Euthanasia, the act of kindly ending a pet’s life, is a terribly difficult time for any owner. The same can be said regardless of whether your pet is a dog, a cat, a bird or a rodent. At the end of the day they are all part of the family and each and every one holds a special place in our hearts. When the time comes, it can feel overwhelming. It’s a good idea to research a little beforehand so you know what to expect and have an idea of whether a home visit would be appropriate.

What is involved in euthanasia of rodents?

Before deciding whether a home visit is the right option, you need to consider what’s involved and what that might mean for you and your pet. In many cases, rodent patients are too small to easily catheterise whilst awake; meaning that they need to be anaesthetised before being given the injection which will put them to sleep. This often requires them to be in the clinic where there are small anaesthetic induction circuits available; which we can use to anaesthetise them without the stress or discomfort of an injection. 

However, we can also use injectable means of sedation which would allow the process to be carried out at home. Therefore, there are several important factors to bear in mind. These include how easily your pet rodent is to handle; how stressful they find it being handled or being in a strange environment; and how tolerant they are of injections. 

Do you want to see your pet be put to sleep?

In most cases, home visits are requested because owners want their pets to be at home in their own environment when the time comes. It also allows their owners to feel more comfortable too. Not only are there fewer time constraints, but also it’s often less stressful being at home at such a difficult time; and not having to face other people afterwards, on the way out of a crowded clinic. A home visit can enable the pet’s family to be comfortable and close to their pet throughout the entire process. Your pet will be where they are most at ease. And you will often be able to hold him whilst the sedation takes effect. 

That said, you must bear in mind whether you want to witness your pet being sedated and later given the final injection; some people find this unbearable and very much would prefer not to see. Generally, it is a very quick process with only a little discomfort during the injection of sedation. The euthanasia injection is then given once they are sedated. Again, because small rodents can be very difficult to catheterise, this often means an intra-cardiac (into the heart) injection, after the sedation, which some may find unpleasant to see. 

One final note

The majority of home visits for euthanasia go as well as can be expected. However, just like in the clinic, there can be unforeseen circumstances or events that complicate the process. These can make it more stressful for the pet’s owner. Some pets can be difficult to sedate, and require further injections or firm handling to try and make the process as efficient as possible and avoid prolonged stress. Similarly, it is not always easy to deliver the final injection. But it’s important to remember that once under sedation your pet is very much unaware of what is going on; although it can obviously be stressful for some owners to see the process not going as smoothly as they had hoped.

There are no easy decisions when dealing with euthanasia, including whether a home visit is the right choice. If you aren’t sure whether a home visit is the right option, give your veterinary practice a call to have a chat so they can tell you what to expect; it can help to make the process a little more bearable. 

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