Saying Goodbye To Your Pet
Pets provide us with unconditional love, friendship and comfort, but sadly they don’t live as long as we do so, at some point, many pet owners will have to consider euthanasia. It’s completely normal to have intense or conflicting emotions when it comes to such a sad decision but sometimes euthanasia – literally, a “gentle and easy death” – can be the kindest act that a pet owner can do for their much-loved animal.
There is no easy time to make the decision to put your pet to sleep; it will be a decision made by careful consultation between yourself and your vet. We will help you to assess your pet’s “quality of life” and talk you through whatever options are available to you.
If there is no other option then we will make an appointment at a quiet time to cause minimal distress and it may be a good idea to have a friend or family member with you for support.
If your pet is already hospitalised, then you can ask to visit and say goodbye if you wish. However, if your pet is under an anaesthetic, it may be kinder to agree not to wake them, and perhaps to see them afterwards for some quiet time alone.
Should you stay with your pet during euthanasia?
This is completely up to you. It can be a comfort to see that euthanasia is usually a quick and gentle process, but try not to feel guilty if you feel unable to be there – if you are very upset then this may upset your pet.
Remember, we choose to do our job because we want to help animals. You can trust us to treat them sympathetically even in your absence. If you wish, ask to spend a few moments alone with
your pet afterwards.
What happens after pet euthanasia?
Most people opt for cremation, you can choose a “routine” cremation: In this case your pet would be cremated at Pet Cremation Services with other pets and you can choose to have a certificate of cremation sent to you. The ashes are scattered close to the crematorium.
Alternatively, you can choose an individual cremation: Your pet will be individually cremated at Pet Cremation Services and the ashes will be returned to you. These can be contained in a casket or a tasteful disposable box for subsequent scattering, or you can choose for Pet Cremation Services to scatter the ashes for you in woodland close to the crematorium.
The third option is burial: There are pet cemeteries should you wish your pet to be buried, or you can take the body home for burial.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask if you wish to keep a lock of hair as a fur keepsake, or perform a ceremony such as saying a prayer – we’re used to such requests and will do anything we can to ease your suffering.
It is entirely natural to feel upset when your pet passes away, after all, they are a beloved family member so don’t worry about being embarrassed to show your emotions.
It takes time to get over the loss of a loved one and, although reactions differ, very often a mixture of feelings – sadness, loneliness and anger – can follow.
Try not to feel guilty or blame yourself – the decision for euthanasia is taken with your pet’s interests at heart to avoid suffering. Some people find themselves questioning whether they did the right thing. It is normal to feel some doubt, though this will ease in time.
Explaining the decision to children and young people
Be prepared for the house to feel empty on your return but try to treasure your memories and talk to family, and friends.
Pets provide us with unconditional love, friendship and comfort
For children it can be especially upsetting, as it may be their first experience of death. Children need support even if they are not outwardly upset. Talk to them honestly about what is happening and, as far as possible, involve them in decision-making.
Rituals such as funerals, making a memorial or assembling a scrapbook with memories of the dog may help.
For young people who have other difficulties in their lives, the loss of a pet can be devastating, and it may be sensible to seek professional advice.
Other pets may notice the loss and respond to it. They can become unsettled and lose their appetite for one or two days. Giving them some extra attention may provide some comfort.
You may find it hard to talk to friends and family about your loss. Not everyone can understand how you feel and you may feel isolated and lonely. If you want to talk to someone please do not hesitate to contact us where we can put you in contact with a trained Pet Bereavement Counsellor.
You could also consider contacting the Blue Cross who have a dedicated help line on 0800 096 6606 for free confidential support.