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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My beautiful double rex girl had to be pts today due to pneumonia. The vet came in with a 1cc syringe full of this yellow coloured medication to make my rat 'sleepy'. I asked him if it would knock her out and he said it would not and that once she was sleepy he would do the lethal injection. At that moment my eyes welled up and I told him that my rat is suffering enough and that I don't want her to feel any pain and to please gas her.

My vet seemed a wee bit irritated and told me this is how he puts small animals down. As I stood there crying he went off to get a clear box to put her in and said, "Put her in there please". I asked which side since there was a divider in it and he told me it didn't matter. He went to the back with my rat and came back and told me my rat was almost out and when she is he would euthanize her. I wanted to be there, but felt since the vet was ticked off my request would have ticked him off further.

To me this is a barbaric way of putting a rat to sleep. However, this is my first time putting a beloved animal down and I am not a vet and could be wrong. The gassing costed extra but it was worth every penny.
 

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I'm sorry for your loss.

My experience with having rats euthanized is this:
- The vet gave my rats an injection that put them pretty much completely out of it. Completely asleep with no response to stimuli.
- I held them as they drifted to sleep, until they reached the state of being out of it.
- Then they took them to the back to be gassed in order to insure they were completely out of it and then I assume they did the final injection.

I asked recently if they could do the gas first before the "sleepy" injection, so they wouldn't experience any pain, and they agreed for next time, but I haven't had a rat put down since then. They said they doing both the shot of "sleepy" and the gas was necessary to insure they didn't feel the heart stick. I'm not sure if they just want the money for doing all three things or if that's true (my vet is nice, but very money hungry).

I am sorry you had such an awful experience during such an already awful time. The vet shouldn't have gotten irritated with you. Don't be afraid to be your pets' advocate and speak up when something doesn't feel right.
 

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Honestly, I would consider switching to another vet after that. xP If a vet ever got irritated or snippy with me when I was there to put a pet down, I would be furious. If there was ever a moment that would call for them to be comforting and considerate, that would be it. :/

Finding a good vet is hard, and I'm sorry you had to go through that. :(
 

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Honestly, I would consider switching to another vet after that. xP If a vet ever got irritated or snippy with me when I was there to put a pet down, I would be furious. If there was ever a moment that would call for them to be comforting and considerate, that would be it. :/
Agreed. Such insensitivity is unacceptable. I'm lucky to have a vet that even cried when my rats were put down. Whether for me or for my rats, I don't know, but she's really nice and cares deeply about every animal and client she sees. I've never seen her irritated at anyone or anything, nor anyone else in that office. She has great "bedside manner." I wish everyone was lucky enough to find a vet that both cares and is knowledgeable about rats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here is what I came across on rat euthanasia: Under no circumstances allow anyone to administer an intracardiac (IC; in the heart) injection to a conscious rat, even if the rat is sedated. Unfortunately, this euthanasia method is commonly used, but it is not humane. It is also illegal in California. The AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia says, “Intracardiac injection is acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized, or comatose animals. It is not considered acceptable in awake animals, owing to the difficulty and unpredictability of performing the injection accurately.” This is because an injection into the heart is painful, and it’s also difficult to find the heart, sometimes taking several seconds or resulting in the solution accidentally being injected into the lungs. The intracardiac injection can be performed humanely only if the rat is anesthetized so deeply that he does not blink if the corner of the eye is touched. I guess some vets like to use IC because once the rat is injected, death is quick; but quicker is not always better!


Consider asking the veterinarian to anesthetize your rat with the gas, inject the euthanasia solution in the abdomen while the rat is anesthetized, and then let the rat wake from the gas so the last thing your rat experiences is your cuddling him. If, however, a rat is experiencing respiratory distress, then euthanasia with gas anesthetic is the only recommended method because an abdominal injection is slower and can cause increased respiratory distress. Sedation can also increase respiratory distress and is not recommended for a rat in respiratory distress.


My rat was in respiratory distress so the next time we'll forgo the sedation if the above in bold is true.
 

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Sorry for your loss, but honestly it's probably quicker, cheaper, nicer and more humane to build a CO2 chamber and do it yourself at home. You can say goodbye, pop them in the box, start introducing the CO2 slowly, they get sleepy and when they're asleep you up the gas a bit for a second, turn it off and after about 4 mins they're gone. No pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you think vets know sedation can affect their breathing while they're in respiratory distress? I understand your rat stopped breathing, but do you think he/she went easily without discomfort? You didn't elaborate. Please do.
 

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My apologies, I just said that as an agreement that the status of their respiratory system can affect euthanasia. I shall elaborate.

Cream, the rat in question, was covered in tumors. The vet said it sounded like the tumors had spread to her lungs (don't know if that is true). She was injected with the sedation, put in the carrier, and the vet left to give her time to fall asleep. Cream took about two steps forward in the carrier right after the injection and then laid down, not breathing. She did not appear to be in any distress. She just... stopped. Her heart was still going when the vet listened, but she was not moving or trying/struggling to breath. Aside from the pain of the injection (which I hope to avoid in the future), I believe she went peacefully. I saw no sign of pain or distress, even in the instant before she laid down and stopped breathing.

Cream had a hard life. Lots of anxiety, a previous tumor removal, and just general unhappiness with life. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me for her to pass so quickly... she was ready to be free of the pain of life. She was an extremely unhappy rat, but her death was quick and peaceful.

As for whether or not vets know sedation can affect breathing, yes. Many warn that anesthesia could depress their breathing enough to cause damage and even death. I don't think any of us, the vet or myself, knew how bad of shape Cream was. Anything that makes them sleepy could depress breathing, which is why I never let a rat have surgery if they have breathing issues. I always try to give them a round of antibiotics if I know they will be having surgery, like with my newest male rat and his neuter (which is happening now).

However, I don't think it is a bad thing to sedate a rat for euthanasia if they are in respiratory distress. It will be ended soon enough either way, right? I don't like the injection because it causes pain. Poor Peaches (Cream's twin) let out a terrible pained squeak when she was sedated. That was when I decided no more. No more needles when they're awake.

Cream's death probably wasn't typical. Likely some rats in respiratory distress will struggle to breath rather than just stop breathing. The sedation should take affect soon enough, though, and they will be out of it (even if they are still trying to breath) before the lethal injection or pass before then due to inability to take a breath.

Obviously, I'm not a vet. This all is based on my (limited) experience and some of what I've read.

I've had three rats put down (including Cream). I've had one rat that I saw die, struggling to breathe. I've had one die from pneumonia when I wasn't watching. I also held an African Soft Fur as he died trying to suck in breaths after suffering brain damage (possibly a stroke?), completely gone but the body still fighting for oxygen. Watching an animal struggle to breathe is the worst thing ever. I'm glad Cream didn't have to go through that.

Please ask any more questions you may have. I tried to cover everything, but I may have missed something. I hope this helps somewhat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
My apologies, I just said that as an agreement that the status of their respiratory system can affect euthanasia. I shall elaborate.

Cream, the rat in question, was covered in tumors. The vet said it sounded like the tumors had spread to her lungs (don't know if that is true). She was injected with the sedation, put in the carrier, and the vet left to give her time to fall asleep. Cream took about two steps forward in the carrier right after the injection and then laid down, not breathing. She did not appear to be in any distress. She just... stopped. Her heart was still going when the vet listened, but she was not moving or trying/struggling to breath. Aside from the pain of the injection (which I hope to avoid in the future), I believe she went peacefully. I saw no sign of pain or distress, even in the instant before she laid down and stopped breathing.

Cream had a hard life. Lots of anxiety, a previous tumor removal, and just general unhappiness with life. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me for her to pass so quickly... she was ready to be free of the pain of life. She was an extremely unhappy rat, but her death was quick and peaceful.

As for whether or not vets know sedation can affect breathing, yes. Many warn that anesthesia could depress their breathing enough to cause damage and even death. I don't think any of us, the vet or myself, knew how bad of shape Cream was. Anything that makes them sleepy could depress breathing, which is why I never let a rat have surgery if they have breathing issues. I always try to give them a round of antibiotics if I know they will be having surgery, like with my newest male rat and his neuter (which is happening now).

However, I don't think it is a bad thing to sedate a rat for euthanasia if they are in respiratory distress. It will be ended soon enough either way, right? I don't like the injection because it causes pain. Poor Peaches (Cream's twin) let out a terrible pained squeak when she was sedated. That was when I decided no more. No more needles when they're awake.

Cream's death probably wasn't typical. Likely some rats in respiratory distress will struggle to breath rather than just stop breathing. The sedation should take affect soon enough, though, and they will be out of it (even if they are still trying to breath) before the lethal injection or pass before then due to inability to take a breath.

Obviously, I'm not a vet. This all is based on my (limited) experience and some of what I've read.

I've had three rats put down (including Cream). I've had one rat that I saw die, struggling to breathe. I've had one die from pneumonia when I wasn't watching. I also held an African Soft Fur as he died trying to suck in breaths after suffering brain damage (possibly a stroke?), completely gone but the body still fighting for oxygen. Watching an animal struggle to breathe is the worst thing ever. I'm glad Cream didn't have to go through that.

Please ask any more questions you may have. I tried to cover everything, but I may have missed something. I hope this helps somewhat.
Why did Cream have anxiety? What were the signs?

When it comes to euthanasia now I am confused. It seems that sedation and anesthesia both make breathing more difficult in respiratory ratties. My concern was that sedation wouldn't be enough for my girl to not feel the heart stick. If it can be felt I didn't want her to go out that way. She wasn't eating, wouldn't take meds, and was urinating blood. She was in pain all over and was boggling a lot and not out of contentment.
 

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Why did cream have anxiety? When it comes to euthanasia now I am confused. It seems that sedation and anastesa both make breathing more difficult in respiratory ratties. My concern was that sedation wouldn't be enough for my girl to not feel the heart stick. If it can be felt I didn't want her to go out that way.
She had mental issues her whole life. She would panic when out of the cage, no matter how much I tried to associate coming out with good treats and fun. She hated being touched. She was never happy and nothing I did could fix it.

Anything that puts rats "under" (asleep or in a sleepy state) will cause breathing to be depressed. It is the same way with humans. My sister has respiratory issues and cannot take any medications that cause sleepiness because they make her take less breaths and she already doesn't breath enough. Honestly, when it comes to sedating rats that are about to be euthanized... does it matter if their breathing is made worse? It will be over soon.

My vet seems to think sedation isn't enough, which is why they gas them after the sedation. They seem to think both the injection and gas is needed. I don't know how deeply either works. I just know whatever my vet injected my rats with made them 100% out of it. They no longer responded to stimuli. Whether they still felt it... I don't know. And while I like to minimize pain in their last few moments, the goal is for the pain to end at that point (by them passing). There is no way to avoid discomfort completely in such a situation, I think.

Those are just my thoughts and experiences, though. Hopefully someone with more knowledge about sedation can chime in about whether or not they can still feel pain.
 
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