Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a pet (that is so severely injured or sick that he or she will never recover normal health) is to have your veterinarian induce its death quietly and humanely through euthanasia. The decision to have your pet euthanized is a serious one, seldom easy to make.
Your relationship with your pet is special, and you are responsible for its care and welfare. Many owners reach the point in their pets’ lives where they are faced with making life or death decisions for their pets. Such a decision may be necessary for the welfare of the animal and for you and your family.
It may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make regarding your pet. Your decision is a personal one, but you are not alone. Our veterinarians and medical center staff and your family and friends can assist and support you. It may help to consider not only what is best for your pet, but also what is best for you and your family. Quality of life is important for pets and people alike.
How will I know when it’s time?
You may want to consider euthanasia if your pet is terminally ill or critically injured. There may be a time when you notice that your pet can no longer do with you and your family the things he or she once enjoyed. Make an appointment to talk with your veterinarian when your pet cannot respond to you in the usual ways, or seems to have more pain than pleasure on a daily basis. Sometimes, when the financial or emotional cost of treatment is beyond your means, euthanasia may be a valid option.
Pet Medical Center staff understands the depth of attachment to pets, and can examine and evaluate your pet’s condition, estimate your pet’s chances for recovery, and discuss potential disabilities and longterm problems. We will explain the medical options and possible outcomes. We will help you to fully understand your pet’s condition and the implications for your pet’s future. Bring a friend or family member to support you if you’d like. We will explain the procedure and will work with you during this difficult time.
Rarely will the situation require an immediate decision. Usually you will have time to review the facts before making your decision. You may want to bring family members and friends together to say goodbye and spend special time with your pet. Even if your pet is hospitalized, we will provide you with private time with your pet. You may choose to be present or you may prefer to have our staff perform the procedure. These are options we will discuss with you.
Our Pet Medical Center facilities include a special space where you and your family can be alone with your pet. We will also make house calls. We give you and your family all the time that you need to say goodbye. We will help you to make decisions that are right for you and your pet. Our staff will be here for you before, during and after your pet’s death and will handle your pet with care and dignity.
As you make your decision, you may wish to discuss the care of the remains of your pet’s body with your family and veterinarian. You have several options, and our staff can provide information about burial, cremation, or other alternatives. We work closely with Franklin Pet Cemetery in Merced, California. Its caring staff provides sensitive and personalized services during this difficult time. They can provide a place to memorialize your special friend, and help you with your plans to honor your pet. If you like, you may be present onsite at your pet’s cremation.
After Your Pet Has Died
It is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow after your pet has died. Living with the reality of your loss and the accompanying feelings are painful. Be patient in adjusting to your new life that no longer includes your beloved pet.
Everyone experiences grief in different ways. You may experience anger, sadness, depression or loneliness. You may blame yourself or others for not recognizing the illness earlier or for choices that allowed a pet to be injured. Over time, these feelings will be replaced with fond memories.
Grieving is a personal process. Some people take longer than others. Be reassured that sorrow and grief are normal, natural responses to death. Understanding this will help you to cope with your own feelings and to help children and others face theirs. Your other pets may show signs of loss, as well.
There are times in the grieving process when special assistance may be helpful. Begin healing your heart by visiting our Pet Memorial Page to share all the joys your pet brought to your family and share with others whom have also lost a beloved pet. Our staff is available to you. In addition, the following hotlines and links may be supportive resources for you.
- ASPCA Pet Loss Information – (877) 474-3310
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine – (866) 266-8635. Staffed during the semester on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 6:30 to 9:00pm, and Saturday 1:00 to 3:00 pm PST.
- Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine – Pet Loss Support – (517) 432-5967. Staffed by Michigan State University veterinary students.
- Chicago VMA – Pet Loss Support – (630) 325-1600. Staffed by Chicago VMA veterinarians and staffs.
- Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine – (614) 247-8607. Monday – Friday, 8:30 to 5:00pm EST.
- Tufts University Pet Loss Support – (508) 839-7966. Monday through Friday, 6:00 to 9:00pm EST.
- Cornell University Pet Loss Support – (607) 253-3932. Tuesday-Thursday 6:00 to 9:00pm ET, messages will be returned.
- University of Illinois Pet Loss Support – (217) 244-2273 or toll-free (877) 394-2273. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7:00 to 9:00 pm CST. Staffed by veterinary students.
- Colorado State University – Argus Institute
- Hinds Hospice Center for Grief & Healing – Local support team providing resources, private and group counseling.
- Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement
- Rainbow Bridge – Anyone who has ever lost a pet should visit this wonderful site. It is a tribute to our lost family members.