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Euthanasia 

Euthanasia - making the decision

Euthanasia comes from the Greek for "a gentle death." It is a great gift to be able to avoid pain and suffering and to allow an animal to die quickly and painlessly. It is a very emotional time for the owner and the vet. Taking the decision to let go of a treasured companion is never easy and we will discuss with you about when the time is right. If you are considering euthanasia, you can ask yourself a number of questions:

Is the animal:

  • In pain, distress or serious discomfort which cannot be effectively controlled
  • Unable to eat and drink enough or vomiting so frequently as to make it hard to maintain good bodily condition 
  • Suffering from tumours which cause pain or serious discomfort which are inoperable or untreatable
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Having difficulty walking or balancing 
  • Incontinent or having difficulty urinating or defecating
  • Suffering from abnormal behaviour and
  • Are you unable to cope physically and emotionally with any  nursing or medication that may be required?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then euthanasia may be the best option for your pet.

What happens when an animal is put to sleep

When you decide to have a pet put to sleep we will explain the process and tell you what to expect. Some people can be too upset at the time to discuss it so don't be afraid to ask before you decide or afterwards if you have any questions. You may want to arrange the appointment at a time when the practice is quiet and we will try and accommodate this.

You will be asked to sign a consent form giving the vet permission to carry out euthanasia and we will ask if you wish to stay with your pet. There are no hard and fast rules about whether it is better to stay with your pet while it has the injection. Some people find it comforting others find it distressing. You have to decide what you are most comfortable with. Your pet will be given an injection and this is usually given into a vein in the front leg. A nurse often helps the vet with this. The injections are similar to an anaesthetic and the animal will usually fall asleep within seconds if it is given into the vein. The eyes normally stay open and sometimes the animal may lose control of its bladder. You will now be given a few moments with you pet if you want time to say goodbye.

Most people leave their pet with us so that we can arrange cremation. If you prefer to take your pet home for burial please inform the vet or nurse before the euthanasia is performed. If you prefer to have an individual cremation and want the ashes returned our staff will advise you on how to make these arrangements.

Coping with grief

The grief process consists of a number of stages: disbelief, pain, anger, guilt and acceptance. The first stage is disbelief and shock. It may be hard to accept the animal is no longer with us and the house may feel very empty. The next stage is pain, anger and depression. This is the time you need the support of family and friends and a listening ear. Many people will experience feelings of guilt; "Did I do the right thing?" "What could I have done to prevent it?" This is normal and will subside in time. The last stage of the process is acceptance.

You have accepted the reality of the loss of your pet and can now look back with happiness on the many pleasant memories of your time together.

The death of a pet is very upsetting and it is important to allow yourself time to grieve. Take time to talk things over with friends and family. Don't feel embarrassed about crying as it helps when you release these intense emotions or by seeking professional help. Everyone reacts differently to grief but rest assured that these sad feelings will fade in time.

If you get the opportunity to say goodbye, this can be very reassuring. Many people find that the sight of their pet, even though it may be unpleasant helps them come to terms with the loss and start the grieving process. We try to be sensitive to your needs in these circumstances.

www.pdsa.org.uk/files/rpc_saying_goodbye.pdf

 

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