Euthanasia – hardest decision of them all

You can help animals in need by taking the correct actions

Your blood turns ice cold while your eyes burn and tears form. You’ve known this day would come, but the reality has never sunk in. Nobody wants to see their pet suffer, and nobody wants to say goodbye either. But this choice isn’t about you. This is about what is best for your pet.

When to let go

Deciding to euthanise a pet is a traumatic experience, but knowing what to expect and when to say goodbye can help ease some of the stress and uncertainty. Despite the difficulty and rampant emotions, it is important to remember that this is an act of love and responsibility.

You know your pet better than anybody else, but if you’re struggling to decide whether it’s time, here are tips on what to look out for:

  • Is your pet’s demeanour overall a happy one?
  • Can your pet walk, eat, defecate and urinate without discomfort or help?
  • Is your pet in any kind of chronic pain?
  • What is your pet’s medical status?
  • Are there treatments available and are they affordable?
  • Will prolonging his life be in the pet’s best interest?

If you are uncertain, ask your vet for help. Also, be sure to discuss the issue with family, friends, or anybody else who has a deep attachment to your pet. Lean on each other for support during this difficult time. Try to compare the good days with the bad ones. If there are more bad days than good, it is most likely time.

Preparation can help you cope

Understanding the process of the euthanasia procedure beforehand can help with coping through the event and prevent guilt and confusion. If you have decided to proceed, choose a time and day to schedule the appointment. If possible, spend a few days with your beloved pet. Talk to your vet to ensure that you know what is to be expected and how your vet will handle the procedure.

Take into consideration the day of the week. You might want to take a day or two off work to deal with the high emotions. After the procedure you will need to focus on and take care of yourself.

Regardless of where the euthanasia procedure is performed – it is quick and painless. A sedative is injected that puts the pet into a peaceful sleep. The euthanasia solution is then administered, which will relax the pet’s muscles, causing the heart to stop beating. This solution takes effect within seconds.

Although the euthanasia procedure is generally done at a veterinarian’s rooms, it can be performed at home. Mobile vets can perform euthanasia in the comfort of your home. This gives you privacy to grieve and creates less stress for your pet as he remains in an environment he is familiar with.

Talk to your vet or their staff to ensure you know how euthanasia is performed at their rooms. Decide whether you would like your pet cremated or buried and make arrangements with your vet beforehand to ensure the least amount of stress on the day of the procedure. If possible, ask a family member or friend to be with you throughout the procedure.

Should you share your pet’s final moments?

This is a personal decision – only you will know if you are able to witness your pet taking his final breath. Though it might seem easier to not be present when the procedure takes place, feelings of guilt might haunt you later on. Try to be strong and courageous for the sake of your pet. Being with your pet will help him to relax in a strange environment and put him at ease.

Hold and stroke your pet, kiss his head, talk to him, and say a silent prayer. Do whatever you feel is necessary to provide closure for you and communicate love to your pet. You may also ask your vet for private time with your pet before and/or after. Don’t be shy or ashamed. Cry your heart out if you need to – you have every right to express your emotions after going through this traumatic event.

Dealing with the guilt

Guilt often follows when losing a beloved pet. You might start to feel that you did the procedure too soon or too late. Perhaps you realise that you wanted to spend more time with your pet, or you worry you didn’t show him enough love. Such thoughts and feelings are difficult to deal with, tough to work through, and often untrue. Despite your chaotic emotions, realise that you did the right thing.

Instead of focusing on your beloved pet’s final moments, remember all the good memories. Think about the love and time you spent together. If you have other pets, seek comfort from them and show them affection. Write letters to your lost fur friend. Go through photos, and talk to friends and family. Realise that through all the stress and gloom and daily hustle, you both helped make each other’s worlds brighter.

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