The Euthanasia Consultation
Home Visit Vet will arrive at your home at the scheduled appointment time (a half hour arrival window).
After greeting your pet, they can relax whilst we can discuss their symptoms and health and whether euthanasia is suitable on this day. If your pet has recently had an appointment (with us or your regular vet) and the decision for euthanasia has already been made, a detailed or repeated consultation may not be necessary, but some discussion and reassurance for your decision is available. If your pet has not been seen by a vet for some time, a consultation regarding their quality of life is needed prior to any final decision. This discussion may be brief or lengthy, taking your and your pet’s situation into consideration. We will answer questions and offer guidance in helping you make the decision. The euthanasia process will be explained and any further questions that arise will be answered. Naturally, if your pet is in a crisis situation when we arrive, attending to their welfare takes immediate priority.
It may be clear that euthanasia is the kindest thing to do. However, sometimes the situation is that your pet can benefit from medications or further palliation, or you feel that you are not ready to go through with euthanasia that day. If after a detailed consultation you are still uncertain, it may signal that you, or your pet, are not quite ready for euthanasia now. As long as your pet will not needlessly suffer, we can further discuss how you can continue to support their quality of life, and arrange to come back for euthanasia another time.
It is important that you are comfortable (as possibly can be under such difficult and upsetting circumstances) with your decision. You will not be under any obligation to proceed with euthanasia if not necessary, or to engage in a lengthy consultation when it is clear that euthanasia is required.
After the decision to put your pet to sleep has been made, you will be asked to sign a consent form. Your consent gives permission to euthanize your pet, and if you already know, indicates your choice for body aftercare.
You may prefer to make payment for services at this time (rather than at the end of the visit).
Our belief is that your pet should not be anxious, nor in pain, prior to and during euthanasia. A pre-euthanasia injection to induce sedation is thus routinely given. The sedation dose and type and whether pain relief is also required will vary according to your pet’s individual needs.
The sedative injection is given under the skin by the neck or by the lower back. They usually don’t mind this injection, but as with any injection there may be a momentary discomfort. Drowsiness happens within 5 minutes in cats, and takes up to 10 to 15 minutes in dogs. Sedation occurs more rapidly in very frail patients, and may take longer in robust or very anxious pets.
Cats are routinely deeply sedated to a level of anaesthesia, whereas dogs are sedated to suit their health status, temperament and anxiousness. Our aim is to ensure your pet is peacefully relaxed prior to euthanasia.
Once you have said your good-byes and feel you are ready, we will proceed with preparing to put your pet to sleep.
Dogs will have an intravenous catheter placed in a vein, usually in the front leg. A small patch of fur over the vein is clipped. The catheter is placed into the veint. Relaxed dogs are quite undisturbed during this, although they may notice the catheter being inserted.
Cats typically do not require an intravenous catheter.
Your pet can be in their favourite resting spot – their bed, on your bed, or the sofa, by a fireplace or in the garden. Sometimes we decide not to disturb your pet from their resting place after sedation. You may hold or hug your pet on your lap or in your arms, or sit next to them gently stroking or just touching them.
When you feel that you are ready, the euthanasia injection is given. your pet will not feel any pain or discomfort with this injection. In a very short while the heart and breathing stop. The breathing may suddenly stop, or a few deep breaths may occur before ceasing. The last breath usually happens within seconds, but can take up to a minute from the start of the injection. The heart will then be checked that it too has stopped, after which we confirm that your beloved pet has passed away. You may, however, already have sensed that this has occurred.
You will be offered time alone with your pet at this stage, should you wish it. Some people like to keep a tuft of fur as a momento. We can also make a clay paw print mould for you.
The eyes usually remain open (unless they were naturally closed prior to the final injection) and after a few minutes they may void some urine (we have absorption cloths in preparation for this).