When to Say Goodbye

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When to Say Goodbye: FAQs About Euthanasia

Here are some of the questions frequently asked by our pet owners about euthanizing their pets.

While euthanasia is a very personal and often emotional decision, using objectivity to help determine your pet’s quality of life can often be very useful.

Dr. Alice Villalobos, the veterinarian who founded Pawspice, a quality of life program for terminal pets, has published a scoring system for life quality called The HHHHHMM scale.

If you’re worried about your pet’s failing health, we will give you the test to take home to complete each week or more frequently. The test will help you start looking at your pet’s quality of life objectively and not just emotionally. You can learn more about the test here.

You should not euthanize a healthy pet.

We try to accommodate euthanasias, but it is helpful to have a couple days notice.

There are a few emergency services in the area that will euthanize overnight. There are also at home euthanasia services if you prefer to have it done at home. They do not do it at night.

This is up to you. Some pet owners want it done very fast, for example 10-15 minutes total time. Others sometimes want to spend time with their pet, so it may take an hour. If you have a preference, let us know. We can set aside room space for you.

An IV catheter is placed, which is the only thing the pet feels. After you have spent time with your pet, your veterinarian injects a concentrated anesthesia.

If you’ve ever been under anesthesia, you may remember how you just closed your eyes and woke up in recovery hours later. This is how it feels for your pet. They truly just fall asleep.

After the anesthesia causes sleep, the medication is at such a high enough dose that it simply “turns everything off” in the pet’s body. Even when that happens, the animal is not aware because they are sleeping. It occurs faster than most expect, about five to 15 seconds. Once the animal passes, they can lose their urine and bowels but mostly it is the bladder. This doesn’t happen if the pet urinated at home beforehand.

Yes, we encourage families to grieve together. We tell parents to be sensitive to their own children and decide if they can handle the experience.

Yes, you can bring other pets into the exam room.

Yes, you can choose to wait outside the room.

There are three options:

  1. If you have a place to bury your pet, you can take the body home.
  2. A general cremation. Your pet will be cremated with other pets and you do not keep the ashes.
  3. Private cremation. Your pet will be cremated alone, and you’ll take home the ashes.

Everyone starts the grieving process differently. Most give their pets a special meal the night before and just love on them as much as possible. Many owners like to hold their pets when we do the injection, which is fine. We want you to know that this is your time to say goodbye and it can look however you’d like. This may be laying on the ground with your pet, having your pet in your lap or hold their paw while they’re on the exam table. We don’t mind. We just want you to feel like you’re doing it the way you want.

It can be hard especially if we have a real relationship with the pet and the owner. We also have to learn how to grieve well without getting stuck in the grief.

Most of the time a natural death is usually agonizingly long and difficult. Since we do not do in home hospice, the pet just dies a terrible death at home so we recommend humane euthanasia.


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