Before You Arrive

Here are some important questions to consider prior to the day of your pet’s euthanasia.

Do you want to be present and if so for how long?

Each pet parent has to decide this for themselves, and there is no right or wrong to this. Some will choose to stay through the whole procedure, some will choose to stay only through the sedation part of the procedure, and some will not stay at all. Whatever you decide to do is very personal and no one here will judge you for your choice. We are here to be as supportive of you as we can in this difficult time.

What do you wish to do afterwards?

This is also a very personal decision, and what happens after your pet has passed away depends on your wishes. There are various options from which to choose. After you have had a chance to look this over, please give us a call and we can help you with the details. For cremation options we work with Hampton Roads Pet Cremation.

  • Group cremation in which your pet would be cremated with other pets that have passed on. You would not be able to get your pet’s ashes back with this choice.
  • Private cremation can also be selected. In this instance your pet would be cremated individually and the ashes would be returned to you within a few days to a week. With this option the ashes are returned in a decorative box. We have some samples you may see. Alternatively, with private cremation, there is a wider selection of urns, boxes, plaques and markers from which to choose if you wish. We have their catalog for you to see if you choose this option.
  • Home burial is an option if you have a place you wish to bury your friend on your own property. This may be subject to legal restrictions, so it is best for you to check with local ordinances first if this is what you wish to do.
  • We understand this is a difficult decision to make. If you need us to hold your pet’s body for a reasonable period of time until you decide, we can make this arrangement as well.
  • Finally, if you wish to have something else done, please let us know and we will help you however we are able.

When You Arrive

Please let us know at this time if you have decided to stay for the whole procedure, part of the procedure, or none of the procedure. Again, you are not required to stay. Some people choose to stay and others choose to leave. It is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong to it.

Getting Scheduled and Checked In

For your privacy, and if it’s not an emergency, we will try to schedule a euthanasia visit at a time when we don’t have many other clients in the hospital. We will often ask you to come around the side of the building so you may enter through the side door. This is to allow you as much privacy as we can by not having you come in through the busy waiting room.

Once you arrive, if you need help bringing your pet inside, we will be happy to assist you. You and your pet will be taken to one of the exam rooms. After an examination and consultation is completed, if not changes are needed, then we will get the clerical work out of the way. This includes:

  • A one-page consent form covering the request to perform euthanasia for your pet, and what you wish to do with your pet’s remains after they have passed
  • We will also ask you for payment at this time. If you have any questions about our payment policy, please ask in advance to avoid any undue stress for yourself under the circumstances.


When all clerical work has been completed, we will begin the actual procedures leading to euthanasia. We will begin by giving your pet a heavy sedative. The goal of sedation is to reduce anxiety and any pain they may be feeling because of their disease, so they won’t care about anything else going on. After it has been given, we generally allow five to fifteen minutes for the medications to reach their maximal effect. This can be a near anesthetic level, or it may be simply a quieter, calmer pet.


Once sedation has set in maximally, we may shave a small patch of fur over a vein to make it easier to see and feel. This increases our chances of hitting the vein quickly and cleanly for the IV administered euthanasia injection.

Once we start the injection, it works very quickly. The medication we use is primarily “pentobarbital”, which for a long time was used as an anesthetic medication before we had better drugs. So, when we say, “put to sleep”, that is exactly what happens.

When It’s Over

Death is never nice no matter how quickly, peacefully, or smoothly it goes. Eyes seldom ever close as they pass away. The most common other thing to be seen is a deep sighing breath right before all breathing stops. Unusually, urine or feces may be passed. Rarely, other things will be seen such as reflexive movements, muscle twitching, or vocalization. It is important to be aware of this possibility, because these things can cause distress if we aren’t expecting them. The important thing to remember is that should these things happen, your pet will be well beyond being aware of them, and they won’t be in pain.

Euthanasia Policy

The policy of Freed Veterinary Hospital is to NOT euthanize animals that are considered to be healthy, regardless of reason with the exception of animals deemed to be dangerous as determined at our sole and professional discretion. This policy is not subject to negotiation.

Additional Resources

Determining Pet Quality of Life

Common Diseases

Common Symptoms

Pet Mobility Issues

Geriatric Veterinary Patients

Quality of Life Scoring Tools