I’m not your grandpappy’s vet. We’re also not living in the age of the infamous Disney movie “Old Yeller.” No spoiler alert here but the movie doesn’t end happy for the kid or his dog. We’re in a different time than we were 40 years ago- heck, even ten years ago from when I graduated!
Recently, I got a letter from an upset client. Why where they upset? I had to euthanize their pet and it didn’t go as they had planned or envisioned. It was a sad moment for the family and I genuinely feel bad about it. It eats at my very soul to have to euthanize a beloved pet; but even more so when the family isn’t granted the circumstances they wish to say goodbye in. But from this instance, we can all learn something.
Their letter was not the first time I heard from a client that “my previous pets never needed a catheter or sedation to be put to sleep.” And I understand. In the last generation, medicine and the perception of pet health care has advanced. So why the catheter and sedation now?
Many pets come in sick and finding a useable vein to give the euthanasia drugs can be difficult. The veins can collapse due to poor blood pressure or dehydration. If the solution goes under the skin outside the vein, it can be uncomfortable for your pet. Having that catheter in place prevents your pet from unnecessary pain and if they happen to move their leg, we don’t have to poke them in front of you.
As far as the sedation goes, this component of vet med branches out further than just euthanasia. Some pets are anxious or scared when they are in the vet clinic. X-rays, nail trims, clipping out hair mats, cleaning ears, and more can be a stressful time for your pet, you, or the clinic staff. Sedation allows your pet to not be afraid and helps procedures happen in a safer and more efficient manner. Getting back to the euthanasia component though, it’s a peaceful way to ensure your pet’s final moments are as fear-free as possible.
Times are different and we, the veterinary community, are asking for your patience and understanding when it comes to your pet’s health. Yes, we have to see your pet to prescribe any medication. Yes, we need to examine your pet before they get a vaccination.
Certain medical conditions are now treatable and it’s our job to advocate for your pet and their quality of life. Things have changed such that our medical records must be detailed for others to follow them but also to erase any doubt of what was discovered, performed, or discussed in the care of a patient. We don’t set these rules, our licensing boards do. It’s changed and no longer are we practicing in a time like that of James Herriot.
It would be nice to turn back the clock sometimes and get back to a simpler time. Instead, we have the benefit of years of experience to make pet care a better, safer, and less fearful experience for you and your pet. And that’s more valuable than any of us may yet realize.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
About the Author
Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Kingston, Ontario. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 horses and a pet rabbit. Ryan is also a regular guest writer for the Ontario SPCA blog. You can find more of his writing at www.drryanllera.com or see what else he is up to on Facebook & Instagram.