Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put To Sleep?

Putting a dog to death is a very tough and heart-wrenching decision for every dog owner. Even though owners do so in the best interest of their dogs, it is stressful not knowing how our dogs feel during the process. At least dog owners understand that the euthanization process is not painful, but they still wonder whether their dogs know that they are being put to death.

Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put To Sleep?

The explanation to this question depends on whom you ask. Some dog owners believe that dogs know when they are being put to sleep, while others doubt it. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that dogs know they are being euthanized.

Scientists argue that dogs do not know they are being put to sleep because they are not brilliant enough to understand the concept of euthanization. They can only respond to the injection, vocalize uncontrollably, and have muscle spasms or other signs that weaken them.

Reasons Why Dogs Don’t Understand They Are Being Put To Sleep

They Concentrate On You and The Symptoms

The majority of dogs will be entirely preoccupied with you and the symptoms. They will be distressed by the symptoms, which is probably also what happened to your dog.

A dog will typically experience a wide range of symptoms just before dying, like general discomfort, nausea, and other symptoms. However, many dogs spend their last moments in their owner’s arms and might not realize they are dying.

They Are Not Wise Enough To Understand The Euthanization Process

Dogs do not understand the concept of euthanization. This explains why you should not be worried that your dog yelped during euthanasia, as he might be dealing with their worsening symptoms.

Also, a dog can show anxiety if euthanasia is done in the clinic, he can be scared by just seeing the vet, or he fears injections.

They Often Become Less Mentally Alert

Dogs are not intellectually alert when they are put to sleep; thus, they are unaware of it.

Most dogs typically lose some of their capacity to concentrate during the procedure.

They might act in ways that they wouldn’t have otherwise as a result of this.  

The Sense Loss Of Energy

In the wild, dogs will separate themselves from the pack when they feel weaker and cannot be a good contributor to it. This happens naturally, and they will immediately recognize it.  

They will become aware of this energy loss, leading them to withdraw from the pack. The dog in your situation might not want to be away from you for long, but it will slow down its pace.

The dog will be concentrating on its limited mobility in an effort to maintain its strength.

My Dog Struggled During Euthanasia: 6 Reasons


Many dogs do not like injections or medicines. Also, many associates the clinic with past experiences. Additionally, a dog can be anxious around strangers.

Difficulties Finding Veins

Your veterinarian might repeatedly poke the same location to locate veins that are difficult to identify because of dehydration, reduced blood pressure, or constricted veins in seniors.

Even though a skilled veterinarian shouldn’t experience this, some dogs’ veins are more difficult to locate than others.

It’s best to contact your veterinarian if your dog has ever experienced the problem. This is because a wriggling and writhing dog worsens the situation.


There is a good risk that your dog will struggle during euthanasia if he has an underlying medical condition.

Dogs with painful conditions like cancer or arthritis will require extra care when handling them. 

Owners sometimes misinterpret the last whelp or pleading puppy eyes as a cry for help, but it’s typically just a response to the suffering you’re attempting to spare them from.

Improper Administration of the Solution

Your dog can experience a burning feeling if the medication isn’t administered correctly and doesn’t enter the vein fully.

It can also be that the temperature difference makes your dog feel the solution entering his veins.

This sensation is similar to what IV fluid makes humans feel, but it can become extremely serious for dogs who have never experienced it and may even appear to resist.

Use Of Non-Regulated Sedatives

Two sedatives are recommended in the Human Society euthanasia manual: PreMix (Xylazine/Ketamine) and Telazol (Tiletamine/Zolazepam). Sodium Pentobarbital is also recommended for euthanizing dogs.

There is a possibility that your dog will react to the approved sedatives. However, if unapproved sedatives are used, the danger that your dog will react to the solution is higher.

Some of these should be avoided because they aren’t considered to be humane at all.

If unapproved ones are used, your dog may still not realize that he is being put to sleep, but he will feel extreme fear, and his vital signs may spike.

Reaction to Sedative or Pentobarbital

When a sedative is administered, dogs may react to the sting by having spasms, convulsions, or other odd behaviors like bobbing their heads.

The most often used is sodium pentobarbital in the USA, and it can be used with a sedative before euthanasia.

There are a few stages your dog will undergo after injection.

Voluntary Excitation

The dog starts to become uncoordinated, loses consciousness and the ability to sense pain, and may react sensitively to stimuli like touch or noise.

Involuntary Excitement

It moves through the cerebral cortex and into the cerebrum, which may result in uncontrollable vocalizations and leg paddling.

Surgical Anesthesia

Loss of pain sensitivity, loss of reflexes (such as the capacity to blink the eyes or wiggle the toes), and inability to react to visual or auditory stimuli.

Medullary Paralysis

Only enters the brain stem to euthanize and impair vital functioning (breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure)

Before the use of any sedative, discuss with your veterinarian what will be utilized and why.

What to Do After They Are Put to Sleep

Many people feel the need to adopt or buy another dog immediately after putting yours to death. This might not be the right move if you have not healed from that loss. Donating your dog’s supplies to a shelter is advisable, and buying new ones when you bring another dog home. If you retain these supplies, it might be hard for you to heal quickly as they always trigger memories.

Additionally, you should know that we all don’t have the same healing time as our family members. It might be easy for one family member to heal and move on quickly, whereas there is one who will seem like he is taking forever. Let this not trigger anger or resentment by thinking it was unfair for a person to move on as nothing happened or get angry that one is taking ages and life must go on.

1 thought on “Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put To Sleep?”

  1. Whether a dog is given an authorized or an unauthorized sedative I believe that the worst part of having my pet euthanized would be when he’s being sedated. If my pet is going to go thru convulsions ,odd behavior, spasms,head bobbing, leg padding, or loose contagiousness that’s when we should be there. By the time the vet bring you in to be with your pet the vet had already killed them. Now I know they ask us to leave the room. That to me is inhumane


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