Monday, January 7, 2019

Pet Loss: Can I Euthanize My Dog On My Own?

[Reviewed and updated August 11, 2018]

Asking for others' guidance helps you to see what you may not be able to see.  ~ Ken Blanchard

A reader writes: I want to release my dog's spirit in a wilderness area he so loves and belongs to be laid to rest in. All the vets I talk to will only kill him in their office or for another pile of cash come to my home. I am also told for .25 I can kill him with a bullet (not possible). I need to know how to euthanize my dog on my own without violence, how to overdose him on dog or human Rx's or whatever it takes to give him a peaceful passage to the other side. Please help me or direct me to a resource that can. I want both my dog and myself to have this done with dignity and not deal with the mercenary mindset of vets who have lost their heart to care for animals and only want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.  Thank you for whatever, if anything, you can do.

My response: As a grief counselor who also specializes in pet loss, let me say first how sorry I am to learn that you are faced with this most difficult decision. I know from working with hundreds of bereaved animal lovers, this decision carries an enormous weight that once completed, can leave us with feelings of enormous guilt and regret. That is why it's important to weigh and consider all the options available to us before the decision is made, while there is still some time left to plan how and when it is done.

I don't know what, if any, reading you've done about the euthanasia procedure itself, or how much your veterinarian has explained to you ~ but my understanding (and my experience with two of my own dogs) is that when euthanasia is performed, any lethal drugs are administered to a dog intravenously, so as to inflict the least amount of pain and discomfort on the dog and to have the greatest control over the dosage that is given. It is the most humane method of ending the life of a beloved dog. Unless you're able to insert an I.V. catheter into your dog's vein, I don't see how you can do this yourself, even if you did have access to all the drugs you'd need to do it. 

I don't know your financial circumstances, and it is not my place to judge what you can or cannot afford. That is very much an individual decision, and it belongs to you alone. Nevertheless, before you do decide what to do in this situation, I hope you will do some reading to gain an understanding of how a veterinary euthanasia is done, so you'll have a better idea of what you would be paying for. Please keep in mind that this procedure requires a certain degree of skill, training and expertise, not to mention a certain level of caring and compassion, and it does not come for free. Your vet has an office to maintain, equipment and supplies to buy, employees who depend on him or her for their livelihood, gas to put in the car if he or she drives to your home, and so on. None of this is free. Is it really fair to expect your vet to "be there" for you and your dog in one of the most important and difficult moments in the life of your dog and in your own life, too, and not to charge you a fair fee for it? I say all of this not to judge you, my friend, but only to gently encourage you to look at this in a different way.

Here are some articles you may find helpful, as you come to this most difficult decision:

Anticipating the Death of A Cherished Pet

End -of-Life Care for Animals

What Veterinarians Wished You Knew Before Euthanizing Your Pet

Euthanasia: What to Expect

Dog Euthanasia

Private Pet Euthanasia in the Comfort of Home

Pet Loss: Guilt in The Wake of The Euthanasia Decision

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