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Euthanasia question.

Species: Dog
Breed: mutt
Age: 11-15 years
Sad day! I had to put my beloved Angel to sleep. Still unnerved by what happened. I've had to put other dogs to sleep and this never happened so would like to know for peace of mind please. Angel was given her a sedative which really did relax her (she weighed 61 pounds) Then came the final injectioins. As I was holding her head and chest I could feel her heart racing faster and faster. It felt like it was going to jump out of her chest and then it stopped. Did she have a heart attack before passing? Did this cause her pain? I feel so awful if I caused this to my baby. Will you let me know what went wrong? I won't be able to function till I know. Thank you.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear of your sad day.

What you have described in Angel's last seconds is quite normal and not a sign of a heart attack at all.

The injection that she was given intravenously was likely an overdose of an anesthetic called pentobarbital. The first thing it does is affect the brain so that Angel would be completely unconscious during the procedure. From that point on she would have no idea what was happening to her.

Next, the medication works to stop the heart. As the heart gets weaker and weaker it often does start to pump faster in an effort to continue to provide the body with the right amount of blood. I have commonly heard an animal's heartbeat get faster and faster and then suddenly stop in response to the euthanasia solution.

She was definitely not in pain.

So sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.