On Euthanasia: What to Expect

Previously in this series on euthanasia, we’ve discussed making the decision and scheduling an appointment to euthanize your dog. Today I’d like to discuss the procedure itself. Knowing what to expect may make it easier for you to prepare yourself. I understand that this topic is very sensitive and may be upsetting to some people, but strongly feel that knowledge is power. It can be very comforting to have a solid understanding of what will happen and what your dog will feel during his or her final moments.

Photo by Kelvin Andow

Photo by Kelvin Andow

When your vet euthanizes your dog, they will inject an overdose of a powerful sedative directly into your dog’s vein. This drug will cause the nerves in your dog’s body to stop sending signals (including pain signals) and will slow your dog’s breathing and heart until they eventually stop. Many dogs take a final, deep breath as they pass away. Sometimes dogs will urinate or defecate when they are euthanized due to the total relaxation that happens. If this happens to your dog, it will do so when your dog is no longer aware of what is happening. Euthanasia does not hurt. Afterwards, your dog’s eyes may be open (although the vet can close them if you wish) and his tongue might hang out of his mouth. If your dog’s body is moved, he may appear to burp or sigh as air escapes the lungs.

In many cases, your veterinarian may choose to sedate your dog prior to euthanasia. You can ask your vet to do this if you think it will make the process easier for you or your dog. Sedatives can be given orally by mixing them with your dog’s favorite foods or can be administered via injection into your dog’s leg or back muscles. The sedatives given via injection are more powerful than oral sedatives and will provide more complete relaxation.

In Dobby’s case, we sought advice from his veterinary behaviorist on the best drugs to make the process as easy as possible. I wish that I could tell you that he went peacefully, but to be honest his euthanasia was very difficult. Most dogs who are old or sick pass on quite quietly, but in cases like Dobby where there is a behavioral component to the euthanasia, it is not uncommon for them to overcome all of the sedatives in their system.

Dobby was given a double dose of his anxiety medication, trazodone, the night before his appointment. Three hours before his appointment, he was given another very large dose of this drug – four times the amount he would usually take. In most cases, this would have made him too sleepy to walk, but Dobby was still walking around and carrying his ball when the vet arrived, even though he was quite sleepy. He growled and barked at the vet and was on high alert.

When he was given another sedative via injection into his leg (because he was responding too aggressively for the vet to have a clear shot at his vein), Dobby started to show a lot of seizure activity in the form of head swinging. He also became very sensitive to noises and startled every time I sniffled (not an uncommon side effect of his seizures). At that point he was no longer aware of what was going on around him, so the vet gently injected the euthanasia solution into his vein. I held him close and whispered how much I loved him, telling him he was a good dog and that he didn’t ever have to be scared again, until I felt his body relax. The vet listened to his heart with a stethoscope and confirmed that he was gone.

If you’re preparing to euthanize your dog, remember that you have options. Dobby’s response to the process was extreme, and most dogs do not respond that way. You can choose whether you’d like to be present during the actual euthanasia or not. I personally wanted to be there for Dobby because I knew that my presence would help him feel less afraid. However, if you do not feel like you can be there for your dog that is also okay. Consider talking to your vet about sedation and staying with your pet until he or she is sedated, then leaving the area during the euthanasia itself. You could also ask a friend or family member that your dog knows and likes to take your dog to their final appointment or to stay with your dog while you leave the room.

Again, this is a very personal topic, and everyone deals with death differently. Together, you and your vet can help to make your dog’s final moments as peaceful as possible. Remember that euthanasia does not hurt. In assisting with many euthanasias over my career, I’ve noticed that after a dog is gone there is often a beautiful expression of peace that settles over their face. The pain or stress they’ve been experiencing no longer hangs over them, and it’s those of us who are left behind who have to deal with grief.

If you’ve made this difficult decision, how did your dog’s final moments go? Did you or your vet choose to sedate your dog ahead of time? Please feel free to share your experiences below. I really appreciate the kind and supportive community of dog lovers that follow this blog. There’s a lot of healing going on in the comments after each of these posts, and it’s a wonderful salute to the dogs who’ve brought us here that so many of you have felt willing to share.

58 responses to “On Euthanasia: What to Expect

  1. “I’ve noticed that after a dog is gone there is often a beautiful expression of peace that settles over their face. The pain or stress they’ve been experiencing no longer hangs over them, and it’s those of us who are left behind who have to deal with grief.”
    Having been in the world of dogs for many years (breeding, showing and now proudly rescue) I’ve had to make this decision numerous times. The anticipation of knowing what has to be done and then going forward to do what’s right for the animal is far worse than the actual act itself.
    With the exception of 2 rescued terrier crosses, the actual passing was very peaceful and smooth. And yes, there was an expression of calm and peace on the face of the dog.
    I choose to be there and hold my “kids” and tell them how much I love them.

    • I can’t tell you how much these blogs have helped me move forward. I had to put my 4 year old rescue down in July and still agonize weekly with haunting memories as my vet never prepared me for what happened. There was no peace. It was horror for 30 minutes as my fear aggressive dog seized and drooled and seemed in agony while the drug had no effect. Only now do I realize that not all goodbyes are peaceful. I’ll never forget what I witnessed and hope in time to forgive the hand I played in this end. I do know that my vet should’ve prepared me for the possibility of this scenario. I may have opted to start with euthanasia without the futile sleeping medicine or had more support with me that day. Certainly, I would’ve at least had transparency. As it is, I made the choice I had to make but can’t erase what I witnessed. I will change vets as I have lost trust in her practice. As a lawyer I know that every client must hear all possibilities and then prepare to accept a recommendation. I had no idea this would be so grueling. Thank you. Brutal honesty is better than terrible surprise.

  2. Thank you so, so much I have a 4 year old Lab x Beagle in his 5th week of a Lymphoma diagnosis. Things have gotten worse in the last few days, but he still has life in him yet. Your blogs on the topic are very helpful. This is a huge thing for me, we have been on a particularly emotional journey together and he is the reason I am now a proud +R Mum, groomer and budding trainer Thank you…

  3. I appreciate you writing a post like this – I think it’s good for people to know the realities of the situation. Our vet sedated our dog and it also caused him to go into a seizure, which was rather heartbreaking for me, but once he finally settled down and I held him he seemed okay. He was obviously very uncomfortable after the initial sedation which I feel badly for. I will say, something to add – the euthanasia is likely going to be harder on you than the dog. I remember the moment I felt him take his last breath, and I suddenly felt all the air go out of me, almost fainted, and had to be rushed to the restroom where I threw up. I didn’t expect that at all, it was a sudden, crushing feeling, like the culmination of all the sadness of the weeks before hitting me instantly. We are getting close to the point where we will have to euthanize our elderly JRT who has cancer, and I am glad I know a little more going into it this time. With her, I think it will be different, as she is not young and active like our old dog was, nor scared of the vet at all.

    • I’m sorry you had this experience. I’ve had it twice now, and it is horrible. Both times, the first sedative was the reason. Unless you have personally used that sedative on your dog before, I would tell the vet that only one shot should be used. Tell them – don’t ask (need to to have this conversation when you make the appointment). If you have an agitated dog, find a solution to this before hand (essential oils, benedryl, known sedative, etc), or find a vet with some real handling skills. They go more abruptly with the one shot, but it is so much better than the ‘bad reaction’. Heart wrenching

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It is very important to know that there are options and it does not have to be such a cold, impersonal experience as many of us had to experience. Each of us are different as to how we handle these situations, but at least choices now exist.

  5. My 13 1/2 year old was put to sleep due to osteosarcoma in February. I fed her treats while the vet put the medication in and she was eating them until the last one dropped out of her mouth and she was gone. I will always remember that treat falling out of her mouth. It’s hard to be present when they do it, but I always feel I owe it to my dogs to be there.

  6. The vet gave my Ted E. a sedative also before he administered the actual medicine. Once he administered the medicine, he left the room so I could be alone with Ted. When he came back (I’m not sure how much later), Ted E. still hadn’t passed and he had to administer more. It was very stressful.

    • silversculptr

      I’m so sorry you went through that. I had a similar experience. The vet administered drugs, said she was gone and left the room. I felt her heart beating wildly, frantically and I couldn’t call out for the vet or react – all I could do was hold her until the heartbeat finally stopped. I don’t know if she experienced pain during that time but I’ve never gotten over it. This was my 18yr old poodle, my best friend, my constant companion. How did I repay her for her love? All I can do now is move move forward and learn from my mistake. Next time I will ask more questions and the vet won’t leave until I’m satisfied that my best friend is at peace. Gentle hugs to you.

  7. The last time I had to euthanize a dog it required multiple tries to get a vein as she was 14 years old and had just suffered a stroke. Even with that, she passed smoothly as I feel she was very ready to go.

  8. I remeber when we put down Timber the first at 6 months old. she went very peacefully. I was holding her head whe she went and she just totally relaxed in my arms. was a very sad time but the right decision for her so her suffering was done.

  9. Love your post.
    I just put my twelve-year-old dog to sleep this summer. I’m a vet myself so I got to do it in my front porch, holding her in my arms. It was really hard for me, but she could not live that way anymore. She had terminal cardiac problems. I miss her so much, but I could give her a peaceful death and avoid the suffering cardiac disease gives. Rest in peace, little Tosca.

  10. I appreciate your stressing that it’s your choice and there is no right or wrong way to go about things. I’ve always chosen to be with my dogs, and there have been several that needed to be helped along the way at the end of their journey. But I do understand those who are unable to bear witness after they’ve made such a difficult decision. It’s never easy.

  11. I have never had to do this but thank you for your sensitive and sensible article. As you say, information is power.

  12. Pingback: On Euthanasia: What Happens After | Paws Abilities

  13. I have had to put two dogs to sleep. Both were old and sickly. The first went very quietly and quickly after the sedative. The most recent one was very relaxed until he got the sedative and then picked up. He eventually laid back down and seemed very relaxed. When the vet administered the fatal dose he picked his head up and started to howl as if he was in pain. It was very disturbing. The vet was surprised, although I have had several friends tell me that they had a similar experience.

  14. Lexi, my Shih tzu that I rescued approximately 15 years ago is being euthanasiaed (please forgive my spelling, I am not able to think) tomorrow. I have rescued multiple dogs. She is the first one I rescued of the original 5 that I kept and the last one I have to go.
    I have had to do this before, however not one of my dogs that gave more unconditional love than any human I have ever met, is the same. I have different feelings each time I have had to do this. Each one is unique.
    I am scared. I am 43 years old on disability with a master’s degree. I, like many, never thought I would be on disability. It has been approximately 5 years on disability. I am finding diverse options and help and am going to get better and work again.
    However I am feeling very bad and guilty for what I have put my animals through. I couldn’t afford a place of my own and someone I thought was an honest friend had an extra room. So myself and dogs moved in. What I was not told/was not aware of, was there was toxic black mold in this place. I am deathly allergic to it and became very sick. The doctors didn’t learn how to treat this where I live and just kept misdiagnosing me, regardless of what I said. I grew up at the time when the doctors did the right things (many natural things) for the right reasons and they personally took the time to listen and know their patients. So I trusted these doctors too long. I had already had a kidney and adrenal gland removed, so I needed to be cautious at times. Well with all the prescriptions the doctors toxicified me so bad I believe I almost died from that, much less the toxic mold. So I lived in a hotel room for 3 months, paid for by the person who did not tell me this information. However I was too sick to even take care of my animals so they had to stay at that home. At that time I didn’t know how it could affect animals much less how much it affected humans. I also had everyone around me telling me it was not true. Just do a simple internet search and you will find out how badly it affects people and pets. Then this supposed friend bought a different home and said it was tested. Well this time I got so sick I got down to 71 pounds with many other side effects. Again, I believed I almost died. Started singing “Jesus Take the Wheel”, called my brother to say goodbye and saw three (I believe) specific things flash in front of my eyes about my life. A friend took me to the hospital. Of course their first thought was an eating disorder. Then they tried to tell me I was crazy or something along those lines. Then they said my vitals were fine (they would not even give me saline liquid) and to go home.
    Part of the divorced family came to get me, not happy and not supportive, to bring me back to my dad and step moms house. My step mom does not like dogs, so again I had to leave my dogs in this terrible situation. So how do I not feel bad or guilty?
    Still trying to get better. Have no family support or contact. Didn’t want to bring anyone down anymore because of my health, so the extrovert I am, stopped most communication. I am now staying with a friend and her husband. I do pay rent and help with what I can. I want to be self sufficient, off disability and working again. However, here I sit the night before I have to take my Lexi to the veterinarian, not knowing what to do.
    Sorry this was so long. Thanks for caring and prayers. Love Lexi and Tina.

  15. I believe this is a good topic which is why I searched for similar experiences. Although the euthanasia process may not be traumatic in some cases, it may not necessarily be “peaceful” either. I’ve had two dogs put down. Both were seniors. Before the first, I had never experienced euthanasia of a pet before and fortunately I did my homework beforehand. I understood it was a 2-injection process (sedative and then IV solution). Based on this information I was prepared to stay with the first dog for at least the sedative and take it from there. When the vet asked if I wanted to be present I stated that I did and asked “It’s 2 shots, right”? He said, “No, it’s just one shot and I want to let you know that due to his age there may be some struggling”. I then declined being present and helped my beloved pet into the vets arms to take him off to another room. I still hold a sense of guilt over not being there for him and swore I’d stay to the end when the time came for the other. That time came 5 years later in January 2014. I promised to stay with him until the end no matter how hard it would be. I truly feel we owe it to them but understand those that may choose not to be present (or an alternative like having time alone with the pet after the procedure). Upon arriving this time, the vet (different one but same office) also asked if I wanted to be present. Of course I said that I did and asked “It’s just one shot, right” (based on the prior experience). She said “No, it’s two”. This put my mind at ease because I knew the first was a sedative but at the same time I was confused why the difference in procedure from the last. I held this dog in my arms (he was small) giving him his favorite neck scratch and ear massage while the sedative was injected. He let out a small squeak which somewhat bothered me as he never reacted to injections before but no big deal. The vet left the room but not before me asking “This is immediate, right”? She said “No, it will take about 4-5 minutes”. My dog then began shaking which I thought was odd because he was never uncomfortable at the vet. I could tell he felt my chest tighten as I started to cry. He knew. I could feel his breathing getting very heavy but then it turned to more of a gasping (just my opinion). A dear friend was with me and advised his tongue was hanging out. I know he meant no harm but it didn’t help the situation. I was not looking at my dogs face as I was holding him very closely in my chest while scratching his neck. He was blind and deaf. He then urinated on me (not a problem – can be anticipated) but this labored breathing/gasping became more pronounced and I semi-panicked and stood up to go get that vet to administer the next shot as I felt he was suffering (again just my opinion but not just “going to sleep”). I then calmed and she returned. We placed him on the table and she shaved a part of his tiny leg for the IV. In less than a minute she confirmed there was no heartbeat. I did not want to look his face as I knew his poor, tired, clouded eyes could be open and I tried not to but could see it out of my peripheral vision along with his tongue hanging out. Along with many beautiful memories, this image remains of my beloved pal of 18 years.

    I know this might be detailed and maybe a bit graphic and am aware death is a part of life but my point is to discuss the procedure and options thoroughly with your vet beforehand even if a special appointment has to be made. I still believe euthanasia is the best option in many cases but it may not necessarily be “peaceful” depending on your definition. Knowing at the last minute that it was a 2-shot procedure this time, I may have opted not to be present for the second shot and requested his eyes be closed while we shared a few minutes alone. I still find comfort that I was with him until the end however.

    • Just under a year ago, my old dog was put to sleep. It was a very different experience from yours. The vet put an IV in her leg, gave her the sedative and then the drug to finish it. My dog never struggled. I was feeding her treats and the last one fell out of her mouth and she was gone.

      • I read about your experience or another one similar to it and I think that’s great. The dog I stayed with didn’t “struggle” but it wasn’t necessarily “peaceful” either. The other dog I was more or less warned there “could be” struggling. My point is to discuss this procedure thoroughly with your vet beforehand. What to expect from beginning to end, what procedure do they use (1 injection or 2?) so you can make the right choices for yourself and your pet. I thought I was somewhat experienced in this after the first one but they changed the game on me. I was just communicating with someone who got in an argument with the vets cremation vendor in the parking lot as she went inside to retrieve the ashes and this vendor was angry as she was waiting in the parking lot for her (?!). This kind of stuff is deplorable especially during the grieving process.

  16. Good evening,My husband and I had our Rottwiller Xena put to sleep today,she had metatases in her lungs she was diagnosed with a carcinoma 3 weeks ago,she was 11.We took the decision this morning after a restless night when Xena seemed to be choking and I couldn’t bear the idea of her suffocating and suffering. it was my first experience of euthanasia but not my husbands and he was traumatised by his previous experiences which he refuses to talk about.Today the vet injected 1 drug and she immediately went to sleep,she just folded onto her side,I was able to tell her I loved her and the nurse closed her eyes. I know it was inevitable and if it wasn’t today it was tomorrow or the day after but it is still very painful.

  17. I have had 8 Goldens since 1975 – 6 are sadly gone now. My advice? Establish a relationship with your vet. My vet comes to the house to euthanize. The last was 2 years ago. It was quiet and peaceful, The vet and I sat on the floor with my Golden Alice. Alice was injected with a sedative. We all relaxed and then the final injection was given. We all sat together for awhile, because my vet believes that the soul takes a bit of time to leave the body. When Alive breathed her last breath, I was close to her and inhaled. I believe that her last breath is still somehow within me and will never leave. Alice was my heart dog.

  18. I had a haunting experience this week regarding euthanizing. My wonderful Buster (Parson Jack Russell) a rescue babe was deterioting quickly with ESRD. We had to make the decision over the weekend. Our vet wasn’t available over the weekend, so we made an appointment on that Monday. We were invited in to the exam room and was told about the procedure. They said I could stay for the first (sedation) shot it will relax him and that I might not want to be around for the euthanizing shot because there might be urinating, defecation and spasms.
    As they administered the sedation shot. I was consoling my Buster, in a matter of seconds he whimpered and his body relaxed. I could see his eyes stop moving, then he let it go by urinating and releasing bloody stool. He had labored breathing (sounded like gasping or suffocating) and twitching. I felt he had left just then. The vet ran in and said he was in labor breathing. They nicely took him out of my arms and administered the euthanizing drug and checked for a heartbeat.
    I was so upset that I didn’t ask if he passed away in my arms when they administered the sedative. Is it typical for dogs to “fall asleep” I mean leave this earth on the sedative and have those reactions? I am haunted by the experience, yet I am happy he had me in his arms to console him and love on him when he had to leave.

  19. I just had to put down my 4 year old rescue mix for aggression this week. Literally one of the most difficult ” right” decisions I have ever made. I had heard the process was peaceful and quick. Well it was neither. Apparently when you are already an overly protective, scaredy, aggressive big dog it takes a lot to make you sleep. Smash fought for 25 minutes and two shots before sleeping. It was so dang awful watching her seize panic and drool with wild eyes. I fear I will never forget how hard she I fought to stay and protect me until the end. She even growled through her muzzle at the vet. I pray for peace and I know I saved her hurting someone but nothing about this right decision was happy. It is important to know that it will hurt. I would never have left her alone during the process. Part of me will always feel I betrayed her. That’s my problem of course. Good luck.

    • Lisa, I would like you to know that I feel your pain having been in the exact same situation with a couple of the troubled dogs I have rescued over the years. It definitely is not peaceful and quick for some.
      One of my problems is getting the memories of the horrific fear and thrashing out of my head. I can’t, but it does get less hurtful as time goes on.
      There is no doubt you made the right decision before someone was hurt and just as important, you let Smash go to a peaceful place.
      Having been in the world of dogs for many years, the process is peaceful and quick but still painful for the caregiver.

  20. I just put my little yorkie down 2 days ago. I had similar experience. He kept fighting sedative and had seizured on second dose. It was so hard to see him fight but he did seem at peace after.

  21. michael mccullough

    My lord I put my baby Shelby down today. She was a 17 year old Pit Bull who was my heart and would- and will always be. She had arthritic joints and was deaf and going blind.

    The process- I brought Shelby’s dog bed in first, I refused to have her lay on a cold metal table. I laid Shelby down on her bed I took her head in my hands. The vet was having trouble trying to find a vein. Shelby wimpered and jumped a little as the needle was trying to find a vein.

    I still was looking straight into her eyes telling her (crying to her) how much I loved her, how she was a great puppy, etc. I was looking into her eyes when the needle hit home. Her pupils slammed tight, then diolated all the way out then shrank down to tiny little pupils. Her tounge was sticking out a little, and her eyes were still open. The vet administered one shot (I’m thankful, due to what I’ve read in the forum about the sedative). My puppy was ready and she had passed within 10 seconds at the most. Myself and my boys (18-19) stayed with her for an additional 15 minutes.

    I know what needed to be done. To be honest this killed my heart and soul. I’m thankful that she went so peaceful. I would like to give everyone a tip. Please have a friend or family member take food bowls, dog bed, toys etc. Out of the house while you are at the vets. We didn’t do this, and as soon as I came home and in the house I saw her things. I just absolutely lost it. You may or may not choose to do this, but damn it just about killed me.

    • Sounds like Shelby lived a fantastic life full of love and died in peace among her best friends. It gets no better than that. She is frolicking somewhere. Maybe you will welcome another dog into your warm home someday. Never to take her place but to give all that love you have to!

  22. I am so glad I found this. My parents just had my dog euthanized today. We rescued her from the SPCA on my 8th birthday. She was 20 years old, and we had her for 17 years. She aged really well, but over that past few years she slowed down, which is to be expected, but she was still healthy and happy. Suddenly in the last 6 months or so, she started wasting away, and this past week we believe she had a stroke. Her back legs were no longer functioning, she could hardly keep any water or food down. She got even thinner. My mom stayed up with her every night over this past week, giving her sponge baths when she had an accident and holding her while she convulsed. We decided it was time. We couldn’t get into the vet until Monday (4 days) and we knew we didn’t want her to suffer. We called a ‘farm vet’ that’s well known around here. He deals primarily with horses, but makes house calls as a favor to put down beloved pets. I worried about this, worried he was a quack and she would be in pain in the end. There was no sedation, and because she was so thin and dehydrated, he injected the medication directly into her heart. It was brutal. She was kicking violently, howling, and even bit the vets wife who was trying to console her as we watched in horror. He said she died instantly and that it was normal, and I believe him. Her eyes were vacant. This lasted maybe 20 seconds or so and she relaxed. She didn’t stop breathing for about 5 minutes. I can’t get the image out of my mind. I grew up with her and she gave us so much happiness, I just pray she wasn’t in pain in her last minutes on this earth. Rest in peace, my sweet baby girl.

    • If you are like me that image will stay with you. So breathe, focus on the good, and know that her pain and anxiety are over. I feel for all off you. But what a fortunate dog to be loved by such good people for so long.

      • My 12 year old collie Dave was put to sleep on 30 June. He’d had a stroke on 10 June but had started to show improvement until the day before he died.I didn’t want him euthanized but my son thought it was kindest thing. It has haunted ne ever since. The vet came to my house and Dave, who had hated vets since age 3 when he had treatment for lymphoma, wagged his tail at her. She didn’t give a sedative but two injections one after other. On second injection Dave lifted his head and growled before his head, which i was holding, grew heavier and dropped. His eyes would not close. I am heartbroken and still not happy about his death. Why couldn’t the vet close his eyes? Why did she ignore my thoughts and let mt son sign? I blame myself for not being heard but it was such a terrible time.

  23. My experience with this was absolutely horrifying. I would never wish it on anyone. I knew that we would be recieving the 2 shot process and was briefed on what would happen. As it turns out…it was a very brief amount. I was told he would be given a sedative that would relax him which could take anywhere from 5-15 minutes and then the actual solution. The woman who put our dog down had zero patience. After a few minutes of my dog fighting the sedative and shaking because he just wanted to walk around, she gave him more. Which then led to him having a full blown seizure where he had to be layed on top of to control him. So instead of yet again waiting until he fell asleep from the sedative the vet then shaved his leg and administered the 2nd shot. I didnt get to say goodbye while he was asleep because he never made it to that stage. Needless to say it was horrifying. I will never go back to the same place. What happened to us is NOT how it was supposed to happen. It was close to closing time and I feel she rushed everything so she could just go home.
    For a company with such strong animal values…I would have thought PETA would have done a better job. I apparently made a huge mistake by chosing them.

  24. Um hi well I am sitting here with Sammy tonight ..actually she is not a dog she’s my little ferret girl and she is 13 now and its her last night on earth I’m sorry if I’m in the wrong place..Sammy is a family member. It hurts . thank you for the reading and comfort I just thought I would say thank you for a lot of insight and strength for tomorrow ..sorry for any typing errors I’m just not together ..just wanted to say thank you again.

  25. I didn’t have long to think about this decision with Amber, my 10-ish year old pit bull. She had hemangiosarcoma and from discovery that she was sick until euthanizing her was just a matter of days during which her condition was up and down. On her last night, she was in a lot of pain and we nearly took her back to the ER to have it done then instead of waiting. That morning she woke up and seemed totally fine. She was so excited when I told her we were going for a CAR RIDE :( She was excited to see her vet, who she really liked (a low bar admittedly, Amber like e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y, but our vet was also really great). The room was laid out with a blanket in the middle and a fresh bag of liver treats. She still had a catheter in her leg from the ER trip, so we didn’t need to worry about keeping her still to find a vein for the injection. She was trying to sit and wag her butt and eat liver treats and lick my face and lick the vet’s face all at once when the injection hit her. I was holding her, and felt her confusion as her body suddenly went limp mid-lick and I lowered her down to the ground. The vet listened and said her heart had stopped about 30 seconds later. I would never have known when she actually died otherwise, as I ‘saw’ her breathing for minutes after that. A trick of the brain, I could have also sworn that I saw breathing when I viewed my brother’s body before he was cremated, and he had been dead for days. Her eyes never closed, and the feeling of her going limp in my arms and her distant expression as she lay there dying haunt me in every quiet moment. I think we may have gotten about as “good as it gets” with our actual euthanasia experience but it’s still far from easy. My husband was pretty traumatized by how suddenly it happened once she was injected, I think we had both imagined she would be tired, lay down and “go to sleep” rather than suddenly collapse.

  26. Yesterday we had our11 and 6 month black lab put to sleep his joints have been really bad for a long time , on Saturday night we couldn’t wake him
    His eyes were blood shot we took him to the emergency vet he had a high tempertare and he told us he thought he had a stroke , he gave him a injection to thin his blood.
    Next day he perked up had a small walk , next day he collapsed and we couldn’t lift him , my husband decided it was time, he never struggled he just lay in his blanket all morning till we took him to the vets , it was so peaceful till the end I am glad he went with dignity and not suffered ,
    Teresa

  27. I have an ex boyfriend who had three dogs. I became very attached to them and now 6 years after he and I split up, he called me when it was time for his first one, Peanut to go to heaven. My ex could not stay but I did so that she would be with someone who loved her. Previously, I had put my own much loved Cosmo (Boston Terrier) down so I THOUGHT I knew what to expect. It was 2 am and I took Peanut to the vet on call (not her regular vet) and he could not find a vein after trying several times. I had to stop him and tell him to give her something to make her sleep first. I was about coming out of my skin with everytime he poked her and could not get a vein. So he gave her something to make her relax and she appeared sleeping, he then told me he had to go in her chest straight to the heart. It was a very hard death. I realize it was 2 am and the vet was not happy to be there but he showed no sympathy or empathy for Peanut or for me. Our sweet Peanut deserved better. That was about 6 months ago.

    Then a few weeks ago, my ex called again and said it was nearly time for sweet Roxie to go to heaven. I told him he had to have it done by his vet and I would not go back to the other vet. My ex didn’t want to know why so he asked no questions. I got the call yesterday while at work, that it was time. Roxie was already at the vets office when I got there, she was on the floor in her favorite doggie bed. I laid on the cold hard floor beside her until the vet came in. My ex said please don’t do it till I am gone, so he left and I gently lifted our sweet girl onto the table still in her bed and I slipped my arm around her under her head. She slipped peacefully away thank Jesus!

  28. Yesterday I put my dog to sleep. It was probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make, I have had him since the day he was born and this month he
    Would have turned 15 years old. We had him Sedated first and then 10 mins after he was euthanized. I stayed with him until his last breath and then some, he went peacefully with any hesitation I told him I loved him and told him he was my good boy. I know I’m my head I made the right choice for him, he was losing control of his bowls and it has become more difficult for him to walk. however my heart still aches.

  29. My 12 yr old hounddog, Gabriel, had dementia and was put to sleep 2 days ago. He was in great physical health, but his character completely changed towards men, even his daddy. We became increasingly concerned about possible aggressive triggers as his brain deteriated. We made the humane choice and put him to sleep before he would forget our love and loose himself further.

    The next day, Gabe, went to his well educated vet. She often gives the euthanasia in 2shots, one to put them to sleep and the second to stop their heart. But, he was in great shape, so we decided to sedate him first.
    ****warning, do not read if you are not prepared****

    Gabriel acted like most dogs at the vet, nervous, scared..etc We went into a comfortable room and waited for Dr. E to arrive with a sedative; keep in mind that he was as PHYSICALLY healthy as a horse. We knew that he would not simply sit still and allow the iv. to be put in for the euthanasia, so she promptly arrived to sedate him. I wasn’t prepared for the side effects, but no one really is. Remember that.

    I layed on the floor brased by my stomach, while Gabriel walked around the room anxiously bumping into things, and loosing mobility in his hind legs. After a few personally excruciating minutes, his back legs began to give out. Frightened, he looked at me and began to army crawl towards me. I told him to come over and go nite-nite with Sissy. He struggled, so I scooted his body as he put his head on my thigh. As hard as it was, I forced myself to control my thoughts and surrounded him with love and peace; because, he deserved to feel the unconditional love he gave us for for 12 years…safe and protected.

    His tongue was sticking out and his feet still kicked to get free (animal instinct). I soothed him with my tears of love.
    10 mins later, as expected, Dr.E came back with an assistant. She shaved a small section of his leg and put in the iv. As I rubbed his ears, I told him: what a great boy he was, how proud I was, how much I loved him, and that he will have angel wings in heaven; awaiting my following day.

    He went right to sleep in my arms, as she gave him the first shot. The second immediately followed. Within a minute or so, she compassionately said “he is gone.”

    It has been two days since my hound dog went to heaven, and I pray for his forgiveness; hoping that I made the right decision. However, I focus on his sleeping face and his very last memory of unconditional love and peaceful serenity. Regardless, if it was the right or wrong decision, he knew how I felt, instead of the possible anger and agression that eould have followed being held down. He deserved my painful sacrifice for his salvation. So I gave it too him. Now he is without the pain of a leash and able to run free.

    • You did everything right. I had a dog who kicked and fought it too. It is unbearable but you must be there for the dog, unless you just cant be( but I feel it is what he deserves.) GOOD LUCK and think happy thoughts.

  30. We had our Doberman put to sleep yesterday, and it was horrible,I have been with my other dogs during this ,and now this will continue to haunt me.We wanted her sedated,as she is a very nervous dog,as she laid on the table,he gave her the sadative,five minutes later she laid their breathing heavy and her heart beating fast,she didn’t even blink,just kept her eyes looking straight ahead. After the last dose was given,I watched her stop breathing I put my hand over her eyes,and tried to put her tounge back in.As I did this her head jerked, then again we called in the vet and he said it was normal,it looked like she was gasping for air.This is what is hurting me so much,I have never seen anything like this,I’m crying as I type this.Has anyone been through this.she was a very nervous dog,and I think she died being so scared.I thought a sedative would calm her,but her breathing and racing heart, it did not calm her,and this makes me feel like I did something wrong.Im hating myself for it.

    • Tina I am so very sorry for you and I can tell you it will take a while for you to forget what you saw. After close to 10 months I still think of my poor smashes inability to brief and gasping breath as her head shook. She was a very scared and nervous young dog and that I’m sure attributed to the fact that there was nothing peaceful in her death. I can’t help but think looking back that what made everything okay was that I had no choice in putting her down and I was with her and feel like I probably suffered more than she actually did. Both your Doberman and my smash are in peace now. Hold onto that and think of the good times and I wish you so much comfort. I do wish that Vers would prepare people for the different responses dogs could go through so we didn’t expected it to be so lovely and peaceful and sad versus a little bit violent and horrible. The next time I will have the vet come to the house and I will be surrounded by more people to keep me strong because I will never know what to expect again.

  31. I had to put my 7yr old shepherd mix to sleep on Thursday. She was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her back hips just a month earlier. the first sedation shot calm her down she stopped panting and couldn’t stand anymore. The dr can in again about 10 mins later to check on us and stated he would pull up a lil more medication. At that point I felt like I was making the worse decision of my life. That is the first dose didn’t work tgen it was not her tune to go. But he said it was. He did the next shot in he front leg and she laid her head down. Her tongue was out a lil bit and she kept licking her nose as I told her mommy loves u and I so sorry. The administered the final medication and her body relaxed and her tongue turned blue. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for this all I do is cry and want to change my choice.

    • Lisa bertini

      You did the only thing you could do. You saved her from terrible pain every time she moved. She couldn’t live that way. You decision was unselfish and correct. You must accept that. The pain of losing her will take a long time to diminish. And it should. She was your best friend. I am sorry. She is at peace. Now it’s your turn to forgive yourself.

  32. Mercedes Owner

    I found my dog dead at 5:45 a.m. On her favorite rug near my sofa where she often laid at my feet. When I wake up, she usually runs to me to remind me it’s time to get up and take her out to release her urine or poop; on this day as I called her name, she layer flat stretched out comfortably. Her eyes were somewhat opened and mouth gully clinched closed. She was a rescue dog that my previous son in law had purchased, when my daughter gotten a divorce 8 years later and said she could not have a dog in her new home out of state, I told her I would take her since she was part of the family. 11 months later, she started having recurring ear infections, hot spots and knots in her Stomache that the doctor suspected was fatty deposits. A month prior to her death she would use the bathroom and pass pure blood. I assume she was constipated after eating food to help with her bowels it went away. I became so closed to her following me in my home, and barking every time someone was at the door. I am dreading the thought if losing another dog. It will take years before I get another pet. I still cry in my sleep and have not eaten much since she died. How long will depression last, post the death of your beloved dog?

  33. Mercedes Owner

    Mercedes was 9 1/2 years old, and a collie/Corgie mix and very loyal. Still in a state of shock over her death on my mother in laws birthday.

  34. I feel like the grief never goes away but becomes more bearable and the bad stuff is slowly replaced by good memories. They make you tear up but they are bittersweet tears. Give yourself at least 3 to 6 months to fully grieve. Good luck.

  35. Mercedes Owner

    Thank you Lisa.

  36. last week I had to put my labrador to sleep It was not nice the vet stuck the sedative in his side and blood spurted out. I was sitting on the floor with him his head was going from side to side for ages the vet kept coming in to check if he was ready eventually he passed out I do not think it is right or normal that my dog was shaking his head constantly I am old and I have had dogs all my life unfortunately had to put a few to sleep over the years never had this problem. The owner of the dog owes it to his animal to stay with him throughout no matter how painful it is to watch. As for Lisa bertini how cqan you put a dog to sleep because he is aggressive? keep a muzzle on him walk him very early in the morning give the dog love and he will eventually respond. I had a rescue rottweiller/german shepherd when I got him he even growled at me when I went to change his water bowl. Everyone told me to get rid of him no way..He eventually became a real softie . I agree with one owner who said one should use the same vet considering we have the animal for perhaps hopefully 18 years.

    • Freda,

      I am sorry for your pain. I do resent and think it unkind that you judge my terribly difficult decision knowing none of the facts. What an ugly comment to make. I hope you find some sweetness from the loss of your dog to pass on as you just ruined my day.

      • Lisa,

        Euthanizing an aggressive dog is perhaps the hardest decision a responsible, loving owner ever has to make… it’s one thing when you can see your beloved friend suffering, it’s another when you must do it to protect the people and animals in your community. If anyone has the hubris to think there is ZERO chance that their severely aggressive dog could EVER break free, dig out, jump the fence, slip by… they’re gambling with other lives. MINE. MY DOG’S.

        I have a very small dog. She is my entire world. I don’t know how I’ll cope when I lose her. One firm bite from a larger dog, and she would be gone. I always walk her on a leash – but could I get to her before a large, loose, kill-mode dog could? I don’t know. You suffered, greatly, to protect me and my dog. You put us first. Before yourself. THANK YOU. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I can never, ever thank you enough. Thank you for giving Smash the best life you could, for as long as you could, and finding the strength and compassion to do right by my dog, Kitty, and all the other people and dogs who are at risk when people take chances with severely aggressive (but deeply beloved) pets.

        I can only hope that I would be able to muster your strength if I were to find myself in your situation. If I ever am there… I will think of you and try to use your strength to find my own.

        Much love. Thank you.

      • Lisa bertini

        Mason

        Thank you dear heart for your kindness. This week we will watch our youngest daughter graduate high school and we are so excited. Still we all miss our Smash everyday. But as youu pointed out so much more eloquently than I could’ve we couldn’t keep her at the expense of all the children, joggers, cyclists, delivery folks, and visistors to our home any longer. She lived in fear and all the training and love just wasn’t improving her life.

        All the best to you. Enjoy your Kitty everyday.

  37. Last Thursday we put both of our Golden girls to sleep, Kami and Bailey to Cancer and blindness. I told my husband I could not go in the vets office, I would wait outside. During that dreadful day of waiting I thought how is he going to handle 2 dogs and they both get so anxious at the vet. I knew I wanted to hold them close so they would not be scared. I needed to get over myself and step up. I am so glad I did. We sat on a carpeted floor hugging our anxious girls, finally after what felt like hours the vet came in and sedated the girls. The tramazone worked so quickly and they both just relaxed. Kami put get head on Bailey’s back and they drifted off. We talked to them telling them we were right here and they were such good babies. We left and the vet and her team completed the euthanasia. I was glad we left when they were still alive in a peaceful state. I needed to be there and would not change a thing. Floods of tears, that dreadful quiet house without that happy greeting, no one to step over at night. It’s so hard. The guilt of making that decision. We are going through the grieving process and I am working on allowing myself to feel so sad. I keep fighting it, saying to myself don’t be depressed and anxious. I am now giving myself permission to be sad. It’s ok. They were the best furry girls and we will love them always. Final note- I recommend the strong tranquilizer first, then you decide if you want to stay. Peace and love to all who have to go through this. Strength comes from above.

  38. Our Golden, Sue passed away on June 10 due to complications from diabetes. I brought her in for emergency on Sunday, the 7th of June and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. I did not want to leave her there overnight because the vet won’t be there overnight at the hospital. My dog was blind and because of diabetes, she has to go out at least 2-3 times during the night to pee. I was worried that the tech that will be left there overnight cannot give my dog the same care and attention so I brought her home with me. She was at the vet 3 days before and spent a whole day there to get her blood glucose count and was still getting regulated for the insulin shot dosage. The next day she was acting strange and would not touch her food, which was a mixture of flaked chicken breast and Hill’s W/D prescription food. My husband thinks our dog got stressed out when she went to the vet’s for a day for thr blood glucose count. I think she may not have gotten enough water to drink for the day and therefore not able to flush the toxins out of her body. After that day, she lost her appetite and was not taking water. I had to poach scrambled eggs for her and giving her boiled chicken breast meat without dog food mixed in. So i was told she had pancreatitis during the emergency room visit. That was on a Sunday, I was giving her cerenia and tramadol for pain. Also she could not operate the xray machine because of technical difficulties. I was going to take her back to the vet but my husband suggested that we put her to sleep as he thinks it was time. I was devastated but I talked to the vet and we made an appt for her to come in. But the night before, our dog tried to get up to pee as she has been sleeping since noon and when she got up she could not do the step down to go outside and I tried to help her out but her front legs stiffened and eyes glazed over. I tried to put a towel between her teeth in case she was having a seizure. I ran to the kitchen and get her insulin to room temp, got halfway done and gave her only half the dosage since she did not eat a lot of her food. I gave her the shot and thought she still twitched a little bit from the hurried shot I gave her. Her meyes are still glazed over, her tongue was blue and so I dialed my husband’s number and told him that I think our dog just died. She also took 3 long gasps for air. My husband got home got within 5 minutes and we took the dog to the vet as I thought we could still help her. I tried to close her eyes before we went to the emergency room and her eyes were still open, even in the truck and in the hospital room floor. She only totally closed her eyes after 10 minutes of having arrived at the hospital. Not sure if she passed away at home or in the hospital. She had involuntarily peed on the tile of our floor, and in the truck and again in the hospital room floor as I kept her hydrated all day by giving her water through a straw and also, she would take water on her own if I bring her the water bowl to where she sat.
    I am still in shock from the loss of our dog, Sue. She had a splenectomy in Nov. 2014 and was overjoyed that the pathology report shows no cancer. Although she was 13 years old and had arthritis, I thought she was doing fairly well, until the pancreatitis. I could no longer give her glucosamine tablets because the emergency room vet told me I cannot give her any while she is sick. I could not withhold the food and water because she needs to eat before the insulin shots. Her last days were mostly sleeping from the tramadol. And honestly, I think she dislikes feeling woozy from the drugs. She also was having difficulty breathing throughout the day, probably from the pain. My husband thought it was best to let her rest. I was devastated but could not watch her be in the condition she was in. Still crying from her loss, and lights up a candle for her everyday and a fresh bouquet of roses I pick from my garden to put by her collar and food bowl and her toys.

  39. Today we put our beloved husky named Kody to sleep.

    He was struggling with severe arthritis in his elbows and his spine. He’s on the maximum doses safe for him, and he still limped badly. To make matters worse, he was diagnosed with dementia. He started being slightly aggressive to other dogs, and he struggled through nights- panting, shaking and unable to settle because he was scared and confused. He was 13. Although I am absolutely, completely and totally thoroughly devastated that he’s gone-as he’s been my friend for exactly half my life- I am relieved that it is over and he is no longer in pain. It was getting so very difficult to watch him struggle in pain and in fear. I recommend to people reading this that they consider carefully being there for the whole procedure. Kody was there for me through the years, providing us with joy and laughs, and comforting me through the tough times. So it made sense that I be there for him in his last moments. This was undoubtedly one of the hardest things I’ve experienced, but reading blogs like this well in advance to understand the process made it just a bit easier.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Matt
    Vancouver, BC

  40. Matt….my deepest sympathy on the loss of your dog. I still cry every day from the loss our dog. She always waited for us with a wagging tail when we come home from doing errands. I still wake up the same time throughout the night for when she has to relieve herself. It was never ever too much work for me to take care of her. I am only grateful that she died in my arms. She is so missed and will never forget her. Rest in peace, Sue(Super). You were such a good girl.

  41. Pingback: Pickles’ Story | Paws Abilities

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