Making the Decision – Just thinking about a pet’s death can make us feel sad and anxious. It is no wonder that making a decision about euthanasia can be one of the most difficult tasks we face as pet owners. Euthanasia (meaning ‘a good death’) can spare our beloved pets the pain and suffering of a long and hopeless illness. Thinking about and talking about our pet’s death, even though it is difficult, can help make those final moments as peaceful as possible for everyone involved.
When your pet is diagnosed with an untreatable illness, or when the aches and pains of aging have made it difficult for your pet to perform normal activities, you may begin to wonder what to do. What if you have to make the choice to have your pet ‘put to sleep’? How will you know if it is the right time? The first person to talk to is your pet’s veterinarian. We can let you know what specific physical symptoms to expect as your pet’s condition progresses. We can also tell you about treatment options to alleviate pain and discomfort for your pet – and what you may see when those treatments are no longer working.
Equally important to think about is your pet’s quality of life. This is easiest to visualize if you think about the activities your pet enjoys and that make him or her happy. Is it a certain type of treat? Chasing a ball in the backyard? Lying next to you on the sofa? One helpful tool is to make a list of about ten to fifteen of these “happy things” your pet enjoys. Decide what is the minimum number that still means a good life to you. When your pet is no longer able to or wants to do one of these things, cross it off the list.
When The Day Comes – Even when you know that it is time for your pet to be euthanized, there are still a few more decisions to make. Do you want to be present for the euthanasia process? Will you take your pet to the veterinary hospital or arrange for euthanasia to be performed at home? What will you do with your pet’s remains? Whether or not to be present during the euthanasia is a very personal choice. Some pets are comforted by the presence of your familiar face and voice. Some people find it brings them closure to be there until the very end. Others prefer to remember their pet as full of life. No matter which option you choose, we will do our best to accommodate you. If you change your mind, even at the last minute, that is ok too.
At-home euthanasia can provide a peaceful and private end to your pet’s life, and is a service available to clients of West Valley Animal Hospital. This may be a practical option if your pet is large and no longer able to walk, or if he becomes very stressed during car rides. If you choose to bring your pet in to the clinic, try to schedule an appointment when you will have as much time as you need for the process and other family members or friends to support you. We will try to arrange a time when the hospital will be quiet and you will have uninterrupted time to spend with your pet. We encourage you to bring a favorite blanket, toy or treat for your pet to remind them of home.
There are several options available for honoring your pet’s remains. These include home burial, burial in a pet cemetery, and cremation. To make the process easier, you may want to decide what you would like done with your pet’s remains beforehand and even arrange for payment in advance. That way you can focus on taking care of your pet on the actual day of euthanasia.