Saying Goodbye to Your Beloved Pet

Euthanasia is the term used to describe the “putting to sleep” of a pet. It literally means “a good death”. For our pets that are ready to go, this process is performed by a veterinarian. It involves an injection and is an overdose of an anesthetic so that the pet quickly falls into an anesthetic sleep and then passes away. Euthanasia is an option to humanely relieve suffering or pain when a pet is very unwell or suffering from an incurable disease.

The decision to say goodbye to your pet is never an easy one. Often people will say that you’ll know when the time is right but in reality, it is not that simple. Owners worry that their pet is suffering, but because of the love that they feel, they don’t want to say goodbye. There are also feelings of selfishness associated with this, as we never know if we’re hanging on to them for our own benefit. Many pet owners experience a feeling of guilt, that they might be letting their dog or cat down, or simply not doing the right thing.

Some factors to consider that you may notice at home:

  • is your pet eating, drinking normally?
  • are they able to get up and move around comfortably?
  • has house training, or lack of house training, become an issue?
  • is their quality of life still enjoyable?

A discussion with our veterinarian can help with this decision, and help you determine when the time is right.  Remember, everyone in our veterinary hospital has been in a similar situation. Talking about your feelings and knowing your have support always helps.

We have often had our clients ask questions about the euthanasia process, and what they should expect. Below you will find details on the process.

Is It Painful?
Euthanasia is generally a painless process. Seldom times the injection of the anesthetic may sting. Our team administers the medication as quickly and effectively as possible to minimize this.

Can I Stay With My Pet?
Absolutely. This is a difficult time for you and your family and we understand if you want to stay with your pet throughout the goodbye process. We will ensure your comfort and your pets in a treatment room where you have the privacy to say goodbye. We also understand if you find it far too difficult. Know that either decision you make, you have entrusted your pet in caring hands and we will treat them in the utmost respectful and caring manner.

How Will I Know My Pet Is Gone?
After the injection has been administered, your pet will pass away in a matter of seconds. They will go limp in your arms and feel totally relaxed. Our veterinarian will then use a stethoscope to listen for a heartbeat to determine they have passed.

What Happens After They Have Passed?
You have the option to take your pet home for burial after they have passed. This is not ideal for most, and many opt for cremation.  Our hospital works with Gateway, a pet memorial company that offers cremation, pet memorials, and a variety of memorial products for you and your family. They ensure the dignity, quality care, and respect that your beloved pet deserves. Whichever service you choose, you can take comfort in knowing your pet will be treated as though it were one of their own There are so many ways to remember your pet. Number one is in our hearts, for these memories will stay with us forever.

The Grieving Process
What Can I Tell My Kids? It may be very tempting to a parent to tell their child that their pet ran away, or went to live on a farm with room to run. Though we know this is said to protect our little ones and shield them from pain, it may not be the right choice. Often, children won’t believe that story as they will see the hurt you are experiencing. Also, it may cause issues of trust and insecurity in other ways.  It is important to explain to your child what your pet is experiencing if they are sick or growing old and if your kids are at an age where they understand death. You can prepare and grieve together.

Experiencing the Loss
Saying goodbye to a pet is an emotional time. They are our family members, our sidekicks, our confidants, our best friends.  Everyone reacts to the death of a pet in different ways. Some people cry uncontrollably while others will hide their emotions and grieve silently, while some feel the need to go out and get a new pet immediately. Whatever way you experience your grief, know that there is no “wrong” way.  All of these reactions are normal. Find a way to remember your pet, create a scrapbook with your favourite memories, plant a tree in their honour, and talk to your friends and family.

Other Pets In The House

Do dogs and cats mourn? Dogs and cats will mourn the loss of a companion. The time may vary between pets, as it does with humans, but they themselves will experience the loss and look for their four-legged friends when they are gone.  They can experience loss of appetite, lethargy, and appear to be quite depressed. The best thing you can do to help your pet through the mourning process is to be very attentive to their needs. Extra cuddles, walks, treats and play, encourage interaction with the family, any means of extra attention should help them through. In severe cases, medication can be prescribed if your pet does not seem to be coping well with the loss. Talk to our veterinarians if you are concerned.

Know that we are here to help. The team at Upper Canada Animal Hospital has each experienced the loss of a dearly loved pet.  It is a very emotional time, and each of us has relied heavily on one another for support. We also experience the loss of your pet with you. We grow to love our patients over the years and build relationships with our clients. We laugh with you and enjoy the moments with you as your pet grows. And we feel the heartache with you when you say goodbye.

Visit The Rainbow Bridge to share your stories.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…