Euthanasia & After Care

Euthanasia & After Care

Losing a pet is one of the most difficult things a person can experience. Whether the loss of a pet is sudden, or something you have anticipated for weeks or months, it’s a highly emotional time. As hard as it may be to consider your pet’s death, we recommend that you start thinking about these issues early in the process, when your mind may be clearer. Decisions are far more difficult and stressful when you wait until there is a crisis.

Euthanasia: What to Expect

Here at Big Thompson Animal Hospital we understand that choosing to end the suffering of a beloved animal companion is a terribly hard decision. We offer services that are designed to provide dignity and comfort as your pet passes, as well as give you personalized options for commemorating the bond you shared with your pet. 

When you come in for your pet’s final appointment you will be escorted into a room that has been specially set up to allow you to spend as much time as you need in comfort. We will have you fill out a consent form and we will go over after care options. Those options include having your pet’s ashes returned to you in a variety of urns, pendants, or keepsakes. You can also choose to have your pet’s ashes spread with those of other animals, or you can decide to take your pet home and bury the remains or ashes on your property. Please check with local regulations and by-laws about the burial of animals on residential property. 

We will then have you pay for all services in advance. This allows you to spend as much time with your pet after the procedure as you need, and not have to stop in the lobby when you are ready to leave.

You also have the option to be present with your pet during the appointment or not. This is a very personal decision and there is no judgement about the option you choose. Either way your pet will receive gentle, compassionate care and will never be alone.

The euthanasia process involves two steps. First, an IV catheter is placed to allow easy access for medication administration. Your pet will be given a sedative to help reduce anxiety and make your pet sleepy. Once your pet is relaxed and you and your family are ready, the veterinarian will administer a quick acting euthanasia solution that will stop your pet’s heart. Rest assured that your pet will not be aware that this is happening and will not feel any pain or stress.

After the veterinarian has confirmed that your pet has passed away, you may choose to leave immediately or stay with your pet for your final goodbye.

How to Know When It’s Time

At Big Thompson Animal Hospital, we strive to answer all of your questions about your pet’s quality of life. We will always be honest with you about your options and possible outcomes.

Determining the quality of life for a pet is often used to make end-of-life decisions. It is important to remember that each pet is an individual, and what constitutes a poor quality of life for one pet (such as lying around all day) may be normal for another. Although a pet’s enjoyment of life depends on a variety of factors, physical symptoms—such as unrelenting pain or extreme difficulty breathing—should weigh heavily in the euthanasia decision.

Below are a few techniques for assessing your pet’s quality of life.

  • When your pet’s health, mobility or comfort have been declining slowly, it may be helpful to view photos or videos of your pet form before the illness. Remember how your pet looked, behaved, and interacted with you in the past. Has it deteriorated significantly?
  • Make a list of three to five things your pet likes to do, such as going for walks, playing with other pets, or enjoying their meals. When your pet is consistently unable to enjoy these things, it may be time to discuss euthanasia.
  • Mark good and bad days on a calendar. This could be as simple as a happy or sad face for good or bad. As the bad days start to outnumber the good, it may be time to consider letting your pet go.

Grief & Comfort

It is completely natural to feel intense grief after the death of a pet—they are, after all, family members. Sorrow for their suffering as well as the loss of their companionship and love in your life can be extremely painful.

Often, pet parents who must make the decision to actively end a pet’s life also struggle with guilt. Again, that is entirely natural.

There are online and local groups that can help you process your loss. We also highly recommend this brochure, which we suggest you download and read prior to, and after your pet’s passing.   

Remember, if you have questions about caring for your elderly or terminally ill pet or are struggling with knowing when it’s time to say goodbye, please call us at (970) 667-9230. We’re here to help.