Euthanasia: From the Greek word 'eu', meaning good, and 'thanatos', meaning death, the two words together translate to "A Good Death"
In domesticated animals this process is commonly referred to by Euphemisms such as “put down" or "put to sleep", (pts)
In most cases euthanasia is used as a last resort when all other attempts have failed to cure illness, or improve the quality of life for a sick or old aging pet. To euthanize is given due consideration before we finally decide to put our little pet to sleep in which to relive their pain and suffering.
Many old age diseases can occur in hamsters over the age of 18 month and many geriatric conditions can be encountered above this age.
Most of the geriatric diseases and ailments in hamsters are not curable, and many eventually result in the death or severe impairment in the quality of the life for the hamster.
Regrettably, it is during theses sad times we must come to expect and accept the inevitable. We can become so attached to theses little creatures that when end of life is nearing we can it find it very hard to let them go, but our thoughts and considerations must be for the well being of our pet and not our own feelings. Many diseases such as kidney or liver failure and terminal illness such as tumours / cancer etc: are not curable and will in a very short time result in the death of the animal.
Most hamsters can cope well with old age along with some of the minor symptoms and ailments that old age can bring with it; old age may only become a problem when geriatric diseases start to interfere in the quality of life of the pet. The decision then is when to euthanize. Many of us rely on our vet's experience to give good advice when dealing with difficult decisions of this nature, and may advise to euthanize if he thinks that veterinary treatment may hinder the animal’s well being or cause further pain and stress. When life begins to become unbearable for the animal it will normally stay in its nest, or curl up in a corner of the cage refusing to eat or drink, and may walk around with an arched back and an unsteady gate.
It is at times such as this our thoughts must be with how the hamster is coping with the quality of its life. Most people, as they become aware of such symptoms usually rely on the advice of their vet as to whether euthanasia would be more appropriate than expensive veterinary treatment that may prove in the long term not to be successful.
Many animal lovers feel vet fees become irrelevant and concern over their pet’s health is more important than money. But the question still remains if veterinary treatment to keep them alive would prolong the animals suffering and well being, thus causing the animal further stress and pain then we must consider the animal’s feelings and well being before our own.
We always fear losing our pets that mean so much to us and the decision to terminate our beloved pet's suffering and discomfort is never easy for any of us. Nevertheless, that time inevitably does come and some pet owners become plagued with self-doubt about our own human responsibility to ease a gentle friend's discomfort and disabilities.
For those of you who have had no experience with the euthanasia of a pet I would like to offer a little guidance so that you will have some firmer ground to stand on when that time does come and know what to expect. It is very common to be plagued by remorse, doubt, and guilt about the decision to go ahead with the euthanasia process of a beloved pet. No one is comfortable with death but your discomfort with the event should not govern your decision whether or not to be present with your pet at the time of its passing. Some people choose to separate themselves from the final moments of their pet's life, possibly, in the thought that they cannot bear to watch the last moments of their pet’s life fade away, a pet that has been a huge part of their lives. Although not an easy choice for us to make, you can still comfort or simply be with your pet at the time of euthanasia. However, that has to a personal choice and you have to decide what is best for you as well as your pet. But from personal experience and observations I can assure you it is very quick and peaceful.
The only issue with being a breeder is the many hamsters that I have in my care, and I cherish each and every one as if I had only the one. At some time in their life some may need veterinary care and those that do get it regardless of cost. Vet bills are expensive, and people have to be realistic and may have to take that cost into consideration against the conclusion of any veterinary care as older pets may not tolerate any intensive or invasive medical procedures, and euthanasia may be the only option.
With very small animals such as rodents intravenous injection is not practical and most vets use an inhalant anaesthetic gas such as isoflurane, sevoflurane or halothane. The animal is placed in a sealed chamber and high levels of anaesthetic gas are introduced, this serves to send the animal to sleep as if preparing to undergo surgery, and then is overdosed with a higher level of the gas.
On the few occasions I have witnessed with my own hamsters being pts my vet used a container to place the animal in, followed with an ether soaked cotton ball. The lid was replaced for about 1 minute until the animal literally went to sleep; a euthanasia drug such as pentobarbital was then injected directly into the heart chamber or body cavity. I observed a peaceful and very quick death.