Nothing prepares us for the death of a pet, whether due to an accident or illness. At The Vet, we understand that the bond between every pet and owner is truly unique and how devastating it can be to be in the position of thinking about putting your pet to sleep. It is a decision that nobody wants to make, however, if your pet is suffering and it is significantly affecting their quality of life, the kindest option may be to put your much-loved pet to sleep. If you decide to go ahead with this difficult decision, your local The Vet team will support you by providing as much information as possible and by providing a compassionate service that is personal to the needs of you and your pet.
If you are ever concerned about your pet’s health, please remember to make an appointment with one of our vets as soon as possible so we can advise on early treatment plans which may reduce the effects of their illness. Loss of appetite, reluctance to move around or play or a change in behaviour may all be signs that your pet is unwell, and our expert team can diagnose illnesses that may be affecting their appetite, mobility, comfort, breathing and physical and mental wellbeing.
Ultimately, the decision to put your pet to sleep will be yours and we encourage you to speak to family, friends and our vets in order to find the kindest and best solution for your pet.
What is pet euthanasia?
Pet euthanasia is also known as “putting a pet to sleep”. It is a peaceful procedure which helps them pass away with as little pain and distress as possible. You will be asked to sign a consent form prior to the procedure. If your pet is distressed, we may give them a sedative to help them settle. Euthanasia is carried out by injecting a measured overdose of an anaesthetic into the pet’s leg. Unconsciousness follows in seconds and it doesn’t take long for pets to gently pass away. Euthanasia is quick and there is little distress to animals – they shouldn’t feel any pain.
Can I stay with my pet during the procedure?
This is entirely your choice. It may be a comfort to you to see that it is a gentle and quick procedure, and you may wish to remain with your pet. Equally, we understand if you would prefer to say goodbye to your pet before or after the procedure if you feel it is too upsetting to remain in the room. Our expert teams are trained on all aspects of animal care and pride themselves on treating every pet as if they were their own. They will always treat every animal with respect, gentleness and care and ensure that the pet is as comfortable as possible. All of our centres also have dedicated ‘Saying Goodbye’ rooms to give you space, time and privacy during these difficult times.
What happens afterwards?
If you wish, you may ask a member of our team to see your pet when the procedure is complete. We will be happy to provide you with space to be alone with your pet. Most people opt for a cremation which we can arrange for you. If you wish, we can arrange for the ashes to be returned to you. A member of our team will be able to discuss costs with you.
Alternatively, you may wish to bury your pet at a pet cemetery or at home. Please bear in mind that some councils do not allow home burials and you will be required to ask permission by speaking to your local authority. If you are undecided, please let a member of our team know and we can wait a few days until you have decided how you wish to proceed.
Please ask a member of our team if you wish to keep a paw print or lock of your pet’s hair as we fully understand this may give you comfort and support you in dealing with your grief.
Coping with grief
It is understandable that you may feel a wide range of emotions following the death of your pet. Everyone deals with grief differently. Children in particular may have questions and may need to be handled carefully during this difficult time. Do try to speak to family and friends for support and try not to blame yourself. Please remember that the decision to pet your pet to sleep was taken with your pet’s best interests at heart.
The Pet Bereavement Support Service is a telephone helpline and email service that offers support to bereaved pet owners, through a national network of trained volunteer befrienders.
Telephone: 0800 096 6606 (seven days a week 8.30am-8.30pm)
If you have any questions or need support, please contact your local The Vet centre where our friendly, caring teams will do everything they can to support you and your pet.