People and pets should stay together during euthanasia

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People and pets should stay together during euthanasia

Dear Cathy, 

I have a sad question.  Since 2011, I have had to euthanize three dogs. My Dachshund Troy, almost 18 years of age, went peacefully. He went to sleep after the initial shot, and died after the second shot. My Maltese, Star, 13-years-old, did not respond to either shot. They had to take her into the back room. My girl Penny, a Jack Russell, 13-years-old, also did not respond to two shots and had to be taken to the back room. 

My question is, what do they do in the back room? Do they suffocate the animal? Any other method?

– Robert Nielsen, Baldwin New York

Dear Robert,

I am sorry about your experience. It’s hard enough to make the decision to put a pet to sleep, but to have the procedure get drawn out and have your dog taken away from you before it’s over is just heartbreaking. 

Let me put your mind at ease. They do not suffocate your animal or do anything nefarious in the “back room.” Euthanasia is done through an injection, as you describe, or through an IV. The process takes only one to two minutes and your pet should pass peacefully. These are the only two procedures they would do, so the only reason for taking your dog to another room was to probably put in an IV. But they should not have taken her from you at that moment, especially without explaining why. Your feelings are important at this time too.

While having to give more than one injection sometimes happens, this is far from the normal experience. Most pets pass quickly under either method and with just one injection. I prefer the IV method because if they need to give more euthanasia drug, it can be administered easily through the established IV. But to do this, they often take your dog to the back beforehand to insert the IV, which is why I think that’s what your vet was probably doing.

Just so you know, you have every right to ask the staff what they are doing when they take your dog to another room, and your dog should not be removed from the room or taken out of your sight without you knowing why and until the euthanasia is complete. You deserve to be with your pet when it happens and have some quiet time with your pet afterwards. When it comes to euthanasia, you should be the one allowed to say, “I need to step out while you are doing this,” not the other way around.

If you need to euthanize a pet in the future, maybe ask them to do it via IV. Hopefully, this will prevent you from being separated from your pet in his or her final moments.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal


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2 thoughts on “People and pets should stay together during euthanasia”

  1. Yes, I agree an IV is a good idea, in a vet office. We had a bad experience in Missouri. I flew there from NY to help my mom say goodbye to her mid-size husky mix of 14, who cried in his sleep and dragged his back legs. The vet, a young family friend offered to go to my brothers farm to do it, but said we’d need an IV catheter inserted in Sammy’s front leg the day before. It was horrible, he was in pain, confused and wearing a collar so as no to chew on it. At 2 a.m. I removed the whole thing, and petted him until he slept comfortably on his last night.
    The euthanasia went as planned the next day, after he had a burger with fries and lots of cuddles. He went so quickly it was a bit of a shock for my mother, so I suggest all people helping others through this, to ensure the owner knows when to say the last goodbye.

    1. Cathy Rosenthal

      Thanks for sharing your experience. As pet parents, we all want to make the experience go as smoothly as possible for our beloved dogs and cats. It sounds like you made the right decision regarding the IV in the leg the day before,and kudos for making his last day loving for him. Sounds like you are an awesome pet parent.

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Cathy Rosenthal (aka The Pet Pundit), CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 35 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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