When it's time to say goodbye

Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is undoubtedly a very sad experience. At Roe Valley Veterinary Clinic, we try to make this as easy and painless for both you and your pet, whether he or she dies naturally or if you have to make the difficult decision to put them to sleep.

My pet has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. How do I know when the time is right to put him to sleep?

This is a tricky question to answer as it is dependent on the specific circumstances. However, we always advise clients that they know their pet best and will know when their quality of life is deteriorating. For example:

“Buddy used to live for chasing the ball. When he was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in his hips, we were aware that he would start to slow down. However, he surprised us all and responded so well to his medication that months went by when he seemed normal. Then, one morning, I went downstairs and he could barely get out of his bed. Even though he still ate his breakfast (he was a Labrador after all), he was struggling to even get outside to go to the bathroom. At this point, I realised that he was starting to suffer and I couldn’t bear to see him in pain anymore, which was why I made the heart breaking decision to have him put to sleep.”

It's important not to think of euthanasia as a negative choice. In contrast, it is the last gift you can give your precious pet – the gift which ends any further pain or suffering.

I have decided the time is right but I am worried about what happens next?

Now, you have bravely made the decision give us a call and we are more than happy to discuss the procedure with you. We understand it is a very delicate time and we endeavour to deliver as compassionate and caring service to you and your pet as possible. We normally try to arrange a time outside of our normal clinic hours and of course we also provide home visits on request.

Before the Vet begins, they will explain what exactly happens and are able to answer any questions or concerns you may have. They will also ask you to sign a consent form to allow them to continue. At this point, we give you the option of leaving (as some owners prefer to remember their pets as they used to be), but we are also very accommodating should you choose to stay – it is your decision entirely.

Euthanasia works by administering your pet with an overdose of an anaesthetic. It takes effect very quickly and is completely painless. It you have chosen to stay, we encourage you to talk to and stroke your pet during the process. Please do not feel embarrassed if you are very upset or crying as our Vets understand how difficult saying goodbye to your much beloved pet is.

After my pet is put to sleep, what do I do next?

Following the euthanasia, some people like to take their pet home and arrange to have them buried. However, due to circumstances, this is not always practical. Therefore, we also offer the option of cremation. Within this, you can choose to have a private cremation where your pet's ashes are returned in a casket or scatter box or you can choose a group cremation (where ashes are not returned). In both cases, we can assure you that your pet's body is handled with the utmost dignity and respect.

I am finding the loss of my pet very difficult. Is this normal?

Mourning the loss of a pet is completely normal and you need to deal with your grief to allow yourself to move on. Pets are such an integral part of the family and it will take time to come to terms with and accept that they are gone. Initially, some people will go into denial and isolate themselves from friends and loved ones. After this, some may feel anger at the injustice that their pet was taken away from them. From here, they may start to have thoughts such as “if only I had taken him to the Vet sooner.” Finally, the true mourning phase will begin, where the griever will undoubtedly feel sad and depressed but it is this, which will eventually allow them to accept that their pet is really gone.

How will I break the news to my kids?

It is important that the news of a terminally ill pet or a pet's death are truthfully told to children by someone they know and trust. In the instance where a pet may be approaching his or her time to be put to sleep, children should be allowed to ask questions and express their emotions. As a parent/guardian, you need to be able to talk about your own feelings and reassure your child that you have made the best decision for your pet.

How long should I wait before getting another pet?

There is no exact time you should wait before getting another pet but it is a decision you have to make yourself. If you do not feel ready, it's important not to feel pressurised by others. Remember that a new pet will never replace the old one but they will have their own unique personality and you will develop a new companionship.