The hardest decision – euthanasia

The decision to euthanase a beloved pet is one of the hardest a pet owner ever has to make. When we exhaust all avenues of treatment and pain relief for pets with a terminal or chronic illness or intractable pain, euthanasia is the kindest option. It allows our beloved pets to die with dignity and without further suffering.

What happens when a pet is euthanased?

Your vet injects a strong anaesthetic into a vein through a needle or catheter. The pet relaxes into unconsciousness within a few seconds and the heart stops soon afterward.  We may sedate an anxious pet or place a catheter before the euthanasia so that the procedure proceeds calmly.

Should I stay with my pet?

It is entirely up to you whether you stay with your pet or leave it in the comforting arms of a nurse. Many pets are euthanased while their owners pet and soothe them.   Other owners find the procedure distressing and prefer to wait outside. Afterward you may stay with your pet for as long as you wish.

Sometimes the decision to euthanase is made while the pet is under an anaesthetic for an exploratory operation. If we find an inoperable cancer many owners decide on euthanasia while the pet is still under the anaesthetic so that the pet is not subjected to the discomfort of recovering from surgery.

Can I have my pet euthanased at home or is it better to take him to the surgery?

Many people like us to euthanase a beloved pet at home surrounded by their loved ones. Please phone well in advance, if possible.

Alternatively arrange an appointment at the surgery at a quiet time to avoid undue distress to both yourself and your pet.

What can I do with my pet’s remains?

  • Bush Burial. We arrange for the collection of your pet’s remains for burial on a farm near Hall.
  • Individual cremation. The Pets at Peace representative picks up the remains from Hall Vet Surgery or your home and returns the ashes in a sealed or unsealed urn or box.
  • Home burial. If you own your own farm or home you might prefer to bury your pet yourself.

Grieving for your pet

It is natural to feel upset and emotional when your pet dies. Don’t be afraid to show your feelings in front of your vet. We understand.

Take time to get over your loss. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about your pet’s death with other pet owners, friends or family members who understand your loss. Anger is part of the grieving process for many people but try not to feel guilty or to blame yourself or others for your pet’s death. Remember that you cared for your pet and did all you could when they were ill. Vets cannot save every pet’s life.

Treasure your memories and photographs. Remember the good times and what you loved most about your pet.

If you have no one to talk to about your loss tell your vet.  If necessary, we can refer you to a grief counselling service. Hall Vet Surgery’s information sheet Coping with the loss of your pet might help. Experienced vet and counsellor David Foote is a valuable resource.

Helping children to cope 

The death of a pet is often a child’s first experience of death. Tell them the truth. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and tell them how you feel. Help them to understand that they are not to blame. Talk to them about your pet and concentrate on the good times. Don’t get a new pet too soon. You all need time to get over the death.