Euthanasia- Saying goodbye to your furry Friend

Companion animal euthanasia is a common procedure in veterinary medicine, intended to end the life of an animal. Veterinarians must determine if the request for euthanasia is warranted or if other factors exist making the decision to euthanise inappropriate or objectionable. If euthanasia is a reasonable course of action, veterinarians must then decide when to euthanise, how to perform the procedure, and other details to protect the mental well-being of all involved. If euthanasia is not elected, veterinarians must also decide how best to support their patient and client.

The reality that euthanasia in veterinary practice can end animal suffering but can also be used in circumstances that do not serve an animal’s interest, can be a benefit for animals, and a burden for veterinary professionals, respectively. This essay addresses ethical and practical concerns associated with companion animal euthanasia, including defining euthanasia, why and when euthanasia should be performed, applying euthanasia in practice, contemporary methods, aftercare of deceased animals, and the consequences of euthanasia and dysthanasia for animals, animal owners, and veterinary professionals. We contend that an intention-based definition of euthanasia should be strictly applied in veterinary practice and that practitioners view euthanasia decisions as requests that can (and in some cases should) be declined, rather than as mandates.

Euthanasia derives from the Greek roots of “a good death” and in human semantics is restricted to circumstances of mercy killing, in which death is viewed as a respite from inevitable suffering that cannot be alleviated by reasonable means. The expectation is that if life is to be taken, it is at the right time for the right reason.

Euthanasia should be performed when no other options exist to address significant and permanent suffering. Not every manifestation of suffering warrants euthanasia. It will depend on the degree of distress the animal experiences and how it copes. A cat or small dog unable to walk may still have a satisfactory quality of life with the help of its family while a recumbent dog with pressure sores and decubital ulcers may not. Owners may define suffering based on psychosocial factors, such as previous experiences and beliefs. Their determination if their pet is suffering is as relevant (if not more so) as that of the veterinarian. The difference rests in the veterinarian’s knowledge of diseases, the impacts on animal welfare, and available treatments. If agreement cannot be reached, an animal may suffer or die prematurely through euthanasia.

Because the need for euthanasia may arise during any life stage, it is reasonable to open dialogue about end-of-life options before euthanasia is necessary, especially for patients with congenital diseases, relatively short life spans, and when chronic disease is diagnosed. While broaching the subject of death and dying is challenging, veterinarians uncomfortable with such discussions are missing an important opportunity to educate owners on what to expect and what to prepare for as their pet reaches the end of life. It is common after discussion of euthanasia for owners to elect to take the animal home to allow them time to accept the situation, and sometimes, for other family members to say goodbye.

It is common for veterinary teams to make deceased pet aftercare arrangements on behalf of their client. When an animal dies, the body is typically managed by the veterinary team, who sets into motion a series of owner requests, most commonly for cremation

Pet crematories also report that many pet owners routinely bring their own pets directly to the crematory.

Special Euthanasia bags which can be decorated and personalised  can be used avoiding the use of standard refuse bags (Ask your veterinarian for such bags)

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