Euthanasia is a final gift we can offer our pets when they are experiencing significant pain or illness that we are unable to improve. It is a kindness that we are able to provide to our pets, and a decision made out of love and a desire to give them the most peaceful end of life transition possible. Your veterinarian can help you decide if it is an appropriate decision in your situation. Most often, there is not an exact right time for euthanasia, but rather a period of time where it can be an appropriate choice. Some of the factors to consider will be what treatments can be provided to keep your pet comfortable, your ability to provide those treatments, and what is most important to you about the circumstances surrounding euthanasia. Think about what your wishes are for the circumstances surrounding your pet’s final moments, and consult with your veterinarian to discuss how best to honor these wishes.
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 current situation, help develop an understanding of how things might progress, and provide a framework for decision making and planning for your pet’s end of life care. If you’d like to schedule a consultation or feel prepared to discuss euthanasia planning, please call us at (403) 532-0085 or send us an email. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff are here to help.
Our team of veterinarians can certainly meet with you in advance of a euthanasia appointment, or have a discussion at the onset of a euthanasia appointment if you need to consult about the decision before proceeding. A quality of life consultation can be extremely helpful in supporting you and your family through this difficult time. If you’d like to schedule a quality of life consultation, please call us at (403) 532-0085 or send us an email.
Euthanasia is a deeply emotional time for pet caregivers, and we are honored to help support our clients and beloved patients in achieving as peaceful an experience as possible. These moments can be profoundly meaningful. Veterinary medicine is often seen as a calling, and this is certainly true for those who focus on end of life care.
This is a personal choice which you must consider. We have seen that other bonded pets witnessing the transition of their friend can help them accept the loss. Sometimes other pets can cause distraction and bring a different energy to the moment, which can be a positive thing or can potentially pull us away from being present in the moment. Consider how the other pet being present will affect the dynamics, the mental state of the pet transitioning, and your own emotional state.
Children can certainly be present, and our veterinarians and staff will tailor their communication to the situation. It is helpful to have some discussions with children ahead of time so they are prepared for what to expect. Our pet loss support section has some resources available for parents to help support their children through discussions of death and dying and their journey of grief.
During a euthanasia, a sedation is given by injection in the muscle or under the skin. There is a slight pinch associated with this, no worse than what you may have felt being given a vaccination. The process of euthanasia itself is generally painless after this initial injection.
The appointment will usually be scheduled for 1 hour to allow time for compassionate communication around all your wishes for your pet, and to address any questions or concerns you may have. The sedation can take from 5-20 minutes to take full effect once administered, and the euthanasia itself is only a few minutes once everyone is prepared to proceed.
Our team of registered veterinary technologists and veterinarians will administer sedation to allow your pet to fall deeply asleep before proceeding. 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 heartbeat in a painless way.
You are welcome to witness the entire euthanasia process, and our staff will support you throughout. With that said, it is completely up to you if you are comfortable being present throughout your pet’s transition, and it is ok to change your mind in the moment.
Our dedicated staff will stay with your pet throughout their final moments if you are not able. There is no judgement surrounding this, as everyone must make the decision of what is right for them in the situation. We can talk you through each moment, and you can decide what you are comfortable with as we go. Our sedation prior to the procedure can offer an opportunity for you to still be present for your pet’s last conscious moments, but withdraw before the euthanasia is completed if that is what you need.
Some considerations of how to prepare for your pet’s transition are described below:
WHO: Who would you like to be present during this important time? We can certainly help support having children present if desired, and we 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 important to the moment to gather? Is there a particular time or day that would have particular meaning to you or your pet? Will you be able to give yourself the time you need afterward to experience your emotions?
HOW: Consider how you would like to spend your quality time together beforehand. You can view this moving photo essay for inspiration (warning: have tissues on hand!).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.
Our veterinary team will strive to preserve your closeness to your pet throughout the procedure to the best of our abilities. It is generally possible for you to be touching or holding your pet through most of the appointment.
Your pet will be handled gently and with dignity as we transition them from the euthanasia appointment through their aftercare. Their memorial items will be prepared as per your wishes, and they will be placed in cold storage to preserve them until they are transitioned to cremation (typically within 24 hours). Our cremation service comes directly to our clinic to transport your pet for cremation.
Our staff can discuss what options are available when you are ready to do so. It is not necessary to have all decisions made at the time of euthanasia if you are not ready. We will ensure your pet is respectfully preserved until such time as you are able to express your wishes to our team.
We work with crematoriums with whom we have an established relationship, and with whom we trust to be respectful team members supporting your pet’s end of life transition. We tour their facilities, review their processes and ensure we are confident they feel the same duty to honor our animal companions as we do.