Client-Present Euthanasia Protocol

July 18, 2013

A Helpful Checklist for Veterinary Teams

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During your pre-euthanasia consultation with clients, ensure that you:


___discuss euthanasia as specifically as possible and identify your client’s wishes.

___explain the medical aspects of the procedure and answer client questions.

___explain the emotional aspects of the procedure and educate clients about local/national resources that offer grief support.

___provide clients with written information about euthanasia and the grief process.

___determine which family members, as well as staff members will be present.

___determine where (clinic Comfort Room, outdoor area, client’s home) the euthanasia will take place.

___discuss body care options and help clients choose their preferred method.

___if possible, explain/complete any necessary paperwork and arrange for payment.

___set an appointment date and time.

___remind clients to bring special toys, blankets, music they want to use during the euthanasia.

___get specific directions if euthanasia is to be performed at the client’s home or away from the hospital.


At the time of the euthanasia appointment, ensure that you:


___prepare the euthanasia site, ensuring that tissues, floor mats, memorials, etc. are in place.

___inform other staff members about the client’s arrival and ensure staff is prepared.

___complete paperwork and payment arrangements if not already done.

___confirm body care decisions.

___if using a catheter, remind the client about the benefits of the procedure and remove the pet for


___offer client time alone with pet.

___before proceeding with each injection(s), state out loud what you are injecting and remind client about how the pet is likely to react.

___if using a catheter, inject saline solution to ensure it is patent.

___if using a sedative, inject it to calm the patient.

____inject the euthanasia solution.

___use a stethoscope to listen for the pet’s heart to stop beating and gently and quietly pronounce the pet dead.


After euthanasia, ensure that you:


___offer client additional time alone with the pet.

___assist clients with making/collecting memorials or linking objects, like clippings of fur or clay paw prints.

___ask a member of your veterinary team to stay with the pet as clients exit. (This is the last image

clients have of their pets and most don’t like remembering them as being alone.)

___guide clients to a side or back exit so they can leave without going through the clinic’s waiting room

___escort clients to their vehicle and say good-bye. Be sure client is able to drive safely.

___follow-up with a condolence card and/or telephone check-in call to client within 48 hours of the euthanasia.


If euthanasia is performed at client’s home, follow the same protocols as listed above. In addition, ensure that you:


___arrive a bit early to set up the area where the euthanasia will be performed.

___familiarize yourself with the location so you are prepared to meet any unforeseen circumstances.

___travel with extra quantities of all supplies that will be needed:

  • saline solution

  • sedative

  • euthanasia solution

  • syringes and catheters

  • clippers

  • sturdy board, stretcher or body bags to transport the pet’s body (make sure they will fit through

  • doorways)

  • large waterproof tarp or plastic to place under the pet

  • blankets or large towels/fleeces to place over the plastic layer

  • resource materials about grief and loss

  • tissues

  • scissors and envelopes for fur clippings

  • kits for making clay paw prints

While in-home euthanasia is often more challenging for the veterinary team, the service is greatly appreciated by most clients.



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Find related articles under Staff Handouts in the Veterinary Wisdom® Resource Center - Support for Veterinary Professionals.



© 2013 World by the Tail, Inc. All rights reserved.

Laurel Lagoni is a nationally recognized veterinary grief expert and the former Director of the Argus Institute at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She is President of World by the Tail, Inc., and directs the Veterinary Wisdom® Resource Centers at



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