Preparing For Your Pet's Euthanasia
When Is The Time Right?
The most difficult part of pet ownership is realizing that your furry friend has come to the end of their life and that you may need to make the decision to euthanize them.
What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia is the process of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.
While it’s a difficult decision, the staff and doctors at Apache Animal Hospital view it as the final treatment option for a pet.
How do I know when it’s time to euthanize my pet?
The answer to this is never easy. As a loving pet owner, you want to do right by your pet.
A general rule of thumb is – does your pet still enjoy the things in life that he or she has always enjoyed (certain toys, greeting you when you get home, eating certain foods or treats)? If so, it’s probably not time. If your pet is unable to enjoy the things he or she used to, now may be the time.
Some pet owners find that using a Quality of Life Checklist helps them look at their pet’s quality of life objectively. Click here to view the Quality of Life Checklist.
At Apache Animal Hospital we take euthanasia very seriously. It is the most difficult part of our job, but we do it because we know when we do, we are ending a patient’s suffering. If your pet has been seen at our hospital and the doctor has diagnosed a terminal condition, they have noted in your pet’s records that it is ok to euthanize your pet when you feel it’s time. Frequently, we receive phone calls from pet owners wanting their pet euthanized. If our doctors haven’t noted in the patient’s chart that it is ok to euthanize, you will need to schedule a Quality of Life Consultation. This will allow you to meet with our doctors and discuss what you are seeing at home. Sometimes, there are therapies or medications that can be used to increase your pet’s quality of life. Other times, the best option is euthanasia.
Preparing for your pet’s euthanasia:
At Apache Animal Hospital we understand that there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to deal with a pet’s euthanasia. We will accommodate your needs in any way that we can.
1. Consider if you and your family members want to be present when your pet is euthanized. If you have children, do you want them to be present? What about other pets in the household?
2. Decide what you want to do with your pet after the euthanasia is complete. Apache Animal Hospital works with a local cremation service, so if you want your pet cremated, we can handle that for you. There are a variety of urns and memorial items that you may want for your pet’s ashes.
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3. Bring a friend with you. During this difficult time, you may want a friend to be responsible for driving you and your family to your appointment.
4. The day of the euthanasia, if it’s possible, have a celebration of life for your pet. Make them their favorite “people food” and let them enjoy. Gather family and friends and discuss fun times with your pet and have all family members do something special for your pet – brush their fur, hand feed them treats, give them a gentle body massage.
What to expect the day of euthanasia:
Scheduling the appointment – we always make euthanasia appointments a priority. We prefer you schedule an appointment so the staff can prepare all items necessary prior to your arrival. We are always as flexible as we can be, and same day appointments are very common.
Arriving to the appointment – we have a separate room, called the Comfort Room, that is set aside just for euthanasia appointments. It has its own entrance, so you do not need to enter into the lobby. One of our veterinary technicians will be waiting for you in the Comfort Room when you arrive.
Paperwork – There is some minor paperwork involved in euthanasia. There is a consent form that needs to be signed giving us permission to euthanize your pet. We will also ask if you have decided on cremation and if you would like an urn. If you are unsure, these things can be handled after the euthanasia as well. We offer a free clay paw print to all pet owners, so we will ask if you would like this as well.
The procedure – We place an intravenous (IV) catheter in one of your pet’s legs so the doctor is able to administer the IV solution for the euthanasia. Depending on the pet and the pet owner, we sometimes take the pet out of the room for this procedure. You are welcome to spend as much or as little time as you would like before the euthanasia takes place. Once the doctor administers the injection, the pet rapidly goes to sleep, then the heart and breathing stops. The whole procedure typically takes less than a minute from when the injection is given.
After the procedure – You are welcome to spend as much time as you want with your pet once the euthanasia is complete. If you are having your pet cremated and the ashes returned to you, we will call in about 2 weeks to let you know they are here.
Pet Lost Resources
Saying goodbye to a beloved family friend is never easy. Here are some tools and resources to help you with the loss of your pet and navigate through difficult times.
Local Pet Loss Support Groups
Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota Pet Loss Support Group
This group is facilitated by AERC Chief Marketing Officer Heidi, who, along with other group members, provide insight into what the loss of a pet means, along with being there to listen and provide comfort. Reservations are not required but appreciated. Contact Heidi at 651-501-3759 ext. 114 if you plan to attend. AERC Oakdale 1163 Helmo Ave. North, Oakdale, MN 55128 7 - 9pm every 4th Tuesday of each month
Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley
This is an ongoing, informal pet loss support group for adults 16 years or older lead by compassionate facilitators. These drop-in groups are free and reservations are not required to attend.
845 Meadow Lane N Golden Valley, MN 55422 7:00 PM every Monday in Conference Room D
Companion Animal Love, Loss & Memories Group (CALLM)
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) offers a biweekly bereavement group to support those grieving the loss of a beloved animal. These sessions are free of charge, and it's recommended to call and confirm the schedule before attending. To register, attendees must call in advance for a pre-screening and to reserve a seat. Please call Veterinary Social Services at 612-624-9372 for details.
Pomeroy Student-Alumni Learning Center University of Minnesota 1964 Fitch Avenue St. Paul, MN 55108 6:30 - 8pm every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month
Support Hotlines American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals National Pet Loss Hotline 870-474-3310
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
Tufts Pet Loss Hotline 508-839-7966
University of Minnesota Veterinary Social Services 612-624-9372
Recommended Books For Adults:
A Dogs Purpose~ By W.Bruce Cameron
Saying Goodbye To The Pet You Love~ A complete resource to help you heal by Lorri A. Greene, Ph D. and Jacquelyn Landis
Good-bye My Friend ~ Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowa
Recommended Books For Teens:
Healing Your Grieving Heart ~100 Practical Ideas by by Dr. Alan Wolfelt
Recommended Books For Children:
Saying Goodbye to Your Pet: Children Can Learn to Cope with Pet Loss by Marge Eaton Heegaar
A Special Place for Charlee: By Debbie Morehead