As pet owners ourselves, we understand decisions surrounding your pet’s end-of-life care may be the hardest decisions you’ll ever make. We strive to provide patient comfort and minimize any suffering while providing a collaborative and supportive partnership with our clients. Our veterinary team is here to help you prepare for, come to terms with, and make these decisions for your pet. We offer end-of-life consultations, quality of life assessments, and in-hospital or in-home euthanasia services.
The loss of a pet can be hard for not only the owner but for other pets and children as well. To help children with the grieving process, we offer in-clinic, complimentary pet loss books for kids. Here are a few other resources that we recommend for grieving pets, children, and owners.
Need help now? Call one of the support helplines below.
Pet Loss Support Hotline 1-607-253-3932
Crisis Services Canada Call 1-833-456-4566 or Text 45645
Here are some frequently asked questions about euthanasia and pet loss support.
We know that making the decision to euthanize a pet is an incredibly difficult and personal one. We also know you have taken the very absolute best care of your pet up to this point and will not fail them now. You know your pet best – on some level you will know when it is time. The main thing we ask pet owners to consider is their pet’s quality of life – Are they suffering? Can they still do the same things they always loved to do? Do they show the same excitement when you walk through the door? Are they still eating and drinking? Does your pet have more bad days than good days?
First, decide what sort of experience you want for yourself and your family, including your pet. We offer both in-hospital and at-home euthanasia appointments. If you choose to come into the hospital, you are welcome to bring your pet’s favorite people, bedding, toys and treats. If you chose to have us come to you, set your pet up wherever they will be most comfortable in your home.
Consider who wants to be present for the procedure, when you will let other pets and family members say goodbye and how best you’d like to remember them. We welcome family members, including children and pets, to be present for the procedure. We also offer a wide variety of memorial options for your pets including communal & private cremation, diamonds and hand-blown glass art that incorporates your pet’s cremains, jewelry, paw prints (clay and/or ink), and cloning.
Saying goodbye to your beloved companion is never easy. Find what fits right for you and will make your pet feel most loved. Maybe that’s spending the day together, getting to eat some yummy snacks, going for a walk or a drive, visiting a favorite place or some favorite friends (furry or otherwise).
In short – no. While the decision to euthanize can be a long, painful process, the procedure itself is quick and painless. Your pet will be sedated (asleep) prior to administering the medication which will stop their heart; they will not feel anything. We will always do our very best to ensure the process is as peaceful and easy as it can be for your whole family.
If you chose to come to the hospital, we will immediately get you and your pet comfortable in one of our patient rooms. If we come to you, we will join you wherever you are set up in the home.
One of our compassionate, well-trained team members will guide you through the process from start to finish. They will discuss memorial options with you, answer any questions you may have and keep you updated on what is happening from one moment to the next. After managing the paperwork, we will likely need to place an IV catheter so that the doctor is able to administer the medications. You can choose to be present or absent for this step.
Once the catheter is placed, you are welcome to spend as much time with your pet as you would like. When you are ready for the doctor, they will come in and administer the sedation medication which gently sends your pet off into dream land. And, when you are ready, they will administer the medication which will quickly stop your pet’s heart.
Please be aware that pet’s eyes often remain open after death. They may also urinate, defecate, let out a ragged breath or have a muscle twitch – these are all normal physiological responses that can be upsetting to pet owners if they are not prepared.
If you are considering euthanasia for reasons other than health issues, please feel free to contact us. We know there may be circumstances beyond your control, and it may seem like euthanasia is the only option. We will do our absolute best to help you find a solution that will work for you and your family.
Much like the decision to euthanize a pet, the decision of when to get another pet is also a very personal one. There is no “right” time as it will depend on your personality, your relationship with the pet, and the circumstances surrounding the loss. The important thing to know is that you should never feel guilty for choosing to add another pet to your home, regardless of the time frame. Do not be afraid to embrace the joy and happiness you feel when you do make the decision to get another pet!
Whether you need 2 hours or 2 years, make sure you allow yourself to grieve the deceased pet and embrace the new one. The next pet will also require your time, energy, and emotion. Remember that no animal could ever hope to replace the hole left by the old one. Every animal is unique and brings its own challenges and blessings. When the time is “right” and you are ready, that new pet will find you.
Have you recently lost a pet? Are your remaining animals acting strange? Animal grief looks similar to human grief. Here are a few behaviours to look for if you suspect your pets are grieving:
– Depression: disinterest in activities that would usually excite them or excessive sighing
– Anxiety: pacing, restlessness, or becoming overly attached to you
– Destructive behavior around the house
– A regression in training such as messing in the house
– Appears to be searching the house and/or yard for the deceased pet
Allow your pet time to grieve with you – spend more time with them, play their favorite games, and maybe give them some special treats. Similar to humans, getting another animal won’t always help and may be too soon. See how your pet reacts to other people’s animals to help assess if they are ready for another friend.
If your pet’s grief becomes harmful to them – unwilling to eat, lethargic, crying incessantly, self-mutilation, or any other signs of extreme discomfort – bring them in to see a veterinarian. There may be something else going on or your pet may need medical intervention to help them move through the emotional pain.
We have brochures that help people prepare for and cope with the loss of a pet. We also supply journals/scrapbooks for children called, “I Remember: A Book about My Special Pet” which can help a child process the loss and remember the good times.
Discussing your emotions (whether that is anger, guilt, denial, or depression) with friends and family is always a great place to start. Community centers (such as hospitals, places of worship, schools) often have support resources or someone you can talk to. If you are concerned about the depth of your grief, you can always reach out to Health Link (811) or your doctor to help treat physical symptoms. You can also find lots of great resources and support groups online.
We have collected a shortlist of recommended reading for children:
– Remembering Pets by Gina Dalpra-Berman
– I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
– The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judy Viorst
– Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas
And a shortlist of recommended reading for adults:
– Goodbye My Friend: Grieving the Loss of a Pet by Mary and Herb Montgomery
– When Your Pet Dies by Jamie Quackenbush
– Going Home by Jon Katz
– Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski
– Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die by Jon Katz
– Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty Carmack
– The Last Walk by Jessica Pierce
– When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing by Alan Wolfelt