Euthanasia as a subject for discussion is a potential minefield . It is a very personal issue for everyone involved. Euthanasia originates as a Greek word and refers to a gentle or kind death. As a veterinarian I always try to make this procedure as gentle,kind and as peacefull as possible. We always give an injection of analgesic and sedative as the initial part of the process. When the patient is very relaxed we place an i/v line and tape it in place. I always use an i/v line because barbiturates are very acidic and consequently very painfull if you are not entirely sure that all the medication is going into the vein. Barbiturates in various formulations are used as general anaesthetics. Essentially we are putting the patient under general anaesthesia but then deliberately overdosing and thereby ensuring a gentle and peacefull loss of life.
As a practicing veterinarian I have been asked on more than one occasion how I can do this procedure. Simply when done properly and when it is warranted I feel that I am offering an escape from illness and suffering . We always encourage owners to be there althought this can be very difficult. In my opinion they need to see that there is no discomfort or pain. This is helpfull later because generally owners experience remorse and if you know that your pet passed away peacefully it is much easier to deal with personal feelings.
For some pets it is truly a gift and being involved with the owners and the pet at this time can be difficult but is also an honour and a privilege. There are far more troublesome cases which can cause pain and discomfort for myself and for all my colleagues and that is simply convenience euthanasia . As a veterinarian I always find convenience euthanasia uncomfortable and disturbing.There is no black and white as some owners are incapable of giving the care required due to lack of time, arthritis, and or the expense involved.
One last point I would like to bring up is simply the question everyone asks of themselves. When is it time? This is an intensely personal issue and I always advise that you need to feel it in your heart. You need to feel that your pets quality of life is being seriously compromised .We all find it easier to make decisions for others. Try and pretend that your beloved pet is your friends or your sisters. Then ask yourself what it is you would advise. Finally you yourself need to make a decision not someone else for you. Sometimes owners find this very difficult and the only one that suffers is their pet . Euthanasia is never easy and should not be used as an easy option.