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Avatar universal

Why did my dog have to suffer before his Euthinasia

I have been desperately seeking an answer about why my dog suffered.  Was the doctor to blame?  When my beloved 15 year old peekenese had terminal cancer and after a couple of operations to remove it hoping for more time, it was to no avail and the time came that he had to be euthanized.  I expected that my dog would have been given some sort of tranq and that it would have been a painless without any sort of suffering.....what the word actually means.  However, the vet seemed unable to insert the needle into his arm and in his continued efforts my dog kept screeming with pain and anxiety.  This went on for at least 10 minutes, as the vet left the office for what seemed like different solutions and different injections.  Each time my dog wasn't able to calm down and he screemed for what seemed like 10 minutes straight, leaving me with no only the sadness of loosing my beloved friend but the lifelong rememberence of his last moments on earth, which were the most anquishing 10 minutes of my life.  I still now sob at writing this, not to mention the numerous sobbing sessions prior to falling off to sleep.  I just want to know what and why whatever went wrongj.  I want NEVER to have any other pet suffer like that and need to know what I can do to insure that.  Please someone help me understand why my dog had to suffer.  The vet did say he had trouble inserting the needle into his veins but my dog had been eating and drinking, so I don't believe he was dehidrated.  I just hope someone can help me understand if this type of thing is common and if it is can't anything be done so that it won't happen?  Should the vet have offered me a pill to give my dog an hour before the proceedure to insure it will be peaceful?  What should/could the vet have done differently and what could I do in the future?  I am an animal lover and all of my animals came from shelters (as this one or were rescued in some way like my other wonderful dog who was living on the street and of course we took in 2 stray cats looking for their next meal.  I love all animals.  I appreciate whatever advise you can give me on this sad but unfortunately necessary part of animal ownership subject
28 Responses
127124 tn?1326739035
We have had several dogs over the years that we had to euthanize.   Never once did they show signs of being in pain from the euthanasia.  Our vet gave them a sedative (injection) then after a few minutes the other injection.    I don't understand why your vet had such difficulty.
184674 tn?1360864093
Your vet should have sedated your dog first. I had to put my dog down 2½ weeks ago, and the vet sedated him before the euthanasia, which made it a peaceful death.
I am so very sorry that you had to experience those horrible last moments with your dog. Neither one of you deserved that.
I wish I had an answer for you as to why the vet couldn't find your dog's vein or why they didn't sedate your dog first. The only thing I can think of is dehydration, but you mentioned he had been eating a drinking normally, so I don't know what it could've been for the vet to have such difficulty.
I am so sorry.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your comments and sympathy.  I also offer my condolence for your loss.  
Avatar universal
Thank you for your imput.  I agree.  It's a delimma.  I didn't speak to the vet about my feeling but he knew as he seemed to offer an apology saying "sometimes it doesn't go very smoothly".  Something like that.  I have always liked this vet but don't know how to handle it with him now.  Part of me says just never see him again, as I have still 1 dog and 2 cats, but the other part of me says just to not let him euthanize again unless he can insure that no animal will suffer like that again.  Thanks again for your reply, Tjoyce
82861 tn?1333457511
I am so sorry for you both.  Euthanasia generally does go very smoothly, quietly and mercifully.  It is supposed to be a 2-part process.  The dog is sedated first either with pills or more often with an injection directly into a vein.  The second injection is the one that stops the heart.  You might see some strained breathing or muscle spasms with either the sedation or the final shot, but the dog is completely unaware of it.  The reaction is normal even with a natural death.

That said, some dogs and other animals just don't go easily.  It sounds like maybe your dog's blood pressure was so high that the veins contracted and the vet couldn't get the medication administered.  Some dogs end up needing 4 times the amount of sedation than their weight would indicate.  So there's a couple things that could have happened.  In one respect, your vet was right: sometimes it just doesn't go as smoothly as it should.

If this situation ever hits you again, you can ask for sedatives in the form of pills to give your dog before you bring him in for the final shot.  We used that option last January with our dog who was dying of kidney failure and it was much easier on everyone - particularly for Chica.  The last thing she knew of this life was the sound of our voices as we held her.  I just wish we could have helped you with this idea before your ordeal.  :-(
Avatar universal
Thank you so very much for the detailed reply.   I will make very sure to use sedatives in the future and I really appreciate your sympathy.  It helps more than you know.  Gratefully your, Tjoyce
460185 tn?1326081372
I think Jaybay explained more clearly than I ever could.

IMHO your dog should have been sedated, that's usually what happens.  Also, he should have (famous words) had a technician find the vein; a lot of them are really good at it.  If he doesn't have a technician he's not much of a vet.  In Ontario almost all vets have techs to set up IV lines, etc.  My daughter works for a large vet clinic and they do everything they have to in order to insure euthanasia goes relatively well.  Making the decision to euthanize him was difficult enough but there was no reason for the dog to suffer anymore and for you to have to watch him in such pain.

Something similar happened to us a few years ago so I can really empathize with you.

I don't know if the vet did anything wrong or not but I think that if that happened to one of my dogs, the pain I felt would make me emotional enough to give the vet a big kick in the butt.

Can't believe it - I'm crying too while I write this.  I hope the poor little guy is in a better place.

Avatar universal
Thank you so much for writing.  Your understanding of what I am (have been) going through helps me so much, words just can't express, even though my tears started flowing again from reading your reply.  You are probably right about the vet.  He us ultimately the one that holds the responsibility and the blame so in all conscience I should not return to him.  I realized that it would be very difficult to deal with him anylonger but again, when I put all blame on him, I remember what a basically caring and decent man he was and this was his only fault, albeit a big one.  I'll have to work that part of this issue out in time, on my own, but probably will seek new veterinary care.  In the meantime, I am very happy to have this opportunity to have met you and the other caring human beings that have responded to my post, even though I wish I didn't ever need to make such a post.  Love to you all, Tjoyce
82861 tn?1333457511
Re-reading your post, I'm fairly convinced it was your dog's blood pressure that caused the troubles with the needle.  He was probably already nervous about being at the vet, and picking up on your sadness.  That kind of stress along with repeated needle sticks only made his bp go higher, and the veins constrict that much more.  Picture the veins like a tightly closed fist.  I doubt anyone could have been successful by that point.

How do I know about this?  My old dog Chica.  She needed a whole lot of blood draws when she was first diagnosed with kidney failure, and her bp got so high the blood couldn't be pulled into the needle.  The vet said he didn't want to torture her with the leg vein any longer, so he shaved a bit of fur off her neck, held her muzzle pointing upward and took the blood directly from her jugular vein.  I know it sounds awful, but Chica never felt a thing and we did all her future blood draws in that manner with no problem whatsoever.  Since she never saw the tourniquet coming at her, she never got stressed out over it.  It was a whole lot faster than going through the leg vein too.

One thing you can do in the future is to ask detailed questions of your vet about exactly what medications he uses and how they're administered.  Have him tell you exactly what to expect every step of the way and how to avoid what happened to your poor peke.  Ask him about home sedation with pills before you bring your pet in.  Some vets even make house calls for euthanasia, or will go out to the car so you don't have to traumatize the dog with actually going inside the office.  Another thing to have arranged ahead of time is whether you want your pet's remains returned to you for burial.  We had both our dogs cremated and returned to us.  Any vet shouild be able to handle that for you, but be sure to ask about it if they don't bring it up.

Before you decide to change vets, you might consider having an honest, calm conversation with him about exactly what went wrong.  There is nothing at all wrong with asking these questions.  Certainly neither one of you wants another experience like that again.

I can't imagine how horrifying that experience was for you.  I guess I've been blessed that both dogs we've had to put down went very peacefully.  I pray that you find peace soon. :-)
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for the very thoughtful and helpful comments.  You have taught me a great deal about this difficult subject and appreciate it very much.  I clearly see how you understand what I've been going through.  You're probably right that my Charlie's blood pressure dropped.  (I realize that I have never used his name in any of my prior posts, I guess I knew it would have been too hard to hear his name compounded with the subject)  Just thought I'm mention that we got him from our local animal shelter when he was only about 6 weeks old, he fit in a shoe and was the cuttest thing I ever saw in my life.  I have the photos and the memories that I must now focus on and try my hardest to forget how his end went.  I remember saying to my husband as I would sob in bed that he, Charlie doesn't remember his end, but I will remember it for the rest of my life, which of course brought those tears flowing each time as I won't deny even now as I'm writing.  But I am going to really try and forget those last moments and remember the 15 wonderful years of how adorable he was and the happiness he brought to my life.  Thanks again so much for being there for me and I your insight will certainly prevent me from having this happen ever agan.   Eternally grateful, Tjoyce
Avatar universal
One question.  How do you mean sedated?  I think ??? that my vet was trying to but either it didn't work or he couldn't get the needle into the vein.  Do you know of a good way to sedate a dog if the needle becomes a problem?  Thanks, Tjoyce
Avatar universal
Just to add a quick note to my post, I have learned that there are pills I could have given to my dog which I plan to have on hand for my future pets and make sure that when I bring my dog into the office he/she will be out of it by then.  I now know that but knowing that my vet maybe could have at least tried to administer a pill since he realized there was a problem makes me mad.  I hate to say this but I fear he was just trying to rush it, thinking only about his time but now about my dogs comfort.  That's the only explaination and now for you all to know I will not forgive him for that.  Thanks all, Tjoyce
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