One of the most difficult decisions you will ever make for your pet is deciding when it is time to say goodbye. It is also one of the bravest and kindest decisions you will ever make. We are all pet owners and we understand what a distressing time it is.
When is the right time?
Sadly only a few pets will die peacefully in their sleep at home. You and your family know your pet the best and will be in the best position to judge the well-being and quality of life your pet is experiencing. Some of the indicators that your pet is not enjoying life could include: lack of appetite, reluctance to play or move around, restlessness or appearing withdrawn and tense.
Our staff will always take great care to discuss your pet’s treatment and welfare and will help you make the right decision for your pet when the time comes.
What happens next?
Once the decision for euthanasia has been made it can be performed in the surgery or at home. You will be asked to sign a euthanasia consent form. This is a legal document and must be signed by the owner or agent who must be over 18 years of age.
At the surgery we will try, where possible, to arrange for euthanasia to be performed at quiet times of the day, to allow plenty of time both before and after for you to say goodbye.
We will make every effort to allow you to spend time alone with your pet following euthanasia if desired.
Some owners prefer us to come to the house for what is a very distressing time for all the family who would prefer to say their goodbyes in the privacy of their own home. It can also be less traumatic for an elderly or unwell pet.
Do I stay with my pet?
Many owners choose to stay with their pet which allows them to stroke and comfort the pet during its last few moments. Others prefer not to be present while their pet is put to sleep, some prefer to come back into the room once their pet is gone, some simply like to say goodbye and leave remembering them as they were. This is entirely your own decision. Those that stay often remark how quick and peaceful the euthanasia is.
What will I see?
The euthanasia itself is in most cases very peaceful, painless and takes only a few moments. A veterinary nurse will be present to assist the vet and to help hold your pet during the euthanasia. You can help hold your pet or simply talk to your pet during the final moments.
The pet will first be sedated with a small injection into the back of the neck in a similar way to a routine vaccination. It will take about 5 minutes for your pet to drift off into a deep sleep. The vet will then clip some fur from one of the front legs so that the vein can be seen. The nurse will raise the vein by clasping her hand around the pet’s leg. The vet will wet the clipped area with a cotton wool swab and the injection will be given. Because they are already sedated, they won’t even feel the prick of the needle. Your pet will fall asleep quickly and will be supported and laid gently on their side. The vet will check to make sure the heart has stopped beating with a stethoscope.
You may see some muscle twitching and sometimes several reflex gasps after your pet has been put to sleep. These are reflex actions rather than signs of life but can be upsetting to see. Your pet’s eyes will remain open after death and it is normal for the bowel and bladder to empty.
What happens afterwards?
It is your decision what happens to your pet’s body following euthanasia. It may help you to have made your decision regarding final arrangements before bringing your pet for euthanasia. In some situations you may not be able to make a decision straight away. In this case we are able to keep your pet’s body for a limited period while you make a decision. We have set out the options below for you to think about but whichever you choose you can be assured that we will handle your pet with compassion and respect.
Individual Cremation: This is a private, individual cremation at the crematorium. Your pet’s ashes are returned in a wooden casket or pottery urn for you to scatter or bury.
Communal Cremation: Your pet can be cremated along with other pets at the crematorium. This is a less expensive service but the ashes cannot be returned to you.
Burial: Some people prefer to take their pet home to bury in the garden. We will wrap your pet’s body in a blanket or towel in which it can be buried. Please be aware that the grave will need to be at least two feet deep.
We are here to help
We are all pet owners in this practice and understand that the death of a beloved pet is very sad and deeply upsetting. We are here to help and support you through what many people see as the most difficult part of pet ownership, saying goodbye.