What actually happens when I put my pet to sleep?

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  • April 18, 2013

The following describes the euthanasia procedure. If you do not wish to read about this please leave this page now. 

The procedure is performed by the veterinarian.  In most circumstances we will sedate your pet so they are able to relax and become a little sleepy before the injection.  Sometimes an IV catheter may be placed, and an intravenous injection of a concentrated anesthetic is given (acts as an overdose). In general it is very rapid and very peaceful. Your pet will just go to sleep. On rare occasions their may be brief vocalization or cry as consciousness is lost. This is not a cry of pain although you may misinterpret it as such. If your pet has poor circulation or low blood pressure, it may also take a few moments longer for the injection to work.

Within seconds of starting the injection the overdose will cause the heart to stop and any circulation within the body will stop. As the heart stops and the blood pressure decreases the animal will stop breathing and the pet will die peacefully.

Once your pet has died you may observe some involuntary muscle contractions or respiratory gasps – again this is not evidence of pain or consciousness  The bladder and/or bowel may empty in the absence of muscle tone.