What to Do If You Feel Guilty After Losing Your Pet

Man with old golden retriever outside.

Pets are vital members of our families, so it's understandable that we grieve when they die away. However, there are occasions when we are faced with the option to put an end to a pet's suffering, which can leave us feeling guilty. Understanding how to put a pet to sleep and how to cope with the emotions that accompany it is a vital part of the healing process.

Reasons a Pet Is Put to Sleep

While we frequently wish that our dogs might live indefinitely, pets, like us, are not immortal. They are vulnerable to injury and sickness, and they eventually die away, either with or without the help of humans. Some animals suffer from incurable illnesses, have poor quality of life, are in chronic pain, have organs that no longer function, or have been wounded beyond repair. For these and other reasons, your veterinarian may recommend putting your pet to sleep to alleviate suffering.

How Is a Pet Put to Sleep?

An overdose of anesthetic medication is the most common technique of putting a pet to sleep. When this medicine is put into a pet's vein, the animal loses consciousness, is unable to feel anything, and its heart, lungs, and brain all cease working. Prior to the injection, dogs are usually anesthetized to help them relax and stay calm. Sedation can be given by the muscle or vein. Owners are frequently offered the option of accompanying their pets for this treatment, although they are not required to do so. Aside from the needle poke, this technique is generally painless.

When a pet is already under anesthesia, problems or untreatable conditions may prompt the decision to put them to sleep. A similar injection is given to a pet that has previously been sedated so that it feels nothing.

Is it Humane to Put a Pet to Sleep?

The process of putting a pet to sleep is referred to as euthanasia, which means "good death." Pets that are in pain and no longer have a high quality of life are frequently offered the gift of having their anguish stopped and their dignity preserved. Most people consider it a good that we can give this form of comfort for our dogs, and the method in which it is done is quite compassionate.

Overcrowded and other locations occasionally result in people choosing to put a healthy pet to sleep. Because there is no medical need to put the pet to sleep, this is sometimes referred to as convenience euthanasia. The decision is made because to a shortage of room, time, finances, and other factors pertaining to the animal's and/or person's wishes and requirements. Convenience euthanasia is a contentious issue, with some arguing that it is not compassionate. Many vets will outright refuse to perform this treatment.

Coping With Guilt

A pet is usually put to sleep for very excellent reasons. If you believe your pet is suffering, a veterinarian can help you choose when it is time to put it to sleep, as putting it to sleep is sometimes the only option to relieve the pain.

It's difficult to say goodbye, but you may take solace in knowing that your pet is no longer suffering. Guilt is a common emotion to experience when faced with a difficult decision, especially if we aren't convinced it is the right one. It's difficult to make a life-or-death choice without wondering whether there was anything else we could have done to avoid our pet's death.

During these moments, we must remind ourselves that we cannot always predict the future, so looking back and believing we could have or could have done anything differently to avoid this outcome is counterproductive. Making ourselves feel guilty makes the issue worse. Reflecting on and learning from our past experiences is the finest thing we can do. Allowing ourselves to feel guilty for doing or not doing anything is not fair since it is doubtful that any decision we make for our pet is made with the aim of harming it. During these trying times, it may be helpful to remember ourselves that we, like our dogs, should love and forgive ourselves. Our dogs may teach us a lot about unconditional love, and treating ourselves with kindness and understanding is a nice way to remember our pets.

If you require more support and direction, keep in mind that pet loss support groups and grief counselors are available to walk you through this difficult time. Do not be hesitant to seek assistance.