Is it possible to euthanize my pet without any injections?
Unfortunately, there is no way to safely, reliably, and humanely euthanize a pet without the use of at least
one injection. Any medications that might be given orally are frequently poorly absorbed and this variable
effect can often lead to very poor results. While oral tranquilizers may help calm your pet or make them
less anxious about the procedure, there are currently none that are effective at inducing euthanasia. We
have chosen specific protocols to help eliminate many of the undesirable side-effects of injections, but
having to have a shot is one of the keys to making the process as comfortable as possible for everyone
How do pets typically respond to the injections?
Most pets don't mind the sedative injection, especially if they are distracted by petting or a small, special
food treat. However, when your pet is not feeling well, s/he might react unpredictably. Rarely, a pet may
react in a negative way, lessening the desired peacefulness of the process. Negative reactions may vary
from slight discomfort to the rare very dramatic reaction, with hissing, attempts to run away, or even
lashing out at anyone nearby. However, even in the most dramatic reactions, once the initial injection is
complete, animals usually begin to calm down within a minute or so, and are completely relaxed within
Once the initial injection has taken complete effect, the second (final) injection can be given. Before this
injection is given, I will test the pet's reflexes to ensure that s/he doesn't feel anything at all. So, this final
injection will be completely painless.
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- Pain medications: if your pet is already receiving pain medication or sedatives, it may be helpful to give
an additional dose 1-2 hours prior to our scheduled appointment. In cats, the drug Buprenorphine
(Buprenex), works very well for this. Your regular veterinarian may be able to provide this for your cat,
depending on the circumstances.
- If your pet is very fearful of strangers, it may help if we arrange to have someone in your family give the
first injection (this is fairly easy and we can walk you through the procedure).
- It often helps to distract the pet with petting, scratching, or feeding a favorite treat while the injection is
- It does NOT usually help to try to give the injection when your pet is sleeping. Invariably, your pet will be
surprised and awaken unhappy with receiving the injection.
- If you are especially concerned about the potential for the initial injection to sting, we can do a "pre-
sedation" injection, which almost never bothers pets. However, it does add an additional injection, and
requires additional time to take effect.
Please check with us if you have questions or concerns about the injection, and together we can come to a
solution that works best in your particular situation.
Why do you use two injections rather than one single injection?
While some veterinarians give only the final injection (which must be given directly into
a vein), we prefer to use the two injection method. Because the final injection must be
placed very precisely into a vein (or body cavity), if your pet is not sedated, it must be
restrained very carefully to avoid a mis-injection that can be extremely painful. In
addition, with the single injection, the passing can be very sudden, and jarring for the
pet and family. In our experience with thousands of these procedures, we generally
find that it is much easier on the pet and people involved to take a little more time and
provide sedation prior to the final injection. The sedative injection can be given easily
and quickly into a large muscle or under the skin. Once the pet is completely sedated,
the final injection can easily be given, with no physical restraint and no chance for a
Is there anything we can do to minimize negative reactions to the initial injection?
We use only the very smallest needles and smallest volume of drug possible to give this first injection. As a
result, most of the time, this injection is tolerated very well (or at least it is done within a few seconds). However, if
you are very concerned about your pet's potential reaction to an injection, there are several possible things that
can be done to minimize any reaction: