Saying goodbye - a peaceful end of life experience.
Saying Goodbye – A Peaceful End Of Life Experience
Saying goodbye to a cherished member of your family is first and foremost an act of love and kindness. And while it is never an easy thing to do, we believe it should be a pleasant experience for your pet and your family.
One of the things many families struggle with is the fear of the unknown. What does the euthanasia appointment mean? What happens? Will it hurt?There are many, many questions.
We’ll address the common ones here.
Where is the best place for me to say goodbye to my pet?
This is a very personal question, many families prefer to say goodbye and perform the euthanasia at home. Where others prefer to come to the practice. It’s very much your choice.
There is little doubt that most pets are happier at home and so this is what many families choose. We are happy to work with your plan and we’ll discuss this with you beforehand in most instances. Sometimes, in emergency situations especially, it may not be safe or in your pet’s interests to delay the procedure. But we will always work with you to meet your needs in the best way possible for your pet.
Preparing for the appointment
Before the appointment, we recommend doing as many fun things that your pet likes to do. If he feels like eating his favourite naughty meal, then go for it. We’re not worried about long-term health issues here. The point is to give him a great last few days and hours. Just go easy on the chocolate OK?
On the day itself, make sure your pet has a nice comfy spot to lie on. With favourite blankets or toys. If you are coming to the practice, then we’ll have a room all set up for you and you can bring whatever you like. We set aside plenty of time so there is no need to feel rushed. Take as little or as long as you need. Saying goodbye and grieving is different for everyone.
What happens during the appointment?
During the appointment, your vet will take you through the steps that will follow. Firstly, once you are ready, we’ll give your pet a small injection underneath the skin. This is a sedative and will help them to feel calm and comfortable and not stress about anything. They will then snooze deeply in most cases. Some pets will wake up and look a bit sleepy when you talk to them.
As the sedative takes effect, you can cuddle, hug and love on your pet as much as you like. The sedative takes about fifteen minutes to work.
Once they are sleepy, your vet will prepare a second medication which will is usually given by injection into a vein. For most pets, this will be in the leg but it may also be given into the tummy.This medication is not painful so your pet won’t be uncomfortable.
This second injection is a dose of very strong anaesthetic which shuts down the brain activity first, and once this is done, the other muscles slow down and stop including the heart. It’s a very peaceful way to drift off to sleep one last time.
Your vet will listen to your pet’s heart and confirm that they have passed.
You may stay with your pet as long as you wish afterwards.
When you are ready, we will prepare a paw impression as a memorial or you may clip a lock of hair. We do this as a remembrance for all of the fantastic memories you had with your pet.
Should I be prepared for anything bad during the appointment?
For almost all pets, they may relax their bladder afterwards. Particularly, if your pet has not been for a pee or poop before the procedure, then is it very normal for them to release urine and occasionally poop after they pass. We recommend using puppy pads underneath any blankets when performing the procedure at home or if you are transporting your pet from the clinic for home burial.
For many, many pets, this process will be all that happens.
It is less common but possible that your pet may take one or more small gasps after they pass. This is not a conscious breath and does not mean your pet is struggling. It is simply a muscle spasm as the diaphragm contracts for the last time pushing air out of the lungs
Most pets don’t mind the initial medication injection but some pets don’t like that part as they are highly sensitive to needles or more sensitive to sensation due to their illness.
For the vast majority of pets, the process will be nothing but a peaceful, tranquil end to a beautiful life.
What happens to my pet’s body afterwards?
Once your pet has passed you have three options to consider.
Firstly, you can have your pet’s ashes returned after individual cremation. The ashes can be returned in a scatter box for you to take to a favourite place and scatter. Or you can choose an urn to keep as a memorial.
The second option is that you can have your pet cremated communally with other pets. No ashes will be returned if this is the choice you make. The ashes are then scattered on a remembrance field with our crematory partner who perform the process with great care and kindness.
Finally, some pet owners prefer a home burial for their pet. If so, then we’ll discuss how to do this safely. Be aware that some councils may prohibit home burial of pets. So please check this before making your decision.
Can kids be present?
We are very happy for the whole family to be present, but this is a personal choice. Children react differently based on their age and stage of emotional development. It is quite normal to be upset, for example, and it can help children to be present as death is a natural part of life. So, as painful and emotional an experience the loss of a pet is, if it is a peaceful process then children will build resilience by experiencing the passing of a pet. Please also see our Dealing With The Grief Of Pet Loss page for more information.
Can I give my pet something to eat?
If they have an appetite then, absolutely. In the last few moments before saying you can give them all of their favourites! Pizza, fries, chicken, even chocolate. Go for it.
Can I hold my pet while you give the injection?
If you would like to then yes you may hold your pet. We will gently guide you on what you need to do.
Call 020 8459 4729 to speak with any of our team about any aspect of your pet's end of life care.
We are all pet owners at Roundwood Vets, so we know how hard it is to manage with an old or infirm pet. When you talk with any of our team, we'll help you make the right decision together.