Euthanasia and AftercareEuthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions anyone can ever make for a pet who is a beloved companion. Although the decision is demanded by humanitarian obligation, it is often intimidating and traumatic for the person who must finally make it. Aside from being the right thing to do, euthanasia can be a psychological nightmare of confusion, guilt and even final responsibility.As a pet owner, none of us like to think of the day, seemingly far in the future, when we must say good-bye to our pet. Though the thought may briefly skim through our minds from time to time, we seldom dwell on it. It is natural to feel we have a lifetime to enjoy our dear pets. Unfortunately, because their lives are far shorter than ours, we must always be ready to face this difficult decision.

The more you educate yourself about euthanasia — ahead of time — the less likely you will be to question the decision or procedure, afterward. This can help prevent those feelings of wishing you had done some things differently, and it may relieve some of the guilt that inevitably follows. Making the decision to euthanize your pet can involve conflicting emotions.

Deciding When the Time Is Right

The decision when to euthanize is as individual and personal as you and your pet are. This is a judgment that only you can make, and it involves great personal courage and sacrifice. Many people fear they will not be able to recognize when the time is right. Do not hesitate to seek guidance from your veterinarian. It is good to include family members or friends who share a close bond with your pet in the decision-making process. This is a time when you will need the support of those who truly understand.

Making the Appointment

Once you have made the decision to euthanize your pet, the next step is making the appointment. It is important to consider the time of day and the day of the week. You will need time before and after to deal with your emotions.

Discuss your options with our client service team to be sure you are choosing what is best for you and your pet. Generally appointments are scheduled at the beginning or end of scheduling block to ensure that you and your pet have the doctor and technician’s full attention, and that there is less traffic going through the clinic.  This also allows us to offer a variety of times so that you may select which is most convenient for you and your family.  Elected euthanasia is generally a quick and peaceful procedure, which allows your pet to be put to sleep virtually pain-free.

The Euthanasia Process

A sedative will be administered intramuscularly, relaxing the pet, and literally putting it to sleep.  The administration of the sedative can sting slightly; however, the discomfort is brief and temporary.  Next the euthanasia solution is given intravenously.  As the euthanasia solution is being administered, the pet’s muscles will relax and the heart will stop beating. It is a very fast-acting medicine, and most owners are surprised at how quickly the euthanasia solution takes affect.

Some pet owners initially think they will be more comfortable if they do not observe their pet’s final moments.  This is a decision that each owner must make and there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to saying goodbye to your beloved pet.

Saying Goodbye

Before these final moments, you will have to consider how you would like to say goodbye. You may be present for the process, and decide to do this before your pet enters the room, or just prior to the procedure.

As emotionally traumatic as it is, most pet owners feel they need to be present the entire time, hold their pet, and say their farewells during the euthanasia procedure. Most people spend private time with their pets before, as well as after the euthanasia process is completed.

Aftercare Options

There are several options for aftercare of your pet’s body. These are always influenced by financial and personal considerations, or religious beliefs. When you call to schedule your appointment, the available options will be discussed, and your choices recorded.

Cremation: Gull Lake Animal Hospital will hold the body until a prearranged pickup service retrieves it for cremation. This option enables you to keep your pet’s ashes in an urn or other special container in your home, or in an environmentally friendly urn for burial.  The cremains are returned in the pre-selected urn or container along with your pet’s clay paw print. You may also select special or individualized urns at an additional cost for your pet.  (See web link for Partridge Enterprises for more details and options).

Gull Lake Animal Hospital will make the arrangements and notify you when you can expect to have the ashes returned. Generally, pet owners are surprised at the small quantity of cremains that are returned. For example, a 75 pound dog’s ashes will fill a space equivalent to about half a shoe box.

You may also elect to have your pet cremated without having the cremains returned.   This is an option that is affordable, and convenient for those who do not have area in their yard to bury their pet at home.

Burial: Gull Lake Animal Hospital will prepare your pet for you to take home, if it is allowed, and you decide to bury your pet in the yard, keep in mind that one day you may relocate to a new home. Burial at home is preferred by many, but may not be practical, or permitted, in your area. Be sure to check your local zoning restrictions.

Pets Bereaving Pets

Losing a pet affects not only the people, but can also upset other pets in the home. The makeup of your family has changed with the loss of your pet, and you may notice that your surviving ones may also experience grief. Sometimes you will observe crying, loss of appetite, looking for the missing pet, oversleeping, house-soiling mistakes, even disobedience. The adjustment to a new hierarchy within the home can also be a cause of change in behavior. If you feel the surviving animal is bereaving offer a special treat, a new toy — and most of all, extra attention from you. The grief should diminish over time, as does our own. It has been observed that the distress of pets is almost invariably made easier and briefer if they can observe and sniff the body of the deceased companion.


Payment is due when services are rendered at Gull Lake Animal Hospital.  Our client service team can discuss options such as Care Credit that can help alleviate the financial burden of having your pet euthanized and cremated.

Web Links  (Preparing for Pet Loss)  (Cremation Company)