Is it ever OK to euthanase a healthy animal?

Euthanasia means “good death”

One of the most challenging tasks for vets is the euthanasia of their patients. My own dog Spot, pictured above, was elderly and frail when I had to make the difficult decision to let him go. The only way that vets are able to cope ethically with the routine deliberate killing of pets is that it is nearly always done for the sake of the animal, to prevent suffering in a sick or elderly individual. However there are other times when a vet may be asked to euthanase a healthy animal, and this presents a much greater ethical challenge.

Are vets obliged to euthanase an animal if asked to do so?

While vets are allowed to decline to carry out any procedure when asked, they do need to ensure that animal suffering is stopped as promptly as possible or preferably, avoided altogether. For this reason, every vet will take a different approach when asked to euthanase a healthy animal. Most will try to find alternatives (such as rehoming the animal if possible) but still, sometimes an owner will try to insist that it is done. Some vets simply decline, while others make the judgement that if they do not euthanase the animal painlessly, the owner may go elsewhere and take a different approach (such as drowning the animal) which causes even more suffering. This is a difficult area, and I’ve explored this more in the podcast with Pat Kenny as well is in my Telegraph article.

Questions from Pat Kenny listeners

Dogs with odd behaviour, cats being imported from Canada, a feral cat with a skin rash on the head, a Jack Russell who may or may not need to be neutered. These are just some of the questions that I answer in the podcast this week.

Listen to the podcast:

Start Podcast

1 Comment

  • Janeen says:

    As a clairvoyant medium and an extreme animal lover, I share both table and bed with my dogs. They are my children. Here’s my experience. My Staffie passed away with 2 terrible traumatic heart attacks one after the other at home. I was so stressed, that I found myself at an animal hospital in the after life after he had passed. The door was closed, so I knocked, and when the door opened I demanded to see my dog. I was told, “You are not allowed to see him. He’s in recovery.” Result, it took over a year before I saw him. Now onto case number 2. My cross Bullmastiff / Rottweiler was aging and slowing down. I had seen a vision of a kidney shape on 1 or 3 occasions. She had started getting nauseous, vomiting and eating grass a lot which is a sign something is not right. Next I heard those crystal pure sounding angel church choir voices in my head. I wondered, and then later I thought about the kidney I had seen. I immediately took her to the vet. She was X-rayed, and cancer of her kidney was diagnosed. I brought her home with meds as she was still happy and contented. We put in some quality time together, and then within 3 weeks, whilst I was sitting in the kitchen she collapsed on the floor. I knew it was time and took her in for euthanasia, stood by her and had her euthanased before she could deteriorate further. Result, within a week she came running to me in a dream, jumping all over me, and licking my face and ears. She loved licking my ears. This shows how quickly they bounce back if you don’t put them through the trauma of endless suffering, where they need to go into recovery when they reach the other side (afterlife). Case 3. When the time for my 2nd Staffie came to pass on. That morning sitting on my bed was her lifelong companion, Bruno, who had passed on so traumatically and this was the 1st time I saw him. He was out of recovery. I knew it was time. Bless their precious little hearts. He had loved her so much and had come to fetch her. He was sitting on the foot end of the bed and watching over her. That was the day she deteriorated rapidly. That afternoon she was euthanased and reunited with the love of her life. There you have it. Before I even knew her date of passing (euthanasia) He already knew it was the day they would be reunited. I look forward to meeting them all one day again and with 1000 % I know I will. Today I am faced with the same decision of when to euthanase. Yesterday my Boerboel was diagnosed with bone cancer in her wrist (osteosarcoma). It is that sad time once again. She has the love of her life, Bubbey, my precious Rottweiler waiting for her. They loved each other so dearly. And I’m hoping that I will see him when that time comes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

Privacy | Terms and Conditions