What is it?Euthanasia is the process of ending a rabbit’s life peacefully, to relieve pain or suffering. The word literally translates to ‘good death’; it is also known as ‘putting to sleep’.
Why is it important?Although it can be a difficult decision to make, we as pet owners often have to make this end-of-life choice for our pets in the interest of their welfare and comfort. This decision may be made in many different situations.
Why do we have to do it?Euthanasia is often appropriate for animals whose quality of life has decreased below an acceptable level and as a result their welfare is affected. Frequently this can be elderly animals with progressive and often incurable issues. It may also include those that have experienced injury or disease which, for various reasons, either cannot or will not be resolved or managed to an acceptable level.
What happens to the rabbit?
This depends a little on the situation, your veterinary practice and the individual vet. All decisions are made to ensure that this last experience for you and your pet is as stress-free and pain-free as is possible.
An intravenous catheter may be placed into an ear- or leg-vein in the rabbit - this may be done with you or away from you. Often the rabbit will be wrapped in a towel so that they feel safe and secure but in some they may need some medication to calm them first – they are the priority.
The rabbit may be given anaesthetic gas to inhale (breathe in) or some vets may choose to give an injection under the skin which will cause the rabbit to fall asleep, in order for the injection to be administered.
A final injection will be given – this is an overdose of anaesthetic drug which causes the animal to fall asleep then slows and eventually stops the heart. It is peaceful and pain-free. Once the injection has been given the process is usually fairly quick – less than a couple of minutes.