Saying the final good-bye to your family member is the hardest part of having a pet. We want your pet’s end of life experience to be as smooth and stress-free as possible. Everyone working here has lost a pet at some point in their life and we understand the stress and pain involved in this difficult decision. Often your pet has been a part of our clinic family for years and we get very attached to them as well. We want to make sure that their passing is as peaceful as possible. Typically we encourage our clients to let us know if there’s something particular they feel would reduce their pet’s stress level – perhaps bringing blankets/toys from home, picking a particular room to use, soothing music playing, and to ease anxiety, using some sedation. Also if there’s anything we can do to make the experience less stressful for YOU – we will try to accommodate any request whenever possible.
That being said, sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to accommodate every request. Occasionally pets come in to us where they are declining so quickly or are suffering to an extent that time is a luxury we do not have – to alleviate suffering we must act as quickly as possible. We still try to provide your pet with the utmost dignity and care possible.
Upon arrival, our technologist will meet with you to discuss your wishes for after-life care. You will need to sign a consent form stating you are the legal owner of the pet, and your pet has not bitten anyone in the past ten days prior (provincial guidelines to protect public from rabies). The technologist will discuss your options for communal or private cremation, or burial options. We work together with Precious Pets Cremation www.preciouspetcremation.com to find a comfortable resting place for your pet. We will also ask if you would like to have an ink or clay paw print made as a keepsake.
Typically we recommend mild sedation to ensure that your pet does not become anxious or distressed while at the clinic. Sedation can be administered at home in pill-form (hidden in some delicious treats) or administered via injection as soon as your pet is in the building to keep them from getting too stressed. The sedation effect will normally set in about ten minutes.
Once your pet is more relaxed and sedate, we place an IV catheter. This is to allow us access to the bloodstream for an injection of medication. We bandage the IV catheter in place so that it doesn’t shift and move out of the blood vessel, thereby losing access to the bloodstream.
When you are ready, an overdose of an anaesthetic medication is administered into the IV line. Because the medication is going directly into the bloodstream, the effects are quite smooth and rapid. From the point of injection typically consciousness is lost in less than 10 seconds. You pet’s breathing may become deeper for a few seconds and then gradually slows and stops. The doctor will listen to your pet’s heart rate as it slows and stops and let you know when they have passed.
It can be very normal to see small movements, twitches or even a few deep breaths after the heart has stopped – this is the brain sending out its last few reflexive messages. While it can be startling for you as an owner, your pet is unaware of these movements and is not feeling any distress or discomfort during this time. When a pet passes, their muscles will relax which may cause them to release body fluids. This doesn’t happen every time, but please be prepared this might happen.
Our goal is to give you as much private time with your pet as you need – when you are ready, you can simply walk out of the room and notify our staff. Some owners prefer to pay for services beforehand, so they do not have to be concerned with the financial transaction after saying goodbye.
Things that can make this difficult time less stressful:
- Planning ahead – when you are in the euthanasia appointment itself, it’s often very overwhelming. It’s hard to make decisions about details. Often it’s better to decide on things like urn types ahead of time so that we can follow your wishes without having to arrange them during what is already a difficult time.
- Unfortunately the reality is that an euthanasia appointment in the clinic is still a service that requires payment. Whenever possible we try to process payment before the actual appointment starts – often by the time your pet is gone, most people just want to leave as quickly as possible to go home and grieve in private. We really don’t want to intrude or make your visit any more difficult than it already is – so we’ll try to get all of those details out of the way first thing.
- If you have any questions about the process, or any concerns please ask us. We are here to help you through this final stage of your pet’s life.
- Saying good bye to your pet is difficult. If you find that you are struggling with your loss, we can help by directing you to local organizations that can offer extra support. Please know that you do not need to suffer alone.
“Pets are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Cara