Euthanasia & Bereavement

old dogLosing a pet can be a difficult and painful experience. After all, pets are members of our families. The decision to euthanase is a very hard one, but the advice of your vet will be invaluable to help you in your decision.

As pet owners and vets, we have to ensure that we ultimately have the animal’s best interests at heart. We must be careful not to prolong a pet’s life unnecessarily, if their illness is causing suffering.

There are many conditions that can’t be cured but which can be controlled to give a good quality of life. However, some animals still suffer from painful or debilitating problems, where control is only partial or temporary. Inevitably, the difficult decision to euthanase must be made.

This decision is always difficult but can be seen as the ultimate loving gesture to stop the suffering of a beloved pet.

How is my pet “put to sleep?”

Putting an animal to sleep is a painless, simple procedure. It involves an injection using a very strong anaesthetic based drug, usually in the front of the leg. The process is very quick – often the animal will become unconscious and pass away within a few seconds.

Sometimes when the animal loses consciousness, it will take a deep breath, or gasp, and occasionally there may be some involuntary twitching or muscle spasms a few moments after death has occurred. This is quite normal and should not be confused with “signs of life”.

The animal is totally unaware of any of these occurrences.

Will my pet feel anything?

Definitely not. The drug used is designed to render the animal fully unconscious before their heart stops. All they are aware of is gradually drifting off to sleep.

Can I stay while my pet is put to sleep?

It is your decision as to whether you would like to be present or not. Many do stay, but others find the process too distressing, and prefer to say their goodbyes beforehand. It is a matter of personal choice for you as the pet’s owner.

What will happen to my pet after they have been put to sleep?

There are a number of choices concerning the body:

  • You could take their body home for burial, but in cases of larger animals, this is not always the most practical choice.
  • You can leave their body with us at the surgery in Bicester and we will arrange for the body to be group cremated.
  • You could have your pet individually cremated and the ashes returned to the surgery for you to collect. This can be in a nice cardboard scattering tube or in various styles of casket with an engraved nameplate. The choice is yours.

Whatever your decision, if you have any questions, our vets, nurses or receptionists will do their best to help and advise you in any way they can. Please note that costs vary, depending on the service you choose.

Help with dealing with your loss.

Please feel free to call the practice to speak to one of our experienced staff who would be pleased to help in any way they can. Our receptionists are used to dealing will people in your situation and can often help you through this process.

Alternatively, The Blue Cross has a dedicated Pet Bereavement Service which you can access via this link.

You may also find it helpful to browse through our Absent Friends website page. Please feel free to upload your own image of a beloved departed pet and some words. Sometimes just writing down your feelings can help with the bereavement process.