Deciding when to say goodbye
Losing a pet is a sad and distressing time and choosing whether to have them put to sleep is one of the hardest decisions a pet owner can make.
Many factors will play a part in the decision and talking each through with family, friends and veterinary staff will help.
Your veterinary surgeon will be able to help you to assess your pets quality of life – are they in pain (this can sometimes be difficult to assess), have they stopped eating, or are they showing any changes in behaviour, such as not playing or greeting you when you come home?
Upsetting though it is, putting a pet to sleep (also called euthanasia) is sometimes the best course of action to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. Your vet will be able to help you decide when the time is right and what’s best for you and your pet.
If you feel the time has come to say goodbye, or if you would like guidance and support, please book an appointment to see your veterinary surgeon.
What actually happens?
Euthanasia typically involves an injection into a vein which quickly and painlessly sends the pet to sleep. Their breathing and heart will stop within a minute or so, and they will gently slip away. You can choose to have your pet put to sleep at the surgery, or at home in relaxed and familiar surroundings.
Should I stay with my pet?
This is a very personal decision and has to be your own. Some people find that staying with their pet helps them to come to terms with the loss. Others find it too distressing. You must do what’s best for you and your pet. Do not feel guilty if you decide not to be there, this can be a very upsetting time for all concerned and we will fully support whatever decision you make.
Laying your pet to rest
Once your pet has been put to sleep, you will need to make a decision on whether you would like to have your pet cremated or buried. We will look after your pet until you are able to decide.
You can choose to have your pet cremated at a specialist pet crematorium, either alongside other pets, or individually. If your pet is cremated on its own, the ashes will be carefully collected and returned to you in a casket, scatter box or urn. We will be able to arrange this for you.
If you choose for your pet to be buried at home, please be aware that certain restrictions apply. For information contact your local council’s environmental health department.
Grieving for a pet and the support available
First reactions to the death of a pet can include numbness and shock, followed by intense feelings of sadness, despair, pining and anxiety.
Feelings can be overwhelming. Your house may feel emptier without your pet. Empty beds and food bowls, even meeting other pet owners in the street, can be painful reminders of your loss.
Treasure good memories and, where possible, share them with friends and family. You may like to create a memory box with photos of your dog, their collar, lead, favourite toys etc.
Remember we are here to help. We have staff members trained in bereavement care who can offer you professional and compassionate support with complete confidentiality.
Talking about your grief helps to initiate the healing process and reduce the pain and guilt often felt after the loss of a pet.