Being present for your pet’s euthanasia

February 12, 2024by sacvalleyvet

Being present for your pet’s euthanasia

Sacramento Valley Veterinary Services

Sacramento In Home Pet Euthanasia

Sacramento Mobile Pet Euthanasia

The time has come. You have made the decision to move forward with humane euthanasia for your pet. As if making the decision and the appointment wasn’t hard enough, now begs the question, should I be present when I put my pet to sleep? Should my other pets be present? And the toughest of all for some… should my children be present? These are all completely valid questions as we love our pets and families and want to do right by them.  Before we dive into any of this, none of us at Sacramento Valley Veterinary Services claims to have psychiatric training. We know that only you can decide what is right in your situation and we are here to support your choices. From our years of experience and in our daily practice, we have acquired a fair amount of experience with the process of euthanizing pets and we have born witness to the storm of emotions that can surround this difficult process. We personally are pet owners, animal lovers, mothers, daughters, and friends.  The advice you will find here stems from that and from the bottom of our hearts, we hope it helps you.

Let’s start with deciding if your other pets in the household should be present for the euthanasia. We feel this decision is most dependent on the demeanor of the animals that will remain in the household and the animal that is experiencing his or her final moments. If the surviving pet(s) can remain calm and not distract from the peace and attention you or your pet needs in their final moments, we think it is perfectly acceptable for them to be present. If other pets in the household are rambunctious, vie for your attention, are aggressive or protective, it is best to keep them in another room until your appointment is complete. Remember, for the pet being euthanized, these are his or her final peaceful moments. If you have decided that it is best not to have your surviving pet(s) present, you are welcome to bring them into the space after your pet has passed. While they may not cognitively understand what has happened, we know animals feel depression and grief and we can absolutely accommodate giving other pack-mates an opportunity to say good-bye.

Next, we will briefly go into whether you should or should not be present for your pet’s euthanasia. This question can stir up a lot of emotions and judgement. Most frequently, owners want to be present when they say good-bye. Some owners want to be present until their pet is peacefully sedated, then choose to step away during the euthanasia injection. Our opinion is that this is personal and we are here to facilitate your wishes. Adults can have personal relationships with death, dying and sickness. People’s mental status, life situations, and past experiences are all unique and can shape how they feel they can best navigate this loss. We have entered this niche part of veterinary medicine to support animals and their people through this delicate time, we are here to help you feel safe and respected in your choices.

Lastly, a very common question we are asked is “should my kids be present when we put our pet down?” We know all children are unique and some are more prepared to emotionally manage the process of letting go more gracefully than others. While you know your child(ren) best, we do feel that most children are far more capable of understanding the subject of death and dying than we give them credit for. Some people may have their family pet euthanized while the kids are away without advising them. While we stand firm in a place of no judgement, we do not recommend this as it can create confusion and resentment. We do recommend discussing the truth about what is happening and then making that decision with them about being present. We recommend giving children space for emotions they will feel. While watching a child grieve the loss of a family member is heartbreaking, we do recommend honesty and helping your child foster a healthy relationship with death and grief, as it is a part of life.

Making decisions like these can be completely overwhelming and different areas of the family unit can bring different emotions. Sometimes we get so concerned with making the wrong decision it can complicate decisions that come from your heart…which are usually right.  If you are having difficulty knowing who should or should not be present for your pet’s passing, we recommend looking to trustworthy friends and family members but remember, you know your family better than anyone. Trust yourself. If you need someone to talk to about your unique situation or if you would like to know about our past experiences, please do not hesitate to ask.

Ashley Froschauer, RVT


West Coast Memorial Services

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine

Service Locations:

Arden, Downtown Sacramento, Elk Grove, Florin, Freeport, Galt, Herald, Isleton, Land Park, Lock, Lockeford, Lodi, Meadowview, Midtown Sacramento, North Laguna, Oak Park, Rancho Murieta, Rancho Cordova, Rosemonet, Ryde, Sloughhouse, South Sacramento, West Sacramento, Wilton

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