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Euthanasia: Putting Him to Sleep

By Hundidocom @hundidopuppy
dog bereavement

A dog may die for one of two reasons: sudden death through accident or illness; or, euthanasia or being “put to sleep” or “put down” following an accident or due to illness, when a cure isn’t possible and the dog’s quality of life is or will be poor

If sudden, you will not be prepared for your dog’s death and it will no doubt come as a huge shock. If he has to be put down, you can prepare for the inevitable, although it doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Many owners blame themselves for their pet’s death, and agonize over whether the death could have been prevented if they had done things differently. This is a normal reaction, but sadly it can’t change what has happened. Try to focus on the many happy times you enjoyed with your cherished dog and to treasure those memories.

Check out The Loss of a Dog: Keeping His Memories Alive


Other than sudden death, having a dog put down is the most humane way for him to die. A prolonged natural death can be traumatic for both pet and owner, as well as painful for the former. While the process may be upsetting to read about, it can help to understand how euthanasia is achieved. Talk it over with your vet first and decide whether having it done at home or at the vet clinic would be most suitable and practical. Also discuss the options of what to do with your dog’s body. Once this has been mutually agreed, then arrange a date, preferably sooner rather than later so as not to prolong your dog’s suffering, as well as your own, unnecessarily.

At the Vet Clinic

Arrange a time when the vet clinic is likely to be quiet, or you can enter and leave through a private entrance so that you don’t have to face a crowded waiting room. Have a supportive person drive you there and back; you may well be upset, and therefore in no fit state to undertake this yourself. Take a blanket in which to wrap your pet to bring him home again if this is what you want to do.

Make the journey there as smooth, stress-free, and quiet as possible. If you will be able to bear up in your dog’s last moments, then be with him. If you feel you will go to pieces, then ask your vet and the vet nurse to deal with it; if you’re terribly distressed, it may make your pet equally so and his passing may not be as peaceful as it should be.

At Home

This is more expensive, but may be the preferred option if you’re unable to get to the clinic, your dog is too ill to move, he finds travel upsetting, or you would prefer euthanasia to be done in familiar and comfortable surroundings, Request that a vet nurse attends, as well as the vet. The former can help out as required or where necessary, and help to keep you and the dog calm, thereby making the process as stress-free as possible.

On the day, keep your dog’s routine beforehand as normal, but give him lots of extra attention and cuddles – he may not understand why you’re being extra affectionate, but may appreciate it nonetheless, and at least it will make you feel better as well as make the most of those last precious moments.

Euthanasia: Putting Him to Sleep

* A beautiful poem for the loss of your dog.

The Process

Properly carried out, the process is quick and relatively painless. A sedative injection may be given if the dog is very distressed or is difficult to handle or restrain. A foreleg is usually shaved to identify where the relevant vein is situated. An injection compromising an overdose of anesthetic is given in this vein; this causes the dog to become drowsy, lapse into unconsciousness and die peacefully in seconds. If the necessary leg vein isn’t easy to find, the vet may need to inject directly into the heart or kidneys. Owners can find this distressing, so this is where the experienced handling and sympathetic soothing of the dog afforded by a vet nurse can prove beneficial to all concerned.


Either the vet will dispose of the body, arrange to have it buried or cremated in your instructions, or you can take it home, if this is allowable, to bury in a favored area of the garden. Graves should be at least one meter deep and well away from water courses. Pet cemeteries and crematoriums will advise you on cost what is involved.


It’s important to realize that grieving is an essential part of the healing process after bereavement. There is no set time limit as to how long owners should grieve: some are able to accept and recover from the loss more easily than others, who may not get over it for months, even years. However long it takes, don’t be afraid to grieve when you feel the need to; bottling up grief inside you is bound to affect your own mental and physical health.

* image source

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