A closeup of an owner holding their dog's paw.

How To Handle Putting Your Dog Down

6 mins |

We all know our animal buddies can’t stay with us forever, though it would be great if they could. There comes a time when you must decide whether to put your pet to sleep, so you may ask yourself, how do you handle putting your dog down?

You must start planning and preparing for this hard process and prepare everyone around you, especially children. You’ll need to talk to your veterinarian about putting your dog down and will need to find ways to heal after their loss. This can include exercise, doing a favorite hobby, and talking to others. During the euthanasia process, if you decide to be present, stay calm and joyful, so your pet’s final moments are the same.

Preparing To Say Goodbye To Your Pet

A pet lover would undoubtedly never want their pet to suffer. Saying farewell to a pet that has become a family member over the years is never easy. 

You should never make a rushed final decision to put your pet to sleep. It can be emotionally taxing, especially if you consider how difficult life would be without your pet, which brings you joy. 

Euthanizing a pet causes pain, so be ready for the day you have to say goodbye to reduce that pain.

It would be preferable to maintain your composure and adopt an optimistic outlook. Recall the pleasant times you’ve had with your pet. Analyze the need for euthanasia and consider how it might benefit your pet. 

Although it is difficult to accept, death is unavoidable and might happen sooner than expected as well.

You should speak with the vet and inquire about the process’s details to get ready for pet euthanasia. Asking how it is done is crucial because it will help you make the best choice and ensure your beloved pet’s death will be more painless for you.

Pets should be buried in the most honorable manner possible, just like humans. Consider in advance how aftercare will be handled, such as burial and cremation, as part of your planning. 

The Procedure

The most common method of pet euthanasia is the injection of a lethal substance

Your pet can receive a tranquilizer first from your doctor to help them relax.

Your pet will instantly fall deeply and permanently unconscious after receiving the euthanasia medication injection because it ceases brain activity. It is a painless and quick death.

After receiving the medication, your pet may move its legs, head, or mouth multiple times or breathe deeply. However, these actions are reflexes and don’t indicate your pet is in pain or suffering.

How To Explain It To Your Children?

A little girl holding her dog with her mother behind her while the dog lays on a table and gets checked out by the vet.
Everyone here is so strong.

Saying goodbye to a loved one is an important step, so don’t exclude kids from saying goodbye and understanding what is happening. Of course, they do not need all the details, though. 

Talk to your children beforehand and tell them what’s going on in a manner they get and at their maturity level.

Explain that your dog will be at peace. Don’t say the animal will be “put to sleep” if at all possible. Young children may become perplexed by this and fear going to sleep at night.

Coping With Pet Loss

Each person’s grieving process is unique. It can look different, and one may go through phases of experiencing various emotions like sadness, anger, denial, anxiety, numbness, and even guilt

There may be times when the sadness feels unbearable. Following the loss of a beloved pet, depression is a regular occurrence. Daily duties may seem impossible, and you could feel lonely and alone. 

With enough time and healing, you will eventually learn to accept your emotions though. You can start to accept the death of your pet. You won’t experience the same level of profound sadness and emotional suffering when you recall your pet and the time spent with them as you once did. 

Just as every relationship with a pet is different, every loss experience varies. You’ll be more equipped to deal with your emotions and support others in facing theirs if you realize that these are typical reactions.

It is important to reassure loved ones and friends that grieving is understandable and natural in the wake of a loss. 

You might want to talk about these feelings with someone who has been trained to understand the grieving process and who can support and help you as you mourn your loss if you or a family member find it extremely difficult to accept the death of your pet and cannot get rid of feelings of grief and sorrow. 

Also, there are other healthy ways to spend your time after the loss of a pet. These include exercising, doing a favorite hobby, and more.

Getting A New Pet After Loss

You may experience emotional distress when a cherished pet passes away, especially if euthanasia was used. 

Some individuals might think they’d never desire another pet. Some people may consider it intolerable to even consider getting another pet. 

With time, these emotions could fade, though. Others might find that getting a new pet will speed up their grieving process. The choice of when, if ever, to add a new pet to your life is a personal one, just like grieving is.

When an elderly pet reaches an age where their passing can be predicted within a few years, some advise getting a second pet. This can be a really beneficial strategy for acclimating to a new but different pet. 

However, this is a very individual choice, and any additional pets should be brought into the household in a planned way that is respectful of both the other family members and pets.

Getting a new pet before a family member has overcome their grief at the pet’s death may give them the impression that you believe the pet’s existence was not worthy of the grief they are still experiencing. 

You can find a new pet to share your life even if you can never replace the one you lost.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to more questions you may have.

Should You Stay With Your Dog During Euthanasia?

You have sole control over this. Euthanasia is typically a quick and peaceful process, which may soothe you. However, try not to feel guilty if you are unable to observe because your dog may become upset if you are sad.

Do Dogs Know When They Are Being Put Down?

While dogs aren’t aware they are being put to sleep, they can still react to underlying discomfort when the vet is handling them, feel anxious energy, react to an injection, or even vocalize or have muscular spasms involuntarily.

Sum It Up: How To Handle Putting Your Dog Down?

How to handle putting your dog down? It may be a tough process to deal with. After all, dogs or humans are sociable beings and get attached to and love the beings around us. But feelings fade, and the loving memories persist. 

So, we covered this sad topic of how to handle putting your dog down, and we know it’s a hard one to deal with. We hope everything is going as well as it can with you and your pets, but feel free to let talk about your situation below. After all, it may help to do so.

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.