In a romantic world, we would all like our animals to die peacefully in their sleep. Sadly, in most cases, it’s a difficult decision that we the owners have to make. We are fortunate that we have the option to put our pets to sleep to prevent any further suffering.
It’s a question of your pet’s quality of life and well-being. The presence of positive emotions that are affected by physical health. As an owner, you are the best person to decide your pet’s quality of life as you see their behaviour and experiences every day at home. By looking at your pet’s life as a whole and considering issues such as mobility, pain, the outlook for their condition, breathing, toileting, eating and drinking, social ability and finally ‘you’- can you cope with what is happening to them?
Sometimes euthanasia is the only way your pet will find relief. Remember, your pet must have a life worth living and you should be able to meet their needs physically and mentally. The responsibility ultimately rests with you. Normally it’s a decision that is made over time, one which you can discuss with your family. Your vet can also help to answer any questions you may have and give their honest opinion as if it was their pet.
Do not exclude your family, speak to your children so they are aware, it will help them to come to terms with it. Our job is to give our pets the very best life we can. Letting them suffer in any way is the wrong decision.
Euthanasia can take place either at the vet’s or at home. It all depends on what you prefer. Visiting the vets can be stressful for your pet on most occasions and the majority would be more comfortable at home. It’s worthwhile discussing a home visit with your vet beforehand.
Many people choose to be with their pet during the procedure, cuddling and talking to them. It will be more comforting for your pet to have you present holding them as they drift to sleep.
Euthanasia is painless. It’s an extremely concentrated anaesthetic agent which causes them to lose consciousness and stop their heart. They drift very quickly – normally within seconds. They may gasp, spasm or make a noise after the injection, they often empty their bladder and bowels too. But your pet is not feeling anything, it’s simply their muscles relaxing.
There are a number of options available.
At home – many people choose to bury their pets in the garden. Be aware of the depth of the grave required to make sure they are not disturbed by wildlife.
Pet Cemetery – you can opt for a pet cemetery some places even offer plots for horses and space for owners to join their pet once they have died.
Many people find visiting a grave alleviates their grief a little.
Communal - is a cheaper option whereby several pets are cremated at the same time and their ashes scattered around the crematoriums garden. You can then visit the memorial gardens should you wish.
Individual - your pet is cremated on their own. Many pet crematoriums offer a service where you and your family can visit your pet and hold a service. Their ashes are returned to you in varying forms such as a scattering tube – where you can scatter their ashes on their favourite walk, or an urn which you can place somewhere at home. There is also a photo frame option with the ashes stored in the back so they are always with you.
It’s completely normal to have feelings of anger and guilt after your pet has been put to sleep. Feeling like you could have done more is natural. Grief can last for some time, as pets are often our best friends and a major part of the family. People experience grief in different ways but it may worthwhile having someone with you or at home when your pet is euthanised.
Their pet’s death is often a child’s first encounter with grief. Be honest with your child and try to explain as much as possible. Do not use the term put to sleep as they may find this confusing. Make it clear that they have died so they can understand their pet will not return. If possible allow them time to say goodbye. Be mindful and don’t be afraid to share your own feelings. Talk about your pet together. Children often grieve quicker than adults but there isn’t a time frame. There are several books on the market which can help your child to understand. It can be incredibly helpful for the family to have a memorial so you can grieve together.
Under no circumstances trivialize grief. Losing a pet can be an incredibly difficult time. They are a huge part of the family and turn a house into a home which often feels empty when they have gone.