Medical Ethics: Pet Euthanasia

The evolution of animal rights has lead to improved animal healthcare. It is imperative to state that while modern medicine is intended to cure animals’ diseases, there are instances where the quality of a pet’s life is threatened by an incurable, irreversible and insufferable condition, injury or old age.

In such circumstances, pet owners may be compelled to end a pet’s suffering through induced death. Pet-owners desire that their ailing pets have painless and stress-free deaths. This eliminates trauma for both a pet and its owner. For ethical, professional, and legal reasons, it is necessary to seek medically induced death for pets.

Euthanasia can be performed at home or a veterinary center. No matter which place is chosen, the first step for both the owner and the veterinary officer is to set the date when euthanasia is to be done. If euthanasia is to take place at the veterinary center, the pet must be transferred there. Most pets are likely to be comfortable at the veterinary center, but in case the animal is not relaxed, then sedatives are administered to calm the animal down.

It is advisable that the owner makes arrangements to be driven to and from the veterinary center as this can be a very emotional moment. At the veterinary center, the owner is allowed to spend some time with the pet to make it as comfortable as possible. When the veterinarian is ready to carry out the procedure, the animal is made relaxed on the table or the floor depending on the type and size of the animal.

The veterinary officer then shaves a small area of the pet’s body, especially one of the limbs. This makes it easy for the veterinarian to see a vein into which a catheter is placed. With the help of an assistant and, if possible, the pet owner, the veterinarian will intravenously inject a lethal solution, usually pentobarbital sodium.

The chemical interferes with the brain and other physiological processes leading to a cardiac arrest. Normally, in six to twelve seconds, the pet will inhale deeply, weaken, and slip into a deep sleep. The animal will die a painless and relaxed death. The animal will not close its eyes immediately and may urinate and defecate. This, however, is no reason to worry as it is a reflex reaction and not a sign of pain. The dead pet’s eyes are closed before the owner is allowed to stay with the pet’s body for some time as a sign of empathy and sympathy.

Finally, the owner of the pet may wish to have it buried near his/her house or cremated. If it is to be taken home, a container is provided. The pet should be put into the container.

Then, the owner takes a pet to the car and carries home. In case is cremation is chosen as a way for pet’s burial, either the veterinarian or the pet owner should arrange everything. A cremation service should inform an owner or a veterinarian when the ashes should be expected. This will take from seven up to ten days during which the owner of the pet can get in touch with the cremator if there are special wishes to be carried out.

The quality and dignity of life must be maintained at all times. Despite the advances of modern science, some conditions cannot be arrested through medicine. In this regard, the organism lives in suffering. As such, the quality of life is jeopardized. Thus, any solution that enables the organism to end the mystery is welcome. Assisted death, therefore, becomes an option.

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