As a dog owner the hardest decision you may ever have to make is the heart-breaking one of
putting your dog down. Your vet will be able to help you decide when it’s time to consider
euthanasia, but then an equally difficult decision will need to be reached as to should you be
present? This article will guide you through these frequently asked questions and give you the facts
The meaning of the word euthanasia is a gentle or easy death, which is exactly what you would
want for your dog. After providing a sedative to make your dog relaxed and sleepy, your vet will then
administer an intravenous barbiturate injection into the fore leg containing an overdose of
anaesthetic. This slows down the breathing and stops the heart and your dog will pass peacefully.
When is the right time?
There are some general guidelines that can be used to determine when the time is right for dog
euthanasia. The most important things to monitor are your dog’s behaviour and appetite. Not eating
properly is a sign that your dog feels unwell and can be nauseated or just too ill to eat. Normal bodily
functions may start to become difficult, and when your dog loses interest in everyday favourite
activities you know something is wrong.
Some elderly dogs may experience confusion, restlessness, and symptoms of dementia which can
lead to mental suffering. If you see that your dog isn’t interested in life, doesn’t have a quality of life,
or is in serious discomfort or distress, you’ll know that a decision needs to be made to prevent any
Should you be present?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question as some dog owners desperately want to be there
when the vet is putting your dog to sleep, and others feel compelled not to be there. You may want
to stay to get:
• A level of comfort from the peaceful passing of your dog
• Certainty in how your dog spent his last moments which lets you grieve properly
• Closure as you were there to see your dog’s last breath
• The belief in doing what’s best for your dog without any regrets
Once you’ve made the decision with your vet you’ll want to make the last few days of your dog’s life
as special as you can. Professional end-of life practitioners are trained in palliative treatments that
stop any unnecessary suffering, and will offer you dog euthanasia in your own home. This can be
the perfect way to say goodbye to your best friend in comfortable surrounds with the family he loves.
The vet that carries out the process will be trained and qualified with years of experience in helping
families and their pets. They’ll make sure that everything goes as gently as possible, checking heart
activity and reflexes to ensure your dog has passed, and then help you make arrangements for your
dog to be cremated in the pet crematorium, or if you prefer to find a final resting place in your