End of life care

PREPARING TO SAY GOODBYE IS THE HARDEST PART  

Sometimes it is difficult to know how one's pet is really feeling. They cannot tell us if they are in pain so it's our responsibility to look for signs of any changes that suggest that their quality of life is deteriorating.

You may notice your pet has become particularly withdrawn or quiet and does not want any physical contact or to go out. They may have stopped eating or drinking, and their toilet habits may have changed. An injury or illness may be affecting their wellbeing.

If you have any concerns please do speak to us and we will try to help guide you on the right time for making a decision about euthanasia. It is a very personal decision and it is always a good idea to talk it over with family and close friends.

PREPARING FOR EUTHANASIA OF YOUR PET

 You may want to think about where you would prefer the euthanasia to take place. It may be at the surgery at an arranged time, or you may prefer it to take place at home and we will try and accommodate you if this is your wish.

We will ask you to sign a form giving your permission for the euthanasia to take place and it will always be a vet that performs the procedure. A nurse is usually needed to assist the vet.

Usually we will give your pet a sedative to help them relax. This normally takes between 5 to 15 minutes to work. We have found this to be beneficial in most cases as it means your pet is dozing prior to their final injection and therefore does not worry. A small patch of fur is then shaved, usually from the front leg, and an injection gently administered into the vein. This is a high dose of anaesthetic.

As the injection is given your pet will lose consciousness within seconds. Their breathing and their heart will stop. Sometimes, especially if your pet is very old or frail, or if they have had a sedative it can be difficult for the vet to find a vein. Occasionally it is necessary to inject into another area of the body.

  WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Before or after euthanasia you may want to consider having a small keepsake of your pet such as their collar or name tag, a paw print, or a small tuft of their fur.

You may want to take your pet home to bury in the garden or use a pet cemetery - the choice is yours. Many people prefer cremation and we can organise this for you. Pets can be cremated individually or communally with others. We arrange for individual cremation if you would like to receive your pet's ashes back. They will be returned to you either in a casket or china urn, whichever is your preference. Many people like to scatter the ashes in their pet's favourite outdoor spot. A communal cremation means that you will not be able to have your pet's ashes returned.

 Please do talk to us about all your available options - it is always a difficult decision and we are here to try and support you and your much loved friend.

You could also remember your pet in a special way by planting flowers or a shrub, making a special photo album or by creating a lasting memorial online.

A good internet resource providing pet owners with reliable, transparent information about the whole of their pet loss journey can be found at www.compassionunderstood.com

Bereavement support can also be provided by the Blue Cross. Volunteers offer emotional support and information for pet owners who may be experiencing the loss of a pet. For further details please visit www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-support

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