Euthanasia Methods

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Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 2:29 pm

A lot of pet owners have a hard time staying for the euthanasia. What I always sugest to clients who are struggling to make that kind of decision is to stay for the sedation and leave once their pet is unconscious.

I think its extremely unfair for a pet to spend their last few moments with total strangers. "Drop off euths" always rubs me the wrong way... sorry to sound harsh... though I do understand. A few days ago, someone dropped off a 21 yr old cat to be put down. Yup, 21. Her father died the same day two years ago so we understood how she couldnt deal with another death but still, we felt bad for the cat.

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 4:06 pm

I always stay right there with my animals. As much as it hurts to see them go, it would hurt me more to think of them with strangers.

You are my sunshine

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 4:16 pm

CP, I'm glad you brought up this difficult subject. It's important and needs to be discussed. The best time to educate oneself about this procedure is long before you need it, not during an emotional crisis.

So, thanks for this. I think to have an IM sedative before the actual heart stick is a gentle and humane way to go.

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Piggie Power

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 4:36 pm

Yes, I know the right thing is to stay with them. But it takes courage. I hope I manage to find that courage, but I do hope I get to wait a bit longer....When I had mine pts, I spent time in the room with them and then my vet took them in the back. I guess it was leaving them, but I didn't look it as just dropping them off. I was in another room when it happened. This is why this thread was good for me to read. I am trying to see what does happen and how to deal with it, as I have decided not to leave my pets alone again. I like the idea of a vet coming to the house and the posting of the kitty in the grass really got to me...


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:24 pm

Believe it or not, what made me think about the way piggies are PTS was after watching a 4 months old sea lion fetus struggle to die. The mom had aborted but unlike most cases of abortions, this fetus was completely intact (placenta, amniotic sac/fluid, umbellical cord, etc) and alive. Knowing it'd die by suffocating to death, our vet tried to euthanize it. First by injecting thru the umbellical cord. Of course, there is an artery and a vein in the cord and after 5 minutes of still being alive, it was obvious she hit the artery going away from the fetus to the placenta. By then, there was no more blood pressure to try again so she went for a heart stick. She misses and the soln goes "SQ". Then she refuses to try again, commenting that a cardiac stick is very painful. The fetus flinched when she stuck her.

Poor thing took more than half and hour to die. Haunts me forever.

catz- The whole process (usually) isnt as bad as yu may think it is. A lot of times, it brings peace to the owners to see their beloved pets drift away so peacefully. I have assisted in many many euths and it is very rare to see anything go wrong, esp in cats and dogs. Almost always, they drift away within seconds (like 5 to 10).
Last edited by ChunkyPiggies on Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

You can quote me

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:26 pm

CP, ditto everyone else; thank you for opening this discussion. I for one did not know they hated the iso that badly and struggled to that extent. If we are ever faced with this we will certainly insist on an IM sedative first.

If you don't have access to someone who can place a cath, is there no other way to deliver the pink fluid than via a heart or liver stick? Even fully sedated, that is a horrible image in my mind.


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:37 pm

A cathether placement isnt neccesary. You just need a vet who can hit a piggy vein.

The truth about placing cathether is that it is there for the sake of the VET. It makes the process easier for vets, esp those who cant hit a vein (and there are many, simply because the techs do all the vein poking). Its a dreaded thing for a vet to be in front of a hysterical owner and a weak, near death patient with no blood pressure and stand there poking around, praying for a vein. If a cathether is there already, all they have to do is pump the solution in. It is simple and headache free, for both the vet and the owner (who doesnt have to watch their animal get poked and poked).

For a weak, small animal, its pretty easy to fully sedate them from a simple IM injection and I personally dont think they feel very much. I've seen a hamster, a rat and a bunny go this way and none of them even flinched. If a vein isnt an option, I think a heart stick while sedated is the best way to go.

Most vets dont do a liver stick because of the chance of missing it. You can draw blood back to verify that you hit a heart. With the liver, that doesnt work. A lot of times, heart and liver sticks become semi-"SQ". The solution ends up in the peural or peritoneal cavity, which is why sometimes it takes longers for an animal to die. I dont think its painful... just not the usual 5 to 10 seconds.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:44 pm

With pigs and my vet, the liver is the best and fastest way to go. It takes milliseconds but I probably wouldn't just trust any vet. I agree about the iso as that is how Kringle went and he seemed confused and scared.

Regarding the cathether, my dog squeeled and cried and struggled for a good 5-10 seconds while the sedative was going in. The pink juice came after and he was still crying I think. It was just awful and I couldn't wait for it to be over. It was my understanding in talking with someone else that the cathether was probably not in correctly and the medicine leaked and stung him.


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:53 pm

Yes it sounds like the cathether wasnt in correctly and the two solutions went in subcutaneously. I was told that the soltuon stings. Plus when the euthasol goes in SQ, it takes a few minutes for it to take effect.

I'm very sorry you went thru something like that.

BTW, I hope this wasnt Dr R that did that. Vets just dont do cathether and vein stuff much but if a cathether was kinked or not in, you can usually feel and/or see it. Not to mention the correct way of making an IV injection is to pull back for a flash first to ensure that you are in the vein.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 7:57 pm

No, it was the emergency hospital in Tustin. I should have waited but I didn't know better.


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:08 pm

Well, some things you just can't wait. Chances are, even with things not going as smoothly as it should, you still did your dog a favor. Usually, when an animal dies "naturally", they're pretty agonal..

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Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:19 pm

When anything dies "naturally" its awful to watch. Its agonal and its not quick. I've had patients "actively" dying for 24 hours. One lasted 48 hours. Her face during those last moments still haunts me to this day.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:23 pm

He was unconscious and I couldn't even rouse him with oxygen that time. I let him sleep as it was peaceful and then in the middle of the night decided I wanted to help him crossover. I didn't expect him to wake up at the hospital. Wish I had a crystal ball.


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:07 pm

Her face during those last moments still haunts me to this day.

I know exactly what you mean. Dying isnt pretty. They gasp and twitch and struggle, sometiems for hours. Its so awful. It makes me wish that euthanasia was an option for humans. I dont think I would ever want to "die naturally". Nature can be mean.

Get on your bike.

Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:13 pm

Isn't it just the brain stem going though? Obviously I don't know what it's like but I have to believe nature compensates for pain in that instance.

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Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:24 pm

I know as the brain dies it kicks off endorphins so there is little to no pain actually associated with death.

But cheyne-stoking and agonal breathing, eye hemmorhages and seeing a loved one blue... sorry to be frank... is AWFUL. I really wish it was legal for humans also. I think in Oregon it still is, last I heard. When I go to the rainbow bridge (forget heaven :)) and I'm dying, someone better Digoxin bolus me or shoot a cc of insulin in my belly button (the way most "angels of mercy" do it). or just let my morphine gtt run wide open!!!!

(Or when I am older, but in good health, let me get hit by a truck, knocked into the other world, but still maintain brain function so I can be divided up and be a donor!)


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:24 pm

I'm not too sure. I like to think so. I know that usually after that, they go brain dead. There had been times when an animal goes agonal but the owner wants us to revive. If we are able to revive, they usually dont have an eye reflect anymore (where you tap the eye duct area and watch for a blink), which means they are braindead. I like to th ink that they are at least semi unconscious. But it looks awful nonetheless. The gasping and clawing and tightening muscles and twitching. Nightmares forever.


Post   » Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:28 pm

LOL kermie. I think you mean heart/lung function. Your brain can be as dead as can be.. but your organs need blood and oxygen to be nice and donatable.

Speaking of nightmares.. the other night, I had a dream that I temporarily died and I was having a little chat with god. And the only "secret to life" he was willing to spill to me was that I have intestinal worms and that I should look into that. *sigh* I think I havebeen reading one too many fecal floats.

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Post   » Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:16 am

Chunky: (I feel so funny typing that! :))

Kindly insert "stem" after brain in my last post! Just enough to keep me clinically alive and oxygenated! :)

There had been times when an animal goes agonal but the owner wants us to revive. I can not tell you how many times that happens with my patients. I understand not being able to let go of a loved one... but I just feel like we are torturing someone when we have to run an hour long code on a near brain dead patient. (although it is pretty cool when the family decides to allow organ donation and we have a clinically dead patient with a heart beat (external pacing) and breathing (vent-ed). To keep organs viable til the transplant team arrives) It is an amazing and tearful flurry of activity as all the helicopters come in!

Do you use a scale like Glasgow coma or pain reflexes or just the cranial nerve tests? Another random ?... do animals get "dolls eyes?" It's mean, but I love showing the new grads dolls eyes for the first time!


Post   » Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:26 am

I can not tell you how many times that happens with my patients. I understand not being able to let go of a loved one... but I just feel like we are torturing someone when we have to run an hour long code on a near brain dead patient.

We had a cat go agonal, then die. The owner insist on us trying to keep it alive. He was 40 mins away and wanted to see his cat alive. We must have stuck the cat with epinephrine three times, did CPR four times. After 30 minutes of this, the cat was braindead (no eye reflex) and just 5 minutes before the owner got there, we declared the cat dead. The poor thing only had a ventricular twitch from the epi rather than real heart beats (he was on an ECG).

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