An end of life (euthanasia) protocol / checklist

The word Euthanasia means, “gentle death”. As a pet loss educator and grief coach, clients shared how a caring and compassionate end of life experience made all the difference in their journey of healing. Below is a checklist I’ve compiled on their behalf of things they wished they had. You can use it as a guide as you determine with your team how to provide the best care possible.

Pre-Euthanasia meetings:

Checklist or preparation material on how to know when it’s time
Reading materials, videos or educational material about
euthanasia process, and what happens afterwards
Euthanasia options (at home vs. at the clinic; owner present in the room vs.
owner not present)
Conversation about euthanasia process
Information about pet loss and grief
Aftercare information about cremation, burial, options (help me decide
ahead of time)
Information about burial vs. cremation, memorial products
Alternative options like aromatherapy to help with pet’s anxiety or stress
(Bach Flower Remedies, Rescue Remedy for stress, Arnica for pain)
Schedule the appointment when it is a quiet time of the day
Tell me if I can bring something symbolic with me (a special blanket, a song
to play if you have music in the room)

Right before the procedure:

If possible, please be on time and don’t make me sit in the waiting room for a long time
If there isn’t a separate euthanasia room, please put me in an exam room where it is quiet
Review each step of the euthanasia with me
Prepare me for what may happen (expected and unexpected reactions)
Give me a choice to be present for sedation, or entire procedure
Take care of signing any forms and pay for procedure ahead of time
Take care of aftercare arrangements beforehand

During the procedure:

A blanket to cover my pet
A comfortable spot for my pet to rest
Couches or comfortable chair
Dimmed lighting
Soft Music
Peaceful décor
Allow me to do any rituals that may make me feel better (play a special song, light a candle)
Pronounce time of death, acknowledge my pet by name
More time afterwards to say goodbye
An offer of a clipping of fur before they take my pet away
Separate entrance so I can leave without seeing other people in the waiting area
A nearby private bathroom where I can go blow my nose and clean up
Express condolence, or if we are close, give me a hug

Nice to have in the room:

Information about pet loss and grief
Aftercare information about cremation, burial, option
Information about process of cremation
Pet Loss books and literature for adults AND children
Aromatherapy (Bach Flower Remedies, Rescue Remedy for Stress, Arnica for pain)
Sample remembrance items (candles, keepsake lockets, an urn or two)

After the procedure:

A card or condolence letter
Offer something to take with me (a paw print sachet to hold my pet’s collar, a memorial candle, clip of fur) so I don’t leave empty handed
A call from the office the day after to see how I am doing, resources for grief support
If I have been coming to see you for a long time, call in a few days or week to see how I am doing and offer resources for grief support

2 thoughts on “An end of life (euthanasia) protocol / checklist”

  1. What a thoughtful post. I’ve had the wonderful experience of two kitties living until 20 years old, and had not had to put them down — but good to know that there are avenues of support and guidance for people to understand this sad process.


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