End of Life Care

We're here to support you

We understand how distressing losing a beloved pet can be, whether it's sudden, or a decision must be made to end suffering and say goodbye. We're here to help you every step of the way. 

We're here to support you 

Here at Clent Hills Vets, our team has undergone specialist training with Compassion Understood, a company that has been formed with the sole premise of providing support and advice for bereaved pet owners and those who work in the veterinary industry. 

The strength of the bond between owners and their pets is understood and valued more today than it has ever been, they are seen as part of the family, real companions. When we lose them, the devastation can be shattering and the sense of loss overwhelming. We hope to be able to help you at this very difficult time and to offer you our understanding and support. 

We regret that from June 2021 we will no longer be able to provide our bereavement counselling service with Victoria. Please don't hesitate to talk to the rest of our team if you need any help. Get it touch.

Making the hardest decision 

Whether losing a pet due to old age, accident, illness, or something else, it can be extremely painful for the owners. Some owners find it helpful to begin preparing themselves in advance of the inevitable. Owners can decide on a care plan for an elderly or sick pet, with the support of our vets and nurses. 

The grief and sadness at this stage can be immense and also vary enormously between those involved. Each owner is different in their needs and approach. For some, it may be helpful and comforting to have prior knowledge of the processes involved and different choices for the return of their pet. 

After the event, you may at first struggle with feelings of confusion and guilt but ultimately, putting your pet’s needs above your own suffering and distress is the most compassionate act you can do for them in their final stages of life. 

Euthanasia means ‘good death’; this may seem like a contradiction in terms but actually, the kindest and bravest last thing we can do for our pets is to ensure this time is as gentle, peaceful and dignified as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope this helps you with the many questions and dilemmas you will have. You can always phone us to discuss any aspect, or we can also arrange a chat with one of our vets.  

  • How will I know when the time has come?
  • What actually happens when my pet is put to sleep?
  • Can I hold my pet?
  • Can I say goodbye afterwards?
  • Can euthanasia be done at home?
  • Should I let my other pets see them?
  • What happens afterwards?

How will I know when the time has come?

This is a question that many owners ask us. Ultimately the final choice rests with you, but to help to reassure you we believe that it can be very helpful to seek the advice of your vet and to reach a decision together. Some of the questions the vet will ask you are: 

  • Does your pet have more good days than bad?
  • Are they still interested in eating, walking or playing? 
  • Do they want to interact with you or are they going off to be by themselves? 
  • Are they showing signs of pain that medication cannot control? 
  • Are they confused or less aware? 
  • Are they breathing comfortably and easily? 
  • Are they incontinent or do they soil in the house? 
  • Do they have to be carried outside to toilet? 
  • If your pet is ill, what is the prognosis? Is treatment available and is it affordable and likely to improve their quality of life?   

What actually happens when my pet is put to sleep?

Your pet will be settled on a comfortable bed or blanket. We will clip a small patch of hair from a front leg and either inject directly or place a cannula into the vein. 

Sometimes you may prefer that we do this without you present, allowing you to avoid something that can be a little uncomfortable for your pet. If your pet is very nervous or fractious, sedation can be given to relax them. We then inject an overdose of an anaesthetic drug called pentobarbitone which works painlessly and quickly, usually after just a few seconds, to send your pet to sleep. 

We sometimes find that cats are less anxious if the injection is given painlessly into a kidney, avoiding clippers and the need for restraint. The vet will listen to the heart with a stethoscope to confirm they have gone. Sometimes your pet will take a big gasp or their muscles will twitch, they may pass urine or faeces but these are natural reflexes, not them feeling anything. Most people find the process surprisingly quick and peaceful. 

Can I hold my pet?

A veterinary nurse will need to hold them whilst we clip and place a cannula but once this is positioned, you are most welcome to cuddle your pet or sit them on your lap whilst we administer the injection. 

Can I say goodbye afterwards?

The whole process will be performed in a quiet consulting room where you may spend as much time as you wish with them afterwards.

Can euthanasia be done at home?

When home visits are available, we are able to perform euthanasia at home and can usually arrange this at a time to suit you and your family. Please discuss this with any of our team. Do bear in mind that we might not be able to come out at very short notice.  

If we are not able to come to you at a time you would prefer and your pet is suffering, you can contact Dignipets who may have more availability. 

Should I let my other pets see them?

Some people feel that their other pets benefit from seeing the pet that has died as they then seem to understand that they are not coming back. It certainly can do no harm.

What happens afterwards?

You are able to bury your pet at home (providing you own your property) if you wish and we can give you guidance on the best way to do this. Many people choose to have their pet cremated. We work with an excellent crematorium, CPC Cares Cheltenham Crematorium, which we have visited and are thoroughly confident to use. 

Pet Cremation Services

Clent Hills Vets is CPC Cares Cheltenham Crematorium for Pets 

You can choose whether to have your pet individually or communally cremated. Individual pet cremations are held in a single chamber and follow a strict process that ensures the only ashes you receive back are those of your pet.  

If you choose a communal cremation, your pet will be cremated with other pets and you will not receive any ashes back; in this instance, a small proportion of each of the communal cremations are collected and scattered in their peaceful and picturesque garden of remembrance. 

CPC Cares welcomes owners to visit, on the day of cremation and at any time after the event, in remembrance of their pet.

Pet memorials 

If you do decide that you would like to have your pet’s ashes returned to keep or scatter, CPC Cares offers a lovely range of caskets, urns, and other tributes. Ask our team for more information.  

If you wish, a lock of hair can be clipped while your pet is at Clent Hills Vets as a keepsake. You can also choose to have a paw print to treasure. In all circumstances and at all times, Clent Hills Vets and CPC Cares will treat your beloved pet with dignity and compassion. 

For pets buried at home, a shrub or flowers to mark the spot can be a lovely reminder. When one of our owners loses a beloved pet, we like to send a sympathy card and some forget-me-not seeds as a tribute to them. We also have a Memorial Garden & Pathway at Clent Hills Vets in Bromsgrove, where you can have a commemorative plaque for your pet added to. 

Further support 

  • The Blue Cross has a bereavement service, accessible 365 days a year www.bluecross.org.uk – their telephone number is 0800 096606

  • A sensitive pet bereavement website, The Ralph Site, offers advice on dealing with the loss of your pet and offers owners a chance to share their stories if they so wish. 

  • For children, we can recommend a lovely book called Missing my Pet, written by a vet and her son Alex, who was 6 years old when his dog, Star, died.   

Pet Bereavement Support
Memorial Pathway & Garden