Now, more than ever, pet parents think of their dogs and cats as members of the family. So it comes as no surprise that they are giving a lot of thought and attention to the handling of their pet’s end-of-life care.
If your pet’s quality of life is declining, or you know that your pet is suffering or in pain, you are probably wondering how you’ll know when it’s the right time to put your pet down.
Your local veterinarian has experience with this issue and knows you and your pet well. They are there to support both of you during this difficult time.
In the past, your only option would have been to take your pet to your veterinarian’s office or to a shelter for euthanasia procedures. But there have been recent shifts in the veterinary community to accommodate a less stressful method.
A new branch of veterinary medicine called “pet hospice” provides concierge end-of-life home services to meet this need, including palliative care and in-home euthanasia. Here’s what you need to know about these services and what they offer.
Pet hospice services are modeled after hospice services for people. They have mobile veterinarians that will come to your home to examine your pet and walk you through pain-management, nutrition and hygiene protocols so that you can help make your pet’s final days as comfortable and dignified as possible.
This concierge veterinary relationship can help provide peace of mind during the difficult end-of-life decision-making process.
Should I bring my family or children with me?
Sometimes, other family members may want to join you to say goodbye to your pet. Everyone should make their own decision about whether they want to be there when your pet passes away. You can let the vet know who would like to stay and who would prefer to step out for the procedure.
For some children, losing a pet may be their first experience of death. They may feel that they have lost their best friend – an important member of their family – and they may feel very sad and lonely. The way in which children, young people and those around them deal with the loss of a pet may lay the foundation for how they cope with other losses later in their life. Bringing children to the appointment can give them a sense of closure, particularly for older children, but it can also be distressing for some. If they are too young to understand what is going on, they may not understand why you are upset. You know your child best and will be able to consider what is best for them on a case by case basis.
If you are bringing children or young people to a euthanasia appointment, make sure that they understand what is going to happen beforehand, at a comfortable level for their age. If bringing a vulnerable adult or young person then they will also need support in understanding the procedure so that they are prepared for what will happen.
If you choose to stay with your pet:
The vet will arrange things so that you are able to be near your pet. If you’re very upset your pet can pick up on this, so if you do choose to stay it’s best to try and keep as calm as possible. You can comfort your pet as they pass by petting them and talking to them reassuringly. After the procedure, you will usually be offered a few minutes alone with your pet to say your final goodbyes. If it is important to you, then you can ask the vet if you can say a prayer or perform any ritual which may be spiritually meaningful to you.
If you decided to stay with your pet but it becomes too much for you, it’s okay to step out of the room. You don’t have to say anything if you feel you can’t. If the procedure has already started then the vet will focus on making sure your pet passes away safely and calmly before checking on you. Take a moment to breathe and feel any emotions you might need to. You can come back in the room if you wish, or wait outside or in the waiting room until the procedure is complete.
If you choose to leave the room for the procedure:
If you don’t want to be involved at all, this is also understandable. The vet has to make sure you understand the decision so you will need to discuss the procedure and sign a consent form, but you can then leave when you are ready. If you don’t want to stay with your pet, the veterinary team will make sure their last moments are calm, comfortable and dignified.
Some people might prefer to not be there when their pet passes away, but would still want to say goodbye after they have passed. If you feel this way, let the staff know and they will arrange a quiet room for you to spend the time you need with your pet.
How much does a vet cost to put a cat to sleep?
How much does it cost to put a cat to sleep UK?