The very thought of euthanizing a pet makes our heart sink to the pit of our stomach. When our beloved pets are elderly or ill, we have the enormous responsibility and great gift of deciding when it is the right time to let them go. Euthanasia is a gift to pets and, sometimes, can feel like a curse to owners.
Most of our furry companions are aware that their time to say goodbye is approaching before you do. Of course, this does not make it any easier on the owner. Our pets often times recognize our sadness, conflicted grief, and concern and worry that they might be the cause of our sadness. During the euthanasia process it is important to interact with your pet to comfort them and reassure them that they will always be remembered fondly.
Owners often apologize for crying over their pets, but we as a veterinary profession want you to know that crying is allowed and welcomed. We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic are also pet owners and understand how difficult it can be to see our loved ones suffer. This is a time for pet owners to grieve and remember their loved one’s long and happy life that they have shared together.
The vast majority of pet owners opt to stay with their pets for the euthanasia process. If you can, we highly recommend accompanying your pet through this difficult process. As a veterinary profession it is our responsibility to comfort your loved ones as they pass on when you as the owner cannot do so; however, pets are much more comfortable and relieved when their owners are present. Pets are much more confident when their owners are there to reassure them. If you can find the strength to be there with them during this difficult transition, please let your love, your touch, and your presence be the last thing your pet experiences.
During the euthanasia process, you are welcome to bring treats, tell stories, laugh, cry, and celebrate your friend’s life. Surround yourselves with their favorite blankets or toys. Share your favorite stories of your loved one about that trip you took together or their favorite toy, trick, or past time. This is going to be one of the hardest days of your life, but it does not have to be for your best friend. The more you celebrate your pet’s life, no matter how long or short, the easier it will be to continue to live your own after this difficult transition.
This moment between you and your pet should be just that, entirely about your lives together. Prepare yourself ahead of time to understand the process if possible. Speak with your veterinarian or veterinary technician prior to coming to the clinic to have them discuss the steps with you so you have a better understanding of what is to come.
Each relationship between pet and owner is different, just as every euthanasia is different. While it can be incredibly difficult to cope with and experience euthanasia with your pet, we at Dupont Veterinary Clinic hope to guide you and your furry family member through it as seamlessly as possible. As I heard a veterinarian once say, “We love animals so much, we are willing to experience pain right down to our souls in order to keep them from hurting. What greater gift to give a friend than to suffer in their place?”
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
You arrive at Dupont Veterinary Clinic nervous about how your appointment is going to go, because your pet has been vomiting all night and has been unusually tired at home. You know it is important to see your veterinarian, but you are worried about your pet’s anxiety level since he or she is not a big fan of visiting the vet. Your pet’s constant whining and pacing in the waiting area is adding to your increasing level of stress.
You are put at ease when you are greeted by our friendly and enthusiastic receptionist who knows your pet by name. The recognition and the familiarity comforts you some and you start to feel a little bit better.
You are escorted back to an exam room by a veterinary technician that asks a series of questions about your pet and the reason for your visit. You answer the questions to the best of your knowledge, but are anxiously watching your pet’s mounting level of tension.
The veterinarian enters the room in a few minutes and performs a full “head-to-tail” physical exam and discusses your pet’s clinical signs with you. The doctor recommends lab work and radiographs (x-rays) to help determine the cause of your pet’s clinical signs.
The doctor is starting to help ease your anxiety when they mention that they are going to take your pet to “the back” or to “the treatment” area to run these additional tests. Your heart sinks as you relapse back to your anxious state.
“What does the doctor mean by “the back”?,” you anxiously wonder. “Is my pet going to be alright on his own?”
The majority of pet owners have heard the phrase, “the back,” during one of their visits. We are providing full disclosure to our clients to help them understand why this part of the exam is necessary.
Here is a photo of our actual treatment area, where there are three extra exam tables with surgical lights (better light than in the exam room), water, extra supplies for blood draws, bandaging, diagnostics, etc. There are more technicians here to help your doctor run blood tests, take care of your pet, and even to help with x-rays. The treatment area allows the staff to work together as a team to tend to your pet much more efficiently. The treatment area is often a busy place, but it can also be quickly converted into one of the quietest rooms for those extra nervous pets. With better lighting, bigger exam tables, and more staff to help your doctor, this is why the treatment area can be superior to the exam room when helping treat your pet.
Some pets are actually calmer away from their owners, which makes it easier to perform a thorough physical exam, draw blood, or provide the treatment that they need. This allows the veterinarian and veterinary technicians to accomplish tasks more efficiently and safely, while reducing stress for your pets.
If your pet needs to come to “the back” for x-rays this is another room off of our treatment area (far back right in the treatment area photo) that is quieter and darker for the highest quality x-rays. Here is a photo of our x-ray area where your pet will be escorted.
In our treatment area we also have a full lab, where we can run the majority of your pet’s diagnostics, such as in-house lab work or cytology (to look at ear infections, masses/growths, skin infections, etc.). Here is a photo of our lab area (back right of the treatment area photo) where your veterinarian and veterinary technicians will be busy running your pet’s diagnostics to more efficiently and effectively diagnose your pet.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic hope that by providing full disclosure and visuals of our treatment area, owner’s minds will be put at ease when their pets need to be escorted out of the exam room for further treatment or diagnostics. We aim to provide the highest quality of care for your pets as we know they are an important part of your family… and ours!
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
It can be hard to leave your dog or cat at a boarding facility while you are away on vacation or business since we often times consider them family members. Make sure to do your research to find the kennel that best suits your pet’s needs. Some kennels are very basic and some have all of the extras. Here are some tips on finding a good boarding kennel for your pet.
Looking for a Kennel
When you are starting to look for a boarding kennel, one of the best places to start is by word of mouth from people you know and trust. Getting an honest opinion from someone that has used a boarding kennel can be one of the best evaluation of the facility.
It is a good idea to research a kennel as soon as you bring a cat or dog home, just in case you have an emergency or suddenly need to leave home. Some great places to start looking are by searching online, in the phone book, or even calling Dupont Veterinary Clinic to ask your veterinarian. When searching online, the boarding kennel may have a blog or place for customers to write their own reviews of their services.
Make a trip to the facility in person before scheduling your pet to board. Be sure to look at the sleeping area for your pet, where they will be exercised, the overall cleanliness, and take a look at how comfortable the staff is with your pet and other animals at the facility.
Look at all of the additional services that the facility provides, do they include extra play time or exercise, do they play with your dog, or do they have organized play time with the other dogs. If your pet has a specific diet be sure to communicate that to the facility and see how they will accommodate that or if you need to bring food from home. Talk to the boarding facility about any medications they may be taking to see if they are comfortable or able to give those medications. Especially if your dog is diabetic and needs daily insulin injections, ask them if they would be able to give these injections at the facility and if they are able to properly store the insulin bottle. If your pet has specific health needs make sure you ask them what the facility would do in case of a medical emergency. If your pet has a special bed, blanket or toys, find out if you can bring them when they stay there. Those familiar items may help decrease your pet’s anxiety while being away from home.
Find out Which Immunizations are Required
Once you have selected a boarding facility, be sure to get a list of immunizations your pet will need in order to stay there. Compare the list to your records or call your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to determine if your pet is up to date on all vaccines. Be sure to look at your pet’s vaccine records ahead of time so you can schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if needed.
What to Bring
When taking your pet to the boarding kennel be sure to take any food, medications, toys, or bedding with you. Bring copies of your pet’s vaccination records to show proof of immunization if needed. It is also important to leave multiple phone numbers and an emergency contact just in case it is needed while you are out of town.
Once you have found the kennel that you are comfortable with and your pet is current on all their vaccines, you are ready to leave town! Taking these additional steps ahead of time will ensure that your pet is more comfortable and you will be less concerned about their well-being while you are away. We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic hope you and yours have a happy and healthy holiday season!
For a lot of people Halloween can be a fun and spooky time of year, but for pets it can be an absolute nightmare! We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic would like to recommend some precautions this Halloween with the following ten pet safety tips.
- No tricks or treats!
Halloween candy can be very enticing for pets, but can be severely toxic if ingested. Chocolate contains a compound called Theobromine as well as caffeine, which are both very toxic to pets. Chocolate toxicity can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, tremors, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate. The dark or baking chocolates are the worst kinds of chocolate, as they contain higher amount of these chemical compounds. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in candy that can be very toxic, even in small amounts. Xylitol can cause a sudden decrease in blood sugar, which can lead to staggering and seizures in pets.
- Keep Halloween pumpkins and decorative corn out of reach
Halloween and fall decorations are relatively non-toxic, but might seem like a tasty snack to pets. If ingested in large quantities these decorations can cause stomach upset or intestinal blockage.
- Keep lit candles in pumpkins away from pets
Pumpkins are very festive, but curious pets can burn themselves on lit candles or knock them over causing a fire.
- Keep decorations with wires or cords away from pets
Wires and electrical cords from Halloween lights or decorations can cause cuts, burns, or even life threatening electrical shock if chewed on by curious pets.
- Have a dress rehearsal before the big night
Try on pet costumes before Halloween to see how they react to wearing clothing and to make sure it fits comfortably. Some pets dislike costumes and for those, festive bandanas usually work well. Be sure that the costume does not restrict your pet’s movement, hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark, or meow.
- Keep nervous pets in a quiet room
Some pets become very nervous with the constant ringing of the doorbell and excited chatter from trick-or-treaters outside. For these pets it is best to keep them inside a quiet room in the house to rest until the festivities are over.
- Make sure pets have proper identification
When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, it is easy for pets to escape and become lost. Be sure your pet is wearing a collar and tags and/or a microchip (with updated information!) so if they should escape they have a better chance of being returned to you.
- Do not leave pets outside, especially black cats
Halloween pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, or otherwise harm pets. While this act is inexcusable, it is very preventable by the owners. Black cats are especially at risk for cruelty-related incidents. Many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.
- Keep glow sticks and glow jewelry away from pets
Although the product inside of glow sticks or jewelry is not likely toxic, it tastes terrible and can cause excessive salivation and odd behavior. Stomach upset can occur if they are ingested by pets, especially in large amounts.
- Familiar people can be frightening
Costumes and masks change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar people can become frightening. Even if you are just having a few friends over for a Halloween party, keep your pets away from the festivities in their safe room.
By Dr. Ashley Dawes