ANVC's Compassionate Care - Euthanasia
It is never easy to make the decision to let our pets go... but sometimes it is the best gift we can give them. How do you know when it is time? What is the process? What do you need to do?
We hope to provide you the answers here and assist you as much as we can in the hardest part of owning a pet.
Euthanasia, humane death, is a decision almost every pet owner is faced with when the health of their dearly beloved pet is threatened with a terminal or unbearable illness. Although most of us would wish that our pets die at home, in their sleep, in many cases this is not a reasonable request. Often pain and a diminished quality of life means bringing your pet in.
One of our Veterinarians can counsel you on when they feel it is best to euthanize your pet rather than continue treatment. Euthanasia is generally recommended when treatments are failing to provide relief from the pain and severe symptoms associated with disease, the pet is unable or unwilling to eat or do any "normal" activities, or their condition has so deteriorated that it is inhumane to keep them alive. Essentially it comes down to quality of life... are they having more bad days then good? Deciding to end a life is not an easy choice to make, yet even with the assistance of the Veterinarian, ONLY YOU can make it.
Once the decision to euthanize has been made, you will need to consider your options regarding your pet's remains. We offer an individual cremation service through Faithful Friends Crematorium in Lumsden, that can allow you to have your pet's ashes returned to you in your choice of urn, in a special bag for scattering in a special place, or you can choose not to have the ashes returned at all. You can make arrangements privately with a different pet crematorium, or you may choose to bury your pet's remains in a special location outside the city limits.
When the time comes to euthanize your pet, you will need to decide if you wish to stay with your pet during the procedure to say good-bye, or if are more comfortable leaving him or her with us and not staying for the euthanasia. This choice is yours to make, each person is different, what you choose is entirely up to you and is a very personal decision. Some people wish to have the whole family present, which again is your decision to make, however we don't recommend children 8 years of age or younger to be present.
When the time comes and you have made a decision we ask that you give us a call. If you choose not to remain for the procedure you do not need to make an appointment, we simply ask that you let us know what day you plan to come in, so that we are prepared for your arrival. If you decide to stay, we do need to make an appointment so both a room and a doctor are ready for you. If you wish to take care of paperwork and pay in advance this is entirely feasible. We also have cordless debit/credit so we don't need to keep you in the waiting room unnecessarily and can get you to the privacy of a room quickly.
Sometimes the grief of lossing our pet can overwhelm us when we come in for the euthanasia appointment, you are welcome to take the time you need before and after the appointment with your beloved pet. You may also want to consider having a friend or family member come with you in case you are unable to drive home.
The Euthanasia Process
The actual process of euthanasia involves giving an intervenous injection into one of the veins in one leg. The leg is usually shaved first so that the vein is more visible. The injection is an overdose of a barbituate (a type of anesthetic) which will generally stop the heart within a very short period of time. In some cases the Veterinarian will recommend sedating your pet, and it is often recommended to place an intervenous catheter in one of the viens before the barbituate is given. Please notify the Veterinarian if your pet has a history of seizures as this may affect the choice of medications used for sedation. Animals that are very ill at the time of euthanasia, due to poor blood pressure, may not have a vein that can be used for the injection; your Veterinarian will discuss this with you if he or she feels this is a possibility.
In most cases, after the injection is given, your pet will take a couple of deep breathes and gradually relax, but his/her eyes will remain open. The injection of the euthanasia solution is not a painful procedure (no more than a needle poke) but your pet may show a few "side effects" from the drugs before his or her heart stops beating. Occasionally, an animal may vocalize (either whine, growl, or howl) as the injection is given, or may get excited by the drug and struggle briefly. The likelihood of this happening is reduced with prior sedation or catheter placement. Some animals will also gasp or twitch briefly after the heart has stopped beating; this is a reflex and may look disturbing, but be assured that your pet is not feeling any pain or distress. As the body relaxes, some animals will urinate or defecate.
If you feel that seeing your pet do any of the above would be very upsetting to you, you may elect to not be present during the process but view the body afterwards, or simply say goodbye at any point before the injection.
We have the following books available for purchase:
When You Have to Say Goodbye Loving and Letting go of Your Pet by: Monica Mansfield, DVM
A Child's Companion Through Pet Loss A Special Place for Charlee by: Debby Morehead
Forever in my Heart remembering my pet's life by: Mary & Herb Montgomery
I Remember a book about my special pet by: Mary & Herb Montgomery
Additional Grief Resources*
Everyone grieves differently and in their own time period. If you think you, or someone you love, are experiencing extreme or prolonged grief, a grief counselor may be able to help you get your life back on track.
Books on Pet Loss:
When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope with your Feelings by Jamie Quackenbush, MSW and Denise Graveline
A Final Act of Caring: Ending the Life of An Animal Friend by Mary and Herb Montgomery
Books for Children:
The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst
Because of Flowers and Dancers by Sandra Breckenridge
Goodbye My Friend by Mary and Herb Montgomery
AVMA Pet Loss
*We are in no way affiliated with Amazon.ca, nor do we receive anything if you purchase through the links above. We are simply providing the links to make your search for resources easier.