Euthanizing Dogs at Home: What You Should Know
Published August 17, 2020
For a lot of us, dogs enrich our lives. We simply cannot imagine a life without our furry friends. From the moment they enter our homes as puppies to maturing into healthy adults, they all hold a special place in our hearts.
But as with all good things, life must also come to an end. Putting down your beloved pal is never an easy conversation to have. It’s an even more difficult decision to make, but sometimes it’s the best one for their sake. Let’s answer some of your questions about euthanization.
When is it right to euthanize a dog?
Just like a human, a dog goes through different phases of life as they age. With age, many health complications can arise, such as sicknesses and disease. Some of these conditions can be life-threatening, even irrecoverable. As your furry friend ages, you’ll find that they may have difficulty doing routine things until they can’t do them at all. Euthanization, or mercy killing, is the humane procedure medical professionals perform when patients are miserable or have no chance of recovery.
These are some questions you might want to answer whether it’s time for euthanization:
- Is your dog unable to perform basic functions like eating, moving, and sleeping through the night?
- Is your dog terminally ill with no signs of getting better?
- Is your dog in immense pain?
If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, you could consider euthanization. Your best bet is to talk with a vet about your options, as euthanization should always be the last resort.
Can I legally euthanize a dog without a vet?
The laws on euthanization differ between states. Some states have stricter regulations, while others have more lenient ones. There are many qualifications that the law stipulates to euthanize your dog legally, namely:
- Who may perform
- Who can possess (the necessary drugs)
- Method (of euthanization)
- Emergency euthanization
You’ll have to check state laws and consult with your local veterinarian regarding the legal procedures.
Why should I have my dog euthanized by a professional?
Euthanization isn’t a simple procedure. If done incorrectly, it could lead to your dog experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort. That is why this procedure is usually left to experts and veterinarians. However, you could have a few reasons for wanting to do it yourself at home, for example:
- You have limited access to the nearest vet clinic, or it’s too far from your home.
- Your fur buddy gets stressed easily from car rides and visits to the veterinarian, making his last moments more unpleasant.
- Some fur parents want their dog’s final moments to be with the entire family.
Some veterinarians do home services, which are generally cheaper than clinic prices. Doing the procedure yourself should also be a last resort since you could be doing more harm than good for your fur pal.
What do I need for a home euthanization?
The following are the most common anesthetics that will profoundly sedate your pet:
Telazol is a pre-mixed cocktail of two drugs (tiletamine and zolazepam), commonly used on both our feline and canine friends. When the two drugs are combined, they prove to be a potent sedative, resulting in a painless operation.
Ketamine is another anesthetic, usually complemented by valium to get results similar to Telazol. As an overdose, Ketamine/Valium and Telazol are practically the same in results. Most veterinarians prefer Telazol because it is not as strictly controlled by the DEA as Ketamine is (as Ketamine has been abused as a “club drug”).
Propofol, appropriately nicknamed “milk of amnesia” for its white color, is another commonly used anesthetic. It is relatively more expensive than previous drugs, but it is also highly effective.
Pfizer markets this drug as Domitor. This drug works incredibly well in inducing pain-relieving sedation with a sting-less intramuscular injection (All the drugs before this one should be administered IV).
Known as Ace, this tranquilizer is commonly used by vets to calm aggressive dogs down through IM injection. Ace is relatively inexpensive and isn’t prone to abuse. One problem is that some animals may react to the IM injection sting, but this drug can be administered IV too.
Many vets use this inexpensive drug as a component of their first injection cocktail too. Xylazine is commonly used as a horse tranquilizer, but it also serves as an excellent anesthetic for small animals.
Almost all veterinarians use barbiturates for the second injection. These drugs are typically administered IV and induce cardiac arrest within seconds. Barbiturates are responsible for effectively mercy killing your fur buddy.
So, you have everything you need to carry out the procedure. The only thing left to do is to prepare everyone for what will happen. Your family members should spend an ample amount of time saying their last goodbyes to this beloved companion.
It’s going to be overwhelming that some won’t want to be in the same room during the procedure. It’s advisable to keep sensitive children away from the room since this experience could traumatize them. One downside to home euthanization is that memories of the event will remain in the place long after.
As soon as you say your goodbyes, you’ll want to lay your furry friend on potty pads or a tarp, making clean up more convenient. Once your dog’s brain stops, they will likely empty their bladder and bowels.
How do I perform the euthanization?
If your state laws allow it, and you can get a hold of the necessary drugs, this is generally the procedure for euthanizations. First, you sedate the animal with the first injection cocktail. The first injection cocktail usually consists of Telazol, Propofol, and Ketamine. They give this to pets who frighten easily and can’t stay still. However, if your dog is already very sick and barely moves, they may not need this.
Second, comes the final injection, the barbiturates. This seizure medication will induce cardiac arrest within 15 seconds to 2 minutes after IV injection. You might see movement from your dog, but don’t be alarmed. These are the remainder of the electrical impulses after the brain waves cease. It does not signal pain or incomplete euthanasia; it’s a completely natural effect.
Handling your dog’s remains
Once your pal passes away, you’ll have to deal with their remains. You’ll want to check with the law for burial laws if you plan on burying your dog in your yard. Another valid option is cremation, which gives you the opportunity of spreading your dog’s ashes in someplace special.
Letting go of a dog is just like losing a family member. And like any beloved family member, your dog deserves only the best. Any misstep in this operation could prove uncomfortable or even painful for your furry friend. To avoid these as much as possible, you should let the professionals handle this operation. I wish you the best during this troubled t
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.