Drugs Used to Put a Dog to Sleep

By Adrienne Farricelli

Scheduling a euthanasia appointment is one of the toughest and most dreaded decisions a dog owner can make. Yet, this tough decision is also the kindest act of love owners can ultimately give their dogs in order to allow them to peacefully drift into a pain-free world. The word ''euthanasia'' derives from Greek roots meaning ''good death''. Indeed, putting a dog to sleep is a peaceful, and in most cases, painless experience, thanks to the effect of fast-acting drugs capable of allowing the dog to drift into a anesthesia-like sleep and never wake up.

Sedatives

Some dogs may be particularly anxious the day of the euthanasia appointment because they dislike being in unfamiliar surroundings and around people they do not know. This is pretty common since many dogs have learned to associate the vet's office with unpleasant procedures and tend to feel uncomfortable any time they step into an animal hospital. If your dog is particularly apprehensive or fractious, a good idea would be to ask the vet for a sedative to give the dog a couple of hours before putting the dog to sleep, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Sodium Pentobarbital

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends using sodium pentobarbital in order to euthanize animals. The AVMA, ASPCA and the National Animal Control Association, along with HSUS, concur that this method is the most compassionate, humane and safest way to put a pet to sleep. This drug is a Schedule II barbiturate which is injected into a dog's vein and works very quickly. In most cases, the drug works within five minutes by causing the heart to stop beating, however under some circumstances (such as if the dog has poor circulation) it may take slightly longer, explains veterinarian Holly Nash in an article for Pet Education.(reference 3)

Beuthanasia D

The use of Pentobarbital combined with a neuromuscular blocking agent for euthanasia purposes is an unacceptable practice. A combination of Pentobarbital sodium and phenytoin sodium, however, has recently obtained approval by the Food and Drug administration but for use in dogs only, according to HSUS. The portion of phenytoin sodium takes effect during the deep anesthetic stage induced by the pentobarbital sodium. Because of its cardiotoxic properties, it adds to the depressive effects on the heart leading to the complete stoppage of its electrical activity.