Having your dog put to sleep: cost, process and most frequently asked questions

Expert advice on putting your dog to sleep

Did you know that one-in-three of us own a dog? They truly are man's best friend. On average, our four-legged friends are by our side for 10 - 13 years, so it's easy to see how saying goodbye to them can feel like losing a member of the family. 

When the time comes, the decision to put your cherished companion to sleep is never an easy one. However, if your dog is suffering it can be one of the kindest things you can do.

We're here to share all you need to know about ending your treasured companion's life as respectfully and comfortably as possible. In this guide...

What happens when your dog is put to sleep?
Will your dog feel anything when he's put to sleep?
Can you stay with your dog when he's put to sleep?
Is it OK to bring your children when your dog's put to sleep?
Can you bring your other dogs to the appointment?
Can you have your dog put to sleep at home?
What happens after your dog's put to sleep?
How can you prepare for putting your dog put to sleep?
How do you know it's time to end your dog's life?
Can you get bereavement counselling after losing your dog?
Can you put your dog to sleep if you're on holiday?
How much does it cost to put your dog to sleep?
Does pet insurance cover euthanasia?
How soon can you claim for euthanasia on your pet insurance?

What happens when your dog is put to sleep?

When the vet puts your dog to sleep, they give him an overdose of anesthetic. Within a few seconds he will slip into unconsciousness and shortly afterwards, his heart will stop beating. 

The injection is given in a vein in the leg, usually through a cannula. A nurse will gently hold your dog whilst this is done.

If your dog is old or frail, his veins are likely to be weak, in which case the vet will sedate him via an injection into his muscle. It takes about 5 minutes to make him sleepy.

The anesthetic injection which stops his heart only takes a couple of minutes to take effect and your vet will check for a heartbeat and any reflexes when they are confident the injection has done it's job.

The whole process is quick, peaceful and painless. It's much worse for you than your dog, who will just drift away gently.

Once he's passed away, don't be concerned if you notice him twitch, make a few funny sounds or empty his bladder or bowels. It may feel a bit disconcerting but it's completely normal and is nothing for you to worry about. His eyes may be open too, but your vet will close them.

Will your dog feel anything when he's put to sleep?

He might feel a sharp scratch when the cannula is inserted so that the vet can sedate him first. He shouldn't feel the injection, it will just make him sleepy.

Can you stay with your dog when he's put to sleep?

Of course you can. It's much nicer for him to have his best friend by his side.

Equally, if it's too upsetting to go in with him, it's completely fine to say your goodbyes at home, or enter the vet's treatment room for a few final moments together once he's gone.

Is it OK to bring your children when you put your dog to sleep?

According to Mintel, 75% of dog owners are families. You know your children best and if they want to come and say goodbye with you, it's OK to let them. Just make sure you've explained exactly what will happen so that they're prepared.

Can you bring your other dogs to the appointment?

Believe it or not, it's really quite common for people to bring their dog (s) to watch their friend go to sleep. Some pet owners think that it helps them to understand why they don't come home.

Costs involved in putting family dog to sleep

Can you have your dog put to sleep at home?

Yes. Most vets will come and put your dog to sleep at home for an extra fee.

What happens after your dog is put to sleep? 

It's completely up to you what happens to your pet once he's at rest. You should discuss what you'd like to do with your vet before the event. It will usually be one of the following:

  • Individual cremation
  • Collective cremation
  • Burial in a pet cemetery
  • Burial at home

Most pet crematoriums produce leaflets about the various options available to you once your dog has been put to sleep.

Many owners like to keep items like fur cuttings, a paw print or their dog's blanket or collar. Your vet will be more than happy for you to take these. On the other hand, if you want to leave all your dog's belongings with the vet, including his travel crate, that's fine too.

How can you prepare for putting your dog to sleep?

The best way to prepare for putting your dog to sleep is by speaking to your vet. They will be more than happy to answer your questions and will put you at ease. There's no such thing as a silly question. You can do this face-to-face or over the phone. It's much easier to have this discussion if your dog isn't with you at the time. 

Once you understand exactly what will happen, you'll feel much better prepared. You may even feel a sense of relief. You can make the most of your pet's final days and really cherish your last moments together.

Feel good fact:  Did you know? Vets are always asked if putting people's dogs to sleep is the worst part of their job. It's not. They fully believe that being able to end an animal's suffering with respect, comfort and calm is a privilege and the best thing to do when the time is right. 

How do you know it's time to end your dog's life?

Deciding to end your companion's life will be much easier if you can look at the facts practically and objectively. 

  • Is he suffering?
  • What has the vet said about his future?
  • Is he sleeping a lot?
  • Is he eating and drinking?
  • Can he control his bowels/ bladder?
  • What do your family and friends think?
  • If you're paying for treatment, can you afford it?

Looking at these facts will make the answer clear. The two vets that we spoke to about this both agreed that you should always do it sooner than you think.

Can you get bereavement counselling after losing your dog?

Yes. There's lots of help available. The PDSA offers fantastic advice on coping with the loss of a pet and it's a great place to start. 

Can you put your dog to sleep if you're on holiday?

You can absolutely visit any vet when you're on holiday, whether it's in the UK or abroad. It's always worth investigating vets that offer 24-hour emergency provision before you go.

How much does it cost to put your dog to sleep?

It costs between £80 - £200 to end your dog's life. The main reason for the difference in cost is down to the size of your dog. The bigger your canine companion, the more it will cost to put him to sleep. This is because he will need a higher dose of anesthetic.

Breed and age don't have any effect, although the cost may differ according to whether they need to be sedated first, whether you want them cremated or buried and if you need a consultation. Consultations take place if you're unsure euthanasia is the right thing to do. It involves a clinical examination and a discussion with your vet. 

Does pet insurance cover euthanasia?

This depends on your insurance company. Some include it as standard, some include it by letting you add it separately and others simply don't offer it. Many pet owners choose to have their dogs cremated and again, some insurers will cover this and others will not. 

Here's how the top six pet insurance companies compare in terms of their end of life cover. 

Each quote we collected, was for a 3-year old make Cocker Spaniel, who had been neutered, chipped and whose jabs were up to date. Quotes accurate at 30th April 2019.

Direct Line Advanced Cover
£146 a year, including up to £100 for euthanasia

Sainsbury's Bank Premier Plus
£180.60 with with up to £100 towards euthanasia

Bought by Many Value Policy
£129.84 a year, with up to £150 farewell cover for Euthansia

M&S
£149.99 a year with up to £100 towards euthanasia, cremation or burial

Tesco Accident Only
£75 a year. This doesn't specifically offer euthanasia, but the policy states that if your dog needs to be put to sleep after an accident or injury, they'll cover the cost, along with the burial or cremation.

More Than Accident Only
£74.60 a year although you have to add Farewell Cover for an extra £10.48. This gives you up to £150 towards euthanasia, cremation or burial.

Neither John Lewis nor Petplan included the option to add euthanasia to their policies.

To see how the UK's pet insurance companies compare for claim experience, read our customer reviews.

How soon can you claim for euthanasia on your pet insurance?

This varies from one insurer to the next, so you should check your policy wording. You should have at least 30 days. Remember to keep receipts and evidence of the treatment as your insurer will need this.

Euthanasia is never an easy topic to talk about but we hope you've found this guide reassuring.  Making the decision is the hardest part, so if you can feel confident that it's the right thing to do, you'll find the process much less daunting. If you're reading this, your dog clearly has a devoted and loving owner and you've given him a great life. He's a lucky chap.


Read next: Is there a waiting period to claim on pet insurance?



 







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