Do Dogs Feel Pain When Put To Sleep?

Do Dogs Feel Pain When Put To Sleep?

It can be difficult to know when the time is right to relieve your dog’s suffering. One of the main worries in a pet parent’s head is often, do dogs feel pain when put to sleep? With this concern, many pet parents struggle to make the final call. And, understandably, it can be tough to think clearly when you’re already mourning. But, don’t worry – nobody expects you to have everything together.

There is less of a strain on yourself if you prepare in advance for the euthanasia process and know what to expect. It’s natural for pet parents to seek guidance when it comes to this solemn time. So, do dogs feel pain when put down? Read on with us to find out more about this difficult topic.

Do Dogs Feel Pain When Put To Sleep

The euthanasia procedure for dogs is almost completely painless. All your dog feels is a small prick of the needle – after this, the injection is painless. Every dog reacts differently to pain and discomfort, so keep this in mind as you go in for the procedure.

If your dog is already experiencing a painful health condition, be prepared to keep them calm and comforted. It’s very important that your dog is kept calm during the process so that your vet can go through the process as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

What Do Dogs Feel When They Are Put Down?

As with all anesthetics, your dog may experience a brief feeling of dizziness as the dose takes effect. If you can imagine going under general anesthesia for surgery, it is likely similar. Once your dog is unconscious, it will not feel any pain or discomfort associated with the euthanasia drug.

General anesthesia is more than just being asleep, though it likely feels that way. The anesthetized brain cannot respond to pain signals or reflexes.

When Is Euthanasia Right for Dogs?

There are several situations where euthanasia may be best for your furry friend. These include persistent inability to eat, being in chronic pain and discomfort, an inability to move around freely, and inability to participate in family activities. If your dog no longer enjoys playing with their toys or spending time with you and seems to be existing without enjoying life, a difficult call may be in order.

Should Your Dog Be Euthanized at Home or Away?

By planning your pet’s euthanasia, you save yourself extra stress when it comes to the procedure. One of the most important decisions to make is whether to have the procedure done at home, or at the veterinary clinic. When discussing if dogs feel pain when put to sleep, it may be comforting to know that there is more than one option for your pet’s comfort.

At Home

The main advantage of at-home euthanasia is privacy. Pet parents can grieve alone rather than in front of other pet owners. They also don’t need to worry about driving or walking home while grieving after the procedure. Other advantages include keeping your pet comfortable in their own home, and no car ride that could possibly stress them out.

There are disadvantages to at-home euthanasia, however. The main issue is the lack of control over the environment. In someone’s home, the lighting may be poor. Your vet may have difficulty finding a vein, potentially drawing out the process for them. A drug may not work as expected. And, at-home euthanasia can be more expensive in some cases.

At The Clinic

The main advantage of euthanasia in the vet clinic is a controlled environment. Your vet will have access to everything they need. The other advantage of euthanasia in-clinic is the case of needing to go for emergency euthanasia.

At-home euthanasia works best when you can plan in advance and have time to do so. If your pet suddenly becomes extremely unwell and requires euthanasia quickly, you will need to make an emergency appointment with your vet in the clinic.

The downside to euthanasia at the clinic is, of course, a potential lack of privacy. While your vet will afford you the privacy you need with your pet, you may still need to be around other pet owners as you arrive and leave. This can be distressing for some, as it is a very emotional time.

What to Prepare Before Euthanasia

If possible, it’s best to book your pet’s appointment towards the end of the day. With this, fewer people will be in the waiting room, and you will have more privacy. When in the consultation room, your vet may require the help of a vet nurse or assistant to carry out the procedure. If you have a favorite nurse at your clinic, you may ask if it is possible for them to be there.

Many practices will allow you to pay in advance for your pet’s euthanasia. In other cases, they may allow you to make the payment after a few days. It’s also best to make a decision about aftercare beforehand so that you can notify your vet of your wishes.

Many veterinary practices work with companies that will arrange for cremation. This may be individual or communal as per your wishes. In most cases, these companies can pick up your pet from the hospital themselves.

What to Expect During Euthanasia

In most cases, an indwelling catheter is inserted into your pet’s vein to make sure that the drug is delivered quickly. The first injection is usually sterile saline to make sure that the catheter is correctly placed. If your dog is stressed or in extreme pain, a sedative will be administered next.

Then, a single dose of a drug used for euthanasia will be given. The solution is usually barbiturate, the same type of drug uses for general anesthesia. This drug may appear bright pink or blue – this is for safety so that anyone can tell at a glance what drug is in the syringe.

As the drug is administered, your dog will lose consciousness quickly, just as they would when going under general anesthesia for surgery. However, the drug also acts to stop the heart and lungs humanely as well.

Since your dog is unconscious at this point, it will not feel anything. Most times, dogs pass away so quickly and smoothly that it can be difficult to tell when they have passed. Sometimes, a pet undergoing euthanasia will give a few last breaths after passing away.

This is normal, and the result of involuntary muscle contractions. Along with this, as your pet’s muscles relax, they may urinate or defecate or show some muscle twitching. This is completely normal and part of the process – your dog will not feel discomfort or distress at this point and will have already passed.

What to Expect After Euthanasia

Know that after your dog has passed, they may still twitch or urinate and defecate. Their eyes will also stay open. These are not signs that your pet is still alive, or that your dog is feeling pain, so be prepared for these things to happen as you say your goodbyes.

Once your pet has passed peacefully, your vet may step out of the room to give you some time alone with them. This is an emotional time, and the staff at the veterinary hospital will allow you privacy. Know that you are in a safe environment where others understand what you are going through.

You may stay for as little or as long as you need. If you have already made your payment and aftercare arrangements, you can simply leave when you feel ready.

Grieving the Loss of Your Dog

Your pet is a part of your family. So, it’s perfectly normal and understandable to grieve when your dog passes away. Give yourself permission to mourn your loss and understand that it will take time to heal. Oftentimes, sharing your grief with family and friends is helpful during this difficult time.

If you’re having a hard time with the loss of your beloved pet, don’t be afraid to seek comfort and reassurance from others. Grief looks different for everyone, and there is no right or wrong way to go through it. Know that your pet would thank you for relieving their suffering and that you did the best thing for them.

So hold me now just one more time

and let me hear you say,

because you care so much for me,

you’ll let me go today.

“May I Go Now?” by Susan A. Jackson

It’s never easy saying goodbye to your beloved pet. It’s tough to think clearly when you’re grieving such a loss. But rest assured that the process is almost completely painless and is peaceful and that dogs do not feel pain when put to sleep.