This post is written in my capacity as a Professional Veterinary Nurse with over 30 years experience, and also as a pet owner.
I hope to explore, explain and share some thoughts on the topic of euthanasia and the decisions that are often associated with this hugely difficult and sensitive time.
There is never a right or wrong way. It is always a very personal preference, and nobody should ever be pushed into being included any more than they want to be, or feel comfortable with.
When an owner is thinking the time for euthanasia is approaching, it’s perfectly acceptable to either phone the surgery, or call in to speak to a member of staff with any questions, or to have options explained to them.
Perhaps we can cover some common questions here…
* Can euthanasia be done at home?
* Do I have to stay/can I stay whilst it’s done at the surgery?
* How do I know I’m doing the right thing?
* Should I let my children be present?
* Will I have to wait long?
* What happens afterwards?
Yes, home visits are an option, and often animals feel more relaxed in their own homes. A time can be arranged which is suitable to both the owner and the veterinary staff attending.
If being carried out at the surgery, an appointment will be made which affords the extra time required. As to whether owners should stay while it’s being done….absolutely a personal decision, however more owners stay than leave, and it’s often reassuring for the pet to have an owner present. (This does not mean that it’s wrong if you decide you would prefer to leave).
Often, the decision to euthanase is as a result of illness or trauma, in which case is often at the suggestion or direction of the Vet. If however, it is a general deterioration of an ageing pet, it is frequently the owner who presents the question about when the time might be right.
In this case, you as the owner will know when this time arrives. You are the person who knows when quality of life is compromised, when your pet really isn’t enjoying life and everything is becoming a struggle.
You know your pet best. We are always here to help and express an opinion if you need to talk. Often, this may require an appointment with the animal in question, or sometimes a conversation either over the phone or in person with a vet.
Children often understand more than we think. It is really up to you whether other not they are invited to be there at the time. They are always welcome to stay if you think it will be appropriate. Often, they will have had some involvement in prior conversations, and as long as things are explained, it’s sometimes easier and helps them to be there. It all depends on how you can cope with them if you’re struggling to cope yourself.
You will be given priority when you arrive and will be invited straight into a consulting room so that you don’t have to be in the waiting room.
A Vet will talk to you about the procedure, will have the necessary consent form ready for you to sign, will answer any questions, and provide the time you need. They will also ask if you’ve thought about what you’d like to do afterwards with regard to cremation, burial etc. If you haven’t decided at that point, don’t worry as you can always phone later that day or the next day or two with a decision.
You will have time to stay with your pet afterwards in private.
When you’re ready, you can leave. There is no requirement to pay any fee at the time, as you can either call in some other time or pay by card over the phone if this is what you prefer. Some people prefer to settle at the time, but this is an individual choice.
Everybody deals with grief in their own way, but if at anytime somebody feels they need to ask questions or to talk, we will always be happy to chat, either on the phone or in person. There are also some useful links and forums for those who have internet access, and we can provide these if needed.
In summary, nobody should ever be told there’s a right and wrong way, nobody should be told how to behave, and very definitely…nobody should ever feel embarrassed about showing emotion.
What a wonderfully written post. You never think about it until the reality is there in front of you. With my Jilly, she told us one Sunday morning it was time to go and I will never forget how the situation was handled with care and respect by you all there at Prospect House.
I have also experienced the kindness and understanding of Peter with my mother and her cats when she has wanted them at home with her when their time has come. One of the many reasons we return to you with Kezia and Mason.Heidi
As vets we have a responsibility to keep you informed on the dangers that our pets face and to give advice on how to avoid them
In 2013 Poppy was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma
We are all sad to see her go, as she has been a valued member of our practice