No one likes to think about it, but it’s a part of having a pet. That time when our pets pass on from this life to the next. And let’s face it-we’re never ready to let them go! We see a lot of pets who are diagnosed with illnesses that we work to treat or manage, the goal being to give the best quality of life for as long as possible. So when is enough enough? How do you make that final decision?
We know it is not easy. Most, if not all, of us here at Suburban have been through it with our own pets at one time or another. We cannot tell you that it’s time. We cannot tell you it must be done now. Our role as veterinary staff is to guide you along the way. We are looking at it from a medical standpoint. Your pet will often tell you when it is time.
You know your pet best. You see how he or she is at home on a day to day basis. When your veterinarian tells you there is nothing more that can be done to manage an illness or condition, it is time to consider the quality of life your pet has with you at home. Try writing down several things that your pet really enjoys doing. This could be greeting you at the door, playing with a favorite toy, going for a walk, or simply eating a favorite meal.
Revisit that list every couple days. If you see your pet losing interest in those favorite things, that is a clue that your pet’s quality of life is decreasing. Watch also for an increase of pain despite being on pain medications. When the pain is worsening beyond what medication can help, you know the quality of life is decreasing.
The decision to ‘euthanize’ or put your pet to sleep, should be made by everyone in the home involved with your pet. If you are having trouble coming to an agreement on when to euthanize, feel free to schedule a consultation with your veterinarian. Oftentimes one person always brings the pet in, and the other family members don’t hear the news come directly from the vet.
At Suburban, we try our best to schedule euthanasia appointments at the end of the morning or end of the evening, as these are times when there is likely going to be fewer people in the clinic when you’re ready to leave. Typically we give your pet some sedation to relax him or her. This takes about 10 minutes or so to work. Then we will give the final injection in the vein, which is an overdose of an anesthetic. They don’t feel any pain, although they may lose control of their bowels or bladder as the body relaxes. They may also take a few last gasping breaths as the body expels air. It is up to you if you want to stay during the whole procedure, just for the sedation, or not at all. If you chose not to stay, one of our technicians will stay with your pet.
We offer pet cremation services with Schoedinger. If you chose to have your pet’s remains returned to you, they will come in a small wooden box with a name plate, as well as a fur clipping and a paw print. Schoedinger takes care to assure that you receive only your pet’s remains. You may also chose to take your pet home for burial (we have burial boxes for this purpose). If you don’t want to do either, Schoedinger will take care of the remains by cremation.
Allow yourself time to grieve for your pet. Don’t be afraid to cry and mourn your loss. For many pet owners, their pets are like children. They are a big part of our lives. And remember that pets grieve too. If you have other pets in your home, they may mourn the loss of your pet by not eating as well, acting depressed. Be sure to spend extra time with your pets at this time. This will help them as well as yourself.
Please ask us if there is anything we can do for you before, during, or after your pet passes. We know it is never easy to lose a loved one, even our pets.