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There are different circumstances in which we lose our pets: old age, accident or illness. Each has particular painful resonances for owners depending on the individual events involved.
It can be helpful for some owners to begin to prepare themselves and decide on a care plan for an elderly or sick pet, in collaboration with our vets and veterinary nurses.
The grief and sadness we face at this stage can be immense and also vary enormously according to the person involved. Each owner is different in their needs and approach but for some, it may be helpful and comforting to have prior knowledge of the processes involved, to know exactly what will happen and to be aware of the 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.
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:
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 all natural reflexes, not them feeling anything. Most people find the process surprisingly quick and peaceful.
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.
The whole process will be performed in a quiet consulting room where you may spend as much time as you wish with them afterwards.
We are always willing to perform euthanasia at home and can usually arrange a visit 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.
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.
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 and we work with an excellent crematorium, PCS (Pet Cremation Services), based in Northamptonshire which we have visited and are thoroughly confident to use.
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 which ensures the only ashes you receive back are those of your pet. If you choose a communal cremation, your pet will be cremated with others and you will not receive any ashes back; in this instance, a small proportion of each of the communal cremations are collected and stored in the Farewell Room at PCS or scattered in their peaceful and picturesque Memorial Gardens.
PCS is set in beautiful countryside and owners are welcome to visit, on the day of cremation and at any time after the event, in remembrance of their pet.
If you do decide that you would like to have your pet’s ashes returned to keep or scatter, PCS offers a lovely range of caskets, urns and other tributes.
In all circumstances and at all times, PCS will treat your beloved pet with dignity and compassion.
If you wish, a lock of hair can be clipped as a keepsake. You can also choose to have a paw print to treasure, which can even be made into a piece of silver jewellery later down the line. Find out more >
For pets buried at home, a shrub or flowers to mark the spot can be a lovely reminder, especially if you choose one which flowers at the time of year they died.
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.