Experts, including the founders of PetLossAtHome.com, are unanimous in that being put to sleep (euthanasia) doesn’t cause pain for a loved pet at the end of life. There’s no way to be certain since pets can’t document what they feel or how they experience pain. Medically, though, the process is designed to be pain free.
No different than feeling a rabies shot
Does it sting?
Yes. The initial injection and placement of an IV are going to be no different, at first, than the many shots a pet is given over its life. There’s no way around that slight discomfort. For older animals and very sick ones, this pinch or sting is barely noticeable.
Veterinarians often give a sedative first to calm an anxious animal. This is vastly more common in a clinical environment when a pet might have endured a car ride before being put to sleep, plus a waiting room, and a sterile exam room they already associate with discomfort.
When done in the comfort of the pet’s home, the sedative is still a humane first move. It slows breathing. Just like in humans, in pets, slowing the breathing eases panic. All of us animals have a ‘fight or flight’ response when we panic. Sedation tells the body neither is necessary.
The final step in a lifetime of caring
The actual euthanasia of a pet takes a minute or two with the brain, heart, and lungs stopping. It isn’t like a heart attack, which is often accompanied in humans by sharp pain. That’s because your pet is peacefully unconscious before the vital organs stop.
A pet might twitch. Might potty itself. Might not close its eyes entirely. That’s only because the drugs take effect so rapidly and the body winding down takes a little bit longer. It’s a humane and dignified way to let go of a beloved pet who’s been your companion and friend through thick and thin. You know they’d be by your side a lot longer if they were physically able, but when they’re no longer physically able, this is the compassionate way to end pain, pain free.
Which brings us back to the original question in the title: Is it painful for my pet to be put to sleep? For them, the answer is no. For the pet owner, it isn’t physically, but it almost always is emotionally painful. That’s one of many reasons a growing number of pet owners choose to have the end of life for their pet to be done in the comfort of home. We’re going to cover mourning and preparation in coming PetLossAtHome.com articles.
To ask more questions, please reach out to Rob Twyning – Co-Founder, and include your city, state, or ZIP code so we can direct your questions to our local veterinarian team member in 50 metro areas.
Image by Ivan Kruk, used with permission.