As pet owners, we endeavour to make sure that our faithful companions stay fit and healthy, enabling them to live to an old age. Unfortunately, our pets do not live as long as us and at some point, we will have to prepare to let them go. Sadly, few of our pets pass peacefully away in their sleep. Therefore, we all wish to do the right thing at the right time, fulfilling our responsibility and commitment in their final days.
Nobody knows their pet better than you and your closest family and friends, so let them help and share in making a reasoned judgement on your pet’s quality of life.
Indications that things may not be well may include:
- Loss of appetite
- A reluctance to play and move around as normal
- Restlessness or becoming withdrawn from you
When the time is right to put your pet to sleep, you may see evidence of a combination of all the above indicators and your pet may seem distressed, uncomfortable or disorientated within your home.
Is there anything more I can do?
We will discuss all treatment options available for your pet to relieve their symptoms, but there may come a time when all forms of treatment have been exhausted, we have discovered the disease is incurable, or you feel your pet is suffering too much. You and your family may wish to talk with your vet to help you all come to this final decision; in this case, we will arrange an appointment for you.
When and where can we say goodbye?
We hope this section will help you and your family understand your pet’s end-of-life journey. This is known as ‘euthanasia’ but often referred to as ‘putting to sleep’. After discussing with your family and your vet, and having decided that the time has come, you can contact your surgery and make an appointment. We will always try to make this appointment at a time that is convenient for you – usually at a quieter time of the day.
Due to the current COVID regulations, we are unable to offer home visits at present.
Will I be able to stay with my pet?
Being present when your pet is put to sleep will be both emotional and distressing, many owners feel that they give comfort to their pet during their last moments, and can use this time to make their final goodbyes. But, this is not the same for everyone and we understand if you do not want to stay in the room with your pet, but instead wish to make your goodbyes afterwards. We will always make time for you and your family to do this.
What will happen?
Initially, your vet or another member of our team will ask you to sign a consent form to give us permission to put your pet to sleep. You may have already discussed with your vet what you then wish to do with your pet’s body, but we will confirm this on the consent form.
Many owners are surprised by how peaceful euthanasia can be. Euthanasia involves injecting an overdose of anaesthetic into the vein of your pet’s front leg. If your pet is particularly nervous or uncomfortable, our vets may insert a catheter into the vein or sedate your pet first.
After the anaesthetic has been injected, your pet’s heart will stop beating and they will rapidly lose consciousness and stop breathing. Your vet will check that their heart has stopped beating and confirm that they have passed away. On occasion, the pet’s muscles and limbs may tremble and they may gasp a few times, these are reflex actions only – not signs of life – but may be upsetting to watch, unfortunately, if they occur, they are unavoidable. Your pet’s eyes will remain open and it is normal for them to empty their bowel or bladder as the body shuts down.
What happens next?
There are several options available for your pet. Our Veterinary team can discuss these with you and give you an idea of costs involved.
- Communal Cremation – Your pet is picked up from the surgery by Cambridge Pet Crematorium where he or she will be cremated. These animals are not cremated individually and the ashes are not returned back to you.
- Individual Cremation – We make arrangements with Cambridge Pet Crematorium and they will pick your pet up directly from our surgery after the euthanasia and will cremate him or her individually, and the ashes returned back to you. You can choose to have your pet’s ashes returned in a variety of ways and there are many different types of caskets, scatter vessels, memorials or keepsakes that are available. You can see the full range that the crematorium offer, here.
Ashes normally take around a week to be returned to our practice.
Please be aware that having your animal individually cremated is more expensive that the standard cremation, so please ensure that you are fully aware of the costs before making your decision.
- Home Burial – Alternatively, you may choose to take your pet home for burial- but please bear in mind this may not always be practical.
We absolutely guarantee that after putting your pet to sleep, he or she is looked after correctly and with the dignity and respect that they deserve. If you would like to visit Essex Pet Crematorium in person, you are able to arrange a visit directly with them.
When will I need to decide?
We would encourage you and your family to discuss these options before your pet is put to sleep, and to let your vet know your decision. We will keep a note of your wishes with your pet’s notes. However, in some cases the euthanasia may have occurred after an accident and you may need more time to make the decision, we understand this and will accommodate accordingly.
Coping with the loss
Everyone deals with grief in different ways Some people are better suited to coping with the loss of a pet than others and there is no “normal” way to react. Our vets and nurses are more than happy to discuss any aspect your concerns either before or after your pet has been put to sleep.
If you feel you need extra support, then Penrose Veterinary Group strongly recommends Pet Bereavement Support Service , run by the Blue Cross Charity. This organisation is staffed by volunteers who will understand what you are going through and will talk to you privately and confidentially.
If you would like to talk to someone at the Blue Cross charity the contact number is 0800 0966606.