Why Dogs Are Euthanized

AlexandraKleinfeldt Release Year: 2017 Animal Legal & Historical Center is the main citation. originating in the United States


This page provides a general overview of animal euthanasia. It describes several legal euthanasia techniques, explains the justifications for animal euthanasia, and provides a list of authorized individuals. The article also discusses state legislation governing animal euthanasia, as well as the moral and ethical conundrums raised by requests to put animals to death.

Animals have always been and continue to be a significant aspect of our lives. Along with monkeys, falcons, lions, and other animals, dogs, cats, and other pets were kept in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians showed their animals the same kind of deep devotion that we show our modern-day pets. Although several very strange animals were kept as pets in ancient Egypt, dogs and cats were the most popular animals. Dogs were often buried with their owners because they were “considered very significant members of the household,” much like they are now. This love went beyond mortal life in the eyes of the ancient Egyptians. The dogs may pass away before the owner actually passed away. Evidence suggests that dogs were occasionally slaughtered after their owners passed away so they may be mummified and buried with them.

Even though the number of animals put to death has decreased since 1970—from about 15 million pets to about 1.5 million animals put to death in shelters, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 2017—euthanasia of animals, particularly companion animals, is a subject of public concern. What does euthanasia mean, though? Euthanasia is described as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly ill or injured creatures (such as persons or domestic animals) in a reasonably painless way for motives of kindness” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. One could argue that by using the term euthanasia rather than killing, we are acting in a way that is morally and ethically acceptable while also feeling better. After all, the word “euthanasia,” which means “happy death,” derives from the Greek word “euthanatos.”

People give a variety of justifications for euthanizing their pet. Others may be based on human concerns such a lack of funds, the pet’s behavioral problems, or practicality. Some of the reasons are extremely valid. Alternatives to euthanasia are, nonetheless, sometimes possible; yet, the owner might not take the time and effort necessary to locate a new home for their beloved animal. It can seem simpler to have the animal put to sleep. While there are many other reasons to put a pet to sleep due to a change in circumstances, the majority of dog and cat owners who request euthanasia cite old age or illness as the primary justifications.

Euthanasia not only puts a lot of pressure on pet owners who must make the decision, but it also raises ethical and moral questions for the veterinarians or shelter staff who carry out the procedure. While veterinarians and animal shelter staff members are primarily focused on assisting and caring for the animals under their supervision, euthanasia requests can require them to act in the other way, depending on the circumstances. The primary cause of animal euthanasia in animal shelters is overcrowding brought on by an abundance of unwanted and abandoned animals. Animals that are “unadoptable” may also be put to death in a shelter. When a pet owner refuses to have their animal put to sleep due to a terminal illness or injury, veterinarians can confront an equally challenging ethical conundrum. In that case, the vet must ensure that the owner takes a well-informed choice that serves the animal’s interests rather than his own in order to spare the animal needless suffering.

Before they can put a pet to death, animal shelters must abide by a number of rules in order to be in compliance with state legislation. This can entail waiting a specified amount of time and notifying registered owners in writing. If the owner is unknown, the animal shelter must publish a notice so that the person can potentially claim their pet. The shelter may put an animal to death if the owner does not come forward within a set amount of time, which might be up to roughly fifteen days depending on the state.

As of right now, 49 states have laws governing the euthanasia of animals. Only a certified veterinarian or technician is permitted to carry out euthanasia. Laws and regulations may specify how to put animals to sleep, but veterinarians may also consult the American Veterinary Medical Association’s best practices for guidance (AVMA). To help veterinarians lessen the “pain and suffering of animals that are to be euthanized,” the AVMA has produced recommendations.

When incorporating the AVMA’s suggestions into their laws, states try to adhere to their rules. The majority of states concur that the most common way to put animals to sleep is with an injection of sodium pentobarbital. Some jurisdictions permit the use of alternate techniques for administering animal euthanasia, such as gas chambers or other chemicals for injection, in addition to adhering to the AVMA recommendations and employing sodium pentobarbital as the usual euthanasia method. As of right now, the usage of gas chambers as a means of euthanasia is either proven or suspected in a small number of states.

Additionally, some jurisdictions passed legislation governing emergency euthanasia to shield people who work in law enforcement from legal action for animal cruelty when they are forced to put a dog down humanely with a gunshot. These situations happen when the dog is harmful and poses a risk to the general public’s health and safety or the safety of another animal. If reasonable but fruitless efforts to find the dog’s owner have been made, a law enforcement official may also be permitted to shoot a dog if further delay would inhumanely prolong the animal’s pain and suffering.

However, a few states have passed legislation requiring at least public shelters to keep euthanasia records and to make such records available either upon request or publishing. Euthanasia statistics are primarily based on voluntary surveys from participating animal shelters. It appears that more and more states may start to adopt that practice and mandate the keeping of data by privately run shelters on the delivery of sodium pentobarbital.

With pet euthanasia, more unanticipated problems appear. Some pet owners attempted to include language in their wills directing the euthanasia of their animals a few decades ago. The owners of companion animals feared that if they passed away, no one would look after their animals. The validity of the testators’ instructions directing the euthanasia of the pets was questioned in court over these wills. Such will clauses have consistently been declared unlawful by the courts as being against public policy. Pet owners no longer have to be concerned about their animals after their passing. To guarantee the pet’s care after the owner’s passing, states have passed pet trust legislation.

The majority of states have passed euthanasia-related legislation, however the laws in each state are very different. While some states have passed legislation that go into great depth about the acceptable euthanasia procedure, others only provide general guidelines for euthanasia without even covering the procedure and the conditions surrounding animal death. State legislatures, however, are still working on euthanasia-related legislation. Some states have recently passed new legislation, issued final rules, or both. Legislators may be compelled to enact more specific legislation for animal euthanasia as the public’s awareness of the issue grows. Additionally, there is an opportunity to lower euthanasia rates by initiatives such increasing animal sterilization, pet owner education, pet medical insurance, and microchipping as more people become aware of animal euthanasia.

Why do we put dogs to death?

Animal euthanasia, which means “good death” in Greek, is the act of killing an animal or permitting it to pass away without receiving intensive medical care. Incurable (and particularly painful) illnesses or ailments, a lack of finances to support the animal, or laboratory test procedures are some of the justifications for euthanasia. The procedures used for euthanasia are intended to be as painless as possible. Although the process is sometimes the same, euthanasia is different from animal slaughter and pest control.

This procedure is frequently referred to in euphemisms like “put down”[2] or “put to sleep” in domesticated animals.


When they are put to death, are dogs afraid?

The awful, awful day when you have to say goodbye is the hardest part of owning a pet. It’s an overused cliché, but pets like cats, dogs, and hamsters grow to become furry little family members, so saying goodbye is never easy—especially when you have to make the difficult decision to put them down.

A vet has revealed what reportedly happens to your pet when animals are put down, which is news that will undoubtedly hurt the hearts of all pet owners.

According to the wildly popular social media post, the “broken-hearted vet recounted how scared pets purportedly look for their owners who have opted to leave the room when they are put down.

“I urge you DO NOT LEAVE THEM,” reads a Facebook post from South African clinic Hillcrest Veterinary Clinic.

Don’t force them to pass from this life to the next in a setting they detest, according to the message, which has been shared more than 88,000 times.

They search for you when you leave them behind, which is something that most of you don’t realize.

They look for their loved one in every face in the room. When they are ill, afraid, elderly, or in the final stages of a cancer attack and need your support, they don’t understand why you abandoned them.

But is this social media post exactly true?

The workings of the euthanasia process and how animals react are described in very different ways by experts at the Blue Cross animal charity, which offers assistance to pet owners.

Despite the fact that the injection can be given to different parts of the body, they claim that euthanasia is typically carried out by injecting an overdose of anaesthesia into the vein of the front leg.

A nurse is shaving a small patch of fur off the dog while it is being handled. Your dog just experiences a small needle prick, after which the injection is painless.

The experts further: “On rare occasions, a dog may whimper as the injection is administered.

Like with all anesthetics, the drug’s initial effects are accompanied by a transient feeling of dizziness. A few seconds later, frequently before the injection is finished, the subject becomes unconscious. After a few minutes, when the heart stops beating, the person dies.

“The veterinarian may provide a sedative first if the dog is nervous or restless, although doing so can make it more challenging to locate a vein and cause the injection to take longer to take effect.

“You can witness reflexive muscular action or involuntary gasps in the moments following death. These are actually reflexes that indicate death has happened rather than evidence of life. The bladder occasionally empties, and the eyes typically remain open.

“The vast majority of euthanasias go cleanly, swiftly, and cause the animal little pain.

The specialists from the Blue Cross also share their thoughts on the subject of pet owners being with their animals during the painful time when they are put to sleep.

They claim that this is totally your decision.

You could find solace in knowing that euthanasia is typically a short and painless procedure.

“Veterinarians and nurses decide to work with animals as their calling. Even when you’re not around, you can count on them to show compassion for your dog.

“I’ve seen that post online before, but I’d argue that labeling pet owners who leave the room as “cowards” is not at all helpful, he added.

“Individuals have their justifications, and it can be really upsetting to witness your pet being put to death; occasionally, people feel that they are unable to handle it. It is a honor of mine to assist pet owners in this trying time because, for the majority of people, the worst thing is the fear of the unknown.

“The term “euthanasia” refers to a “quiet death,” and a veterinarian strives to provide the most tranquil death possible at every stage. In most cases, if the animal is agitated, we will initially use a sedative to ease the pain.

“The animal will feel the sharp scrape of the needle because this is an injection, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about. Although it’s unpleasant, we may calm them down by diverting their attention with rewards.

“We leave the pet and owner together after administering the last dose. Once the animal is completely at ease, it wanders off and passes away painlessly.

“The Facebook post does contain a tiny bit of truth, though. It’s something I’ve occasionally encountered, including once when a dog started whining for its owner. However, it’s not really frequent, and frequently the dog is too ill to even notice if the owner is not around.

“If you’re nervous, ask the veterinarian and nurse what is expected of you before entering the room. Really, it shouldn’t be such a frightening uncertainty.

So maybe don’t believe everything you read on social media, all you pet owners out there. And trust that the majority of veterinary workers are in their positions because they love animals, therefore they will do all in their power to make the process of putting the animal to sleep as painlessly as possible.

Is putting a dog to sleep painful?

Making a choice concerning euthanasia as your cherished pet approaches the end of their life—whether it’s due to the end of their natural lifespan or a fatal illness—can be extremely challenging. Many pet owners are afraid to inquire about such a choice, the procedure itself, or what happens to their animal after death. Even though it’s painful to consider your best friend’s company ending, learning more about the euthanasia procedure and getting ready for the inevitable can make pet euthanasia go more smoothly. If your beloved pet is nearing the end of their life, do them a favor and educate yourself on the euthanasia procedure before hand. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about pet euthanasia that many pet owners are afraid to ask.

Question: What is pet euthanasia?

Answer: Euthanasia is the act of mercifully and painlessly ending a living being’s life to relieve their suffering, frequently due to a terminal illness or deteriorating health brought on by aging. Euthanasia is sometimes referred to as “putting a pet down” or “putting a pet to sleep,” however these terms should not be confused with putting a pet to sleep while under anesthesia. We use the term “euthanasia” to avoid any misunderstanding.

Q: Is letting my pet die naturally better than euthanization?

A: As veterinary professionals, we believe in minimizing pain whenever possible, even if that necessitates putting a pet to sleep. We think it’s nicest to gently euthanize your loving companion and prevent needless suffering that cannot be healed or relieved if your pet is obviously in pain, whether from a terminal illness, geriatric condition, or incurable sickness. However, it is totally normal to let your pet live out its days and die naturally if they appear content and are not in any obvious pain.

Q: What happens during the euthanasia process?

A: An intravenous (IV) pentobarbital injection used in euthanasia usually stops the heart rapidly. Previously a common anesthetic, pentobarbital is now used for euthanasia in massive overdoses. The solution can be administered by a vein for maximum effectiveness; however, a bodily cavity will also function, albeit less quickly.

Prior to giving your pet the euthanasia solution, we may decide to insert an IV catheter, depending on the circumstances. Placing an IV catheter enables simpler venous access, facilitating rapid, painless injections with the least amount of difficulties. To make the procedure easy, stress-free, and calm, we might additionally sedate your pet.

If we sedate your pet, we won’t provide the euthanasia solution until they are relaxed and sleeping soundly next to you. When the solution is injected into a vein, it spreads quickly throughout the body, producing a condition of unconsciousness akin to anesthesia. Then, we merely provide an excessive amount of the solution, which slows down the body’s functions and causes death.

Q: How long does the euthanasia process take?

A peaceful death usually occurs 30 seconds after the intravenous euthanasia medication is administered. However, depending of whether we insert an IV catheter and give anesthesia before lethal injection, the session for your pet’s end-of-life treatment may last 30 minutes or longer.

Q: Does euthanasia hurt my pet?

A: Some animals may howl, moan, or whimper when being put to sleep. Additionally, they could stumble or move in odd ways like paddling their legs or weaving their heads. The euthanasia solution results in these activities. Although the euthanasia procedure itself does not harm, it is comparable to being put to sleep, so your pet may experience strange feelings as they pass out and make strange noises or movements. The strange behaviors brought on by the euthanasia solution’s ability to make people unconscious can frequently be reduced using pre-sedation.

Q: What happens to my pet after euthanasia?

A: After your pet has been put to sleep, you can decide whether to have them cremated or buried at home. There are two types of cremation: private and public. In contrast to community cremation, when the cremated remains are typically strewn at the crematorium garden or park, individual cremation involves receiving your pet’s ashes.

Q: Can my Alisos Animal Hospital veterinarian help me make a decision about euthanizing my pet?

A: From the time your pet was a puppy or kitten until they were elderly, we were involved in their care at every stage. Although you are the expert on your pet, our team is well-equipped with the medical expertise and experience to support you as you make this challenging choice. Contact us for caring assistance.