please help with a question about euthanizing a dog

robin7500January 6, 2010

my dog was put to sleep yesterday and i am upset with how the vet chose to do the procedure. she was a very sick with pyometra and she was an older dog so the decision to put her to sleep was difficult but it was the right thing for her. but when the vet was getting everything ready i asked him if he was going to sedate her first and he said no that he was just going to give her the medicine that stops her heart. i asked why and his answer was that it would make it harder to find the vessels. it makes me very upset but when he injected her i know that she suffered greatly. this is my first dog that i have had to do this with and i believe that it could have been made a little easier if she was sedated. can anyone help enlighten me with the hope that this is normal to euthanize this way or would there be some other reason why a vet would choose to not sedate my beautiful dog. my husband felt that he was trying to save money but i would have paid double the cost if it meant making her comfortable. thank you for any help you provide.

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Our dog wasn't sedated, either. But as the medicine was being injected, she just quietly closed her eyes and she was gone.

What do you mean she suffered? She struggled and was in pain?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 10:56AM
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she was absolutely fine when he injected her with the medicine but when it finally hit her system she almost stood up and she got really tense like every muscle just tensed up and then she fell into my arms and moaned a few times and then her breathing got very labored and finally stopped. i know that the breathing is normal but her tensing up like that gives me the sense that this caused her a lot of pain. she is an excellent dog and has had many shots and never once did this nor got nervous about them. i believe in my heart that he wanted to either get it done fast or wanted to save money. if and when i get another dog i will make sure that i will never go back to him and if i have to put another dog down i will make sure that it goes my way and not his/hers.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 11:11AM
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first of all, i'm so sorry for your loss. this is never an easy decision but in so many cases, a necessary one.

when i had my female corgi PTS in july, she had been fighting cancer and it was an emergency situation. i didn't have time to get terribly worked up, emotionally. she was weary and beginning to suffer and she was gone, literally, in a heartbeat.

my male corgi, who i sadly had PTS in december, didn't go quite so quickly, it took 30 seconds or so but i think it was because he was picking up on my emotions. he had been suffering the ravages of a degenerative spinal cord disease and although he was not in pain/suffering, his dignity was gone. it was very hard decision, harder than normal (if that's possible) and i had many weeks to think about it.

my male corgi was sedated about an hour before my vet arrived here but it really didn't seem to make a difference. i think, perhaps, your dog picked up on your stress and that might be why you noticed the tenseness in her body.

she's a peace now, try to remember the happy times with her. time will help to heal your heart. (((hugs)))

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 12:50PM
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I've had to put several cats and dogs down over the years. It never gets any easier, but it's the last best thing you can do for a beloved friend in need.

Sometimes a vet would use one shot, sometimes a different vet would use two. Sometimes death would be instantaneous, sometimes a slow fading, sometimes there would be a little activity or vocalization. Did that mean that my best buddy felt pain or fear? I don't know.

The important part to focus on now is that your dear dog's last memory was how good it felt to be safe in your warm arms, feeling your beating heart, smelling your familiar smell, and seeing the look of love and compassion in your eyes. And your tears, of course.

Don't beat yourself up over the details... as you said, next time you face this most difficult of moments, you'll do it differently.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 1:13PM
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Hi Robin, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you because I went through something similar with a dog and was very uncomfortable with it. I've waffled a little on posting, I'm sorry if this doesn't help. The fact that you are upset about it tells me that you know the Dr. didn't do the right thing for your friend or you.

I had always heard that they just "go to sleep" and that is it "very peaceful" so didn't ask questions. The vet didn't sedate the dog, just gave her the shot. The dog was looking at me at the time and just gasped and died- like that. It was awful and the look in her eyes haunts me a bit to this day; I feel like she and I were both so confused in the moment. I try to console myself in that it was quick, but it certainly wasn't the "peaceful" way I had expected my friend to leave.

A year ago when I had to have one of my kitties put to sleep, one of the first questions I asked on the phone (of our regular vet) was if he would be sedated beforehand. I asked again when I walked in the door of the clinic, and again in the exam room. I'm of the impression that some vets sedate and some do not- I do not know the reason why, but I do know that it is a question I will always ask, and something I will always insist upon. This way was much more peaceful and left me feeling more at ease with the decision, but it did take longer and I wonder if that is why some vet's can't seem to be bothered. In the case with the dog, we were in and out of their exam room in no time; with my cat, the vet gave me as much time between steps as I felt was warranted with no rush whatsoever. They did not rush me to get him sedated, and then once he was sedated, they made sure he and I were both comfortable enough for the final step. They also did not rush me out of the room once he had passed away.

Please try not to obsess over it, though I know from experience it can be haunting. Just remember that you did not let your friend down and she is at peace now.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 5:51PM
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I once had to have a Border Collie mix put to sleep;
the vet looked at him & said he looked like a "fighter" & gave him an injection that was supposed to have made him calmer.

Then she injected the drug.

The dog howled & arched & fell back.

I was devastated.

The vet said it "wasn't anything; it was just an automatic response he made when he started down that long tunnel".

& I was devastated again, & insulted, & enraged.

Here's my free advice to vets:

better to give too much than too little.

No drug costs as much as what penny-pinching & glibness will cost you.

1 Like    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 6:15PM
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First, dont blame yourself. The vet was not being sympathetic to your wishes and that sucks. You learned something important. If you get new pups and their time comes, get a vet to come to your home, make certain the vet knows he or she will get paid for an hours work. Ask the vet to go slowly and the put in a lead so that whatever meds nee dot be administered can be done so with one stick only. This allows the vet to put in multiple meds if needed.
I think vets get into a routine with things, and they sometimes get too busy and pressured and forget about the emotional aspect of putting down a dog. Not to make excuses, but just to point out how some days suck for the vet as well, and sometimes, they tend to get things taken care of, instead of really slowing things down and taking the extra time to make certain end of life care is done with as little emotional and physical pain as possible. Then there are some vets who just have a hard time dealing with this aspect of their careers. I hope you never have to go through that again.
Im sorry for your loss.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 8:29PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Robin, I, too, am so sorry for your loss. I just had to put my dog to sleep just two weeks ago. I knew the time was coming. My vet offered to come to my house because she knew that my dog didn't like coming to their office. She came with a tech. My dog greeted them at the door. We talked a little while. The vet explained EVERYTHING she was going to do. She gave him a shot to make him woozy. He sat down and then laid down very calmly. She told me when he was really out of it and that she could do the final shot at any time. No hurry. I finally told her to go ahead and he didn't even flinch and was gone in a matter of minutes. It was so peaceful. I'm only telling you all this to say that your choice of vet matters. This is such a difficult decision and an inevitable one and one that your vet should be able to help you with. You've seen the true colors of your current vet and you know what you need to do. Our pets mean too much to us to be trusted to someone who doesn't have the compassion it takes to help ease their pain. I wish you good luck with your next pet and hope you have a long life with them.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 10:38PM
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I am sooooo very sorry for your loss. I know that is soo hard. I dread the day when mine go.

I am a certified euthanasia tech, and I can understand why your vet did not pre-sedate, though its not always common.

To be honest, there are sedations that make the dog naseous or disoriented. In a shelter atmosphere (I cannot speak for a vet clinic) Pre-sedation is usually for the technician's comfort and ease rather than the animal. It allows many animals to go to sleep and be done rapidly. We never ever operated that way. Our mindset was it was the animal's comfort that was primary.

A truly good euth tech can hit the vein every time, and do it in a calm manner while the dog is being comforted and fed a treat - without presedation. Why? Because the effect is immediate. The solution enters the bloodstream directly and immediately goes to through the heart causing instantaneous death. The animal does NOT feel pain during this. My experience was that 98% of the animals would die mid-chew of a treat and slump immediately. I would inject, and an assistant would hold and feed the treat.

I think what you experienced is what is called "agonal breathing". My experience has been that if the dog has some sort of circulatory problem or heart problem (sometimes common with very old or very sick animals... and sometimes for no reason that I could ascertain), the animals would take slightly longer in the "agonal" stage. I think the thing you witnessed was just that - agonal breathing. The animal is gone, but the sound is very frightening for humans. I took the liberty of lifting the text below from another shelter's site explaining agonal breathing:

Rarely there may be involuntary muscle reflexes such as small muscle twitching or releasing of the bowels or urine. Even less often there may be brief agonal breathing or gasping. It is important to know that at this time your pet is already out of pain, and these are non-painful involuntary reflexes.

I am however sorry your vet did not explain this to you beforehand. He should have. I never allowed an owner to be with me and the dog during euthanasia without them being prepared and knowing the procedure that was going to be performed. I wanted every animal that passed to have the most easy and comforting transitional experience they've ever had - no matter what they had experienced at the hands of humans in the past.

I should add that our shelter provided euthanasia as a community service for cost to the shelter. This service was for people and their pets who often had a very limited income or had close ties to the shelter. They knew us and that we had a highly skilled and trained staff. It was much cheaper than the vet, but done ethically and humanely.

Do I trust that everyone who takes that class can do it well? NO. I was appalled at some of the people I was in class with and their scores. However, I don't write the laws, just follow them.

Meghane is a vet and posts here often, and could likely tell you more than I could about vet clinical processes. However, I think it was more a matter of your vet not explaining what was was going to happen and why he chose not to pre-sedate.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 12:01AM
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I had two dogs, a mother and daughter, who were both old and sick. One from bone cancer and the other from kidney failure. The vet came to my home on a Sunday morning, sweet girls laying on their blankets on the porch. He gave them each a shot to sedate them, and then the final injection. It was peaceful and quiet, just a little heavy breathing, then nothing. Thank god they were together, I could not have done it twice. The vet that put them down was there the day the younger was born.
I would not want it to happen any other way. They are buried together.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 5:21PM
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I am so sorry for what happened to you during this emotional experience.

Over 30 years I have put 4 dogs to sleep. All were necessary and it was time. I don't regret the decision but I have learned along the way.

The first dog was my only bad experience. The vet couldn't find the vein and jabbed over and over. The dog was crying, I was crying, the vet couldn't care less. I changed vets for my other dog the next day.

On the second dog, he had had a stroke and was so out of it that he couldn't see, hear or walk. I don't think he felt a thing. The vet (who is a sweetheart) found the vein first try and did the injection very slowly. Bhain did slowly fall asleep and then after a minute or two his heart stopped. Dr. Jerry held me while I cried. He's the best vet in the world.

We relocated before the third dog. She had a long, debilitating illness where it was one of those things where you just eventually had to decide she'd had enough. That was a very hard decision but finally it was time. The vet took her in the back and put in an IV. Then brought her out to us and we pet and talked to her a while. When we were ready, he injected the drug into the IV (so no stab at the very end) and slowly released the drug. She fell asleep and passed away.

The last one (her daughter) was in July 2009. I'm not over it yet. She had an eye surgery that wouldn't heal and had multiple surgeries but was in pain constantly. Meanwhile, her other systems were failing. When the day came, it was a Sunday afternoon but she was shaking, crying and had gotten so bad in 1 day that we didn't feel we could wait overnight for our regular vet. We took her to the emergency vet. I expected routine care because they didn't know either me or my dog and was prepared to fight to get the same IV treatment that her mother had. As soon as I got there, they put us in a special room - not an exam room but a room that looked like a living room -- couches, carpet, nice lighting, etc. It was like she was in a home, not a hospital. Then they told me about the IV (before I asked for it). They put in the IV, brought her back and let us have some time alone. When we were ready, they slowly injected the drug and she fell asleep.

None of my dogs were presedated that I saw -- I was with them constantly on the first two. All were peaceful because the drug was injected slowly. The first was bad only because of the multiple needle jabs which he hated and cried. The last three vets were all very human to both my husband, myself and my dogs. I now will always insist on the IV method. It was easiest on them.

You could not have known. It's such a hard decision to make and I agonize over every one. It should not be like yours was. If I were you, I'd change vets.

My sympathies on your loss. You did the right thing.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 5:28PM
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So sorry for your loss. Try not to dwell on it. Remember the good times and the joy your baby brought you.

I had to put my girl down last year. My Vet sedated my baby, first. He made a special cocktail with Telzol, Buprenex, and Acepromazine. She fell deeply asleep. She was pain free and at peace before he injected her with the Euthanasia stuff.

He told me that the solution burns, so it's a lot better if they are sedated first.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 7:21PM
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First of all, I want to express my sympathy. Next, I want to thank you for starting this thread. I had to PTS my 17 y.o. cat just a week ago and although he was pre-sedated, it was not the peaceful experience that I'd imagined it would be. I have wondered and feared that something went wrong, and several of the other posts here have made me feel that what he experienced was normal. I am sharing this because we followed all the steps to lead to a nice peaceful procedure, but it still didn't turn out that way. The vet came to our home and I held my cat the whole time. But about a minute after the sedative took effect and while the vet was inserting the second solution, he suddenly reared back his head and seemed to gasp for air. The vet went forward with the solution and then listened to his heart. It took longer than she'd expected for his heart to stop beating and she said that he was a "fighter."

I am haunted by that last raggedy gasp and even though I knew it was his time, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps HE didn't know that it was his time. In any event, thank you so much to everyone for sharing. I certainly feel a little better now knowing that even the final moment isn't always as gentle and peaceful as advertised, but it's probably just a natural reaction to the drugs. And I hope that by sharing my story you can see that even if you'd pre-sedated and had a calm atmosphere at home that its no guarantee of a gentle passing.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 8:25PM
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I am so sorry for your loss.

Euthanasia solution is an overdose of anesthesia. There is always a brief excitement phase of anesthesia where voluntary motion is lost. This happens whether the pet is sedated or not.

Most of my clients prefer to have their pet conscious so they can tell him or her goodbye at the time. If the pet is very nervous, sometimes I do sedate first but only very lightly. Of course, if the owner wants the pet sedated I certainly do it.

I always place an IV catheter (in the back, not in presence of owner) to prevent 1) patient from having to be stuck with a needle 2) ensure all the solution goes into the vein because the solution hurts if it goes out of the vein 3) allows the owners to hold the pet however they want with the exception of the one catheterized leg 4) doesn't require a vet assistant to crowd up the room.

One of my dogs howled when being euthanized even though he was sedated and catheterized. It is just one of those things that unfortunately happens. But it is unfortunate and I am sorry it happened to you, especially since you weren't informed it was a possibility.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 8:38PM
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I had my dog euthanized yesterday and it went very well. Yes he was sedated at my request but was still awake when the vet gave the final needle. I was sitting on the floor holding him and all he did was lift his head once and then shut his eyes and relaxed.We sat with him for a while before I left . It was hard but I am so glad it went so quickly and quietly. I am so lucky to have such kind compasionate vets.My heart goes out to any one who goes thru this but it is the last kind act we can do for our pets.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 9:01PM
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I've had two cats euthanized and it's so hard. The first time I knew nothing about sedation and I'll just say it was an awful experience. The second time I asked the (new) vet if I could give my cat some kind of pill at home so he'd be relaxed and not know what was going on. He gave me some acepromazine tablets and when the time finally came I gave him a couple of those and he was completely sleepy, groggy and relaxed for the whole deal and it was much easier on me. Live and learn - I didn't know what to expect the first time.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 8:05PM
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I don't even know if this is an active thread anymore. I am putting my dog to sleep next wk. It's the first time I've done this. I am terrified, have cried every day over the guilt I feel. All of your posts, and I have read every one, has helped me somehow. Like I said to my husband and my three 20 something daughters " for everyone who has loved a pet, there is a time for them to experience the loss of a pet." All of you, your words, sharing your experience is helping me get through this ugliness.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:45AM
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I'm so sorry.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:11PM
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(((HUGS))) Pauline. I tell people, it is the worst thing about the best thing in our lives.

Know that many here will be thinking of you next week.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:13PM
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My heart feels your pain.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 11:51PM
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I've been with two dogs in recent years when they were euthanized. Both were sedated, and one gasped and convulsed despite the sedation, the other didn't.

I've also seen people go into cardiac arrest, and some of them just fall over and others will briefly go into muscle spasms.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 7:53PM
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I stumbled on this post looking for something else. One of the posters mentioned giving their pet Acepromazine before going to the vet's office. Someone sent me an article about the use of Acepromazine for thunder terror and how it may look as if the animal is calm and relaxed, but it is possible that it just "freezes" a dog physically but not mentally.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 1:00PM
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We just had our dog euthanized yesterday. She had Cushing's disease for two years. She was 15 or 16. We had her since she fit in a slipper on our dashboard. When we finally took her in, she was having a hard time breathing, and eating. She could eat and breath but all was labored. She couldn't get up on the couch or up or down the stairs..Now that she is gone, I have realized that she had been so sick for so long that we had lost sight of the fact that she was a dog who couldn't do dog things anymore. All she could do was take a walk that totally exhausted her, and then be carried up the stairs to pant , drink too much water, pee in the house and strain very hard to have a bowel movement. It turned out when we brought her in for diarrhea that she had a huge mass pushing down on her colon and another one compressing her trachea. She was already on so many medicined. She slept with her watery eyes open panting, walked around in manic confusion, and could only eat sometimes. We had come to see this as a normal "life" for our dog. I am still devastated and so is my husband. We are empty nesters and we got this dog when our kids were still home and young. Our other dog died this year, we still have one young one we got after the kids left, but the two main ones we had for nearly half of our married life, is gone. This is leaving a hole that was already huge in our hears, really ripped out of our chests. The process was pre-sedation and my husband held her. He said she seemed relieved. It was the first time she wasn't struggling just to breathe. She had no life really. It was because of us that she was living like that for too long. We just didn't see it. I hope that whatever the universe offers to dogs that she is in a good place . I am still very disoriented and in pain for all this means.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 2:25PM
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I just came across this thread because my dog was put down yesterday. He was only five years old but he had perrinial fistulas that would not go away a d were causing him a lot of pain. My husband took him and said it was not a peaceful experience. The dog was sedated but when they gave the second injection he started having involuntary reactions. Is this normal? My husband said at the end he totally picked his head up and than fell down with his tongue out. He also had labored breathing. Does anyone know if this is normal and if my dog felt pain? We are very upset and miss him so much.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 12:30PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I have found this thread extremely disturbing. In recent years I have insisted/requested that any animal of mine facing euthanasia be first put under with a hefty enough dose of sedative that they are completely unconscious before being given the shot to kill them.

I cannot stay with my pets and see them killed, but I stay with them until I am assured that they are completely unconscious. My husband has stayed with them when they were administered the final shot, and he told me that they never stirred. I have had general anaesthesia during surgery myself, and it produced instant and complete unconsciousness, so I do believe that my animals knew nothing once they were given sufficient dosage of the sedative.

After reading the experiences of others, I am very glad that I have chosen this painless option for my pets, and will definitely continue to do so in the future. I want the last thing they know to be the slip into total unconsciousness.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 3:30PM
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I know its been awhile for you but I needed to find answers and you went through exactly what I did a couple of days ago. My 13 year old beloved chihuahua was euthanised due to congestive heart disease and she had a lot of fluid on her lungs that was making her very uncomfortable. The vet said it would be best to put her to sleep without offering any other solution. I was in such an emotionally distraught state that I had to make that decision without thinking of any questions to ask. I have never witnessed an animal getting euthanised before and did not know what to expect. My sister asked for her to have a sedative as she has always been a nervous dog, however, the vet said "she would not need it". Then I had to witness the most traumatic event I have ever been through.

My dog screamed and screamed and the vet could not get the needle in properly. I could not hold her properly as the vet kept asking the nurse to hold her by the scruff of the neck because she was snapping at her which is not the way I would have liked her to go! There was blood coming out of her legs which I do not know if this was normal or not. Then the vet told us to leave while I cried and cried outside for 5 mins. I do not know why she asked us to leave or what she was doing in there but when I went back in, our dog was completely dead. The vet offered her apologies for what happened and said "she didn't suffer much" which was no comfort at all! I then had to walk out to pay for it!

I feel sick to the stomach as I had to witness the most gentle dog in the world die in complete fear and probable pain. She was never sick or hurt a day in her 13 year old life and I will never EVER get over it. Those last moments are all I can think about and I cannot go about daily activities without feeling faint. How do you get over something like this? And why didn't she give her a sedative when we specifically asked for it!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:37PM
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I'm so sorry.

There was no excuse for that to have happened. yet it does happen, & the vets that do it *never* apologize & *never* make any explanation.

If this were to happen to one of my beloved pets again, I'd post the whole story online, on every site I could find, including the vet's name.

If it's 'just one of those things', then the vet has no reason to object to its being made public.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 5:04PM
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I am so sorry to hear what happened to you and your dog. I know what you are going through as we had a very similar experience recently. Our cat had to be put to sleep after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. We too were distraught. The vet gave us no time to discuss what the procedure would be. He instructed the nurse to take over holding the cat from me as the cat was struggling. She gripped him tightly by his neck with his head twisted round. No sedation was offered. Everything was rushed and we were in too much of a state to intervene. The vet basically ushered us out the minute the cat was unconscious. He didn't check for a heartbeat. I don't think the whole procedure could have taken him more than 2 or 3 minutes - this after keeping us waiting for half an hour while he was laughing and joking with his previous clients about someone they all knew. I don't think I will ever get over what happened. I feel like I should have stopped it straight away when the cat was struggling as his fur was clipped and I can't forgive myself that I didn't. Like you I hadn't been through this before and I assumed it would be peaceful. I live in the UK and I am determined to make a formal complaint to the RCVS here. I don't know how seriously they will take it, but I want the fact that what that vet did was NOT OK on record.I don't feel up to doing it yet but am definitely going to once I am able. I don't know where you live but I think it would be worth you making a complaint to the relevant body when you feel strong enough. I know what you are going through. I am finding it very hard to think about anything else except that traumatic scene. If these people don't care enough to treat sick animals ( and their owners),with compassion at the end of their lives, they shouldn't be practicing as vets. You have my heartfelt sympathy.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 3:57PM
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I had my 18 year old cat euthanised yesterday. Our regular vet was closed so we had to take her to an after hours emergency vet which was a difficult decision going to a vet we didn't know. I have to say they were very caring and did not rush things at all.

Firstly the vet nurse came in and spoke to us and had us fill out forms, she then took our cat out the back to put an iv catheter in her leg and brought her back to us. She left us for about 15 minutes to say our goodbyes, and then asked if we were ready for the vet or if we needed more time. The vet came in and explained what he was going to do, and also warned us that sometimes there are involuntary responses after the animal passes, such as twitching or spasms, or they may vocalise or seem to take a gasp of air. He wanted to be sure we understood this as being normal.

Then he injected something (possibly saline) into the catheter to check it was in properly. After that he injected the anaesthetic followed by the medication to stop her heart. He checked her heart and she was gone, it all happened in an instant. In future I will definitely insist on the iv catheter, it made the whole process very quick and easy when it came time to go ahead, and all I had to do was pat her and let her know I was there.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 2:10AM
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Thank you JEC1 for your message. I am very sorry about your poor cat. I truly am. From what you have told me, that vets conduct was disgusting and unprofessional. After everything I've read up on the procedure since, you should never be left waiting to have euthanasia done! You should be straight in and out while there are no other clients there! The fact that he was laughing and joking at that particular time in your life is just horrible. It has just become a business for a lot of vets and the actual welfare and care for their owners is secondary if at all.
You have every right to make a compliant. I have posted on other dog forums about my story and everyone seems to tell me to make a complaint or write the vet a stern letter. However, I live in Ireland in a very small town where everyone knows each other and to start something like this would cause a lot more trouble than I want. My dog is more important thank that. I have considered making an official complaint, however, I have read that in ireland according to the Vets Ireland site, it is virtually impossible to win a complaint against a medical professional. It is almost impossible to prove negligence or misconduct and so the thought of that is too much for me. I'd rather not go down that route if it's not going to make a difference anyway. On the rare occasion where a case is justified, an apology is about all you're going to get. I don't know if it is the same in the UK but considering the manner of your vets behaviour, I truly am shocked and a letter of complaint or even a visit from him to tell him how you feel is a good thing to do.
Nothing anyone says will ever make you forget your pets last moments but in all honesty it was a very short moment in your cats life and I am sure it was probably more traumatic for you thank for your animal. I understand completely. If you do decide to visit your vet, ask him to explain what happened when you left the operating room and what he was doing in there. Just for your own peace of mind. I would say he was checking the heartbeat of your cat to make sure it was gone. But remember only do this when you feel ready. You need time to let your own mind heal a bit.

All the best and if you want to talk about it again, I'm here. I'd be very interested to hear how you get on. At least you know the process now for the future and INSIST on how you want your pet to go. Don't let a technician take him/her away from you and insist on a catheter and a sedation. At least I know now. My dog had a wonderful life and that horrible moment was literally nothing in comparison with that thought and that's the only way to get through it. X

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Thank you ToadstoolTales for your reply. You words are very comforting,as you are right that the final moments in our pets lives were only a tiny part of their lives. It is just so sad to know that those moments didn't need to be like that. The vet does know how we feel as we had to phone to find out the details for the cremation - none of the information was given to us at the time - and we made known our feelings about what had occurred and asked they be passed on to the vet. I am going to make a formal complaint to the RCVS, maybe in a couple of weeks. From what I've read it does seem that it is hard to get any kind of action taken against a vet, but I believe they have to be notified if a complaint is made against them. Maybe that would make him think twice about his behaviour in future and spare other pets and their owners this ordeal. There is always the possibility that other complaints may have been made against him in the past. Maybe it would be worth you making an official complaint, but if not just to make sure you let everyone know by word of mouth not to go to that particular vet. You're right about some vets treating it as just a business and hitting them in the pocket is sure to hurt! I'll let you know how I get on. Thanks again and take care. X

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 5:40PM
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"Don't let a technician take him/her away from you and insist on a catheter and a sedation."

as far as the sedation goes, I asked the nurse if they would be sedating my cat first, and she said if she got stressed at all with having the catheter put in they would sedate her to make it go easier. From what she told me, our cat didn't put up much of a fuss, but she was very weak from anaemia. The thing about older animals is that sometimes the veins can be hard to find, and with the catheter they can take their time to put it in, when they are trying to find the vein with needles, I think it gets rushed to inject the medicines and they may be having difficulty at the same time finding the vein that quickly. The IV catheter makes it easy to administer the drugs quickly once it's in.

I think if a vet isn't using a catheter then are probably rushing things, but it doesn't have to be like that, and it's just an extra step for the vet or nurse to put one in ahead of time. When they inject the anaethetic into the catheter it puts them under, and then the medication to stop the heart is injected after that so the anesthetic acts as a deep sedative so they aren't aware of what is happening.

PS. I think threads like this one are very important for people to understand what to expect, and what to ask for. I had no idea, so I was just very lucky that the vet and his vet nurse were just caring and compassionate in their approach to us and our dear cat.

This post was edited by trancegemini_wa on Mon, Oct 14, 13 at 6:20

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:04AM
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I'm glad I stubbled upon this forum as I was looking up more information on renal failure. It looks like I may have to make this decision soon with my 8yr old boy, who I rescued from the shelter at 5 monthes old. I found these posts heart breaking and yet also helpful. I've done this with 1 other cat. Well I did have 2 kitties one died at home because I didn't have the heart to take him to a strange place he passed away within about a week of his symptoms he was 16. My other kitty not so fast, she was quickly loosing weight and was stumbling, she was 18 they were buddies since about 1yr old. Due to money at the time I took her to my local shelter where they took her into another room while I waited in the lobby. It was heartbreaking I felt guilty that I wasn't in the room with her, but I just couldn't.
This time though I'll be taking him to a vet. Its just so hard with a 13yr old dog at home that is pretty healthy and the younger's health is fading. Its like its a little easier when they are older, but still heart wrenching. My heart goes out to everyone on this post that has gone through this and is going through it now. In my heart I know he'll be at peace when the time comes.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Hugs, Carolyn.

I understand how you feel about losing your dog at such a young age. We lost our Corgi to cancer at age 10, and it was heartbreaking. But we don't regret letting him go. It's our responsibility as pet owners to ensure our furbabies are as comfortable as possible, and to do anything in our power to minimize or prevent their suffering.

I've so often seen folks wait too long to bring their sick pets in for the last time, not because there is any hope for the pet, but because they want the animal around longer for their own comfort.

The right decisions are hardly ever the easiest ones.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 2:19PM
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Thank you this is true. His quality of life is the important part. Maybe if there was only one issue going on, but in his case there are several.

This post was edited by Carolyn777 on Wed, Oct 16, 13 at 10:19

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 7:04AM
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For the the first time with one of my pups (age 17 years) I decided to be in the room when he was euthanized. I guess I was not told what to expect or else I was so upset that I didn't hear. Apparently he was not sedated first because when the vet told me he was gone what freaked me out the most was that his eyes were still open.

I did tell the vet some months later and he said that was good information to have, as all peole reactive differently. Now I wish I had read a bit more and would have known to ask about sedation.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 3:46PM
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After my own terrible experience and reading of others I feel that the whole issue of euthanasia needs to be treated a lot more sensitively. Obviously there are some fantastic vets out there who show compassion to both animals and owners. However there seem to be too many who don't. Everyone who takes an animal to be put to sleep should be told all of the facts and given all of the options possible. Maybe vets should give this information, in the form of a booklet or leaflet when vaccinations are given or when owners visit for the first time. Nobody wants to dwell on this topic, but at least people would be informed and able to absorb the information
and have the opportunity to ask questions when not in an emotional state. I really don't think it is up to the owner to ask what is going on during a euthanasia procedure when they would obviously in a very emotional state. In my own case everything was done so fast and I was so shocked I was unable to intervene. I also feel there needs to be much tighter regulation of vets.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 2:45PM
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I couldn't agree more. We're the ones left with the memory of what happens while a vet moves on to the next job. I understand it must be difficult even for them but god knows how many euthanasias they would have to perform a week. But there is a fine line between getting on with the job and getting so used to the procedure that you have no empathy left and then things go wrong. I really hope a vet reads these posts. This is happening far too often.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 5:30PM
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"After my own terrible experience and reading of others I feel that the whole issue of euthanasia needs to be treated a lot more sensitively. "

absolutely, I just can't imagine how any vet can be oblivious to what an emotional and painful time this is, and to do anything to traumatize the animal or the owners and make it more difficult is just unacceptable IMO. I would be gutted if that happened to me JEC.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 1:25PM
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It is so sad that so many people have had such bad experiences. It is not acceptable.

I found this petition for tighter regulation of UK vets. I'm not sure if it can be signed by people outside of the UK, but I think it can. I hope the link works.

There are also similar petitions for other countries. I am going to attempt to sign those too.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 5:25PM
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Margaret Yates

My beautiful 10 year old Choc Lab Maddie suffered a great deal whilst being euthanized 3 months ago and I am still angry ad upset that her last moments were so painful and frightening for her. When I had to have another of my beloved dogs euthanized many years ago the procedure was very quick and painless, he was given the injection and then just very quickly passed away peacefully.

This time my poor, beautiful baby was given 3 injections, none of which worked, all they did was make her distressed and frightened. I'm sure that the injections caused her pain as in the passed she has had jabs for various reasons and it has never bothered her at all but each time the vet injected her she'd cry out and struggle and all the way through the procedure she cried , wined and struggled to get away. I was holding her and kissing her head, talking to her and at the same time crying my eyes out. After the 3rd injection the vet said that she would have to give her a sedative to calm her down, she disappeared for a couple of minutes then returned with the sedative. Maddie was still struggling and crying when she was given the sedative. She fell asleep quite quickly then and as her cries softened and she struggled less my heart was breaking. The final injections were then given and Maddie passed away in my arms... I was asked if I wanted to be alone with her and I said yes. When the vet and nurse left I sobbed and told her I was sorry, she should never have suffered that way during her last moments ... She had a good life with very little suffering, just the odd minor ailments and was such a happy, healthy dog until she became ill and even after that she was given love and care until the day the vet advised she be euthanized for her own good as the pain would become worse. Yes it was the right thing to do but I wish I had chosen another vet and feel so guilty that I allowed her to die in such pain and distress... I don't think I will ever forgive myself for taking her there and will never make the same mistake again.

    Bookmark   22 hours ago
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