As a dog owner, you’ll go through ups and downs with your four-legged friend, but if you’re lucky you’ll get to enjoy a long and healthy life with them. Unfortunately, every pet owner eventually has to deal with the same thing – letting go of your best furry friend. Unfortunately, there are many cases where making the best, most humane decision isn’t easy.
Euthanasia is often the last resort when no amount of surgery or medication could extend your dog’s life or ease their pain in a meaningful way.
But, if you’ve never had to put down a dog in the U.K. before, it’s important to know what to expect –including the financial side of things.
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When Is the “Right Time” to Put a Dog Down?
With a huge decision such as this, it may be difficult to know when it’s the “right time” to euthanize a pet. There may be a chance that they pull through, or it could only get worse.
Some common ways of telling that your dog is in pain or sick include:
- Unusual and new aggression
- Your dog won’t eat or drink
- Changes in sleeping schedule
- Increased vocalizations
- Difficulties getting up and walking
- Unusual, heavy panting
It’s best to take your dog to a trusted veterinarian for observation. They will be less clouded by the emotions a pet owner is feeling and provide quality expertise. Talk to your vet about your pet’s possible quality of life if you choose not to euthanize, who provides those services in your area if the vet doesn’t, what to expect from the process, and so on.
It might not be time for euthanasia, even if it seems like it. Your vet can also talk to you about alternatives to euthanasia, including surgeries that may extend your dog’s life.
If it’s time, they’ll let you know how to proceed from there. In some cases, the vet may decide the humane thing is to euthanize immediately. Or, you may have a few more days with them to say goodbye.
How Much Does it Cost to Put Down a Dog?
One of the biggest stressors of letting your friend go is the cost. Euthanasia can be anywhere from £80 to £200 on average. The cost for this procedure depends on several factors such as:
- Dog’s weight
- Emergency vet or regular hours
- At home or at the vet
- Pet Insurance
- Communal or individual cremation
If you have a small dog, like a Maltipoo, you’ll find yourself paying considerably less money for euthanasia. On the other hand, putting a Saint Berdoodle to sleep will have you more in the range of £300 to £400, depending on the extra services.
The reason for the higher price is simple – a larger dog means a higher dose is needed to do the job effectively.
Emergency Vet Hours
Sometimes, you might have emergencies outside of your veterinarian’s usual hours. In these cases, there are vet offices with 24/7 availability. These clinics are also sometimes called out-of-hours clinics.
While this is a great and much-needed service, expect to pay an increased rate for most services at an out-of-hours or emergency clinic.
Some vet offices offer in-home or remote euthanasia. This way, your pet can drift away wherever they are most comfortable. These visits may cost more than the usual, in-clinic euthanasia to account for the vet’s driving and time spent out of the office.
However, it may give your pet more peace to be somewhere they’re familiar with rather than a strange office.
If you already have pet insurance – which you can get for as low as £36 a month – it may cover the entire cost of the service.
This depends on the type of pet insurance you have – accident-only, time-limited, per-condition and lifetime are some common options.
Pet insurance costs more depending on where you live in the U.K., the age of your dog, and the breed of your dog.
Some owners choose to get their pets cremated rather than taking them home to bury them. In these cases, there will be added fees.
Additionally, if you want to get your pet cremated on their own – i.e., you get to take home their ashes – rather than a communal cremation, you’re looking at extra fees again. The fees for an individual cremation can range from £130 to £200, depending on the size of your dog and where you’re getting it done.
Usually, the vet or business doing the cremation will send you the ashes in either a standard box or an urn.
What to Expect During the Process?
Before you begin the euthanasia process, your vet will most likely talk you through the entire thing. Usually, you’ll have to fill out paperwork stating your consent to the procedure before they begin.
Euthanasia is typically done through an injection or series of injections. If there is more than one, the first usually relaxes and numbs the pet of any pain. The second injection slowly and painlessly stops their breathing and heartbeat. It’ll feel like they’re falling asleep.
Some pets may be given a gas-based anesthetic, instead of that first shot, to calm and numb them.
Staying Until the End
Some pet owners decide to stay with their friends until they’re gone – others can’t handle it. Whatever decision you make is okay and understandable.
If you stay with your pet, you can hold them or let them lay in your lap during the procedure, depending on your vet. Try to stay calm, as dogs can pick up on emotions and responses. Talk to them in a calm and soothing voice like you would any other day.
After the procedure, the vet will usually give you some time alone to say goodbye, especially if you’re taking the cremation route.
Even if you choose not to stay, most vets still give you the option to say goodbye after the procedure is over. Some even allow you to bring your other pets along to say goodbye to their friend.
Dealing With the Aftermath
Everyone grieves in different ways and for different lengths of time. You may grieve for days, weeks, months, or even years. Sometimes our grief never truly goes away. Some never get another pet, but many eventually do.