Unfortunately, there comes a time when we need to decide if our pets are suffering and should be let down quietly. This can be due to an injury, and illness, or old age. If your pet isn't eating, is exhibiting signs of pain, is lethargic, and generally seems unhappy and distressed it can be time to let go. This is never an easy thing to do, but we owe our companion animals the same love and guidance in their passage to the next world as we gave to them when they were here with us.
It is important to be sure that the decision to euthanize is the only option for your pet. It should never be an option if your rat has a treatable condition or the potential at a longer, happier life with further care. The decision to euthanize should be made only after all other medical options have failed and your animal is obviously no longer enjoying it's life.
Once the decision to euthanize your pet has been made, you have to have a commitment to be part of the process until the end. The process for euthanizing cats and dogs is to find a large vein and inject the fluid intravenously, which provides a quiet and painless death. For our smaller pets, finding a vein is not an option and they are often given the injection directly into their heart or into their stomach. This is a very painful way to go and while death does result within a few minutes, there are other ways of letting your beloved pet go without it suffering.
Insist on accompanying your pet with your veterinarian to be sure that the procedure is done humanely. There are many vets who will be of the mentality that it is 'just a rat' or 'just a mouse' and will assure you of a painless process, only to hand your pet off to a vet tech who will give your animal that painful injection and leave it to die. The best way is to insist on inhalant anesthesia before the injection, which ensures your pet will not feel the injection and leave this world peacefully.
There are also those who would carry out the euthanasia process at home, which can have the advantage of not putting your already dying pet through the trauma of being removed from his home environment and taken to a frightening vet's office. There is only one humane way of euthanizing yourself at home, and this is with an inhalant overdose. Do not believe anyone who tells you that you can humanely put an animal to sleep by leaving it in the freezer or with blunt force impact. To anyone who loves their pets these would never be an option.
For information about euthanizing your pet at home, please visit RMCA's Euthanasia Article.
As painful as losing a pet can be, we can sleep easier knowing we made their time on this world enjoyable and that some day we will be able to see them, healthy and happy on the other side.
An Additional Note about Freezer Euthanasia
We've had several inquiries and tracked several searches back to our site specifically looking for information on euthanising rodents using the freezer, and have decided that it may be important to elaborate on what an inhumane method this is. Please remember that placing your animal in the freezer to euthanize them is a very painful way to die, and it can take quite a long time. This method of euthanisia causes hypothermia, which has the following stages:
Stage One: Mild to strong shivering occurs, while blood vessels in the outer extremeties constrict to lessen heat loss. Breathing becomes quick and shallow, dexterity and control over extremeties becomes hindered. A warming feeling may occur as Stage Two approaches.
Stage Two: Shivering becomes violent. Muscle motions become uncoordinated, and movement is slow and labored accompanied by mental confusion. Surface blood vessels continue to contract to try and protect the vital orgrans. Extremeties and exposed skin (such as paws, tails and lips) may turn blue from lack of circulation.