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Animal Medical Clinic - St. Paul

When is the Right Time?

As a pet owner, knowing when to euthanize a loved pet is not always black and white.  Here at the clinic, we are often asked “how will I know when is it the right time?”  To help answer this question, we often ask people to evaluate the pet’s quality of life.  As quality of life is often a measure of several factors, you as the caregiver will know best in answering this question. 

Factors to consider when judging quality of life:
  • Foremost you will want to look for signs of pain and if it can be controlled by using medication or other therapy recommended by your veterinarian.  There are more options for pain control than there used to be.  Discuss all your options with your veterinarian before deciding you cannot control your pet’s pain.
  • Monitor your pet’s eating and drinking.  You will want to make sure your pet is getting enough nutrients and water.  Discuss diet options and possible fluid supplementation with your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is not taking in what he or she should be.
  • Does your pet have any difficulty breathing?  Are breaths more frequent than normal or labored?
  • Is your pet incontinent frequently?  Is he or she able to get into and maintain their position to urinate or defecate?
  • Is your pet’s hygiene being maintained appropriately?  Maintaining cleanliness is necessary to avoid infection, wounds, and general odor.
  • Monitor how often your pet interacts with you, other family, and enjoys doing favorite activities such as playing with their favorite toy.  Look for signs of isolation and disinterest.
  • Is your pet able to move about with very little assistance?  Does he or she show interest when going for walks?  Can they endure the full distance when out on walks?
  • Last but not least, you will want to keep track of the number of good days as compared to the number of bad days.
If you believe that euthanasia may be best after considering your pet’s quality of life, talk to your pet’s veterinarian before making an appointment to be sure you have all the information you need to make the decision.

Euthanasia Procedure

The details of how euthanasia is preformed may vary from clinic to clinic.  At Animal Medical Clinic, we want this personal experience to be as peaceful as possible, so although we follow a certain protocol, we can alter the procedure to fit your needs.

We prefer an appointment be scheduled so that we have the appropriate staff and time as well as an appropriate environment available with minimal disturbance.  

When you arrive, the receptionist will have a room ready for you and will inquire if you made a decision about what you wish to do with your pet’s remains.  Animal Medical Clinic offers crematory services.  There are two choices for cremation.  One is that your pet’s remains become part of a group cremation.  The second is an individual cremation in which the ashes will be returned to you.  If you wish to be present during the cremation process, that is an option that can be arranged.  Burial is also an option you can choose but is not offered as a service by our clinic. 

Once the decisions are made, the staff will prepare a form for you to sign as well as the final bill.  The form provides legal permission to proceed with the euthanasia and/or cremation.  After the paperwork is signed, the staff will ask if you would like to pay the bill before or after the procedure.  Most people choose before so that they do not have to sign for payment while tears are falling.

We give each caretaker the choice to be present during any or all parts of the procedure.  Some people choose to stay while others choose not to.  The decision is completely up to you. 

A technician will visit your room first to check in, explain the procedure, answer any questions, and find out if you are ready for the veterinarian to begin.

The veterinarian will come in next, answer any questions, and confirm that you are ready.  They will start the procedure by injecting a sedative into the muscle.  After a few minutes, your pet will drift into a sleeping state.  The staff will normally step out and check in periodically while the sedative is working.  Once asleep, the veterinarian will inject the euthanasia solution into a vein and a peaceful death will come in a matter of seconds. 

The staff can prepare locks of hair or an imprint of a paw to help remember him or her.  You and your family are allowed to stay to say final goodbyes for as long as you need.  Once you have exited the room, our staff will prepare your pet’s remains according to your wishes.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 651-690-1564.