The decision to end a life is never easy. It is a personal, loving decision to euthanase a pet whose quality of life has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. It takes courage to assume this last duty and it is our last responsibility to a pet who has given us unconditional love and companionship.

Vets don’t exercise this option lightly. Their medical training and professional lives are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals. Vets are keenly aware of the balance between extending an animal’s life and its suffering. Euthanasia is the ultimate tool to mercifully end a pet’s suffering.

Euthanasia is the induction of a painless death and literally means ‘gentle death’. Other terms you may hear are ‘put to sleep’ or ‘put down’. In veterinary practice, it is accomplished by an intravenous injection of a concentrated dose of anaesthetic.

Your animal will not know what is going to happen. They may feel slight discomfort when the needle tip passes through the skin, but this is no greater than for any other injection. The euthanasia solution takes only a few seconds to induce a total loss of consciousness. Soon after, the animals breathing stops and their heart stops beating.

What will happen?

Our vets will allow you to remain with your pet during euthanasia if you wish. We understand that this is a difficult time for you. If you remain calm this will reassure your pet and make the end very peaceful. If you do not wish to be present your vet will allow you to say goodbye to your pet and leave the consulting room.

You may choose to have the vet come to your home to euthanase your pet if you and your pet may find this less traumatic than coming to the surgery.

A final resting place

Your vet will explain the options available to you, which fall in to four main categories: burial at home, burial in a pet cemetery, individual cremation (where the ashes are returned to you in a casket), and communal cremation.

Who to contact for support

Lifeline offer a 24-hour counselling service, local call charge 13 11 14 or visit the website We can also offer help and assistance in a caring and understanding environment.