Euthanasia

A peaceful ending

Euthanasia

Θάνατος, pronounced thanatos, is Greek for death, euthanatos means easy death
Euthanasia is a taboo subject to some degree, but I have noticed many people really want to know so much about it when the issue arises
Death is as inevitable
At the end of our own and indeed our pet’s lives we hope for an easy pain free passing
In the veterinary world euthanasia is possible, whereas in most countries around the world, euthanasia of humans is illegal
As small animal veterinary surgeons, we have been charged with this great responsibility for the animals under our care. It is certainly not something we relish. We have trained for years to care and treat ill animals
Sometimes it is easy to advise euthanasia such as when an animal arrives at the surgery in such a terrible condition that it would be overtly cruel to keep it alive any longer
At the other end of the spectrum it can be a difficult decision when someone treats us as merely public executioners of animals. Personally I will not carry out such euthanasia. All vets face an ethical dilemma when placed in such difficult, uncomfortable circumstances
Euthanasia is an unpleasant part of our job. So why am I writing this article? At some stage if you have a pet you will have to make a decision. It is a lot easier if you have an informed opinion from your vet
As vets we will guide you based upon our medical knowledge and also on what most people do in similar circumstances
Once the decision is made then there are options. Most people opt for euthanasia at the surgery, but 10-15% prefer a house call as they feel their pet will be less stressed in their home environment. Euthanasia is carried out by injection. I always tell my clients that what is felt is no more than what was experienced during their anaesthetic induction at desexing. The animal rapidly falls asleep, and passes away soon after. It is a very surreal experience, especially when the animal has been suffering, to suddenly realise they are instantly at peace
Client’s are often very emotional at these times, and we encourage them not to hide their emotions, nor to be embarrassed. Some of the more emotional people in my time have turned out to be what look like big tough guys, but who obviously had a deep love for their pet
Personally I do not recommend very young children to be present, I guess because I experienced it myself at that age and it devastated me for a long time
What after? What happens with the remains? There is the sudden realisation that this hard decision also has to be made. Personally I think if you can bury your pet at home it gives the most closure. But on the Northern Beaches where the sandstone is never deep down it is often not an option
These day pet cremation is as often chosen as burial. Ashes can be returned for a keepsake, or sprinkled about all their pets favourite haunts. It helps

At the end of the day, rejoice in the fact that your pet has likely had a wonderful long happy life, and this is a rare gift given to too few animals in this world