At the End of Life's Journey
We are there for you from your puppy’s first visit to when ‘life’s journey’ is complete.
We always fear losing our pet that mean so much to us. It would be wonderful if our beloved dog or gorgeous feline friends would have lifespans of sixty or seventy years! Nevertheless, for the majority of owners that time inevitably does come. Sometimes the decision is an option for many pet owners who have a terminally-ill pet, or unfortunately, find the veterinary costs for treatment of their pet to be outside their budget. As an owner, the emotions you feel at this time often may make it hard to think, communicate and make decisions. It is often helpful to discuss the process of euthanasia with us well in advance of its occurrence if possible.
Every individual pet owner faces that final day with their pet slightly differently from every other pet owner. There are no right or wrongs, it is a completely personal experience - each owner must do what feels best for them, their pet and their family. Our compassionate vets and nurses understand and do not judge any owners for their decision or reaction.
When the time comes we are happy for you to bring your family or friends and if there are children our vet will also help explain, in easy to understand terms, the procedure of ‘putting to sleep’. Often this is the first time children experience the death of a loved one and owners have commented later that it really helped their children when they lost a grandparent or relation.
We have a special quiet room in the clinic where you can come and be with your pet and there is no time pressure so you can spend as much time as you would like with them after they have passed. Alternatively some owners feel they would like to have their pet euthanased in their own home.
Some owners choose to take their pet home for burial but we also offer a full cremation service where your pet’s ashes can be returned to you or alternatively buried in a farm location.
If your pet has a sudden or unexpected death or their condition deteriorates rapidly while in the process of diagnosing a condition we may respectfully discuss with you the option of an autopsy. This would usually but not always ascertain the cause of the death or unexpected deterioration in your pet’s condition. This decision is entirely yours and at no time will an autopsy be carried out without your permission. This procedure if agreed to is done very respectfully and your pet is returned to its original appearance as is with humans.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know When it is the Right Time?
Knowing when euthanasia should be considered depends on your pet's health as well as your own. It is often helpful to look at the quality of life your pet is experiencing. Does your pet still enjoy eating and other simple pleasures? Is your pet able to respond to you in a normal way? Is your pet experiencing more pain than pleasure?
You will be able to make a much better decision, and be more comfortable in your decision if you get as much information as possible regarding your pet's condition. If your pet is sick, ask about the treatment options, possible outcomes, and chances of recovery. In most instances, you will not need to make the decision immediately, so take time to think about what you should do. Discuss the decision with all of the other family members, including any children. Although it is a human tendency to question our decisions afterward, if you know you made informed decisions it will reduce the 'what ifs' you may tend to ask yourself. Decide what you want your pet's death to be like.
As hard as it is, you may need to consider the financial cost as well as the emotional cost of continuing to care for your pet. Do not feel guilty if you cannot afford to treat your pets condition; there are many people who cannot. It does not make you a 'bad' owner or one who loves their pet any less.
You need to consider what is best for your pet, but also what is best for you and your family. Are you physically able to manage your pet's care? Do you feel ready to say good-bye, or do you need some more time? What will make it possible for you to feel comfortable regarding the decision?
What Happens During Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is a peaceful and virtually pain-free process. Our staff will explain all this to you but it is best to understand what will occur and how your pet's body may react. Knowing these things may help you make your decision regarding euthanasia, and make the process less traumatic for you.
To perform the euthanasia, first a catheter or needle will be inserted into a vein in your pet's front or back leg. If your pet has been very sick, or has had many intravenous injections, it may take a little time for the veterinarian to find the best location. In most cases a veterinary nurse will also be present to assist the vet and comfort you and your family.
In some cases we may inject a drug into the vein which will place your pet in a state of relaxation. The actual drug used to perform the euthanasia which will also be injected into the vein in most cases, works very rapidly (5 seconds). The injection causes the pet's heart to stop beating. In some instances, the time between the injection and the death of the pet may be slightly longer. This is especially true if the pet has poor blood circulation.
In some cases, the pet's muscles may relax or contract after the pet has died. This can be very disconcerting if you are not aware of this possibility ahead of time. The muscles of the urinary bladder and the anus may relax, and your pet may void urine and stool. Involuntary contractions of muscles may result in the pet appearing to gasp, or move a leg. Again, remember your pet is not aware of these things happening since they happen after death. In almost all cases, the pet's eyes will not close after death.
Knowing what happens during euthanasia may help you and other family members decide if they want to be present.
I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying. You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”
I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today. Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.
I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said “It’s me.”
You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It’s possible for me to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…
in the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.
The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
and say “Good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out… then come home to be with me.
– Colleen Fitzsimmons