Deciding on Euthanasia

Euthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions anyone can ever make for a pet who is a beloved companion and loving friend. It is perhaps the ultimate sacrifice we must be willing to endure for our adored companions. Only you can fully understand your pet, their situation and when the time is right for your pet to move on. Even though we know, long before their time that the day will come, as prepared as we could ever be nothing will prepare us for the day when we must part with our beloved family member. As a pet owner, none of us want to think of the day, seemingly far in the future when we must say good bye to our friend. Through education and preparation you can help ease yourself into the thought of living a life without your friend, though it doesn’t always prepare you for what is to come. Talk to your veterinarian about the process of euthanasia ahead of time. The more you know about the decision making process the less you will question your decision, procedure and emotions following.

How do you know when the time is right?

This decision is personal and for you to make with guidance from your veterinarian. With great courage and sacrifice you must decide when to say goodbye to your beloved companion. Many people fear they will not be able to recognize the right time, do not hesitate to seek advice from your veterinarian under any circumstance. Your veterinarian knows you, your pet and your situation and is only here to help make the best decision regarding your pet’s health and well being. It is often helpful to include family members or close friends who share a close bond with your pet in the decision making process. This is a time where you will need the support of those who truly understand.

When the time comes there are various aspects to consider in your pet’s life.

• Does your pet still seem to enjoy life? Does he/she carry out normal body functions as before – eating, drinking, walking and eliminating?
• Do any of these actions cause pain to your pet?
• What is the medical prognosis for your pet? Are there treatment options? Will these options create an uncomfortable quality of life for your pet?
• Are you able to afford the cost of treatment? For some, this must be the overriding determiner. If you cannot afford the recommended treatment will your pet’s quality of life diminish?
• Do you have the time that their medical condition requires?

Remember no one knows your pet better than you do. You have spent a lot of time learning to communicate with him/her and you are the best person to acknowledge the everyday quality of life they are living. Trust what your pet and your heart tell you. Later, you may questions this decision, but that is a natural reaction. The euthanasia procedure is done at the veterinarian’s office or performed at home. This is a personal preference.  At the veterinarian’s office you will request an appointment with your vet for the procedure. Veterinarians don’t exercise this option lightly. Their medical training and professional lives are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals. They are keenly aware of the balance between extending an animal’s life and ending their suffering. If you are choosing to say goodbye to your companion at home, you will request an appointment for a veterinarian to come into your home. The procedure itself is meant to be quick and pain free for your pet. First a sedative is given to relax your pet and make the process easier for you and your pet. After your pet is relaxed and when you are ready the drug is given to put your beloved pet to rest. Your pet will likely leak urine and slowly stop breathing as their muscles relax. Asking your veterinarian about what will happen to your pet before will help desensitize you to the thought of what will happen during the procedure.

Do you stay with your pet while they are being euthanized?

You will no doubt provide comfort to your pet as you spend their last moments with them. Our beloved pets pick up on our feelings, it’s an unspoken bond and sense they have. They will know you are upset, though they do not know why. It is as comforting for them to be with you as it is for you to be with them. We all can imagine or know how hard that situation is for anyone, if you choose not to be there, stand by your decision. Only you understand the situation you are facing with your pet. If you choose not to be with your pet, your veterinarian and veterinary technician will treat your pet with the respect and dignity they deserve and stay with them until the end. There are several different options for the after care of your pet’s body. These are often influenced by financial, location, personal considerations or religious beliefs. Cremation is one of the most favorable options that your veterinarian can provide for you. Cremation: This option enables you to keep your pet’s ashes in an urn or other special container in your home, bury them or even scatter them in a location that is meaningful to you and your pet. This is an extended option for those that don’t have property or a place to bury their pet. There are many different urn options through your veterinarian and online. Urns are not limited; there are jewelry pieces, bird feeders, wind chimes, rocks and other special keepsakes that can keep your pets ashes safe forever. Burial is preferred by many, but is not always practical due to permitting in your area and your geographical location. Ask your veterinarian beforehand if you can about city ordinances in your area so you can be prepared for your pets peaceful goodbye.

Will my other pets understand what happened?

They will understand that their friend is no longer here, but they will not understand why. Animals can form very strong attachments to one another. Grieving pets exhibit many symptoms similar to those experienced to you. The surviving pets may become restless, anxious, depressed, lethargic, experience loss of appetite, house-soiling accidents and even disturbed sleep. Often, grieving pets will search for their beloved friend and crave more attention from you. If you feel your bet is having a hard time offer a special treat, a new toy but most of all extra attention from you will not only help your grieving pet, but you as well. We get much love and happiness from our beloved pets in life, and we grieve deeply for them when they are gone. Because of the unique enhancement they give to our lives they become a treasured part of us, forever. When your pet’s life ends, more dies than your beloved friend. A treasured part of each of us goes with them, while leaving the bittersweet memories for us to hold close. These loving memories become a permanent part of who we are, and they live on in our hearts. Everyone will deal with the loss of their pet in their own way. Moving on is not easy and will take a different amount of time for everyone experiencing this. Take your time and allow yourself to heal. Give yourself credit, for your created many memories, shared many moments and provided the best home filled with love that you could for your beloved pet.

Written by: Alyssa Stadtler
Source: splb.org | petlosshelp.org