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Saying Goodbye

Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness

Although making a decision to say a final goodbye and choosing euthanasia for your beloved pet can be one of the hardest and most difficult decisions you have to face as a pet owner, it can also be a positive act and a final gift that you can give your faithful companion at the end of their life in order to relieve them of an on-going, end stage illness, pain or suffering, or it may be a very necessary release from an age related deterioration and loss of their general quality of life. It is a way to humanely and with some dignity, end a pet's suffering in a pain free, previously-planned and carefully controlled peaceful manner.

If you are considering euthanasia for your pet and you are wondering what is involved and whether or not to be present at the euthanasia procedure, it is very helpful for you as the pet owner and for your Vet to discuss together beforehand the usual steps involved, or indeed any steps that may be requested specifically by yourself prior to the arranged date of euthanasia. It will be helpful for you and it will make things a bit easier if you have some idea of what to expect. You can also, ahead of time, make some personal requests, for example: Do you wish to previously arrange a house visit, or would you be more comfortable bringing your pet in to the surgery. You may wish to enter and leave the building from a back entrance as you may well be very emotional and upset. You may want to come alone or bring along a family member or close friend for some support. Do you want some personal, private time alone with your pet prior to any medications being given? Or would you like some time holding and comforting your pet after any sedation medication prior to the euthanasia procedure? Do you wish to have some quiet, personal time alone after they pass? You may well need some quiet time with him to say your final goodbyes. You may want to take something home with you as a memento, for example your pets collar or a clipping of your pet's fur. Also consider what wishes do you have for your pet afterwards. Do you wish to take them away for home burial, if you are able to organise this yourself, or do you wish to arrange a Cremation for your pet through the practice. If you do wish to organise a Cremation, do you wish to have a private cremation and have his individual ashes returned to you? Would you wish to have their ashes returned back either to scatter on a favourite walk, or to have to keep in an urn or a casket or would you rather not and just have his treasured memories. These are all very important things to consider ahead of the time of euthanasia, if at all possible. Do talk a Vet or the support team about your own personal requests at this difficult time and discuss how the Vet may be able to previously plan your personal requests for your pet's euthanasia.

Euthanasia, albeit a sad time, can be seen as a release from any suffering and can be the last positive, compassionate act that you can give your ill or ageing companion. It is entirely natural to feel distraught and upset when your pet passes, do not be embarrassed about showing your emotions, your Vet and support staff will understand this and will expect you to be upset and they will help and support you during this sad time. So a discussion prior to the time of euthanasia may help make the final ‘saying goodbye’ a little easier for you. Try not to feel guilty or to blame yourself; the decision for euthanasia is always taken with your pet's interests at heart to avoid any further suffering.

It can also be helpful to talk to someone who fully understands your feelings. The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service (Tel: 0800 096 6606) are an excellent support service available seven days a week 8.30am - 8.30pm and offer a support line manned by people who will listen with compassion and without judgement and the service is entirely confidential. Alternatively the support services also have an e-mail service for people who prefer to write about how they are feeling, e-mail: pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk

For further information and advice, do contact us. We understand and are always here to help, support and listen.

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