About Pet Euthanasia
The word euthanasia comes from the Greek translation of “good death”. It is a blessing, or a “final gift” that we are able to offer to our cherished canine and feline companions to relieve suffering and offer a peaceful end of life transition. While it may be the most difficult decision we face regarding our pets’ lives, it is one made out of love.
“As a pet owner, none of us like to think of the day, seemingly far in the future, when we must say good-bye to our pet…The more you educate yourself about pet euthanasia — ahead of time — the less likely you will be to question the decision or procedure, afterward…The decision when to euthanize is as individual and personal as you and your pet are. This is a judgment that only you can make, and it involves great personal courage and sacrifice.” – Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
If you’re not sure about when is the right time to make this decision, our quality of life resources can help guide your thought process. A quality of life consultation with a veterinarian can certainly help clarify your pet’s situation to help develop an understanding of how things might progress. This can provide a framework for decision making and planning for your pet’s end of life care. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, please call us at (403) 532-0085 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you feel prepared to proceed with dog euthanasia or cat euthanasia, you may request an appointment. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff are here to help.
How do I prepare for euthanasia?
WHO: Who would you like to be present during this important time? We can certainly help support having children present if desired. We also encourage the inclusion of other bonded pets as it may help their grieving process to be present.
WHEN: Is there a particular day or time that would be most appropriate for those involved to gather? Is there a particular time or day that would have special meaning to you or your pet? Will you be able to give yourself the time you need afterward to experience your emotions?
WHERE: Think about where you or your pet would feel most comfortable. If in home pet euthanasia would be preferred, please visit our home euthanasia section for further information.
If an appointment is scheduled at our clinic, we will prepare a quiet and private space for you and your pet to share those precious final moments. If scheduling in home pet euthanasia, consider a space where your pet will feel safe, and where a quiet and low distraction environment can be provided.
HOW: Consider how you would like to spend your quality time together beforehand. Watch this moving photo essay for inspiration (warning: have tissues on hand!).
If proceeding at home, consider how you would like to prepare the setting. Consider arranging soft, soothing music and dimmed lights. Consider providing delicious smelling treats for animals that are still eating, or soothing aromatherapy for those that are not.
What to expect
When booking a pet euthanasia appointment with our team, you can expect compassionate and thorough communication throughout. We will proceed as described below to ensure we are fully informed as to your wishes, and to create as peaceful an experience as possible for you and your pet. Every step will be explained to you in detail by our dedicated staff, and we will do everything in our power to ensure you and your pet are as supported as possible.
You are welcome to be present throughout the euthanasia process. This is a very personal choice and it is okay to feel uncertain. Our staff will ensure you understand what is going to happen and will support whatever you feel most comfortable with, even if that changes in the moment.
- Paperwork & Payment: Our team will review some necessary legal paperwork with you to ensure we have your informed consent to proceed, and also that you have all the information you need to make decisions about your pet’s final care. This will include discussion and documentation of your wishes regarding the creation of memorial items and the care of your pet’s body after they have passed. We collect payment ahead of services, so that this does not intrude on your precious time together in your pet’s final moments.
- Sedation: Our team of registered veterinary technologists and veterinarians will administer sedation to allow your pet to fall deeply asleep before proceeding. If your pet is nervous with car rides, or trips to the veterinarian, we can also arrange sedation to be prescribed for use at home prior to the appointment. If arranging a home euthanasia, sedation can be arranged for use in advance of the appointment as well.
- Euthanasia: The euthanasia medication will be administered by a veterinarian in a method determined to be the most appropriate for your individual pet’s needs. This may involve the placement of an intravenous catheter, but not always. The medication interrupts the brain’s activity, which then causes breathing to stop, followed by the cessation of the heart beat in a painless way. The veterinarian will confirm your pet’s passing before offering you time together in privacy.
- After care: After your pet’s transition, we will ensure you have as much private time together as you need. From there, our team will carry out your wishes for the preparation of memorial items such as fur clippings and paw prints, and will arrange transport of your pet for body care (most commonly cremation).
The care provided to your pet after their death can be referred to as “aftercare”. We treat each animal with the same gentle handling and compassion, as we all understand the bond shared with our cherished companions, and have all experienced the heartache of their loss.
The most common form of aftercare is cremation, and can be performed in a private fashion where your pet’s cremains are returned to you in an urn of your choosing. This allows you to keep the cremains, bury them, or scatter them. A communal cremation may also be selected, where your pet will be cremated along with other pets. We can absolutely make these arrangements for you, but if you would prefer to do so yourself, we can certainly support this as well.
Burial is less common, as it is not legal to bury animals euthanized with the medication that is used in city limits. A pet memorial park is located at Country Club Pet Resort where burial may be accommodated if desired, or regulations can be discussed for how to bury your pet yourself if you have access to property outside of city limits.
Each individual’s journey of grief will be different, but part of the process for everyone is honoring and memorializing the life that was lived. There are many ways to honor and memorialize our pets, with more creative ideas being expressed all the time.
Our trusted partners in cremation and memorialization will help ensure that your wishes for your pet’s aftercare are honored through a program called Lasting Memories. You will be given login information to a personalized portal to consider your wishes in your own time. Some of the items available can be found here. Below are some thoughts that may give you comfort or inspiration:
- Discussing or writing about favorite memories with family or friends
- Continuing to celebrate occasions such as birthdays or “adoptiversaries”
- Maintaining keepsakes such as favorites toys, collars, photos, paw prints
- Looking through photos of your pet
- Journaling or writing stories or poems inspired by your pet
- Volunteering or donating to an animal rescue or local shelter
- Fostering or sponsoring rescue animals
- Donations to animal charities (ask our staff for information about donating to our “Chaos Fund” for needy pets and their caregivers)
- Creating a memory box, shadow box or a memorial shrine
- Online memorial
- Having a painted likeness, or other art piece made of your pet
- Jewelry made with cremains or pawprints
- Creation of a custom item from your pet’s collar or leash (ex. Bracelet, belt, etc.)
- Memorial plaque or stone in a special place
- Planting flowers or a tree in memoriam
- Custom stuffed animal
You may find yourself experiencing a sense of grief while your pet is still alive, because you are preparing for the loss of them in the near future. This is very normal, and deserves the same consideration and support as grief after the loss. We encourage you to visit our pet loss support section for resources which may be of help in this difficult time.