No pet owner wants to think about having to put their dog to sleep, but sadly, it’s a reality many will have to face.

By Sierra Burgos
August 24, 2020
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Aleksandr Pobeda / EyeEm / Getty

It’s incredibly difficult to see our pets’ quality of life diminish. Whether your four-legged friend suffers from sickness or injury, or you see the painful effects of old age setting in, it may be time to explore what options exist for his end-of-life care. You don’t want to see them in pain, but you can’t imagine being responsible for the end of their life. But taking responsibility for a peaceful end is one of the most loving final acts you can do for your beloved pet. Euthanasia offers a way to keep your pet from needless suffering. 

When is Euthanasia Necessary?

No one wants to think about the possibility of losing their beloved pet, but sometimes euthanasia is the most humane thing to do. If your dog is in pain, talk with your veterinarian about their behavior and discuss whether or not euthanasia may be needed. “I always tell my pet parents: ‘tell me three things you notice that are different with your dog’s quality of life,’” Adam Christman, DVM, says. “[Discussing] the day-to-day activities with [your] veterinarian is absolutely crucial.”Consider the following questions and have a conversation with your vet to get their professional input.

  • Is your dog facing an illness with no hope of getting better?
  • Is your dog unable to perform basic functions like eating, drinking, sleeping, or going to the bathroom?
  • Is your dog unable to move around comfortably?
  • Is your dog not interested/excited by food anymore?
  • Is your dog not interested/excited by your presence anymore?
  • Is your dog in pain?

If your pup can no longer enjoy the things he once did, it may be time to reevaluate his quality of life. Perhaps he used to love going for walks, playing with toys, and begging for attention from family members. When he loses interest in these activities, it could mean he is in pain. Keep an eye on your dog’s habits—look out for vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, labored breathing, or coughing.

How Does Euthanasia Work?

The procedure is quick and painless. The only reaction your dog may have is to the small pinch of a needle. “Oftentimes, a heavy sedative is administered to the dog to help relax them before the final injection is given.  Your veterinarian may place an intravenous catheter in the front arm to allow easier accessibility,” Christman says. “Once the sedative is in effect, the veterinarian and veterinary technician will administer the final drug, which is an overdose of anesthetic that slowly stops the heart. Occasionally the animal may void (urinate/defecate) from being relaxed. Once the dog is put at peace, the owners have time to grieve and say their goodbyes.” 

How Much Does it Cost to Put a Dog to Sleep? 

The average cost of dog euthanasia runs between $35 and $300. The price varies depending on a few different factors.

Location. You can have your pet put to sleep at the vet’s office, or you may decide to pay a little more to have someone come administer the procedure in the comfort of your own home. Being surrounded by familiar sights and smells can help put your dog more at ease and give you both a comfortable w last few moments together at home. The cost of an in-home procedure starts around $170 and goes upwards of $300 depending on how far away you live from the organization.

Service. It’s possible to receive services from either a vet’s office or even a non-profit in the area. If your pet knows their vet’s office and veterinarian, they may be more comfortable in their presence. Euthanasia at your vet’s office will cost between $50 and $100. Typically, nonprofits will cost less. Nonprofits like the Anti-Cruelty Society will typically cost much less than a traditional vet office. The Anti-Cruelty Society charges only $35 for end-of-life services, but if financial situations mean pet parents are unable to afford this cost, the organization says it can discuss flexible options like payment plans. 

Post-procedure. You may choose to keep your dog’s body to bury yourself or pay to have it entombed at a pet cemetery. Cemetery burials can cost upwards of $750 in total, including the grave digging and a casket. You could also choose to have your dog cremated (individually, or with other pets) and have the ashes returned to you. Cremation costs vary anywhere between $30 and $250 depending on the option you choose.

No dog lover wants to imagine their worst nightmare: losing their pet. But being prepared, knowing the costs, and discussing your options will ensure that when the time comes to face tough decisions like these, you’ll be making the right choice for your dog.