How to Euthanize a Dog With Over-the-Counter Drugs: 5 Steps and Why You Don’t Have To

For some reason, your dog’s health may hit a snug and, even worse, fail to respond to medication. Such circumstances leave dog parents with no option than euthanizing their dog using over-the-counter drugs. However, before taking that route, you should know how to euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs. 

You can euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs such as Benadryl and Tylenol. Usually, you should plan when to perform euthanasia and ensure you prepare your family to know why you decided so. Choose the correct drugs with high efficacy to rest the dog with little or no pain. 

In this article, I’ll discuss how to euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs in five steps. Most crucially, you’ll also learn why you don’t have to euthanize your dog with over-the-counter drugs and the best alternatives. Keep reading! 

Why You Shouldn’t Euthanize Your Dog at Home With Over-the-Counter Drugs and the Best Alternatives

Before embarking on the procedure to euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs, it’s worth noting that the process is inhumane. Besides being inhumane, euthanizing a dog at home is unethical, unapproved, and illegal. 

Most jurisdictions have outlined euthanasia only by qualified personnel like vets. 

Here are the reasons you shouldn’t euthanize your dog at home with over-the-counter drugs:

At-Home Euthanasia Can Lead to Unethical Practices

How to euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs

Veterinarians don’t recommend pet parents to euthanize their dogs at home using over-the-counter drugs. The main reason is that things may not always go well, and the process can backfire—which is normal

However, how the person reacts and what they do next matters. Sadly, desperate pet parents lack ideas further than administering the drug. So, they can’t help the dog but leave it to suffer from the consequences of a botched process. 

For example, a drugged dog may undergo a painful experience of:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Labored breathing

These experiences can take days, exposing your furry friend to immense suffering.

Find Out: Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping: Causes and 5 Simple Remedies

It’s Illegal 

Generally, euthanizing a pet at home without a vet’s guidance isn’t permitted in many states and jurisdictions. 

Companion animal euthanasia at home is not only regulated but also restricted under the watch of a qualified animal health practitioner. 

Local laws and regulations advocate for fair, humane, and ethical treatment of animals. If you need help with what to do, call the ASPCA or the Animal Poison Control Center for advice or guidance rather than taking it all in your hands and facing the wrong side of the law. 

Over-the-Counter Drugs May Be Ineffective

Over-the-counter drugs are not specially designed for euthanasia. The efficacy and dosage of these drugs are usually unproven—making them ineffective sometimes. 

For this reason, these medications pose a significant risk of not providing a humane and painless death. 

The Risk of Unpredictable Reactions 

Over-the-counter medicines can interact unpredictably with your dog’s internal body functions. The result is prolonged suffering, pain, and distress instead of a peaceful transition. 

Frankly, this isn’t an experience you want your pet to undergo. Hence, undertaking the procedure yourself is a significant risk. 

Your Welfare Is at Risk 

Administering an injection can expose you to the risk of your dog biting you. Of course, this is for the case of dogs that have a problem with their mental health and are, therefore, aggressive. 

That alone should inform your euthanasia option. If the dog bites you or anyone helping at the time, that’s another problem you’ll need to deal with. 

As opposed to your ‘blind’ techniques, vets use sedatives or a combination of medications to rest the dog before euthanizing it. You don’t have that knowledge or the necessary medicines for a similar approach. 

The Aftermath Emotional Impact

Performing euthanasia, even under the guidance and supervision of the vet, is emotional. Remember, the dog is part of your family. How other family members, including you, will react to the decision is distressing. 

Losing a family member can’t be something to love seeing. Yet, you have done the procedure yourself, and all the memories of your beloved dog suffering even to die still linger. This is traumatic; hence you may need to seek psychological counsel. 

Also Read: Gator Pitbull: Everything You Need to Know

Best Alternatives to Euthanize Your Dog

After seeing all the disadvantages of using over-the-counter medications for dog euthanasia, here are the best options to ensure your pooch undergoes a humane, safe, and painless transition to the afterlife:

Talk to Your Local Veterinarian and Negotiate Costs

Vet diagnosing a dog

The main reason for pet parents to euthanize their dogs at home is minimal resources. You probably don’t have the standard fees to pay at the vet hospital to have your dog euthanized. 

Most vet hospital fees are rising, scaring many pet parents to seek their services. For instance, the cost of euthanizing a dog ranges from $200-500, depending on the hospital and your preferred euthanasia package. 

Even so, talk to your local vet technician to perform euthanasia at a lower cost. Most vets help their clients by significantly reducing their fees or, even better, doing the procedure for free. You can even arrange with the vet technician to perform the process from your home. 

Take Your Dog to the Local Humane Society or Animal Shelter

According to American Humane, there are estimated 3,500 animal shelters in the United States. 

Therefore, Identify a local animal shelter around you and take your dog there for euthanasia.

The cost of euthanizing a dog at an animal shelter averages between $75 and $125

Best of all, you can talk to them to allow you to pay the fee in installments. Furthermore, they will refer you to other facilities if theirs are at full capacity. 

Is It Humane to Euthanize a Dog With Over the Counter Drugs?

Euthanizing a dog with over-the-counter drugs is inhumane because these medications sometimes fail, exposing the dog to intense suffering. The process takes a brave, gritty heart.  

If the process is botched, the affected dog may suffer from the following symptoms that could last for days before he finally blanks out. 

  • Seizures 
  • Bloody diarrhea 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Your dog goes into a state of coma
  • Blood vomiting 
  • Shivering 
  • The dog stops to eat

In addition, most OTCs do not readily kill the animal. Their gradual action leads to a slow death – hence your four-legged friend may suffer for hours or days. But this is unacceptable, and you shouldn’t have this method as an option if the veterinarian isn’t available to instruct and supervise the procedure.  

In case the medication fails, you don’t have the expertise to help your animal except to watch and hope for better outcomes—vets have backup plans in the event of failure. 

Moreover, taking your pet’s life is a hard decision. It’s inhumane to administer the drugs yourself and still watch him pass out. The emotional burden the process bears is super-demanding. 

Last but not least, over-the-counter drugs aren’t designed for euthanasia. Hence, your dog may spend many hours or even days before death. 

On the other hand, sedatives prepared for efficient euthanasia have high efficacy and will kill the animal in minutes. 

When to Euthanize a Dog With Over-the-Counter Drugs: Factors to Consider

You can euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs when he suffers from a terminal illness, even after trying all treatment options. 

Other factors to consider are old age, your dog experiencing chronic pain, and showing aggressive behavior that may endanger family members and pets. 

The following are the crucial factors to consider before euthanizing your dog:

Terminal Illness 

Severe medical conditions can cause extreme suffering to your dog, with little recovery hope. Terminal illnesses reduce the dog’s quality of life, rendering it to daily pain and distress. 

That said, if you notice your dog suffering from terminal conditions, it’s the best time to consider euthanizing it. 

Here are the most common terminal illnesses that you want to look out for:

  • Renal failure: Pain due to chronic kidney issues can be excruciating. It could cause frequent discomfort and pain, even though you have tried to rescue your dog using appropriate medications like tramadol, anti-emetics, appetite stimulants, and fluids. 
  • Heart failure: Besides chronic congestive heart failure, affected dogs can also experience discomfort and pain. Even worse, they could stop eating—a huge red flag that your dog has started his death journey.
  • Hemangiosarcoma: This condition is a form of canine cancer that affects the dog’s skin, spleen, liver, and heart. It’s deadly as hemangiosarcoma tumors invade the blood vessels, making them fragile and even rupturing them. If your dog has this condition, the best course of action is euthanasia to make them transition peacefully to the end of life. 
  • Osteosarcoma: This is also referred to as bone cancer. Tumors develop in the dog’s bones—whether in the limbs or skull. Notably, obese dogs weighing over 40 kilograms (88.18 pounds) are likely to suffer from these tumors. Once your dog has this cancer, it’s nearly impossible to help him. Medical professionals usually recommend euthanasia after trying all other options. 

Old Age 

Health problems usually escalate toward the end of a dog’s lifespan. Yet, it’s challenging to help your pooch recover and continue living an everyday, healthy life. Some of the health issues are: 

  • Cognition problems 
  • Stroke 
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure 

Seeing your dog experience the abovementioned issues can be painful to a pet parent. Hence, the need for euthanasia. 

Mobility Issues 

Mobility issues can plunge your pooch into great distress and suffering. The pain may initially be manageable. 

However, as the condition progresses, the pain could intensify, leading to symptoms like Sundower’s syndrome or awakeness in the middle of the night, pacing, panting, labored breathing, and whining. 

Usually, pet parents should use rescue drugs to help reduce their pet’s pain. Nonetheless, the dog should be euthanized because these drugs can’t help alleviate the pain permanently. 

Aggressive or Dangerous Behavior 

An aggressive dog can exhibit body language signs like a hard stare, growling, lunging, snapping, snarling, and even biting. These are dangerous signs that can indicate a dog that could harm other pets or family members. 

If your dog’s aggression is predatory, there’s no other option but to stop it, and euthanasia is probably the ideal option. Otherwise, the dog could hurt and kill whoever it feels is prey. 

Other behavioral issues like anxiety and fear may indicate a problematic dog. If there are no rehabilitation resources, the animal may be euthanized. 

Severe Injuries 

In the event of severe injuries resulting in chronic pain or disability, stopping the suffering could be the best decision—thus, the need to euthanize the dog. 

Legal Reasons 

Consider the local laws or regulations regarding euthanizing companion animals like dogs and cats. 

Most states don’t permit in-home euthanasia unless the process is guided and supervised by a qualified professional such as a veterinarian. 

How to Euthanize a Dog With Over-the-Counter Drugs in 5 Steps

Euthanizing a dog with over-the-counter drugs

Here are the five steps to euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs:

1. Planning and Preparation  

Whether euthanasia is due to a disease or aggression, deciding to euthanize a dog is difficult. Hence, it requires early planning and preparation. 

You should consider two sides during planning; your dog and yourself or other family members. Give your dog the best care he may need before he dies. 

You can show love through the following: 

  • Provide more treats, especially if it’s still eating 
  • Provide a comfortable environment. For example, ensure fewer distractions and that the bedding is soft and warm. 
  • Be available for your dog. Your presence is the greatest gift you can provide during his final days on earth. 

Besides, consider telling your family members about the decision to euthanize the dog. They should be on the same page as you, given they also had a bond with the dog. 

Make sure you have everything in place, including:

  • Benadryl or Tylenol tables
  • A syringe
  • Towels 
  • Tranquilizer
  • Blanket 

Additionally, make arrangements for burial or cremation in advance. 

2. Seek to Know the Law 

As a law-abiding citizen, consult your local authorities to know what the law says regarding pet euthanasia at home. 

You don’t want to fall in trouble because you broke the rules and regulations guiding such practices. 

3. Choose the Right Euthanasia Drugs

There are several over-the-counter drugs on the market for dog euthanasia. But Tylenol, Benadryl, and sleeping pills are the most commonly used. 

  • Tylenol: It contains acetaminophen, a compound for alleviating fever and pain. However, it leads to liver damage and subsequent death if administered or ingested by a dog in overdose.
  • Benadryl: The alternative to Tylenol is Benadryl, considered the best option for over-the-counter medications. 
  • Sleeping pills: There are two options of sleeping pills; barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Barbiturates are preferred because they’re more powerful. 

4. Administering the Drug

The procedure is the same whether you’re administering Tylenol, Benadryl, or sleeping pills. 

Once you set everything in place, here’s the procedure to administer over-the-counter drugs for dog euthanasia:

  • Have your dog lie in a comfortable, quiet place
  • Holding your dog’s mouth gently and carefully, open it, and place the pill or tablet at the center of the tongue. You should give 100 mg/kg (two tablets); meaning if your dog weighs 15kg, you give it 1500 mg of Tylenol or 30 tablets of 50 mg. 
  • With Benadryl, give 24-30 mg/kg (½ tablet); meaning a 15kg dog will need 375-540 mg or 10+ tablets at 50 mg per tablet.
  • You can administer the medicines three times a day because they’re many tablets.
  • Give your dog clean water to drink each time he takes the tablets. The water helps wash the medicine down the throat. 
  • If you’re administering liquid medicine, ensure it’s at room temperature and not cold.
  • Measure the liquid drug in the syringe. 10 milliliters of Benadryl contains 25 mg/kg of diphenhydramine. A 15 kg dog needs 375 mg, the equivalent of 150 ml in one day.
  • In each 5 ml of Tylenol, there’s 160 mg of acetaminophen. A 15 kg dog will need 45 ml for effective euthanasia. 
  • Administer it gently from the side of the dog’s mouth.
  • When releasing the liquid, aim to drop it at the back of the tongue to ensure all the medicine is swallowed. 
  • Do the process slowly and steadily to avoid choking your dog. 

Sometimes the dog may refuse to swallow the tablet. You can entice it to take the medicine by hiding the tablet or pill in its favorite meatball. Of course, this only applies when he’s still perfectly eating. 

Once your dog ingests the medicine, expect them to get drowsy and fall asleep. You can also provide a sedative a few hours before euthanasia to promote sleep after administering the medication. 

5. Be There for Your Dog

Once your pet has ingested the drug, it’s always painful seeing him grow weak and suffer. The best thing you can do is stay around, monitor, and comfort him. Doing this will also provide you enough time to mourn your beloved pet. 

How to Say Goodbye to Your Dead Dog

You can say goodbye to your dead dog by staying around him during his final earthly hours. It allows you to love your pooch one more time and pay the last respect. 

Here’s how to give a proper goodbye to your dead dog: 

  • Grieve well enough. Losing a beloved one is painful, so grieve fully to release anger, sadness, or guilt during this loss.
  • Recollect the good memories you shared with your dead pet and sit and reflect deeply about them. 
  • Talk to people about your dead dog. Tell stories about him and how you loved the dog. You can even consider celebrating a life well lived. 
  • Express gratitude that you had the best dog. Tell your dog how you loved him and what it means now that he’s no more. 

How to Dispose of a Dead Dog’s Body

You can dispose of a dead dog’s body by choosing the appropriate disposition method. 

According to AVMA guidelines, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recommends several disposal methods, including incinerating animal remains and burying the carcass deeply following your state’s laws and regulations. 

Most importantly, inform your veterinarian if they were unaware of the passing out. The vet should guide you through the proper procedures and options to dispose of your dead dog. 

In that context, you may dispose of the remains in the following ways:

  • Bury your dog in your backyard if state laws permit
  • Use designated pet cemeteries in your locality to bury the dog 
  • You can also use pet cremation services around your area. They cremate the carcass, and you can keep or scatter the ashes in a special place. 

Make sure the disposal abides by the local laws and regulations. 

Is It Legal to Euthanize a Dog? 

It’s legal to euthanize a dog after confirming with the veterinarian that the dog can’t recover from the disease or condition it’s suffering from. However, euthanasia is a mandate for qualified practitioners like vets and local veterinary technicians. 

That said, you can’t euthanize your dog by yourself. This is because you don’t have the mandate to perform such procedures. You could easily face criminal charges in a court of law because of carrying out euthanasia. 

Hence, you should reach your vet first, inform them of the circumstances, and get directions to euthanize or not. Remember, euthanasia is considered the last resort to helping your dog when suffering a severe illness or injury.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to euthanize a dog with over-the-counter drugs, it doesn’t mean you should go and do it. Remember, the practice is inhumane and can expose your canine friend to immense suffering in case of a failed euthanasia. 

Moreover, most states are against euthanizing pets without the guidance of a professional like a veterinarian. Therefore, if the chances of your dog surviving a certain illness are slim, consult your vet for the next course of action. 

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