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How do I know when it's time to put my pet to sleep?
This is a question often asked of us. We as veterinarians are a good judge of your pet's physical condition, but you know him or her best. It may help to evaluate her quality of life. Does she still enjoy eating? Does she respond to your attention? Does she seek your company? Is she experiencing more pain than pleasure? We often say to our clients, if her bad days are outnumbering her good days, it may be time.
We encourage you to find out as much information as possible regarding your pet's condition. If she is sick, ask about treatment options, possible outcomes and chances of recovery. We offer many alternative therapies such as Acupuncture and Homeopathy.
Often times, the decision isn't immediate so take the time to evaluate your options. Discuss the decision with other family members. Although it is human nature to question our decisions afterward, if you know you've made an informed decision, it will decrease the 'what if's' you may tend to ask yourself.
What's involved in the scheduling of the appointment?
We'll do our best to accomodate you during this very difficult time. When you call, ask the receptionist for an appointment during a quiet time of the day - these times can vary with each day. Most euthanasia's are performed here in the clinic in one of our exam rooms. However, we've had a few clients request their pet be put to sleep in the comfort of their car. We also offer housecall euthanasia's. Please speak to our receptionists for more information regarding housecalls.
This is usually a good time to discuss your pet's care of remains. Cremation and burial services are offered through "Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park". Should you choose to have your pet cremated, we will take care of all the arrangements. You have the option of having your pet buried communally or getting your pet's ashes returned to you in a beautiful cedar box. Rest assured that the ashes you receive are those of your pet and no other. For over 20 years we have entrusted Bubbling Well with our cremations. Please feel free to visit their website and/or call their office.
Should I be present for the euthanasia?
Whether or not to be present for the euthanasia is completely up to you. Many clients want to be with their pets when they're put to sleep, others can't bear the thought. Again, the choice is yours but please take the time to think it through as you won't be able to turn back time. Through our own personal experience, we've had a few pet owners who have regretted not being with their pets during those final moments. If you're apprehensive about being present, we can tell you that most euthanasia's are quite peaceful.
Another option available to you would be to wait in the reception room while the injection is administered and if you wish, spend some alone time with your pet after she has passed. Please don't feel like you are abandoning your pet if you can't be present for the euthanasia itself. She will not be alone. Know that we will shower her with loving affection and if she's up to it, a ton of yummy treats.
How will my pet be euthanized?
The euthanasia solution is specially made to act quickly and painlessly. It is administered either through a vein or into the stomach area. Intravenous administration requires your pet to be calm. If your pet is extremely wiggly or defensive, we may recommend sedating your pet first. With some cases, especially with cats, Dr. Codington prefers to administer the solution into their abdomen. With this method, the pets 'fall asleep' more gradually and naturally in the arms of their loved ones.
The Last Moments
When the doctor is ready to administer the euthanasia solution intravenously, a nurse will assist by placing a slight amount of pressure on a vein. This allows the doctor to see the vein better and aids in passing a fine needle into the vein. Once the needle is in the vein, the solution is slowly injected.
Many pet owners choose to hold their pet at the time of euthanasia. We will try to accomodate your wishes, keeping in mind that it is imperative with intravenous administration that the solution be injected within the vein for the procedure to unfold properly.
Within seconds, your pet will take a slightly deeper breath, maybe vocalize a bit, then grow weak and finally lapse into what looks like a deep sleep (giving rise to the phrase "put to sleep"). Your pet, although completely unconscious, may continue to take a few more breaths before all movement ceases. The muscles of the urinary and bowel tracts relax, so sometimes pets will urinate and/or defecate.
Many pet owners experience a very strong and lasting sense of pain and grief after the passing of a special friend. For many of us, our pets are our children. People who haven't experienced the human-animal bond may not understand the extent of the grief you feel. It may help to talk to someone who understands your sadness - a family member, a friend, your veterinarian. Never feel ashamed or belittle yourself for grieving over your lost pet. You are not alone. There are a number of grief support groups, including counselors and online pet loss support groups that specialize in pet loss support. Please visit our Resources page for links to these organizations. If your pet has furry siblings at home, you may notice them grieving as well - click here to read more.
Your sense of loss may encompass your life and that is all right. You have the right to grieve and you should take as much time as you need. No one knows how long that will be. Know that your pet lives within your memories - she will be there forever.
The Animal Sanctuary
"Sanctorum Animale", our animal sanctuary is a special place of refuge created for moments such as these. It is open during normal business hours. There is no need to inform us of your visit, feel free to stop by at any time.