We love your pets as much as you do, and euthanasia is never easy. But we’re here to help you make that call and keep the process as calm and easy as possible. Here is what you can expect when the time comes:
Pet Loss Resources
Euthanasia is a peaceful and humane option that alleviates the pain and suffering of our pets dealing with life threatening illness, or living with poor quality of life. Regardless, deciding when to say goodbye is always difficult. The first thing to know is that you don’t have to make the decision alone. Call your veterinarian and talk about it.
We can help you evaluate your pet’s situation, possible alternatives and long term prognosis along with other considerations like finances and family obligations. When you call to speak with the doctor, let us know who you prefer to speak with and that you would like some advice about euthanasia and quality of life treatments.
Removing the Feelings of Guilt
It is normal to be apprehensive about euthanasia. Many individuals feel trapped between not wanting to end their pet’s life too early, and also not wanting to prolong their suffering. They worry about guilt and regret around the decision. Loss will always be painful, but preparing for euthanasia and having a plan with your veterinarian can give closure and peace of mind that you made the right choice.
Although discussing the medical prognosis and what to expect is helpful, you know your pet the best and are the only one who can make this decision. Often a quality of life scale like the one attached below is helpful in tracking the good days and bad days. This gives you the ability to look over a period of time to see if your pet’s quality of life is acceptable.
Once you have been recording for a week or so, talk with your veterinarian, talk it over with close family or confide in a caring friend. The important thing for you to know is that this is not a decision you have to make alone.
Once a Decision Has Been Made
Once you or your family have made the decision call Veazie Vet to set up an appointment. For those who will be present, discuss what your preferences are. Would you like to stay with your pet or leave? Do you want some time afterward to say goodbye? Do you want to cremate the body? Do you want to receive their ashes?
There is a lot of flexibility about when and where the euthanasia is performed so make sure to let us know what you need. We will do our best to accommodate it to make this as peaceful a memory as possible. We also encourage you to do all the paperwork beforehand.
Quality of Life
It is Normal to Grieve A Loss of A Pet
Grieving the loss of a pet is often unexpected because it is not an accepted societal construct. But it is a normal reaction to loss. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the pet, but also the loss of their involvement in your life. Our pets are interwoven into our lives more completely in some cases than friends and extended family.
The loss of a walking partner, the routines, and unique interactions you have may make pet loss difficult. It is normal for grief to seem to come in waves as actions, locations or behaviors trigger it. Each individual will take a unique path of grieving, and there is no set timeline or method. You may experience denial, anger, depression, shock and eventually acceptance. Grief cycles and comes in waves when it is least expected, this too, is normal.
Types of Grief:
There is not one type of grief. In cases where death is prolonged, owners may experience anticipatory grief, whereas, in a sudden traumatic loss, owners may experience shock and denial. In most cases of loss, grief is complicated by previous bereavement. It is normal for a pet’s passing to stir up previous feelings of loss that had presumably healed.
Grief can have physical, cognitive, intellectual, social and spiritual manifestations. This too is normal, as long as it’s not preventing you from completing your obligations and routines. Often owners talk about waking up suddenly because they thought they felt or heard their pet. In other cases they say, “I know they are gone but I still open the door and call for them to come in at night.” This is normal and with time, will become easier.
Coping with Grief:
The first step is to give yourself permission to grieve the loss. Recognize the process may be painful, but the memories of what you had can be good. By discussing and preparing for the end of life choices with your veterinarian, family and other support networks, you can make the loss less traumatic.
Many owners feel that memorializing their pet is an important step. Consider making and album or scrapbook. You can donate to a cause, volunteer in their honor, or plant a tree at their favorite park. There are many ideas out there. In cases where owners were not able to say goodbye it is still not too late. Write them a letter and read it out loud to them. Read poetry about pet loss or write your own. Have a memorial service. Even if you don’t have their ashes or body you can bury a time capsule of pictures and favorite toys.
For those who are angry or feel despair towards someone or some aspect of the loss journal your feelings. This can help you collect your thoughts and monitor how you are doing. If you are feeling anger, write down your feelings and then hold on to the letter for a few weeks before you send it. Sometimes in acute grief and shock our words do not truly express what we feel and this allows time for reflection.
If you feel like talking to someone would be helpful, or are looking for more information, please follow the links below:
What do I tell my Children?
When talking with children about pet loss, it’s important to be careful with your word choices. Euphemisms like “going to be put to sleep” can confuse children and make them wonder what will happen the next time they have to “go to sleep.”
Obviously, the age of the child will determine at what level they understand what is going on. It can be helpful therefore to start with questions. Ask them if they understand what is happening to “Fluffy” or “Fido”. Ask them if they understand what it means to die and what will happen to their pet. It is important that children be considered and involved in the process as much as they and you feel comfortable.
For younger children (3-10) books about pet loss may be a helpful way to get started in the conversation. Here are some good titles.
- The Tenth Good Thing About Barney: Judith Viorst
- “Jasper’s Day,” by Marjorie Blain Parker
- Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
Should my Child Come to the Euthanasia?
Children do not have any inherent fear of death and for many children pet-loss is their first experience with death. By explaining what is happening and involving them in the memorials (pictures, drawings etc), burial ceremony or other aspects can help them learn and accept death as a part of life.
Ultimately it is your decision whether your children are present or not. Being present at the euthanasia is certainly not the only way for them to participate or gain closure. But, if you are prepared to take them to the euthanasia ask them if they want to go or not.Your child should also have a say in their level of involvement.