This is probably the hardest article to write. It is one of the most difficult discussions to have with our clients. We use all our empathy and compassion to guide you through the decision and process of euthanasia.
Knowing when it’s time to say goodbye can be one of the most difficult decisions in a pet parent’s life. As the caregiver of an ailing pet, you are the one who can best assess their quality of life. Mark good and bad days on the calendar. Keep it simple with a happy face for a good day and a sad face for a bad day. When the bad days outnumber the good, it may be time. Make a list of 3 things your pet loves to do. When they are no longer able to enjoy 2 out of the 3 things, it may be time. Take photos and videos. Not only will you have a keepsake of your beloved pet but sometimes changes to their looks and behavior happen gradually and this way you’ll have reference points throughout your time together. If you are still unsure, give us a call. We can talk you through this process on the phone. Maybe an exam with one of our veterinarians will re-assure you that you are making the right decision. There are instances that a client thinks there is nothing more to be done and we can try one more medication to keep your pet comfortable and improve his/her quality of life. Being really in-tune to your pet is beneficial as one day, s/he may look at you with those eyes. The ones that say: “I’m tired” “I hurt.” “It’s okay.” “I’m ready.” Our hearts are never ready for that look. We want them to carry on with us forever. Often times we hold on longer for ourselves. Euthanasia is the final act of love to help a pet crossover the rainbow bridge.
If you are monitoring day to day quality of life for your pet, now is the time to think about others. Who has your pet touched in their lifetime? Would that person(s) want a chance to say good-bye? Give them a call and let them know. Think about where your pet is most comfortable. Would you prefer to have our doctor and staff come to your home? Maybe the back yard was a treasured area for your pet. Discuss with the family where the euthanasia will be done. Another discussion for the family is how you would like to care for your pet’s body after euthanasia? Do you have a favorite spot in the yard for burial? Maybe a private cremation with ashes returned in a specific urn is what you will need. We do offer communal cremation as well through Pet Memorial Services. www.petmemorialservices.com Making these decisions ahead of time, will allow you to cope with grief a little easier. Having a plan and arrangements made will decrease your anxiety in those final moments.
Sometimes, not knowing what happens during euthanasia can be scary. We offer pre-euthanasia sedation to all animals. Which means we will use an injectable anesthesia that will make them sleepy and they will no longer feel any pain. An IV catheter may be placed to ensure access to a vein. As your pet is getting sleepy, we encourage you to spend time with them. Once they are asleep, your pet will receive another injection which will stop their body functions. Some people decide they cannot be present during this time and it is okay to step away during this process. Other clients prefer to stay until our veterinarian confirms that the pet’s heart has stopped beating. In some cases, families are split – some leave after the sedation has taken effect and some stay until the very end. We understand. We expect tears and will have a steady supply of tissues. We expect silence. We will still talk you through what we are doing. We expect stories. Some of our most client connecting moments are sitting with a deceased pet and hearing all of the stories. We expect hugs. You can expect tears from us sometimes. The process of euthanasia often takes our staff back to the day or days that we have made this decision for our very own.
Grieving is a natural process with the loss of a life. It is going to hit each person that was touched by that pet. Sometimes it happens immediately. Sometimes it hits you harder than you thought it would. Sometimes it is delayed. There are many resources and support groups that can assist with the emotions that you are feeling. Cornell University offers a Pet Loss Support hot line. Call 607-253-3932. Reach out to local funeral homes or your spiritual leader. Other pets in the home will also go through a grieving process. They may change sleeping or eating habits. They may show disinterest in usual activities and not want to be away from the rest of the family. Some will wonder around the house “searching” for the missing pet. While surviving pets need to go through their grieving process – there are a few things you can do to help them during this time. Change your routines. Play a different game or begin taking walks. Already a walker? Take a different route to help your other pets cope. You may find that placing your focus on them will help you as well!
The team at Mountain View Veterinary Services understands how difficult the decision is to say goodbye to our beloved companions. We strive for compassion and empathy during this sensitive time. If you have questions or need direction when it is time to let your pet go, feel free to call our clinic at 717-477-8938 to speak with one of our veterinary team members. We are here to help