Euthanise a dog

Black and grey dog put to sleep.

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Making an appointment to euthanise your dog

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

From where to take your dog when it's time to put it to sleep to how to talk to a vet about this, here we cover everything about the difficult decision to have your pet euthanised.

Putting your dog to sleep (euthanasia) is probably the most difficult decision you'll make as pet owner.

Here you'll find helpful information on how to contact a vet and how to make this situation as painfree as possible for your dog – and for you.

Do I need an appointment to euthanise my dog?

It helps to book an appointment in advance. The vets can prepare and allow adequate time and space for you and your pet. However, in an emergency situation you can go to the vets immediately – calling when you are on your way will help the practice to prepare.

Euthanasia is the formal term for putting your pet to sleep. Making the decision to say goodbye to your beloved pet is often very difficult and it is normal to experience a whole range of emotions. The veterinary team will help guide you through this process to help you make the best decision for your pet. There is also pet bereavement counselling support, and you can ask your practice for more information on who to contact.

If you think the time has come to put your pet to sleep, making a euthanasia appointment is usually possible by phone. If you have any questions or worries about what to expect, get in touch with your practice for a chat.

Can you ask the vet to put your dog down?

You can speak to a vet about putting your dog to sleep. The vet will have a respectful conversation with you, which might include discussing alternative options if appropriate and will then explain the process to you.

A vet is not obliged to put a healthy pet to sleep unless the specific case falls under a statutory obligation (such as aggressive behaviour). If you have concerns about keeping your pet for any reason, including behavioural, financial or personal circumstances, do not hesitate to ask your vet practice for advice as they will be able to guide you on what options are available to you.

Where do I take my dog to be put to sleep?

A vet practice will be able to put your dog to sleep at the practice, or you can usually arrange for a vet to come out to your home. You can contact them to ask any questions about the process or if you have any concerns. Staying with your pet during the euthanasia is usually possible, and you can ask the practice about this beforehand so you know what to expect.

Do dogs feel pain when euthanised?

Many owners worry about how their dog will feel when they are put to sleep. We want our pets to feel comfortable and loved, and the vet will also want to make the experience as calm as possible for them and you. Most dogs will be given a high dose of an anaesthetic, which is painless and will make them drift off into deep sleep before they pass away. There may be a moment of discomfort when the injection starts, but a vet may choose to use local anaesthetic or sedation if your dog becomes distressed at all. The process is usually very quick, but can take a different length of time for each individual and some pets show signs of dreaming or snoring before they pass away. Please always feel that you can ask a vet questions before, during and after your pet is put to sleep.

What is the average cost to have your dog put to sleep?

For any financial queries, please contact your local practice. They are used to owners enquiring about fees and will be able to answer your questions. If there are any financial constraints relating to payment for euthanasia, you can ask your practice for advice.

How do I know when it's time to euthanise my dog?

There is no right answer to deciding when the right time is to put your dog to sleep. It depends on their quality of life, including how much enjoyment they are getting from daily activities, whether they are experiencing any pain and if they have underlying health conditions. If you are starting to think about euthanasia, you can make an appointment to speak to a vet for guidance. You can book an appointment with a vet to discuss euthanasia at any time, even if you want to wait for a while longer to put your dog to sleep.

How do I talk to a vet about euthanasia?

Do not worry about raising the topic of euthanasia with a vet. A vet is used to discussing emotional topics with owners and will be ready to answer any questions you may have and give guidance if necessary. If you want to know more about what to expect when a pet is euthanised, you can chat to them during a consultation or ask to speak to a vet on the phone.

Is it ethical to euthanise your dog?

Everyone has their own personal framework for what they consider to be ethical. However, in the UK veterinary profession euthanasia is considered an ethical and painless way to end the suffering of an animal. It is also considered unethical to leave a pet to suffer, particularly if alternative treatment options are not possible.

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