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Euthanasia: What happens

Pet Rainbow BridgeEuthanasia is the hardest decision you will ever have to make for your pet. You love your pet and your pet loves you. If you are facing this question then your pet is already at the end of her life. Choosing to euthanize is a humane choice for your aging or sick pet. Your pet cannot tell you when they are ready, so it is up to us humans to do our best and make that decision. Understanding what happens can make it a little less scary.

How to Prepare

Make sure you whole family has had time to say goodbye. If you have kids, explain what is happening in advance so they understand and can prepare for the coming loss. If you are not sure how to do this, try reading the book by Fred Rogers’ “When a Pet Dies”. It is a great way to explain pet loss to your kids. We also recommend deciding how you want to handle your pets remains before coming to the vet. We have extensive information about pet aftercare.

Can it be done at home?

It depends on the veterinarian. Some will make a home visit to euthanize. Call your local Albuquerque vet and ask if they can come to you.

Can I bring a pet bed or toy?

Of course, you can. Bring their bed or favorite toy with them. This is a nice way to help reduce their anxiety. Even though they don’t know what is about to happen, sometimes going in the car or going to the vet can be stressful. This will help ease their stress.

Do I have to be there?

No, you do not have to be there. It is up to you if you want to sit with your pet during the process.

What actually happens

Most vets will give your pet a sedative before the euthanasia. The vet will tell you what he is doing and where he will be giving the shot, so there are no surprises. Some vets will only use a sedative if your pet is anxious or frightened. Some pets don’t need a sedative.

The vet will give the euthanasia medication either in their leg or through an IV. Typically it is pentobarbital, which is a seizure medication. In large doses, it quickly renders your pet unconscious and shuts down her heart and brain function within one to two minutes.

What happens to my pet

When your pet passes her body will go through a few things that if you are not prepared you may find disturbing. Her eyes may not fully close. You are welcome to close them for her. She may urinate or defecate as her muscles fully relax. She may take a final breath or twitch. None of this hurts. Your pet is not in pain and is not aware of any of these things happening.



What next

At Vetco we help you with your pet’s aftercare. The City of Albuquerque has regulations for the disposal of your pet’s body. We can take care of this for you. We have a large resource for pet aftercare that can help you decide what you want to do.

Putting your pet to sleep is your final step of care for a pet you have loved for a lifetime. It is not an easy decision, and is one done with love and compassion.


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8200 Menaul Blvd NE #R Albuquerque, NM 87110 Phone: (505) 292-3030

Veterinarian Clinic Website: www.vetconm.com


The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.