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Euthanasia

 

Although no-one wants to be faced with this situation, as bird/animal owners, chances are that one day, you WILL be faced with dealing with this.

 

 

The word euthanasia comes from Greek terms. ‘’eu’’ meaning ‘good’, and ‘’thanatos’’ meaning ‘death’. This is my view on what is a ‘good death’. The death should be as humane, as painless, and as trauma free as possible. The animal should experience little, or any if possible, anxiety pre-death. Loss of conciousness should be quick, and as pain free as possible. Usually, a well handled euthanasia is totally pain free.

 

Here is how the proceedings went with my recent encounter with euthanasia with my cockatiel, Chip.

 

1) Extensive tests were run to evaluate the seriousness of his condition (it was already clear at this point that his condition was quite serious.)

 

2) I asked my vet to be totally honest with regarding the outcome of the tests, if Chips condition was to prove incurable, and his life quality was going to be poor and degenerative, to advise me if euthanasia was advisable. I knew deep down that I would probably recognise this situation myself, but allowing for emotion to blind me slightly over my pets welfare, I needed to be sure I would not let my pet down.

 

3) Agreeing/coming to terms with such a decision should it arise, is not easy. However, it is vital at this point that you put your pets welfare before your own emotional needs.

 

HERE IS HOW TAKING MY BELOVED PET BIRD ON HIS FINAL JOURNEY WAS HANDLED

. None of it was easy, it was extremely difficult and painful emotionally, to the point of being physically painful. BUT deep within my heart, I knew I was doing right by my pet. (this is simply the decision to let a beloved friend go, not the actual act of euthanasia that I speak of above)

 

1) I prepared his travel cage and made it as comfortable as I could, as I did with any trip to the vet..

 

2) I kept my own emotions under strict control, and quietly and calmly removed him from his cage and placed him in his travel cage.

 

3) I was not kept waiting at the vets. They knew the reason I was there, and I was called in to the consulting room within minutes.

 

4) My vet quickly went over Chips condition, his prognosis, and reassured me that I was doing the right thing. I was asked if I wanted to be present during proceedings, which I did. There was NO pressure whatsoever put on me over this,

 

5) Chip was first of all given a whiff of general anaesthetic, and he very quickly and painlessly fell asleep, deeply asleep. It was calm, struggle free, and humane. Once he was fully anaesthetised, he was injected directly into his liver, via his stomach. This is the injection that actually causes the death of the animal.

 

6) All through the procedure, the vet chatted gently and calmly to me, explaining step by step what was happening. This kept me calm, which in turn will have reflected on my pets final emotions before he fell asleep under the anaesthesia.

 

7) I was then left in total peace and quiet (although the vet did not leave the room, he simply stayed silent) while I held my bird in my hands close to my heart as the final steps of his beautifully peaceful journey were completed.

 

8) After about a minute and a half, the vet gently suggested that he was going to check for breathing and heartbeat. Chip was not removed from my hands, and the vet was gentle and calm as he very carefully checked Chip for any signs of life. He acknowledged gently that Chip was now at peace.

 

9) A little bit of panic started to grow inside of me at this point, I needed to be sure that his euthanasia WAS successful. My vet patiently gave me another minute nursing Chip, and then quietly and calmly checked for signs of life again. He reassured me that Chips journey was, indeed, over. Chips passing was extremely calm, painless, and peaceful.

 

I am sharing and reliving these moments for those of you who think ‘’I could never cope’’ ‘’It will be traumatic and disturbing and horrible’’ ‘’My pet will suffer’’.

For those of you who may be facing this now, or may at sometime during the future face this difficult decision, I hope my experience has helped, or will help you feel more prepared should the time arise.

The personal loss and grief can still be extreme, but I do have to say that the beautiful peacefulness of your pets passing becomes a great comfort.

If your vet does not use anaesthesia as a prelude to euthanasia as a matter of course, you CAN insist upon it. This way, things are much easier on both your pet, and on you, especially with a small animal.

Euthanasia is seen as a dark subject, and from my experience, rarely discussed openly in public forums. It is even quite difficult to find heartfelt personal experiences on the web.

I hope my very recent experience of it has helped remove some of the darkness and horror that often seems to surround this subject. I hope it shows that those final steps in that final journey, can, indeed, have a peaceful beauty about them.

Even as I am writing this, I am grieving the loss of my much loved friend. But, I am NOT grieving how he passed. I will be eternally grateful for that beautiful, painfree, fear free passing.

Anne Kenyon.

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thank you, I did not know about the 1st step prior, I always experience the injection first. I will ask here in the states. Is this only with birds or other types of animals?

Edited by lovey
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:P I know it was very distressing to put Chip to sleep but let me assure you that it was painless and quick. After 10 plus years volunteering at the Wildlife Rescue place that I do, I never have been able to actually do the "last" injection although I routinely inject antibiotics. Although I am a "seasoned" volunteer I have to leave that final act to my boss or somebody else. But let me assure you, except for a couple of cases where the liver wasn't hit first time, it is peaceful so worry no more. Hope all is well with you now. :P
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Thats the point Im making Phoebe, how painlessly and quickly everything was done. Things have changed so uch for the better in recent years. Im feeling okay now thanks, just trying to get used to him not being here, just takes time. He was a lovely little bird.

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Guest pixie25

thankyou for sharing this info with us chirpy, its not an easy subject to write about.

 

i think this topic should be pinned because there may come a time when someone needs to see this, to give them the courage to help a dying feathered friend on their way.

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Lovey, as a paying client, you can INSIST. xxx (if the vet decides to incur extra charges, believe me, its well worth the cost)

Anne xx

 

Thank you because I didn't know about the first step. My rabbit and my mil cat really did struggle and it was not a good and more traumatic for the animal and the owner. She cried and cried as I held her during the procedure.

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Thank you chirpy. Having been faced with the decision myself whether to euthanise or not, I can assure you that you have done the noble thing. (((((hugs to you)))))

 

I have heard about how traumatizing it can be if the animal is not anesthitised first. I wholeheartedly agree with doing that first.

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  • 1 year later...
Guest ellulah

If I ever have to get another bird of mine put to sleep I will definatley request that they be sedated first. I recently had my Tiel Bling Bling euthanaised and he screamed before he died. It was terrible.

 

I have euthanaised injured wildlife before (I am a Carer also), we don't inject into the liver as it is too easy to miss. Some one holds the animal and they are injected into the break between scull and spine - straight into the brain. It is instant. However I think that form of euthanasia would be extremly traumatic for a loving owner watching.

 

Great post. Thankyou

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 months later...

I was just reading the article "Euthanasia: the difficult decision" under the FAQ and I found this post, because as some of you may know Sara has been sick for a while and this is something to consider.

I called the vet to ask them what method they use to do that , she mentioned two big words which she explained later that one of them is injection into the vein and the other goes into the liver, and I asked her whether they sedate the bird first she said no because they think this will stress the bird ???????????????

I told them that Sara scream if she is being held against her will and I am sure that to find the right spot to do the injection they have to hold her still, she said then it is better to do the vein method because it is painless while the liver one the bird will be in pain until it dies.

all of that didn't make sense to me and didn't make the decision easier, when I read what you wrote Anne I was sad, I cried a lot but I felt this is what I should do, but after talking the vet assistant today I felt no way, if she is going to die let her die at peace at the comfort of home. I don't know what to do.

also in the article, you mentioned that there are some other methods and from the replies I read about some injection into the brain, what is that and where to find more info about these things.

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I don't see how sedating her what stress her out at all. I had to have my budgie go under anaesthesia for X-rays and blood work up. She was fine.

I thought the whole point of euthanasia was to end your animal friend's life painlessly.

I don't like this vet of yours ORCA, I think you should go see another one.

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For the life of me I cannot understand why "we" are so ready to euthanise animals against their will, and yet find it abhorrent to apply to people who beg for it! Is it the inconvenience or stress of caring for a terminally ill animal? Are pain relieving medications not available for our avian friends?

 

I have had animals "put down" on the advice of "experts" and I'm sure they mean well ... I'm just no longer sure they've "got it right".

 

If an animal wants to die, nothing you can do will save it. If it wants to live, even if it's just for a few more days, I no longer feel I have any right to deny them that wish.

 

Vertebrates in pain produce endorphins, natural "pain killers" that take the edge off "suffering". In extreme cases they can go into shock - I've seen that with a stray budgie that had been cornered in a clump of fern by a mob of magpies intent on turning it into dinner! (I rescued the budgie and she recovered)

 

Either way, nature has ways of easing things to death given the chance.

 

I understand this flies in the face of "conventional wisdom" and may be controversial. In the end you have to make up your own mind, but I sincerely believe there are better alternatives to euthanasia.

 

KathyW.

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I TOTALLY agree with you KathyW, and definitely it is not a matter of inconvenience, I will care for Sara as long as it will take her, and I will love her forever. The vet gave up on Sara few months ago, and here she is still with me, saying that and seeing her the way she is going, I know the end is not the way I like it to be.

Even though Sara now looks terrible, she doesn’t eat or drink on her own (I give her water regularly and she will only eat from my hand which I am doing few times a day), she has a bruise which is filled with blood and pus ready to burst at any time, her poo is VERY runny, that is not to mention her internal problems, the vet think she has cancer, enlarged liver, and her kidneys are damaged may be from the many times she took antibiotics. For now I don’t see her in pain, and I don’t know if birds ever show their pain if they have it. The first thing I asked the vet was if there is anything to ease the pain, and her answer was no. I am not with nor against the euthanasia; because I think if you love your pet you will be ready to do anything for them, and you will be the only one who can tell what to do, I personally posted this because I would like to study thoroughly all the options whether I like it or not, because if you don’t know you can’t choose.

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(Laughing out loud) @ Macka :devil:

 

okay I see NO POINT in keeping an animal alive if its suffering no matter whether you believe they can turn on endorphins so they dont feel pain or not. Do people suffering major illness turn on their endorphins? Not the ones I have seen slowly die in pain,

So your saying that even though the animal cant feed itself or water itself, shits everywhere- on itself and is just a miserable wreck "lets keep it alive even longer- its okay it cant feel anything!" Shock is totally different to being seriously ill.

Alot of pain relieving meds cause major damage to already defunct organs, which in turn causes more problems for the animal.

Euthanasia should be seen to be helping the suffering animal- I hope I could have that choice when I'm that sick, I know what option Id pick.

 

If you have a sick suffering bird and nothing can be done to make it better its okay for you to choose this option to help your friend. Dont prolong its suffering to save your conscience.

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Pie,The so called pet lovers,are usely the crual one when it comes to there pets.

I have seen it time & time again.The poor thing can hardly move or shite & they say,

poor freddy I could`nt have him put to sleep. :P

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One of the major problems with pet birds is that they are all prey animals and they don't show pain very easily at all, if at all. Because in the wild, to show pain means certain death, because a predator will seek a sick bird out rather than a healthy bird that would be hard to catch.

I have experienced this first hand, when Saffron got her foot caught in a rope toy, which completely occluded the circulation to her foot. The actual act of occlusion doesn't hurt, but it is when the constriction, and thus occlusion, is removed it hurts like you would not believe (we had to do experiments on ourselves in physiology prac). Of course I had to release Saffron's foot or else she would have lost it. She did not make a sound, she only bit me extra hard. But if I didn't know any better, I would have thought she was in minimal pain.

Thus knowing when a bird is in pain can be quite a grey area. They may appear okay, but they may not actually be okay. It is your responsibility as the animal's carer to decide when the bird is not enjoying life anymore, but as I have made an example of above, this can be extremely difficult.

I always like to think where there's life there's hope. I think this applies to an animal that does not wish to leave this place just yet.

The point of this whole topic is to let people know that it is okay to decide to euthanise their pet, if they believe its quality of life has degenerated so far that it has no quality of life.

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"The point of this whole topic is to let people know that it is okay to decide to euthanise their pet, if they believe its quality of life has degenerated so far that it has no quality of life."

 

This part that was written by Sailorwolf is very true it wasn't here to cause debate.

 

Sitting here at my computer, reading ORCA's post, I can pass a judgement on what I "think" is right and what I "think" she should do. But until you are in the situation where your beloved pet where your pet is dying then in all reality that is all we are doing is passing judgement.

 

I can say this confidently because I have been in this situation many times but just recently our 18y shep mix (50lb) dog stroked out and then I took him to the vet where they sent him to a better place for sure. I look back and say he should have been put down months and even years ago. Robin and Kaz were my support system through this whole time though I am sure they were thinking Elly get him to the vet and put him out of pain as good friends from this forum they let me ride through my emotions.

 

Was the dog suffering during this time yes? Humans can't let go, we are a selfish species that needs to learn how to be unselfish (I watch that on Discovery)....I was selfish and I look back and think my poor dog. Do I regret keeping him alive sometimes but in the end it worked out...

 

I agree with many statements here macka, kathyw, sailorwolf, pie etc... so please don't take me wrong just know each and everyone of you I respect how you feel about this topic and that I agree with many points.

 

We have to remember the emotional attachement level to individual "pet" birds is much higher then when you have more. DO NOT TAKE this statement wrong because I KNOW those who have several birds plus DO CARE and DO MOURN, it is different though and we have to admit that the emotional bond is different.

 

I can honestly say that when my first dog died so many years ago it hurt it seems a 1000x worse then when my grandma died (isn't that horrible to write) but it was because I cared for him so deeply on a day to day basis etc... I know I can say this on a pet forum because I have talked to other pet owners who have said you know what Elly I have felt that way too but I was too embarassed to say that out loud.

 

In the end no matter how we feel the ultimate decision is ORCA and as a forum member we don't have to support her decision . The best thing we can do is support her as an individual that is going through a hard time. Harsh words or opinions just make the decision even more difficult, I know I have been there as one of those "pet" owners. You think about it every moment should I shouldn't I, going through guilt of keeping them live or putting them down etc...

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  • 12 years later...

Any animal in pain without recourse of healing needs the final sleep. The “good death” as opposed to a horrible one. Including humans. And certainly for myself. In America we have the DNR. Do Not Resuscitate; decided by us and signed by our doctor and our witnesses. Some humans have a lot of trouble making that decision. I did  not. I wish to be as peaceful and relaxed as possible should i be taken off of life support. I would want no less for my dear animals. We have hospice to care for terminally ill humans. We could organize that for exceptionally emotional pet owners; to support each other in preparing for loss.  Do not be afraid of death, for as wisdom tells us, it has been our patient friend all along. Make sure to take comfort in it, for it is promised to all. 

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