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Time To Say Goodbye

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Time To Say Goodbye

As pet owners, we endeavour to make sure that our faithful companions stay fit and healthy, for the length of their lifetime. 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. We hope these words will help you and your family in a time of conflicting emotions. 
 
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  • Restlessness or becoming withdrawn from you
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Deterioration of a disease

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 nothing more I can do? 
 
As your vet, we will discuss all treatment options available for your pet to relieve their symptoms, but there will 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 Veterinary Surgeon 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. 
  
It is also possible to arrange this appointment to be performed in the comfort of your own home. If this is an option you would like, we will do our best to arrange a home visit. In these cases, a vet and a nurse will visit your home. When they have put your pet to sleep, they will either take the body back to the surgery for cremation or leave them with you to bury at home. Additional charges will apply for this service and certain times of day may be restricted. 
  
Will I be able to stay with my pet? 
 
Being present when your pet is put to sleep will be both emotional and distressing, but the majority of owners feel that they give comfort to their pet during their last moments, and can make their final goodbyes. But this is not comfortable for everyone; we understand if you do not want to stay in the room with your pet but 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 as well as paw prints and hair clippings.  

Euthanasia involves injecting an overdose of anaesthetic into the bloodstream. This is done by injecting the drug into a vein, usually we use a vein in the foreleg. The vet may give your pet some sedation first, especially if they are uncomfortable or nervous. This is to make the procedure less stressful for your pet.  
Once the drug has been administered, in a short period of time their heart will stop beating. The vet will listen to their heart to confirm they have passed away. Sometimes, after the heart has stopped some bodily reflexes may occur. This may include small gasps or muscle tremors. These reflexes cannot be stopped but occur after your pet has passed away and they are totally unaware of them happening. Your pet’s eyes will remain open and it is normal for them to empty their bowel or bladder as the body shuts down. 

How Do I Know It's Time?

What happens next? 
 
There are several options available for your pet. Your Veterinary team can discuss these with you and give you an idea of costs involved. 

  • Individual Cremation – A private cremation for your pet. Your pet’s ashes will then be returned to you in either a sealed casket of your choice of a scatter box, for you and your family to scatter their ashes in a location of your choice. Our team will have several options you can choose from. 
  • Communal Cremation –With this type of cremation, no ashes will be returned to you.  
  • ‘Taking them home’ – You can also take your pet home for burial, but please bear in mind this may not always be practical. 
  • Nairn Crematorium – A small local pet crematorium who offer individual cremation with ashes back.  http://www.nairnpetcrematorium.co.uk/Index.htm  

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. We will keep a note of your wishes with pet’s notes. However, in some cases the euthanasia may have occurred without you or your family having the opportunity to discuss what option is best suited. It is possible for us to keep your pet for a short time at the surgery until you have made your decision. 


Coping with the loss 
 
Everyone deals with grief in different ways. When grieving for a much-loved pet, you or other members of your family may experience a range of emotions from shock, denial, disbelief and, very often, guilt. Should you wish to talk to anyone at your Veterinary surgery, we can offer support and advice. 

If, after reading these pages, there are still facts you would like to know, we will be more than happy to help. Please contact us at the surgery. 
 
The following organisations and articles can provide further information, help and support: 

My Family Vets - Helping children understand pet loss 

My Family Vets - Saying goodbye to your pet​ 

The Ralph Site 

The Blue Cross 
 
The Blue Cross also offer a bereavement support line if you would like to talk to someone. The number is 0800 0966606. The sites above also offer special books that have been written to help your children understand the loss of their pets.