My Pet World: Talk to your vet about your pet’s euthanasia before that day comes

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Published in Cannabis Daily

Dear Cathy,

This is not a question but a plea to other pet owners. Please advise your readers to ask their vets if they will administer sedation before euthanasia. Having euthanized many pets over the years, I assumed it was a standard veterinary practice.

Almost three years ago, however, my cat was lethally-injected directly into her vein without prior sedation while being held in a tight death grip by an assistant. Her screams haunt me to this day. When I asked the vet to use sedation in the future, he refused, saying, "I've been doing it this way for years." I filed a complaint against him but was told they cannot change a vet's practices. I suffer overwhelming guilt for not yelling "stop" before the entire dose was injected. All I can do now is forewarn other pet owners.

— L.L., Riverdale, New York

Dear L.L.

End-of-life questions should be discussed with your vet long before you need the service. You can ask the doctor whether they offer in-home euthanasia, if they sedate the pet before the final injection, or if they do anything special to make the pet more comfortable. If they say they don't use sedation, ask if they would be open to using it if you requested it. This is important to you, so if the vet says no, then find another vet.


There are also things a vet's office can do to provide some comfort during the experience. For example, my vet puts the pet owner and pet in an exam room, dims the lights, lights candles, and plays soft music. There is a plush comforter on the floor and a pillow for me to sit on. I am given as much time as I need to be with my canine/feline friend before and after. All the paperwork, payment, and decisions about the disposal of the body are made before I walk into that room so I can get up and leave when I am ready.

It's important to know the process now, so you can be sure you're giving your pet the best passing possible. Everyone should talk to their vet before that day arrives.

Dear Cathy,

I just read your column about rising veterinary costs. I have noticed a correlation between increasing costs and the proliferation of veterinarians going corporate. Not only are the costs higher with a corporate vet, but the care seems programmed and less personal.


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