A Caring Guide to Planning for the Loss of Your Pet
Having pets is one of the most rewarding relationships a person can have. They provide us with humor, love, and lots of snuggles. With all pet families, however, there comes a time when we must say goodbye.
Preparing to Say Goodbye to Your Pet
For some, this comes after months or years of managing a chronic illness while for others, it happens unexpectedly and urgently with no prior warning. Regardless of how or when this happens, it is very helpful to be aware of some things to consider in advance. We know how hard it is to think about saying goodbye to your pets, no matter how long you have with them, but knowing that it is a decision made with love and being prepared may make it a small bit easier.
A Questionnaire Can Help You Determine the Right Course
For cases when there is more time to prepare, either with a chronic illness or a geriatric pet, there are several things to consider. For some, it can be difficult to notice as our pets become more uncomfortable so researching Quality of Life handouts can be very helpful.
There are also many other good options online. All of them will ask questions to help you better see how your pet’s life has changed with age or disease. For many this is not a questionnaire that makes a decision but instead helps track a pet’s quality of life. It can be helpful to fill this out when your pet is feeling well so you can watch for changes.
Discussing End-of-Life Options With Your Veterinarian
Another important way to prepare is by discussing this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet for signs of discomfort or decreased quality of life and can discuss these with you. They may also be able to provide medications or therapies to help improve your pet’s comfort significantly so it’s a great idea to touch base with them early on.
Euthanasia: Always Performed with Love and Kindness
The process of euthanasia is different for every clinic so it is best to talk with your veterinarian about how they perform the procedure. For all pets, it is a peaceful procedure performed with love and kindness. No matter how many of these we do, we care deeply about each and every one.
How to Handle Grieving as a Pet Owner
Losing a pet often leads to a period of grieving. Everyone grieves differently and sometimes in unexpected ways. In families with children, it can be helpful to read some of the information below regarding how to talk with kids about pet loss and support them afterwards.
- The Pet Loss Support Page offers 10 general tips for coping with pet loss.
- This New York Times article talks about helping children through this tough time.
- For more general information about loss and grieving, the Hospice of the Piedmont is a great resource.
We Are Here to Help With End-of-Life Pet Decisions
Having a pet offers so many benefits and, at the same time, calls for a lot of responsibility and sacrifice- the biggest of which may be the responsibility to say goodbye and stop their suffering when it is time. It is never an easy decision- even when it is the right one. Your veterinarian is here to help you through this process in the most peaceful way possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.
– Dr. Jessie Miller
For more information, contact our team at VETSS, a Charlottesville VA urgent care animal hospital!