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It’s Hard to Say Goodbye – Humane Euthanasia

There is a time when we all have to make a decision regarding the quality and future of our pet’s life. Humane euthanasia is a term we use when we humanely end a pet’s life. In small animal veterinary medicine, this is usually performed with the use of injectable medications.

It is tough to say goodbye to our furry friends. Many of them have been with us through stressful situations in our lives as well as celebratory times. They have seen us through our best and worst and everything in between. Although it is difficult to say goodbye, it is essential to keep in mind that when the time comes, you will be making an important decision and doing the last, best thing for your pet. We all struggle with the decision-making process.

Most of us feel that we are either making the decision prematurely or perhaps have waited too long. These are normal thoughts. Myself, I try to assess the number of bad moments vs the number of neutral or good moments through the day. Are we able to meet pain management needs? Is our pet still enjoying our presence? Are we able to treat him medically and helpfully in some fashion still? If the answers to these questions are in the negative, then it is likely time to consider humane euthanasia and warrants further consultation with your veterinary care team.

Many people have questions about the process of euthanasia. Typically, it is performed in the hospital however some veterinarians will offer home visits. Often a sedative is injected into the muscle tissue to relax them before the procedure. The sedation process takes between 5 and 15 minutes, and many clients comment that they haven’t seen their pet that relaxed in a long time. After sedation, a small area is shaved over one of the legs where a vein can be found. Subsequently, an overdose of an anesthetic agent is injected into this vein. It renders them unconscious, stops their heart, then their breathing. It is not a painful procedure, and it is typically quite rapid.

There are other things to keep in mind which you may find unusual. They do not close their eyes. They may lose control of bladder and bowels. Sometimes they gasp and sometimes twitch their muscles. These are all normal events that may or may not occur during the euthanasia process.

In Summary, being informed regarding when it is time to euthanize your pet, what the process is and what to expect will make it easier to make an informed decision. If you have any questions at all reach out to your veterinary care team.

Written by Rob Doucette, DVM

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The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

Pets can get lost which can be a traumatic and possibly tragic event.  It’s important to have a collar and ID tag, but these are not foolproof.  Collars can break or fall off leaving your pet unidentifiable. This can be prevented with the use of a microchip. As noted in the Dartmouth Tribune in April 2017: A pet is lost every seven seconds One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime Only 2 percent of lost cats and 17 percent of lost dogs with ID return home When a pet gets lost, they are 20 times more likely to make their way back home when they have a microchip A microchip is a small chip that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is no bigger than a grain of rice and implanted just under the surface of your pet’s skin.  The process is similar to receiving a vaccination through a needle and is virtually painless to pets.  Once implanted, the microchip remains between the shoulder blades just beneath the skin for the rest of the animal’s lifetime, becoming a permanent form of identification. Since it’s under your pets’ skin it can’t break or fall off like a collar or tag. The chip is powered by a scanner which sends a signal to the chip and receives the identification number stored on it.  A vet or shelter can use the scanner to read your pet’s chip.  With the identification number, your pet’s information is a phone call away. When your pet is microchipped, it is linked to a database with your contact info.  It is essential that you register the microchip and ensure your contact information is kept up to date.  If you move or change phone numbers be sure to update your information.  Microchips are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they depend on the information you provide. If you want to improve your chances of getting your pet back home quickly and safely microchipping is highly recommended.   Written by Tracy LeFler, Site Coordinator Edited by Janis Wall, RVT

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