Pet Euthanasia

I will never forget when my son’s pit bull Kai got loose. We got him as an eight month-old rescue pet from an abusive home. It took some time for him to gain our trust but eventually, with love and patience, he made great progress and quickly became a beloved member of our family and companion to my son.

One morning we let him out back and when my son went to bring him in the house, he found the gate partially open and Kai was gone. My husband and son walked around the neighborhood for half an hour calling his name.

Then they found him. He was lying in the street at a busy intersection near our home. He had been hit and was severely injured, unable even to lift his head. We got him home, a traumatic event in itself. When we arrived at the veterinary hospital he was in too much pain even to move from the car.

The vet came out to the parking lot and examined him. His injuries were very severe and his chance of recovery very unlikely; the decision was made to put him to sleep. This was performed right there in the parking lot, and even though the three of us were there holding him and petting him right up until the end, I couldn’t help but think later how much less pain and suffering there would have been if we had been able to put him to sleep at home.

One of the toughest decisions a pet owner will face is whether or not it is time to euthanize their beloved companion. We love our pets and we want what’s best for them at every stage of their life. When we have a chronically ill or severely injured pet it hurts us to see them suffer, so we choose the humane option.

The decision to euthanize a pet brings with it many mixed feelings. We want to end their pain and at the same time minimize the emotional turmoil that ending a physical life causes for ourselves, our family, and most of all for our beloved pet. Sometimes there is a cost consideration involved.

Many pet owners now seek to ease that transition for everyone concerned by opting for home-based euthanization. The idea behind this option is to lessen the trauma by allowing the pet to be euthanized where they feel comfortable, surrounding by those that they love.

It is also a means of easing physical suffering; a trip to a veterinary hospital could possibly cause more pain and mental anguish.


There are a few methods of humanely euthanizing small pets such as rodents, birds, and reptiles.

Carbon dioxide is considered to be the quickest and most humane means of home euthanasia, and it is the only method approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is safe, and when properly administered it facilitates a quick and painless death.

If you don’t have access to and knowledge of how to administer Co2 from a from a compressed cylinder, there are methods of making a carbon dioxide chamber yourself.

Body Temperature Reduction
This is a method that was recommended by a vet when my elderly iguana developed an incurable and degenerative condition. It is for use exclusively with reptiles due to their cold-blooded nature., is painless, effective, and humane. I used it on Iggy, and though it was hard for me, he seemed to go peacefully. I couldn’t personally say how it would work with other types of reptiles.

I placed him in a contained of water as instructed, and slowly added ice to the bath to gradually lower his body temperature until his system shut down.


Self-induced euthanasia is not recommended for larger mammals such as cats, dogs, and livestock, and many people I know don’t have the heart to shoot or gas an animal, as was common in the past.

Fortunately a lot of veterinarians realize this dilemma and now offer home hospice and euthanasia services. It is a pricier option, but the best way to ensure your pet’s passing under the most favorable and humane conditions for all involved.

Here is an excellent website that has listings by state and other helpful information.


If you decide on self-initiated euthanasia, please educate yourself on proper methods or get the assistance of a professional so that you don’t inadvertently cause more suffering in an effort to help.

Also, dependent on the method used, it may be traumatic for younger children to be present when the procedure its being performed.