End of Life decisions
It is never easy when it comes to making end of life decisions for our pets. Prior to making a decision regarding the quality of life for your pet, you may want to have a discussion with the veterinarian, ideally the primary care veterinarian who knows you and your pet best. The doctor may be able to recommend new treatments, behavioral modifications, or environmental changes that may make your pet more comfortable, thereby extending not only quantity, but most importantly the quality of life, for your pet. This is called palliative care. Or, in some cases where the quality of life is in question, you may want to consult with the doctor to be sure you are making the right decision in determining whether to continue treatment or to consider euthanasia to relieve your pets suffering.
Considerations Prior to Euthanasia
Discussion with your primary care veterinarian, who knows your pet best, should include consideration of further diagnostics and treatments, present quality of life, as well as predicted quality of life. Consideration and thought should also be given to your personal beliefs, realistic future goals for your pet, and financial costs involved with decisions made.
Who Should be Present
It is the choice of the pet owner and family to be, or not to be, present when their pet is euthanized. We understand that not everyone is comfortable with being present when their pet is euthanized. The choice is theirs alone. However, it is recommended, if possible, that at least one family member be present so that your pet is more at ease.
There are options available for those who do not wish to be present at the time the procedure is taking place and/or do not wish to visit with their pet following the procedure.
The owner may remain with the pet during the time the sedation is taking effect but leave the room while the doctor performs the final injection. If they wish, they may step back into the room to spend a few moments with their pet before leaving, or they may leave prior to the final injection.
Although the decision is ultimately left to the parents, we recommend that children not be present during the euthanasia process in most circumstances.
Euthanasia in Hospital
Hospital euthanasia is usually scheduled at as an office call during regular business hours or in emergency situations it can be performed at one of our 24 hour emergency hospitals, Pieper Memorial in Middletown 860-347-8387 or Pieper Memorial V.E.T.S in Oakdale 860-443-7387. One or more people may attend.
If your pet is ambulatory, it is advisable to let your pet walk outdoors for a few moments to relieve herself/himself prior to the scheduled euthanasia. Often pets lose bladder and bowel control after euthanasia and walking them prior to the procedure is advised. You may bring a favorite blanket, bed, toy, or treats to make your pet comfortable
Home euthanasia is usually scheduled in advance by your primary care veterinarian or a veterinarian whose practice includes house call visits.
If your pet is ambulatory, it is advisable to let your pet walk outdoors for a few moments to relieve herself/himself prior to the scheduled euthanasia. Often pets loose bladder and bowel control and walking them prior to the procedure is advised.
Locate an area in your home where the pet is most comfortable, such as a favorite bed, sofa, or even an area outdoors. If on a bed or sofa, we recommend a waterproof cover or plastic to protect the sofa or bedding. You may provide favorite toys, blankets, and treats to make the pet as content as possible.
After your pet has passed, their remains may be taken by veterinarian or a direct pick up scheduled by Final Gift can be arranged.
Some owners are able to bury their pet on their premises. Should an owner elect home burial, we will place the pet in biodegradable coffin along with any blankets, toys or other items that the client wishes to include.
Most owners choose cremation, either communal cremation, or private cremation. Final Gift is our provider for all crematory and burial services for our clients.
Since there are extra costs incurred with cremation, please do not hesitate to contact the office about costs prior to the visit so you can make decisions when you are more calm. Since people feel that taking care of payment prior to the procedure is easier than afterward, payment arrangements can be made at this time. Unfortunately, we can not extend credit for general or private cremations.
- Communal cremation: Communal cremation means that your pet is cremated in a group setting with other pets. Your pets’ ashes are not individually separated and are not returned but are instead scattered on the grounds of Final Gift’s family farm.
- Private cremation : Your pet is individually cremated, and the ashes are kept separate from those of other pets. Ashes are returned in a complimentary wooden urn, either cherry or oak. This is a dignified process, and the pet’s privacy is assured at all times.
- Witnessed Cremations: Final Gift is thoughtfully designed for the comfort of our clients in their time of grieving. They offer, by appointment, a private viewing area for those who wish to witness their loved one’s cremation. The staff at Final Gift assures you that your special family member will be handled in a gentle and respectful manner. Final Gift wants to help you in making certain that your beloved pet has a prompt and dignified final resting place.
- Urns /tins: Ashes from private cremations are returned in quality complimentary wooden or tin urns. Custom urns are also available for an extra fee. Special tin urns are available for those interested in dispersing their pets ashes in a special area.
- Burial by Final Gift: For those who would like their pet buried instead of cremated, private burial services are offered by Final Gift and are conducted at Rose Hill Pet Cemetery located in Peacedale, Rhode Island. A private burial means that your pet is placed individually into a private burial plot. This option offers pet owners an opportunity to decorate with flowers and visit the site at anytime. Included in the cost of our private burial services are a burial site, casket and grave marker. Fees for these services are paid directly to Final Gift.
- Twenty-four hour pick up: Final Gift is available, by request, for Emergency 24 Hour Service pick up home service. Should you wish Final Gift to pick up your pet’s remains from your home, or to deliver your pets ashes directly to your home following cremation, you may contact them at 401-464-8338 to make arrangements for those services. Fees for these services are paid directly to Final Gift.
The decision to end the suffering of your beloved pet, though appropriate and necessary, in many instances is emotionally difficult and stressful for all involved. To ease this process we recommend that all decisions and arrangements are made prior to the visit, when you are calm and collected. Since experience has shown that it is especially difficult to deal with payment at the time of the procedure, payment arrangements should be made in advance. To expedite this process, please contact our trained staff prior to your visit, when you are calm, to answer all your questions and make all final arrangements. This allows us to focus on the comfort of you and your pet in those final moments and minimize stress during this difficult time.
What to expect the day of euthanasia
You will be asked to sign a form that gives us permission to euthanize. To assess rabies exposure to humans, state law mandates that we inquire whether the pet has bitten or scratched anyone in the previous two weeks. If a bite or scratch has occurred then a rabies test must be performed on your pet, even if your pet is current on rabies vaccination.
If prior arrangements have not already been made, you will be asked about your choice for the remains of your pet. Private cremation, including choice of urn, general cremation, or home burial. These decisions are ideally made prior to the visit when you can think clearly about your choices by contacting our trained staff.
Most clients feel that taking care of payment, as well as decisions made about final remains, prior to the procedure is easier than afterward. Payment can be made in advance by contacting our staff, which will make the procedure less stressful for all involved
What happens next?
A doctor will explain the procedure, as well as answer any questions you may have. Then in order to calm your pet a sedative is administered which will allow your pet to become extremely relaxed and sleepy for the next step. You will have approximately 5 to 10 minutes to be alone with your pet to talk, pet, feed your pet while he/she slowly relaxes and becomes sedated. After your pet is relaxed the doctor will administer the final injection. Within just a few seconds your pet will become unconscious, experiencing no pain or suffering. Typically it takes less than 30 seconds to complete the final phase of euthanasia.
The doctor will listen to your pet’s heart to confirm that your pet has passed on. At this time the doctor will allow you a few moments to be alone with your pet. If you have made after care arrangements you may simply slip out when you are ready to leave.
Grieving the loss of your pet
It is important to remember that grief is a little different for everyone, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Try to remember the good times you had with your pet, and know that he would thank you for relieving his suffering. You might take some comfort in memorializing your companion. Suggestions include saving a lock of hair as a keepsake, and or a framed print displayed in your home. You may also consider planting a tree or other plant in the memory of your pet. Another therapeutic exercise is to write about your pet . A poem, story, photograph album or scrap book can help you say goodbye to your beloved pet in words and pictures.
The following websites may be helpful in coping with the loss of a pet.
- Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss – by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.
- How to Cope With Grief of Pet Loss – 5 Tips – by Sachin Kumar Airan
- Coping with Pet Loss (includes section for helping child to cope with loss of pet) – Dr. Larry
- Grief After the Death of a Beloved Pet – by Jenna Stregowski, RVT
The following websites may be helpful in comforting other pets in the family.
- Helping Your Dog Cope With the Loss of a Canine Companion – by SC Swarens
- A Dog In Mourning: Helping Our Pets Cope with Loss – by Brandi Andres
- Cat’s Grief Over Pet Loss, Helping Cats Cope with the Loss of Other Pets – by Amy Shojai, CABC
The following websites may be helpful in helping children cope with the loss of a pet.
Grief Counseling Phone Numbers
- Chicago VMA 630-325-1600
- Colorado State University, Argus Institute 970-297-1242
- Cornell University 607-253-3932
- University of Illinois 217-244-2273 or 877-394-2273
- Michigan State University 517-432-2696
- P&G Pet Care, Pet Loss Support Hotline 888-332-7738
- University of Tennessee 865-755-8839
- Tufts University 508-839-7966
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine 540-231-8038
- Washington State University 509-335-5704 or 866-266-8635
Grief Counseling Emails