How to Choose Euthanasia for a Pet

If you're uncomfortable with the idea of having your pet euthanized, it may help to know that you should be uncomfortable. Most people don't find this to be an easy decision. There are times, however, when euthanasia is the best choice not only for your pet, but for your family. The following steps will help you decide whether euthanasia is the right decision for your family pet.

Realize that dogs and cats live for fewer than 20 years (larger dogs even fewer) and small pets usually fewer than 5. At the end of their life, pets can suffer from debilitating arthritis, blindness, deafness and other ailments common to elderly human beings.

Recognize that an ill or injured pet can't understand the reasons for the medical treatment he or she is being subjected to. Ask yourself how much your pet will suffer with daily injections, major surgeries or chemotherapy.

Guard against anthropomorphizing. Your pet is an animal with an animal's small brain. He or she isn't looking forward to one more Christmas with the family nor does he or she want to pass away under a favorite tree in the backyard.

Discuss your plan to euthanize your pet with your family, even small children. Don't use euphemisms like "going to sleep," because a child might be afraid to go to sleep at night. Be clear that you love your pet enough to help end his or her suffering.

Take your pet to the veterinarian. It may seem less traumatic to euthanize him or her at home, but it's often easier for both of you to go to the vet because your pet has learned to be still and accept medical procedures there.

Bring your family if they want to be present. Your vet will allow you to be with your pet while he or she is euthanized or even hold your pet in your arms. You can ask to have some private time with your pet.

Allow yourself and your family members to be upset by your pet's death. Be prepared with tissues for everyone.

Take your pet home to be buried or ask the veterinarian to make arrangements for him or her to be cremated and placed in an urn that you can pick up later. Pet cremation services offer certificates assuring you that the urn contains your pet's cremains. Other options, such as having your pet's ashes used in a sculpture are also available, but require that you plan ahead.

Grieve. Sure, your pet was only an animal and with you a short time, but he or she was a friend and companion to you and your family. You're going to miss your pet. If you need a support group to help you or your family members, ask your veterinarian for a referral.

Get another pet when you're ready. Your desire for a new pet is a testament to how much joy your deceased pet gave you.