Euthanasia and Aftercare
Euthanasia is the intentional ending of a life to stop overwhelming pain and suffering. Understandably, the decision on whether or not to euthanize is a deeply personal one. While we would all hope that our pets would pass quickly and quietly in their sleep, sometimes steps must be taken to end it sooner in order to spare them unnecessary pain and suffering.
In veterinary medicine, euthanasia is accomplished by the administration of an anesthetic overdose. By using anesthetics, we can ensure that your pet passes with a minimal amount of distress. The nature of anesthetics means that long before the body systems stop functioning, your pet has reached a state of unconsciousness. While the body may still react to outside stimulus or perform involuntary actions, your pet will not be mentally aware, in pain, or distressed by these actions.
Once the decision to euthanize has been made, the next decision is whether you would like to be present with your pet for the procedure or not. There is no wrong choice when it comes to this since it a very personal decision. You may also need to decide if there are other people or pets that you would like present for the procedure. Most veterinary clinics are able to perform euthanasias. If you would like your regular vet to perform this service for you and family, please contact them with any questions you have about how they perform the procedure and to get you scheduled. You may also want to have this done at either your own home or at our office. On the next page, you will find a list of a few mobile veterinarians. Below is some general information about euthanasia at the Cancer Center.
Here at the Cancer Center, if you decide to be present, an IV catheter will be placed to help ensure that procedure happens quickly and smoothly. The doctor will go over the procedure prior to beginning and will wait until you are ready before proceeding. Once the procedure is complete, the doctor will verify that your pet’s heart has stopped beating. You can spend as much time as you need with your pet, both before and after. There is no rush.
If you decide not to be present, your pet will still be surrounded by love. An IV catheter will be placed and one or more staff members will sit with your pet as the doctor performs the procedure. Your pet will be offered words of love and signs of affection, as if they were our own, to ensure that their last moments are as happy as we can make them.
Aftercare is what is done with your pet’s body after death or euthanasia. The options are the same as they are for people: cremation or burial. With cremation, you have the option of an individual cremation in which your pet’s ashes are returned to you, or a communal cremation in which your pet’s ashes are not returned to you but instead scattered after cremation. Burial can either be accomplished at home (depending on the laws where you live) or at a pet cemetery. Depending on your wishes, we are more than willing to help facilitate the aftercare that you would like for your pet.
In-home Hospice Care and Euthanasia
The following is a list of veterinarians that perform house calls. In the event that your regular vet is unable to make house calls, the following providers can perform a variety of services, from general wellness care to hospice and euthanasia. Each provider is different in what they offer and the area that they are able to cover. Please contact them or refer to their websites for the specifics of what they are able to provide to you and your pet.
Olympia and South Puget Sound Area
Peaceful Transitions Veterinary Services, Dr Blair Burggren