What to expect when having your pet put to sleep

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understanding the euthanasia process

Deciding to euthanase your pet is a decision no pet owner will ever make lightly. Whether you’re making the decision to put your pet down because of injury or health reasons, your emotions are bound to take over. We believe that understanding the euthanasia process can help owners come to terms with this incredibly difficult decision.

Pre-euthanasia appointment

Many vets now offer a pre-euthanasia appointment, especially if your pet has a long standing illness that is becoming untreatable. It’s your opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This is also your opportunity to discuss any special requests you may have, such as a home euthanasia visit or whether you want a pet cremation. Don’t worry if you can’t decide straight away, at this point you can take some time to examine and consider your options.

You are now free to spend time with your pet. One heart-warming example was when Mark Woods had to say good bye to Walnut; his 18-year-old whippet:

understanding the euthanasia process

Home Euthanasia

Some vets will come to your home to perform the euthanasia. There are a number of benefits, both you and your pet are likely to be more comfortable in a familiar environment. You won’t have to make a distressing journey which is likely to be upsetting for your pet and cause you anxiety.

You also won’t have to make a return journey; simply shut yourself away if that is what you want to do.

“I have attended many home euthanasia and believe that both the owners and pets are more relaxed. Being at home also provides an opportunity for all family members to be present and say goodbye. It’s not uncommon for other family pets to be allowed to see their companion once he or she has passed.”

Steve Murphy Registered Veterinary Nurse

If you feel home euthanasia is something you would consider, it is worth checking with your vet if it is a service they offer and how much notice they will need.

understanding the euthanasia process

Euthanasia at the Vet’s Practice

If you have opted to go to the practice you can ask the receptionist to make an appointment when the practice is quiet, which is often at the end of morning or evening surgery. Consider taking a friend or other family member with you to offer support.

The Blue Cross has written a detailed description on the process – it can be upsetting to read but it’s important to remember that all your pet will feel is a small scratch from the needle – the injection is painless and the pet will quickly fall unconscious. Once the procedure has been completed you will often be able to leave without going through the waiting room.

Should I stay with my pet during the euthanasia?

The euthanasia process is usually a quick and gentle process. Many owners choose to stay with their pet during the process but it isn’t compulsory; so don’t beat yourself up if you’re unable to be in the room with your pet. In some cases, the owner can be so distraught that it may be best for them not to be present. The vet will usually ask if you wish to see your pet after the procedure and give you some time alone with them.

You may want to consider some time off work or to take someone with you to the appointment.

What happens to my pet’s remains?

If the euthanasia is performed at your home it is your choice on whether you keep your pet’s remains with you, possibly for burial or if you want the vet to take them back to the practice and make arrangements for a pet cremation. We also provide a collection service – Petrest – where we collect your pet from your home.

By prior arrangement our smart Petrest operatives will collect your pet in a discreet vehicle. He will allow as much time that is needed to say the final farewells before returning to our crematorium where your pet will be cremated on their own and their ashes returned within 3 working days.

Bereavement Support

The Blue Cross

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS) mission is to provide free and confidential emotional support.
Tel: 0800 096 6606


Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental support 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress.
Tel: 116 123


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2 responses to “What to expect when having your pet put to sleep”

  1. Kamira G. says:

    This is a sad but relevant post pet owners deciding what to do, should know. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced taking my cat to the urgent care to be put to sleep and also been with them at home dealing with sudden loss. If I had to do it all over again, I’d opt to make arrangements in advance with at home euthanasia. I think it would be the most comforting way a loved one would wish to spend their last moments. In the end, each person needs to do what’s best for them. So hard.:(

  2. CPCCares says:

    This was a difficult post to write – it brought back memories of going through this with my own pets. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the blog and some of your own experiences.

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