The Euthanasia Appointment: What to Expect
- Euthanasia Consultation
PalliVet will arrive at your home at the scheduled appointment time (a 60 minute arrival window). We routinely text your mobile phone when on our way. On arrival, if you prefer we text or phone you rather than knock or ring the doorbell, do let us know.
After greeting your pet, he/she can relax whilst we can discuss any queries you may have. The euthanasia process will be explained and any further questions that arise can be answered.
Naturally, if your pet is in a lot of pain or in a crisis situation when we arrive, attending to their welfare will take immediate priority.
If your pet has recently been seen by us or another vet and your decision for euthanasia is quite clear, a detailed consultation may not be necessary, but some discussion and reassurance for your decision is available if you wish.
If your pet has not been seen by a vet for some time, the consultation may be lengthy or may be brief, depending on the situation and your desire for discussions.
It may be clear that euthanasia is appropriate or the kindest option and this is the case for most euthanasia bookings. However, if you are not ready to go through with euthanasia that day and your pet is not unduly suffering and may benefit from medications or further palliation, we can discuss options.
If after a detailed consultation you are still uncertain, it may signal that you or your pet are not quite ready for euthanasia right now. In this situation, if you wish to defer euthanasia, and as long as your pet will not needlessly suffer, we can further discuss how we can continue to support their quality of life, and arrange to come back for euthanasia another time.
It is important that you are comfortable (as possibly can be under such difficult and emotional circumstances) with your decision. You will not be under any obligation to proceed with euthanasia if not necessary, or to engage in a lengthy consultation when it is clear that euthanasia is required.
We offer extended appointment times if you require more time for a detailed discussion about your pet’s health (this may be the case if you have not had prior end-of-life discussions with a vet) or if you are unsure about and struggling a lot with the decision and whether euthanasia is the right thing that day. We allocate 1 hour for our euthanasia appointments, but can offer 1 ½ to 2 hour appointments for those who would value extra time at the visit.
- Consent Form and Payment
After the decision to euthanase your pet has been confirmed, you will be asked to sign a consent form. Your consent gives permission to euthanase your pet and indicates your choice for body aftercare.
Payment for services are usually taken at this time.
Payment options are credit/debit card (not Amex) or cash.
If you would rather pay prior to the home visit, just let us know.
If your pet is in a crisis situation when we arrive, we may proceed promptly with euthanasia and take payment after.
Our belief is that your pet should not be anxious, nor in pain, prior to and during euthanasia. A pre-euthanasia injection (often called a ‘pre-med’) to induce sedation is thus routinely given. The type of sedation and dose and whether pain relief is also required will vary according to your pet’s individual needs.
The sedative injection is given under the skin by the neck or by the lower back. Many pets don’t mind this injection, but as with any injection there may be a momentary discomfort. Drowsiness typically happens within several minutes. Sedation occurs more rapidly in very frail patients, and may take longer or need topping up in young, robust or anxious pets.
You may wish to hold or sit next to your pet for the sedation pre-med. Sometimes we decide not to disturb your pet from their resting place until after the sedation has started to take effect.
Cats are routinely deeply sedated. This is typically given as a 2-stage injection, which provides a gentler approach. Within 10-15 minutes of the 2-stage pre-med injection, your cat is expected to be deeply sedated and will be unaware of the final euthanasia injection. The eyes typically remain open during sedation and after euthanasia.
Dogs are sedated to suit their health status, temperament and if anxious. Some dogs need minimal sedation, whilst others require a deeper level of relaxation. Our aim is to ensure your pet is peacefully relaxed prior to euthanasia.
- Intravenous catheter placement (dogs)
Dogs will have an intravenous catheter placed in a vein in the front or the back leg. A small patch of fur over the vein is clipped. The catheter is placed into the vein and a saline solution is injected to confirm good placement. Relaxed dogs normally don’t mind this at all.
Cats are sedated deeply and we usually use the front leg for the euthanasia injection, although we may use another vein or area. We clip a small patch of fur so we can see the vein, but generally do not require an intravenous catheter for cats.
At this stage, we are ready to proceed with euthanasia.
Your pet can be in their favourite resting spot – their bed, on your bed, on the sofa, by a fireplace or in the garden, and be by your side or on your lap. You may hold or hug your pet in your arms, or sit next to them gently stroking or just touching them. You may prefer to sit away or even leave the room. All we require is access to the vein we administer the final injection in.
When you feel that you are ready, the euthanasia injection is given. This injection is a concentrated barbiturate (a type of general anaesthetic) and induces a gentle drift into unconsciousness within seconds. If you yourself have had an anaesthetic, you will probably recall that the drifting off to anaesthesia was rapid and no pain or distress was experienced.
Similarly, your pet will not feel any pain or discomfort with this injection. In a very short while the breathing changes – it may slow down or simply stop, or a few rapid or deep breaths may occur before ceasing. The last breath usually happens within half a minute (or a matter of seconds in cats). The heart stops shortly after the breathing has stopped. We check (with a stethoscope) that the heart has stopped, after which we confirm that your beloved pet has passed away. You may however already have sensed that this has occurred.
Please note that the body’s muscles are completely relaxed after death. The eyes remain open, and after a short while the bladder voids urine (we have absorption cloths in preparation for this).
You will be offered time alone with your pet at this stage, should you wish it.
We can provide after-care arrangements of either communal cremation or individual cremation with ashes returned to you. If you have a private backyard, and it is suitable to do so, you may choose to bury your pet at home.