The loss of a pet is not something pet owners look forward to. Having a pet is a unique relationship. Your pet lives in the here and now, and is totally present with you. They don’t have regrets or get anxious about the future and don’t judge you or stay mad. Your pets are loyal to the core and will be until the end. As much as we would love our pets to be around forever, we know the reality is they won’t, but the loss of a pet is not something to be afraid of.
But how does one know when the end may be near and it is time to say goodbye? Is your pet sick? Old age getting to them? Can one know when the loss of a pet is imminent? Even if you do, what if you’re not ready? You may never “feel” ready, but at the end of the day it comes down to their quality of life. Are there more bad days than good days?
RULE OF 5
Dr. Andy Roark in When Is The Right Time? – Pet Loss at Home discusses the “Rule of 5 Good Things.” He advises pet owners to pick the top five things your pet loves to do and write them down. When your pet is no longer able to do three or more, their quality of life is impacted. This is where most veterinarians can foresee the loss of your pet. This is when the hard conversation starts.
STARTING THE CONVERSATION
A good place to start the conversation is with your veterinarian. They are the best resource when it comes to talking about your pet’s last days. Be sure to have handy any notes including your list of 5 good things. In addition to discussing those things, your veterinarian will talk with you about the possibility of putting your pet down and discuss what to expect when the time comes. They will answer any questions you have about euthanizing and try to lessen your fears as much as they can.
Discussing when to say goodbye is the most important conversation a veterinarian ever has with families. This discussion is held with love and compassion.
Furthermore, if you have children, it is important to have an open discussion with them about this time in your family’s life. At certain ages, they may not understand, and this could be their first experience with loss. Having that open discussion can help discover their ability to process this event, but above all else, please don’t hide it from them. A good resource on children and the loss of a pet can be found here at: Children and Pet Loss: How to help kids cope with the death of a pet. (funeralwise.com)
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Once you decide it is time to say goodbye, there are further decisions to be made. Do you want to be present during the euthanization? It’s a very personal decision. Dr. Becky Krull has been on the other side of it and seen firsthand how lost the animals are when their owners aren’t with them. So, if you are certain you do not want to be present at the end, please at least consider being present with them during the sedation. Your pet will appreciate it more than you will ever know.
If you plan to be with your pet during the euthanasia, but being at your veterinarian’s office seems “cold” to you, you can consider in home euthanasia with Buddy’s Vets. Homeward Bound – Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospital (greenbayallouezanimalhospital.com) In home euthanasia offers a much calmer and warmer environment in the comfort of your home where your pet is surrounded by all the things and people he loves. Dr. Becky is passionate about being able to provide this to her patients. One of her patients, the Hatch family, has nothing but good things to say about their experience with Homeward Bound as seen on this news story with WBAY. Veterinarians see spike in in-home euthanasia services around the holidays (wbay.com) Dr. Becky explains it as “the final gift we can offer our four-legged family member” and it is her honor to walk beside you during the loss of your pet.
REMEMBERING YOUR PET
How do you want to remember your pet after they are gone? Do you wish to have something to remember them by? There are many beautiful options to memorialize your pet. You and your veterinarian can discuss what happens afterwards. Do you wish to have your pet’s cremated remains returned and put in a decorative urn. This can serve as a reminder knowing that your pet is still near. This can be especially comforting to children in the grieving process.
The loss of a pet is not something pet owners should fear. We here at Buddy’s Vets are here for you every step of the way. We are ready to start the conversation with you when the time comes.