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