Making that difficult decision…
We all hope and wish that our pets will pass peacefully away in their sleep, but very often we are put into the position, as pet owners, to make that decision for them.
As pet owners we are fortunate to be able to choose to end our pet’s life to prevent them suffering, but it also comes as a great weight on our minds when making that final decision. This page aims to give you all the information you need to help with this important yet difficult decision. Please feel free to speak to one of the team if you have further questions.
We all have different measures of quality of life, each animal in each situation will behave differently meaning there is not an exact ‘right time’ for anyone.
If you feel that your pet is elderly, in distress, in pain that cannot be controlled, suffering from an injury or illness, unable to toilet or eat normally, or is just tiring of life then it is likely that the time may be right.
It is however important to discuss your concerns with a vet as there may be treatment options that have not been considered that can improve your pet’s quality of life.
In the clinic
We will usually try to accommodate you at the end of a surgery, giving you plenty of time to say goodbye and avoiding a waiting room of people afterwards. You may leave the practice though the side door to avoid the waiting room if you would prefer.
Some animals are calm and quiet and do not struggle when put to sleep. Other pets are understandably more anxious or distressed and sedation is available for these patients. Sedation is usually an injection which can occasionally sting for a moment or two, but then your pet will feel sleepy and lie down quietly. Occasionally they will vomit or look nauseous but this feeling soon passes, the peaceful sedation outweighs these risks.
The Final Moments
You will be asked to give permission for euthanasia of your pet. Euthanasia is performed using a blue or yellow coloured drug similar to an anaesthetic – it induces sleep, anaesthesia and then quickly stops the heart.
You do not have to be present, it is perfectly acceptable to leave the room, but you can be present to comfort your pet if you wish.
Your vet will usually use a vein in the leg to administer the drug and will clip the fur from this area. In collapsed, sick or sedated animals the blood pressure can be low, making it more difficult to find the vein, or causing the vein to leak. Sometimes your vet will have to inject into a different area of the body. We will always talk you through the procedure and reassure you if things are more difficult than expected.
After the drug has been given, it is not uncommon for animals to gasp, twitch, toilet or even vocalise. This is all normal as the body settles down. The eyes do not close after passing away which can be a surprise to a lot of people. We will reassure you if any of these occur.
Options after Euthanasia
You may choose to keep their collar, lead, paw print or lock of hair. You could make a photo album or place a nice plant in the garden in remembrance.
There are several options for your pets’ body and you can let us know before, during or after euthanasia if you need time to decide. You can bury a companion animal at home, but do not underestimate how deep and large a hole may need to be dug especially for large breed dogs.
Cremation is offered through PCS (Pet Cremation Services). Pets can either be cremated communally (with other pets) or individually whereby your pet’s ashes are returned to you. PCS have procedures in place to ensure that the ashes returned are that of your pet, and offer a scatter box or closed casket made of beech wood amongst others. Please ask about costs of these services.
You are welcome to take your pet direct to PCS near West Stour where they will offer you a quiet room in which to say goodbye, or we can arrange a collection from the practice (this is usually weekly with pet bodies kept in cold storage until this day).
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
The Pet Bereavement Support Service
This is run by the Blue Cross, not Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic.
Sometimes it helps to share feelings with someone who knows from personal experience how distressing the loss of a pet can be, and who will listen with understanding and compassion.
The Pet Bereavement Support Service is a confidential telephone and email service that offers emotional support and information for anyone experiencing the loss of a pet.
- Call: 0800 096 6606– The Support line is open everyday from 8.30am – 8.30pm. Some mobile networks may charge.
- Email support: [email protected]– The email support line service provides support for people who prefer to write about how they are feeling.
- Website: Blue Cross– Pet Bereavement Support page
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Join our Lifetime Care Club
Our Lifetime Care Club allows you to spread the cost of preventative healthcare over 12 months, receive selected free services and discounts on many other products.Find Out More