Pet euthanasia; what you need to know. 

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
August 22, 2023

Euthanasing your pet is a decision many pet owners will have to make towards the end of their pet’s life. It is a difficult, but often necessary decision to prevent further pain and suffering for the smallest, furriest member of your family.

This article is a guide of everything you need to know about euthanasia and all your questions answered.

What is euthanasia?

Euthanasia is a compassionate choice made by pet owners and facilitated by veterinarians, allowing pets to pass away peacefully and without suffering. When a pet's quality of life is severely compromised or they are experiencing unmanageable pain, euthanasia provides a humane option to end their suffering. It ensures a gentle and painless transition for the pet, surrounded by the love and presence of their caring owners.

What is the meaning of a good death?

The word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek words “eu” (good) and “thanatos” (death), so it literally translates to a good death. As loving pet owners, it is our responsibility to provide our pets with the best death possible.

What is the process of euthanasia?

Once the veterinarian arrives, they will sit and listen to any thoughts or concerns you have before starting. They can explain the procedure and process of euthanasia with as much or as little information as you would like.

They will help you to prepare a space where your pet is most comfortable. This could be in their bed, lying in their favourite part of the backyard, on the couch, or in your arms.

Once your pet has settled, the vet will administer a gentle sedation injection to relax them and reduce any discomfort they may be feeling. The sedation will cause your pet to drift off into sleep so they don’t feel a thing.

Within a couple minutes after the injection, your pet’s breathing will slow down, then followed by the heart, which will stop beating. 

Is euthanasia painful for my pet?

Due to sedation, your pet drifts off into a dreamless, restless sleep, at peace. The whole process is peaceful and quick, and with the sedation it means your pet was asleep before they could feel a thing.

Is in a clinic better than at-home euthanasia?

When it comes to having your pet put to sleep, you have the choice between euthanasia at home or at the vet clinic. This is a personal decision, however there are many benefits to at-home euthanasia.

You will often encounter other animals in the waiting room, which can be highly stressful for some pets. A visit to the vet is a fairly clinical experience and many pets often become stressed or distraught when they know where they are. 

Alternatively, in-home euthanasia provides your pet with a peaceful passing in their most loving and familiar environment. At-home euthanasia means they can spend their last moments in a comfortable and familiar setting, surrounded by their family. You also have the time and space to grieve, without needing to rush out of the appointment and head back into the real world.

Is a natural death better than euthanasia? 

Sometimes well-meaning pet owners hope for a “natural death”, but this is very uncommon in domesticated animals

It’s important to remember that in the wild, elderly or fatally injured animals will separate themselves from their pack to die alone, and often become prey for another species. This doesn’t happen with domestic animals. 

Without intervention, the animal will not experience a true “natural death” and instead may be left to experience sustained suffering. Waiting too long and drawing out the end-of-life process is often distressing for pets and families alike. 

How will I know when it’s time to say goodbye?

Deciding when it’s time to euthanise a pet can be difficult because it varies from animal to animal. If their quality of life is compromised, depending on the causes behind that, such as illness or loss of mobility, you will need to determine between the ability to continue living a good life and when they begin to suffer.

It’s important to know that there is no right or wrong time to euthanise a pet. Owners who have experienced the end of life journey with a previous pet will often make the decision earlier, as they have the lived experience of leaving this too long.

A pet’s final days should not be the worst days of their life. If a pet is left to deteriorate to a point where they require urgent euthanasia, their suffering would have unfortunately gone on too long. If your pet is experiencing a poor quality of life and having trouble enjoying the things they used to love, it may be time to put them down – as difficult as it may be. 

It’s always best to discuss your pet’s health and quality of life with your vet. In the meantime, you can also use our Quality of Life Assessment to help guide you through those first questions and steps.

What do I do with my pet’s body after euthanasia?

As with humans, the two main options after a pet’s passing are burial or cremation. Many families prefer to bury their beloved furry friend in their backyard and create a grave marking, so they are always kept close. However, this isn’t an option for those who don’t own their own home, have a backyard or are likely to move around. This can also be dangerous to other pets and wildlife, as if they dig up and scavenge your pet’s remains, the euthanasia drug can still make them sick or cause death, months or years later.

Cremation may be a more suitable option - you have the ability to bury the cremated remains, or keep them in an urn in the family home and create a shrine for your pet, or even just keep them close to you wherever you go.

Every cremation arranged through Goodbye Good Boy includes the collection from your pet’s place of passing, individual cremation, scattering container and the ashes hand delivered back to you.

Final thoughts on pet euthanasia.

It is your responsibility as a pet owner to take an educated approach to your pet’s quality of life, working with your vet and knowledge of your pet’s condition or health, so they don’t experience prolonged suffering.

Where possible, ensure their passing is as calming, loving and peaceful as it can possibly be, rather than crossing over into the phase of sustained suffering. Making the decision early is often best for both the pet and the family.

At Goodbye Good Boy, we provide home euthanasia services to support loving owners in providing a peaceful passing for their beloved pets.

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give our team of passionate pet lovers a call on 1800 953 619.