It is not always easy to tell when the time is right to say goodbye. It is particularly difficult for every pet owner to judge whether an old or sick animal still enjoys life or whether it suffers so much that death is a salvation. Read here what you should know about euthanasia.
The most important thing is that the decision to euthanize a dog is made regardless of one’s own personal needs and feelings. The decision is made solely in the interests and for the good of the dog! In no case should the effort and burden of keeping a sick or old animal be a reason to euthanize an animal. Killing an animal because it is “no longer perfect” or uncomfortable is a crime.
On the other hand, it is also irresponsible to tolerate the pain and suffering of an animal, to turn a blind eye to it. Even your own fear of painful loss must not lead to the beloved animal having to torment itself. This is misunderstood love – at the expense of the beast.
We have a great responsibility for our dog. He depends on our care – and must be able to rely on it. We owe it to him to take care of him even when he is ill or in old age. But we also owe it to him to redeem him when he torments and suffers.
Under the burden of responsibility and the worry of not being able to correctly assess whether an animal is suffering or not, many pet owners ask which criteria are decisive. Whether, for example, a blind animal still enjoys life or whether a dachshund with paralysis has to be put to sleep. Understandable, after all, you want to prevent in any case from tearing your animal too early from life or letting it suffer unnecessarily. But they do not exist – the generally applicable and unambiguous criteria for suffering and joie de vivre.
An animal with a very calm character will not miss much if it is restricted in its freedom of movement, a whirlwind, on the other hand, can suffer a lot. A dog that loses an eye to a tumor does not necessarily lose its zest for life. However, if the tumor presses on nerves and brain so that the animal can barely perceive its environment, it should be spared this agony. The situation is different when animals no longer feel joy or when they no longer want to eat. Then force-feeding them would be a terrible ordeal.
Ultimately, the type and extent of the disease and the general state of health, but also the age of the animal and its individual nature, are decisive. First and foremost, you should pay attention to what your animal “communicates” to you. But keep in mind that animals by nature often show very late when they are sick or in pain. In the wild, this caution protects them from predators who see a sick animal as easy prey.
It is also important that you put yourself in the shoes of your dog as an animal and not judge its situation from a “human point of view”. For example, a person who uses crutches will suffer less than a paralyzed dachshund who is tied to a frame with castors. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide when the time has come to relieve your pet from its suffering. Unfortunately, no one can make this difficult decision for you. If in doubt, seek advice and help, you should contact your veterinarian and ask for their opinion – and experience.
The technical term for euthanasia is euthanasia. The word comes from the Greek and means something like “good death” (Eu = good, Thanatos = to die). However, many pet owners still have concerns that euthanasia may not be “good” for their dog, but rather painful. Horrible rumors about dogs tormented by convulsions and twitching in agony fuel this concern. Wrongly!
If an animal is properly euthanized, it will not experience any physical pain! It does not feel that its death is coming! Basically, animals are euthanized with an anesthetic. A so-called narcotic (barbiturate) is knowingly overdosed, ie too large an amount is injected into the bloodstream. The animal is first put under a deep anesthetic so that it does not feel or notice when the effect of the overdose occurs. In the deep anesthesia it stops breathing, its heart stops beating.
Larger animals are usually treated with a sedative, a so-called sedative or neuroleptic, before they are actually euthanized. This syringe is simply put into a muscle of the animal and causes it to first fall asleep. Only when the child is soundly asleep is the actual anesthetic injected into the bloodstream.
This “two-step process” prevents complications or delays from occurring with the injection into the vein, even if it is only slightly more complicated. Even though an animal is under very deep anesthesia when death occurs, its muscles may twitch, urine or feces.
What looks terrible to an observer is in no way a sign of pain or an awareness of the animal. These movements are purely mechanical, similar to reflexes – the animal does not perform them consciously, it no longer feels or notices anything.
Many dog owners ask themselves what the animal feels and experiences “mentally” in its last days and hours. Whether he is aware of his approaching end, how he is dealing with it, whether and how we can help him with it. It is known that animals withdraw in the wild, possibly even separate from their families completely when they await their death. They foresee the impending farewell, instinctively prepare for it.
Even a pet that signals to its human that its time has come will feel and experience the same. Although he mourns, he does not seem to be afraid of imminent death. Not panic and fear of death, but rather the certainty that the time has come seems to shape his feelings.
As a rule, it is more the grief and fear of the familiar and loved one that causes unrest. The animal would instinctively feel that everything is now taking its right course, but the despair of its human being makes it doubt its instinct. It gives him the feeling that something “threatening” is happening.
In order not to worry the dog, even if it is very difficult, we should try to be strong in the difficult hours of parting. To stand courageously and bravely at the side of our loyal companion. Right now he needs our strong hand, which accompanies him protectively and on which he can rely. Well-intentioned gestures such as particularly tasty meals, long, comforting hours of cuddling, intensive conversations are only beneficial to the animal to a limited extent.
If we give him the feeling that something “bad” is going to happen, he lacks the support of his “pack leader”. He will feel insecure, abandoned, and uncomfortable. Nobody can and will forbid your grief – after all, the death of a loyal companion is extremely painful – but for the good of your protégé try not to let him feel your own despair and helplessness.
It is important that we also organize the external circumstances in such a way that our animal is spared unnecessary stress and frightening excitement in its final hours. If you have decided to give your animal a gentle death, you should discuss it with your veterinarian in peace. Ask him if it is possible for him to make a house call and put your darling to sleep in their familiar surroundings.
If this is not possible, you should definitely arrange a special appointment. Put this at the beginning or at the end of the consultation hour so that you certainly don’t have to wait long in the hustle and bustle of the practice.
Before doing this, think about whether you want to be with your pet in the last few minutes. Making a spontaneous decision at the last moment could be overwhelming. The resulting restlessness could spread to your darling and put a strain on them too. You should also carefully consider beforehand whether you want to ask someone close to you, who you trust, to be at your side in the difficult moment.
In your own interest, you should also discuss the unpleasant subject of what will happen to your animal after euthanasia with your vet in advance. Whether you take the corpse home with you, bury it yourself or have it buried, or whether your vet will take care of it instead. If you decide on one of the first two options, unfortunately this must also be prepared.
Despite the certainty that it was a relief for the dog, his death is anything but easy to get over. The loss hurts, you grieve, you are desperate. Comforting words like “It was better that way. Think about the good time you had together …” are of little help. But what helps? This question can only be answered very individually. Everyone deals with their sadness differently.
It helps one to distract himself, but the other needs to deal intensively with his grief. Ultimately, it may help to seek consolation from other animal lovers who can understand from their own experience what is going on in you.
To find out from these fellow sufferers how they dealt with the death of their own protégé, what could have helped them.