they had a wonderful time in their years on earth.
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Pets Bereaving Pets
Do pets know when another pet in your household has passed away? How does death affect pets, and can pets process death in the first place? There are lots of questions surrounding pets bereaving pets and what that might look like.
While the answer to this still isn’t clear, you can think of it in terms of how animals interact in a pack. Naturally, packs of animals have defined roles, so when one member of your pet’s ‘pack’ is no longer there, sometimes your other pet may seem a little bit uncertain about where they now fit in.
If you are noticing these changes in a pet after another pet is deceased, they may be grieving:
- Their appetite fluctuates
- Acting lethargic or detached
- Whining or howling
- Hiding and avoiding socializations
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Some Final Thoughts
Overall, this is an article that you’re probably reading if you are going through or about to go through the process of euthanizing your own dog. If this is the case, we wish you the best of luck and are sending you warm hugs during this time.
If this post has helped your journey in any way, that’s the most we can ask for and we hope your pet finds peace. You’re taking the first step by researching, and if you have any other questions we can help you with, you can leave a comment below.