We do our best to make your final goodbye the best it can be. Even if you have had a pet put to sleep before, please take a moment to read this so you are aware what happens. This will help make things easier for you. Please share any particular requests or circumstances with us so we can help make this difficult time easier for you.
Before The Procedure
Making a euthanasia appointment is very difficult if you are not sure that this is the right time to say goodbye. Perhaps your pet has been ill, you think the end is near, but still hope something can be done for them. If you are unsure and wish to discuss this, it is a good idea to come in for a pre-euthanasia consultation with a nurse or vet. This is also true if you’re sure it is the right time. We can help you through the difficult decisions for after your pet’s passing. On the day we want you to feel able to focus on being with your pet. You can even make payment at the pre-euthanasia consultation or over the phone so you don’t have the additional stress of these things on the day.
If you know it’s time to say goodbye, it can be helpful for you to have made some decisions before calling the practice. These include:
- Will you be going to the practice or would you like the vet to come to your home? A vet and a nurse can come to your house so your pet can be put-to-sleep in a place they feel comfortable.
- Is there a particular vet or nurse you would like to carry out the procedure or be there with you?
- Do you know what you would like to do with your pet afterwards? Home burial? Cremation?
- Is a friend or relative able to come with you?
- Are there children accompanying you to the appointment?
- Would you prefer to wait in the car until the vet calls you in?
- Would you like to settle your bill in advance so you can give all your focus to your pet on the day?
The Euthanasia Injection
The euthanasia injection is an overdose of an anaesthetic drug, which is a coloured solution. The vet may choose to give your pet a sedation injection first so they are asleep before the euthanasia injection is given. We will give this injection into the muscle and you can be with your pet while they become drowsy. Most vets usually put an intravenous cannula into a vein on your pet’s fore or hind leg so the injection isn’t painful. An area on their leg is usually clipped and cleaned, a nurse will hold their leg and the cannula placed.
Before the vet gives the injection, they tend to ask if you are ready, and if possible, you can hold and cuddle your pet while they pass away. This usually happens quickly and you will feel them relax in your arms. After your pet has passed, the vet will listen to their heart with a stethoscope to confirm their heart has stopped and your pet has died.
At this point you should be aware your pet may pass urine or faeces. Sometimes what can be shocking, is that your pet may still appear to take a breath or gasp after they have passed. This is completely normal, your pet is not aware it’s happening. It takes the body and brain a while to stop communicating, even after their heart has stopped. Your pet may also have muscular contractions, so you may feel or see them trembling or twitching.
Once your pet is at peace, you are welcome to spend time with them for your final goodbye. If you would like to take their collar and lead, lock of hair or a paw print impression, we will help you with these. Please don’t be afraid to ask, it’s a common request.
Should I Stay With My Pet?
It can provide comfort to your pet to have you present, and you can be the last person they see as they pass. In the future it may give you some comfort that your pet passing was peaceful and the veterinary team treated them with kindness and compassion. If you do not feel you can stay, that is okay too. No one makes judgement on this and many owners do not want to witness their pet’s passing and want to remember the happy memories they shared. If you don’t stay, please be assured that a nurse and vet will be caring and gently hold your pet as they pass away.
Considerations Around Children
It’s difficult to decide if a child should be present, ultimately it depends on the age and maturity of the child, as well as their relationship with the pet. It’s entirely your decision as to whether your child should be at the passing of your pet or not. If you are bringing a child to the appointment, it is helpful to let the veterinary team know in advance. We have a book that can be lent to your child that may help them understand the process better.
Understanding Afterlife Care
We understand deciding on afterlife care is one of the most difficult choices you will have to make for your beloved pet. If you can, it’s best to make this decision before the day of your pet’s passing. This will give you time to reflect on what you truly want for your pet, rather than making a hasty decision while you are feeling emotional and upset on the day.
Your pet’s final resting place is an important decision to make, and there are options to consider. You can choose to take your pet home to bury, either on private land or at a pet cemetery.
Another option is cremation. We can arrange for individual cremation where your pet’s ashes are returned to you; there are different options for caskets to return your pet. Alternatively, you may not wish to have your pet’s ashes back. This is known as ‘General Cremation’; your pet will be cremated with other pets and honoured in a memorial area at the crematorium. We use a dedicated pet crematorium which has been established since 1979.
Please refer to our ‘Aftercare Options’ guide for prices and more information on these options. ‘Compassion Understood’ provides more detailed information regarding these options which you may find useful:
The mixture of feelings that we each experience during pet loss will vary from one person to the next. Some people might view the loss of their pet in a pragmatic way; they are able to move on quite quickly, without in any way denigrating the depth of feeling they had for their pet when it was alive. Others experience a deeper, longer feeling of loss, and for some it can affect how they cope with everyday things going forward.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. Your feelings around pet loss are unique to you and you should not feel pressured to ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’. For some, grieving can be a short process, taking only hours or days to work through. For others, it could take months or even years.
Grieving is a very natural process and for some, it can start before the pet has actually died. This is called ‘Anticipatory Grief’. These feelings can be similar to the feelings of grief that are experienced after a pet’s passing, but in addition, may include feelings of fear about what life might be like without a beloved companion. Anticipatory grief is normal, it doesn’t mean that you are giving up on your pet.
What anticipatory grief does allow us to do is to reflect on life without that companion. It gives an opportunity to spend time with your beloved friend and to express your love before they are gone. You have the chance to spend the time doing some things that you perhaps hadn’t got around to, or to just simply spend precious spare moments cuddling on the sofa.
There are many places that you can reach out to if you feel you need extra help during the grieving process. Our staff all understand how difficult this process can be and will always be happy to talk to you if you’re struggling to come to terms with what has or will happen. Alternatively, there are several resources that offer guidance and support:
The Pet Bereavement Support Service: 0800 096 6606 | www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-loss
The Ralph Site: www.theralphsite.com
Counselling Directory: www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/pet-loss-and-bereavement-counselling
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy: 01455 883300 | www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk
Compassion Understood: www.compassionunderstood.com