Euthanasia and Pet Loss
When is the right time to step in?
It is never an easy decision to make, but some times the kindest thing you can do for a pet that is very ill, very aggressive or who has a poor quality of life is to step in and have them caringly and peacefully euthanased by your vet.
Making a decision to have your pet euthanased is probably one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. You can consult your vet, family and close friends to help reassure you that you are making the right decision and to support you afterwards. Sometimes asking yourself ‘does my pet have more bad days than good days?’ can help you make the decision.
The truth is there is never a ‘right time’ for pet owners but there is a ‘right time’ for your pet and although it doesn’t feel like it, choosing euthanasia is often the last act of love we can perform for them.
What us Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is a Greek word, which translated means ‘a good death’. Euthanasia methods are designed to cause minimal pain or distress to a pet making their death peaceful and painless – hence the widely used term ‘putting to sleep’.
The most common method of euthanasia is by intravenous injection with a drug that rapidly causes unconsciousness followed quickly by respiratory and then cardiac arrest. Other methods may sometimes be used instead depending on the circumstances and your vet will explain and discuss this with you at the time.
At Hook Vets we understand what a difficult and emotional time this is and all our staff are compassionate and caring. Euthanasia, when it becomes necessary, is carried out with dignity, sympathy and understanding. We will book a scheduled euthanasia appointment to suit you at a time when the surgery is quiet. Some clients will choose to stay with their pet for the injection, others will say goodbye to their pet and leave them with the vet and nurse who will carry out the procedure immediately. You can spend as much time with your pet before and afterwards as you need to and the vet or nurse will always be available to answer any questions or concerns.
After euthanasia or natural death a pet may have some muscle spasms or other involuntary movements. Their body will relax and this may mean they lose control of their bodily functions. Any fluid on their lungs can pass from their nose when they are laid on their side or moved. These things are perfectly natural and not something to be afraid of.
We are able to come to your home by appointment to carry out the euthanasia procedure. This option is more costly than euthanasia at the practice. Please contact us to discuss this option as it may be unsuitable in certain circumstances.
After Death Care of your Pet
There are various options available for you to choose from. It is better to think them over and decide what you want to happen before your pet’s death. This means you have time to discuss it with family or friends and not feel pressured to decide at a very emotional time.
These are some of the options:
Individual cremation – Clients wanting their pet to be handled individually or wishing to have the ashes returned to them can choose an individual pet cremation service. There is an additional cost involved from £120 upwards depending on the size of the pet and the service required.
Dignity Pet Crematorium is an award winning small family run pet crematorium located near Odiham that specialises in offering this service. Clients can contact them directly on 01252 844572 either before or immediately after the death of their pet to arrange for a same day collection or to arrange a time to take their pet to the crematorium.
Their website www.dignitypetcrem.co.uk gives details and photos all their services including pet caskets and urns, pet memorials or arranging for a pet’s ashes to be scattered in their natural woodland area. They also have an online Book of Remembrance to which a pet can be added.
Cremation with other pets – This is a less costly option where your pet’s remains are taken away and cremated with other pets. Afterwards all the ashes are taken to a licensed site for disposal. It is not possible and not permitted to receive back any ashes when pets have been cremated en masse.
Home burial – Most of the time you are allowed to take your pet’s body home to bury in your garden. This may not be the case in certain circumstances such as if you do not own your own home or if the burial of your pet could cause harm to other people, animals or the environment. You should contact your local council if you are not sure, for example you live near an underground watercourse.
Before deciding on a home burial consider the practicalities such as whether you will be physically able to bury your pet yourself, how your family will feel having them there and what you will do if you move home.
Burial in a Pet Cemetery – Pet cemeteries enable you to have your pet individually buried in a designated plot that you can mark with a memorial. There are not many pet cemeteries in the UK and so you may have to travel some distance for the nearest site. You need to make the necessary arrangements with the pet cemetery yourself. A list of pet cemeteries can be found at www.appcc.org.uk
Pet Loss and Bereavement
It is entirely natural to go through a range of emotions after the death of your pet. Some people can feel angry or guilty if they have had to make the decision to have their pet euthanased. It is important to remind yourself why you made that decision and that you did so out of love for them.
The APPCC (Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria) and The Blue Cross produce some leaflets and information that may be helpful to people at this time.
The Blue Cross also run a telephone support line 0800 096 6606 (UK and NI only). Calls are free and confidential from a landline though some mobile networks may charge. Trained volunteers provide emotional support and information for people who have experienced pet bereavement. They also offer an email support service for people who may find it easier to write down how they are feeling. Emails sent to email@example.com will be answered quickly and within 48hrs maximum.
Remembering Your Pet
People choose various ways to remember their beloved pet. Photographs, videos, and choosing a pet memorial are popular.
We have a Remembrance Book here to which clients are very welcome to add photos, poems or tributes to their pets. Please call or ask at the front desk.
Dignity holds an online Book of Remembrance.