Euthanasia is the term used to describe the “putting to sleep” of a pet. It literally means “a good death” and at Glendale we do everything we can to make it just that. It involves an injection, and is an overdose of an anaesthetic so that the pet quickly falls into an anaesthetic sleep and then passes away. Euthanasia is an option to humanely relieve suffering or pain when a pet is very unwell or suffering from an incurable disease.
Saying goodbye to a pet is an emotional time. They are our family members, our sidekicks, our confidants and our best friends. The decision to say goodbye to your pet is never an easy one. Often people will say that you’ll know when the time is right but in reality it is not that simple. Owners worry that their pet is suffering, but because of the love that they feel, they don’t want to say goodbye. There are also feelings of selfishness associated with this, as we never know if we’re hanging on to them for our own benefit. Many pet owners experience a feeling of guilt, that they might be letting their dog or cat down, or simply not doing the right thing. If you have any questions about if it is the right time, we would be more than happy to discuss this with you to help with this decision, and help YOU determine when the time is right.
One of the hardest parts of the process is actually making the phone call and booking the appointment. We have all been through this ourselves, so rest assured we know how you are feeling. One of our staff members will book a time for you with the veterinarian and will let you know what will happen when you and your pet come in. At the time of booking an appointment we will go over what you would like to do with your pet after the procedure is complete. You have the option for a cremation where your pet’s ashes are not returned to you or a private cremation where you would have your pet’s ashes returned to you in an urn of your choice.
We usually suggest that you come into the hospital without your pet at first as that sometimes makes the paperwork easier. We will have a consent form ready for you to sign. This form authorizes us to perform the procedure and certifies that your pet has not bitten any person in the last 15 days. If your pet has bitten someone, we are not able to perform the euthanasia at that point. The pet legally has to be quarantined for 10 days to watch for potential signs of rabies. Once you have signed this form, one of our staff members will confirm your wishes regarding cremation. At this time, we will suggest settling the bill so that once you are ready, you are able to leave without having to stop and talk to anyone. Once that is finished, we will escort you into a quiet room and a staff member will take your pet to the back treatment area. We take them to treatment to put in an IV catheter, through which the veterinarian will be able to administer the medications. Once the catheter has been placed, the veterinarian will bring your pet back to you in the quiet room. The vet will take as much time with you as you need, will answer any questions you may have and will discuss what will happen next. If you have a small pet, you will be able to hold your pet in your arms if you wish. When you are ready, the vet will give your pet some sedating medication which will cause your pet to fall into a deep sleep. Once the pet is completely relaxed, usually only a few seconds later, the doctor will give the injection that will cause your pet to quietly and painlessly pass away. They will peacefully fall asleep in your arms and feel totally relaxed. Our veterinarian will then use a stethoscope to listen for a heartbeat to confirm they have passed. If you wish, you will be able to spend a few moments alone with your pet. If you wanted to take your pet home, we will remove the catheter from the leg and wrap your pet in blankets. If you have opted for cremation, once you leave a staff member comes in and lovingly and respectfully takes care of your pet from there.
Our hospital works with Pets Above, a pet memorial company that offers cremation, pet memorials, and a variety of memorial products for you and your family. They ensure the dignity, quality care, and respect that your beloved pet deserves. Whichever service you choose, you can take comfort in knowing your pet will be treated as though it were one of their own. You are welcome to visit their website at www.petsabove.com
You may want someone to be with you after the euthanasia appointment to drive you home. You may be surprised how difficult it can be to concentrate on driving after such an emotional experience. Many, many pet owners experience a very strong and lasting sense of pain and grief after the passing of a special pet. It is very common for the pet owner to think they see or hear their deceased pet in the home or out in the yard long after it is gone. Our pets are THAT important to us and we don’t have to apologize for feeling that way! Those pet owners who feel they need to talk to someone who understands their sadness have hope! There are a number of grief support groups and counsellors who specialize in pet loss counselling. Never feel ashamed or belittle yourself for having strong feelings of loss and sadness over a deceased pet. They have given you years of love, so they deserve some time in your mind and heart. You are NOT alone in your sadness. There are numerous websites that may prove helpful and informative while you progress along the road to accepting the loss of your pet. Never feel ashamed for being lost and lonely after losing your little friend. And remember, it always takes longer than you would expect to start functioning “normally” again.
If you have other pets in your family, you will notice that they will mourn the loss of a companion. The time may vary between pets, as it does with humans, but they themselves will experience the loss and look for their four legged friends when they are gone. They can experience loss of appetite, lethargy, and appear to be quite depressed. The best thing you can do to help your pet through the mourning process is to be very attentive to their needs. Extra cuddles, walks, treats and play, encourage interaction with the family; any means of extra attention should help them through. Please call us if you have any concerns.
Know that we are here to help. Each staff member at Glendale Veterinary Hospital has each experienced the loss of a dearly loved pet. It is a very emotional time, and each of us has relied heavily on one another for support. We also experience the loss of your pet with you. We grow to love our patients over the years and build relationships with our clients. And we feel the heartache with you when you have to say goodbye.