Most veterinarians use a seizure medicine called pentobarbital to induce euthanasia, according to WebMD. The veterinarian may give a sedative to the pet prior to the euthanasia drug if the pet is frightened and needs to be relaxed; however, there may be side effects. If the pet is already having trouble breathing or is struggling with other symptoms, choosing not to give a sedative may be better for the animal.
The vet administers the euthanasia drug through a shot or an IV in one of the legs, states WebMD. The medication renders the pet unconscious and then within one to two minutes shuts down the heart and brain. A person who stays with his pet throughout the procedure should expect to see a final twitch or breath leave the body, and in many cases, the animal's eyes do not fully close. Many people find this startling; however, the pet should no longer be in pain as this occurs.
The pet euthanasia procedure usually takes place in a veterinarian's office, although some vets may accommodate the owner by performing it at the home, notes WebMD. The owner may choose to stay with the pet during the procedure, or he may wish to say goodbye privately beforehand. Following the procedure the owner must decide to have the pet buried or cremated. There may be local, county or state ordinances that provide guidance and regulations about burials, cremation and services.