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STAY WITH HIM

by Guest Veterinarian

 

The worst part of a veterinarian’s practice is our duty to destroy. To put to sleep an animal that is suffering from chronic severe pain is a duty we willingly accept but…

 

We sometimes wonder if euthanasia is ethically correct? Is it often just convenient? We don’t second-guess an animal owner. Intravenous euthanasia is virtually instantaneous if done correctly. I call it “the good death”, a kindness many human patients wish was available to them.

 

 

When we must ‘put to sleep’ a healthy animal because it is unwanted, we learned to block it out when we were in vet school. It comes with the job that enables us to help other animals and so we accept that duty. Some practices delegate that chore to staff, but I feel that is wrong.

 

In my practice, I know both owner and animal and while my staff is very capable of performing euthanasia, I see it as my duty. I read something “online” and I want to share part of it because it is so well said.

 

A veterinarian said that old animals look for or to their owners before going to sleep. I have observed that. He also said “…90 % of owners don't want to be in a room with a dying animal. People leave so that they don't see their pet leave. I can’t interfere there but please, please let them know that it's in these last moments of life that their pet needs them most.

 

I hope you remember how your animal comforted you in countless ways. Do not desert him now.

 

We use an intravenous drug. It is instantaneous and spares the animal any fearful reaction. When I explain that, most owners are willing to abate their grief and stay the extra few minutes.

 

If this bothers you, that is good, it means you love your pet. Statistically we know owners would rather just drop the animal off and leave everything to the veterinarian. Depending on the size of the dog and the age and health of the owner, that is often the best way but it is not the only way.

 

Burying one’s dog can be another problem depending on your age and physical ability. If possible, it should be decided before euthanasia. Most of our owners elect cremation. Some people request the remains be returned to them in a suitable urn. Other owners “don’t care” or they are experiencing so much stress they are incapable of dealing with that aspect.

 

It is a decision best to be made before bringing the dog in if that is at all possible. My staff gently encourages owners to make euthanasia arrangements in advance. We also pre-advise that they try to stay with the pet until their veterinarian completed the process.

 

Hold this information in your mind because if you are a loving owner, the time will come when you need to make these decisions. The other decision you should be prepared to make is when to get another dog.

 

That reminds me of something which may or may not be of comfort to you. A long-time client found this article after we “took care of” her elderly dog. Spirit Dog Phenomenon My front-desk girl saved it because she said several owners had mentioned something similar when they came back with a puppy or another dog later on.

 

Have I experienced it? No. But I’ve read about it and science notwithstanding, I accept it when an owner asks about it or tells me it happened. None of us really know about an afterlife.

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