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A Peaceful End of Life Experience

Saying goodbye to a cherished member of your family is first and foremost an act of love and kindness. And while it is never an easy thing to do, we believe it should be a pleasant experience for your pet and your family.


One of the things many families struggle with is the fear of the unknown. What does the euthanasia appointment mean? What happens? Will it hurt? There are many, many questions.


We’ll address the common ones here.


Where is the Best Place for Me to Say Goodbye to My Pet?

This is a very personal question, many families prefer to say goodbye and perform euthanasia at home. Where others prefer to come to the practice. It’s very much your choice.


There is little doubt that most pets are happier at home and so this is what many families choose. We are happy to work with your plan and we’ll discuss this with you beforehand in most instances. Sometimes, in emergencies especially, it may not be safe or in your pet’s interest to delay the procedure. But we will always work with you to meet your needs in the best way possible for your pet.


Preparing for the Appointment

Before the appointment, we recommend doing as many fun things as your pet likes to do. If he feels like eating his favourite naughty meal, then go for it. We’re no longer worried about long-term health issues. The point is to give him a great last few days and hours. Just go easy on the chocolate OK?


On the day itself, we have made an appointment and given you a window of time during which our vet will arrive. If your pet is OK with new people then you don't need to confine them, but if your pet doesn't like new people then it is best that they are kept in a room when the vet arrives so everyone can take time to get to know each other.


Ahead of time, you should choose where in your home you'd like the vet to prepare and where you'd like the euthanasia to be performed. We set aside plenty of time for the appointment so there is no need to feel rushed. Take as little or as long as you need. Saying goodbye and grieving is different for everyone.


What Happens During the Appointment?

During the visit, the vet will take you through the steps that will follow. Firstly, once you are ready, we’ll give your pet a small dose of sedation by injection. This will help them to feel calm and comfortable and they probably get very sleepy. Many pets then snooze deeply but some will wake up a little bit when you talk to them.


As the sedative takes effect, you can cuddle, hug and love on your pet as much as you like. The sedative takes between fifteen to thirty minutes to work.


Once they are sleepy, your vet will prepare a second medication which will is usually given by injection either into a leg vein or sometimes into the tummy. This medication is not painful so your pet won’t be uncomfortable.


This second injection is a dose of strong anaesthetic which shuts down the brain activity first, and once this is done, the other muscles slow down and stop including the heart. It’s a very peaceful way to drift off to sleep one last time.


Your vet will listen to your pet’s heart and confirm that they have passed.


You may stay with your pet as long as you wish afterwards.


When you are ready, we will prepare a paw impression as a memorial or you may clip a lock of hair. We do this as a remembrance for all of the fantastic memories you had with your pet. We also really enjoy hearing any favourite stories you have about your pet, so please feel free to tell them. 


Is There Anything Unexpected that Might Happen During the Appointment?

Probably not, almost all pets have a really peaceful end to life when we visit. However, there are a couple of things that happen as part of passing. It is very normal for the bowel and bladder to relax after euthanasia causing pets to release urine and occasionally poop after they pass. You do not have to worry about this, our vets come prepared and will make sure your pet stays clean.


For many, many pets, this process will be all that happens.


It is less common but possible that your pet may take one or more small breaths after they pass. This is simply a small muscle twitch as the diaphragm contracts for the last time pushing air out of the lungs and nothing to be concerned about.


Most pets don’t mind the initial medication injection but some pets (particularly those who are in pain) don’t always like the sedation injection. Again, this is very unusual.


For the vast majority of pets, the process will be nothing but a tranquil end to a beautiful life.


What Happens to My Pet’s Body Afterwards?

Once your pet has passed you have three options to consider.


Firstly, you can have your pet’s ashes returned in a small casket after individual cremation. 


The second option is that you can have your pet cremated communally with other pets. No ashes will be returned if this is the choice you make. The ashes are then scattered on a remembrance field with our crematory partner who performs the process with great care and dignity.


Finally, some pet owners prefer a home burial for their pet. If so, then we’ll discuss how to do this safely. Be aware that some councils may prohibit the home burial of pets. So please check this before making your decision.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can Children be Present?

We are very happy for the whole family to be present, but this is a personal choice. Children react differently based on their age and stage of emotional development. It is quite normal to be upset, for example, and it can help children to be present as death is a natural part of life. So, as painful and emotional an experience the loss of a pet is, if it is a peaceful process, then children will build resilience by experiencing the passing of a pet.


Please also see our Bereavement Support and Helping Children Grieve pages for more information.

Can I Give My Pet Something to Eat?

If they have an appetite then, absolutely. In the last few moments before saying you can give them all of their favourites! Pizza, fries, chicken, even chocolate. Go for it.


Can I Hold My Pet While You Give the Injection?

If you would like to then yes you may hold your pet. We will gently guide you on what you need to do.

Dr Liz Munro, an end of life care veterinarian

Worried your pet may be struggling? Reach out to our team today.

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