As pet owners, we endeavour to make sure that our faithful companions stay fit and healthy, enabling them to live to an old age. Unfortunately, our pets do not live as long as us and at some point, we will have to prepare to let them go. Sadly, few of our pets pass peacefully away in their sleep. Therefore, we all wish to do the right thing at the right time, fulfilling our responsibility and commitment in their final days. We hope these words will help you and your family in a time of conflicting emotions.
Nobody knows their pet better than you and your closest family and friends, so let them help and share in making a reasoned judgement on your pet’s quality of life.
Indications that things may not be well may include:
- Loss of appetite
- A reluctance to walk and move around as normal
- Restlessness or becoming withdrawn from you
When the time is right to put your pet to sleep, you may see evidence of a combination of all the above indicators and your pet may seem distressed, uncomfortable or disorientated within your home.
Is there nothing more I can do?
As your vet, we will discuss all treatment options available for your pet to relieve their symptoms, but there will come a time when all forms of treatment have been exhausted, we have discovered the disease is incurable, the side effects of treatment are not bearable, or you feel your pet is suffering too much. You and your family may wish to talk with your Veterinary Surgeon to help you all come to this final decision; in this case, we will arrange an appointment for you.
When and where can we say goodbye?
We hope this section will help you and your family understand your pet’s end-of-life journey. This is known as ‘euthanasia’ but often referred to as ‘putting to sleep’. After discussing with your family and your vet, and having decided that the time has come, you can contact your surgery and make an appointment. We will always try to make this appointment at a time that is convenient for you – usually at a quieter time of the day. We have a private waiting area and room, where you can be with your pet, away from other animals. Feel free to bring treats or any other things your pet may find comforting, such as a familiar blanket, bed or toy.
It is also possible to arrange this appointment to be performed in the comfort of your own home at certain times of the day. If this is an option you would like, we will do our best to arrange a home visit. In these cases, a vet and a nurse will visit your home. When they have put your pet to sleep, they will either take them back to the surgery for cremation or leave them with you to bury at home. Additional charges will apply for this service.
Will I be able to stay with my pet?
Being present when your pet is put to sleep will, of course, be an emotional experience, but the majority of owners feel that they give comfort to their pet during their last moments, and can make their final goodbyes. We make the experience as peaceful as possible both for you and your pet, and it is very much like they are going to sleep, but we understand if you feel that you cannot stay in the room with your pet, or would rather make your goodbyes afterwards. We will always make time for you and your family to do this.
What will happen?
Initially, your vet or another member of our team will ask you to sign a consent form to give us permission to put your pet to sleep. You may have already discussed cremation or burial with your vet, but we will confirm this on the consent form.
Many owners are surprised by how peaceful euthanasia can be. Euthanasia involves injecting an overdose of anaesthetic into the vein of your pet’s front leg. We normally place a catheter into your pet's vein first, this means a nurse will not then need to hold their leg for the injection and you can cuddle them or be with them however you are most comfortable. If your pet is very nervous or uncomfortable then sedation can be given first.
As the injection is given, it works quickly and your pet passes away peacefully under anaesthetic. Your vet will check that your pet's heart has stopped beating and confirm that they have passed away. You can spend time on your own with your pet at this point if you would like and we can make paw prints or take a clipping of some hair if you wish. If you have chosen individual cremation then it can take 7-10 days to get ashes back with us at the practice and we will call you when we receive them.