After having your dog euthanized, you may be left with certain tormenting questions. Key among those is the one as to whether the dog knew he was being put to sleep. This article has the answer.
Did my dog know he was being put to sleep? The answer is ‘no’. Dogs don’t exactly have the same concept of death as us. Then again, if you were very sad on the day you were putting the dog to sleep, the dog may have sensed that sadness, leading to unusual behavior.
Dogs can read our emotions. If you are unduly sad, the dog will sense it, and behave in an unusual manner. This doesn’t mean that the dog knew he was being put to sleep.
Rather, it means that the dog probably sensed your sadness, and acted in an unusual manner due to it.
Sometimes people pose the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question due to the way the dog acts upon/while getting the injection.
The dog may act in a rather uncomfortable manner, leading to the conclusion that he ‘knew’ he was being put to sleep.
But most of the seemingly uncomfortable movements a dog makes when being put to sleep are normal reflexes at the point of death. The dog would have had the same reflexes, even if it was dying naturally.
The needle prick itself can also cause some discomfort. Even being handled by a vet can be rather uncomfortable to the dog. And the euthanasia medication can cause certain reactions…
Therefore in answering the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question, it is important to have some understanding of how dogs are actually put to sleep.
How Are Dogs Put To Sleep?
In answering the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question, a good starting point is in understanding how dogs are put to sleep.
Who puts down dogs? Normally it is the vet, with consent from the dog’s owner (and after coming to the conclusion that putting the dog down is the ethical thing to do).
Upon making the decision to put the dog down, the dog is taken to the vet’s office. Or the vet goes to the dog owner’s home in some cases.
In some situations, they initially administer a sedative: to make the dog unconscious first. Then they administer the pentobarbital, which ends the dog’s life.
But there are also cases where they forego the sedative, and opt to administer the pentobarbital directly.
So if you had the how do they put a dog to sleep question, that is the brief answer to it. That is how dogs are put down.
Let’s consider the time lapse factor. It is of relevance to the person posing the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question. So, how long does the process of putting a dog to sleep last?
The answer is that after the pentobarbital injection, it typically only takes 5 seconds for the dog to become unconscious. After that, it takes 10 seconds for the dog to lapse into a state of deep anesthesia.
Within another 10 seconds, the dog stops breathing. Another 20 seconds, and the heart stops pumping. Finally, in a maximum of 2 minutes, the dog is clinically dead.
Why Are Dogs Put To Sleep?
Also relevant in answering the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question is this consideration: on why dogs are put to sleep.
So why do dogs get put down?
In most cases, dogs are euthanized because they happen to be suffering from terminal and/or intensely painful conditions. So putting them to sleep is in an effort to end the pain and/or suffering.
Of course, we also have cases where bad dogs get put down because they have become too much of a danger to society. Therefore we can have a dog put to sleep on this account.
Dog shelters may also, in some rare cases, have to put down dogs they can’t sustain or find alternative homes for.
Ultimately, most of the people who pose the do dogs know when they are being put down question have one thing in common. They tend to be folks whose dogs’ euthanasia was because of terminal and/or intensely painful conditions.
Therefore in such cases, we find that the dogs’ euthanasia was with the aim of bringing an end to their pain.
Against that background, even if the dog knew about it, there would still be comfort in knowing that, after all, the dog’s euthanasia was with an aim to bring an end to its suffering.
Even then, it is usual and quite normal for one to be devastated after putting dog to sleep. Good intentions notwithstanding, it is still devastating.
And questions like, did I put my dog to sleep too soon, is it inhumane to put a dog to sleep and so on can linger.
But if, for instance, you put your dog to sleep to bring an end to its pain, you shouldn’t torture your mind too much.
Do Dogs Know They Are Dying?
People whose dogs are nearing death tend to report that the dogs manifest certain unusual behaviors. They may become morose, unusually clingy and so on.
At the exact point of death though, it doesn’t seem as if dogs know that they are dying.
This is relevant in answering the do dogs know they are being put to sleep question.
So in answering the do dogs know they are being put down question, we take note of the fact that, at the point of death, dogs don’t seem to know that they are dying.
Dogs with terminal diseases that are nearing death may start acting differently, presumably on account of having sensed death. But at the point of the actual death, they don’t seem to know that they are dying.
This should give you some comfort if you were wondering, did my dog know he was being put to sleep?
Do Dogs Know They Are Being Put To Sleep?
Before proceeding to answer the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question, we first need to find out whether, generally, dogs know they are being put down.
What do dogs think when they are being put to sleep? And what do dogs feel when they are put to sleep by a vet?
It would seem that the dogs think it is just another vet procedure. And that is if they give any thought to the whole affair at all.
Do dogs know they are getting put down? There is nothing to suggest this.
Even if the dog cries during euthanasia, it may be due to pentobarbital’s burning sensation (or the needle prick), rather than the thought that he is dying.
In answering the does a dog know they are being put to sleep question, we also have to go back to what we said, while answering the how do they put dogs to sleep question.
In answering the how does a dog get put to sleep question, we saw that it is typically through a pentobarbital injection. And that the injection makes the dog unconscious in 5 seconds…
Against that background, how would one answer the can a dog sense his/her own death (when put to sleep using pentobarbital) question? The answer is obviously that the dog feels nothing.
Can dogs sense euthanasia? If it is done right, it goes so fast that a dog doesn’t get to sense and process it.
Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put To Sleep?
Dogs don’t have exactly the same concept of death as us. We tend to anthropomorphize our dogs too much. But they are still dogs.
Since dogs don’t have the same concept of death as us, it wouldn’t make sense to say that the dog knew he was being put to sleep.
Sure, the dog may have behaved oddly on that day. But this is likely on account of it sensing your sadness.
What of the dog’s hesitancy at going to the vet that day? That may have been on account of previous unpleasant experiences there.
Or it may be on account of the dog sensing the hesitancy you also had. After all, making the should I put my dog down decision is never easy. There is usually lots of hesitancy.
Sensing your hesitancy (even at the subconscious level), the dog may have also mimicked it. This would explain the dog’s hesitancy to go to the vet’s office on the euthanasia appointment day.
One may still ask, my dog struggled during euthanasia, doesn’t it mean that he knew he was being put down?
The answer is that the struggle may have been due to the dog being uncomfortable with the handling.
Also what seems like a ‘struggle’ may be the usual reflexes that bodies have at the point of death. These reflexes are there, regardless of method of death. The dog would probably have had them, even if it were dying naturally.
Of course, people’s views on these matters vary. Going through the various did my dog know he was being put to sleep Reddit threads, you see many different perspectives.
But in scientific terms, there is nothing to suggest that a dog knows when it is being put to sleep.
Does It Hurt The Dog When Put To Sleep?
Quite often, alongside the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question comes this one: on whether being put to sleep hurts the dog.
So, to put it differently, do dogs feel pain when put to sleep? Or in more personal terms, does a dog feel pain when put to sleep? Or is putting a dog to sleep painless?
In answering the does putting down a dog hurt question, we need to make reference to what we said while addressing the how do dogs get put down issue.
We saw that dogs euthanasia is normally through pentobarbital injections. Sometimes, they first get sedative injections. Then the pentobarbital injection follows. After that, the dog becomes unconscious, then dies in seconds.
Against that background, do dogs feel pain when they are put down? In fact, do dogs feel anything when they are euthanasia? The answer is largely no. If they feel any pain, it is from the injection needle prick.
Granted, there are cases where the pentobarbital injection goes outside of a vein, rather than inside. In such cases there may be a burning sensation. But such cases are rare.
What happens when you put a pet to sleep in the right manner is that the pet gets a fast, largely pain-free death.
Do dogs feel pain when they are put to sleep? When a dog is put to sleep does it hurt? Does putting a dog to sleep hurt? The answer to all these questions is largely ‘no’.
The dog doesn’t feel pain when put to sleep – except maybe the minimal pain from the needle prick.
If the pentobarbital goes outside a vein rather than inside, there can be a burning sensation as well. There is usually no other pain.
Is It Hard To Put Your Dog Down?
Depending on the emotional attachment you had with the dog, putting it down can be rather hard.
Thus in addressing the does it hurt to euthanize a dog (or does it hurt to put a dog down) subject, it is important to focus on the emotional pain aspect.
Earlier, we answered the do dogs feel any pain when put to sleep question. We also answered questions like does it hurt when you put a dog down (or generally does it hurt when dogs are put down)?
Our focus then was on the physical pain aspect, for the dog.
Just to reiterate what we said, do dogs feel pain when being put to sleep? The answer is largely no. In most cases, the worst the dog may have to endure is the needle prick pain.
Thus having my dog put to sleep may not cause the dog itself pain. But is putting dog to sleep painful emotionally? The answer is that it can indeed be emotionally painful.
Thus that is the answer to the is putting a dog to sleep painful question.
Ultimately, what happens to a dog when it gets put down is very different from what happens to the owner.
In most cases, what happens when your dog gets put to sleep is that there may be grief.
So what to expect when putting a dog to sleep includes grief. Even the most hardhearted dog owners report some grief, after putting their dogs to sleep.
Otherwise in terms of logistics, putting a dog down is usually not hard. You just organize an appointment with a vet and explain the case. The vet then examines the dog and discusses the other options that are available. Then you set up the actual euthanasia appointment.
How Do You Deal With Putting A Dog To Sleep?
Quite often, alongside the did my dog know he was being put to sleep question comes another one. That is on how to deal with dog being put down.
For instance, one may be asking, I am putting my dog down tomorrow how do I say goodbye?
Or one may be asking, will god forgive me for putting my dog to sleep?
In any event, what happens when you put a dog down? Can a dog wake up after euthanasia?
Such questions on dog being put to sleep take a heavy emotional toll.
And how to deal with dog being put down varies from person to person.
Researching on what happens when you put your dog to sleep can give you the information you need to reassure yourself.
So you can research on subjects like, do dogs know when they are going to die, when you put a dog down does it hurt, what does a dog feel when euthanized… and so on.
Others are the likes of, what do vets do after they put a dog to sleep, does it hurt the dog to be put down, do dogs suffer when they are put down… and so on.
Information is power. With the right information, you may find that some of your worries are unfounded.
You may spend quality time with the dog, in readiness for that final vet appointment.
Taking final photos with the dog can also be helpful.
And ensuring that the dog has the best day of its life (in terms of treats and so on) can also give you comfort.
After putting the dog down, you may organize for some sort of celebration of its life. That may give you further comfort.
Final Verdict – Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put To Sleep
If you recently put a dog down, you may have worries as to whether the dog knew it was being put to sleep.
Thankfully, it is highly unlikely that your dog knew he was being put to sleep. Dogs don’t have exactly the same concept of death as we.
Sure, the dog may have acted differently in the period leading to its euthanasia. But this would likely be on account of it having sensed your sadness, and mimicking it.
At the point of death, the dog may have made some seemingly uncomfortable movements. But those are likely due to the needle prick pain, burning sensation from the pentobarbital or the usual (unconscious) reflexes that dying animals exhibit.