Why do I sedate the animal before euthanasia?

I often get asked why I sedate the animal prior to euthanasia, and why other vets do not do this.  There are many reasons why I sedate first.

  • The first reason is that I feel it is more humane. It means that the animal is in a deep sleep and not aware of the placement of the catheter into the vein. If the vein is difficult to find and takes a few attempts, the animal knows nothing of this.
  • The sedation is not instant and can take 5-10 minutes for your pet to gradually fall asleep. This means it gives the owner longer with their pet to say their goodbyes and prevents the euthanasia from going too fast. This makes for a smoother experience.
  • It means that the owner can remain with their pet throughout the whole process, rather than being taken away for catheter placement.

What are the cons of sedation?

  • The euthanasia process takes longer, and often vets in practice do not enough time to wait for the animal to fall asleep first. Here at Cherry Tree Gentle Farewells, we allow on average an hour per appointment, but more time can be taken if needed. This means that the client never feels rushed.
  • The sedation can cause the blood pressure to drop as the animal falls asleep and can therefore make it harder to find a vein. At Gentle Farewells the sedation that is used does not cause too much of a drop in blood pressure and a tourniquet is placed on the leg promptly once asleep to try to maintain a vein.