End of Life Care for Pets
We love our pets very much and thinking about their mortality is quite emotional for all of us. But, we can learn a lot about our own journey in life by watching and learning from our pets as they come to the ultimate end of their time with us.
As veterinary medicine has evolved, we have gained the ability to treat and manage complex and difficult illnesses. This had made choices for owners more complicated, as they now must think about the pet’s age, quality of life, comfort, and the family’s needs and resources. As your veterinarian, we are well equipped and experienced to help you understand all of your options, and to provide support and encouragement as you make your decision.
When a pet is diagnosed with a disease that cannot be cured, we will counsel the owners on their options for dealing with the illness and preserving the pet’s quality of life. We have come to understand that there is a big difference between prolonging the quality and joy of life, as opposed to simply prolonging the natural process of death. Each family will want to make their own choices about how to proceed, and we are well equipped to provide supportive care, palliative pain relief, and advice on which options to take in each individual case.
Pets do not seem to fear death in the way that we do. As they reach advanced age, they will often begin to slow down, sleep more, and gradually lose weight. Most will eat, drink, and seek affection and attention right up to the very end. As much as we hope that they will die peacefully in their sleep at home, that almost never happens and for most, euthanasia is the ultimate end of their life.
The practice of euthanasia in animals has evolved a great deal over the last 30 years. It is common for people to want to be with their pets at the very end of their lives, comforting their beloved companion as they take their last breaths. We can helpfully accommodate end of life needs. We generally begin the process by counseling the owner on what to expect, and when the time comes, we have found that sedation for the pet makes the experience much more peaceful for the family and the animal.
We often tell owners to expect to feel extreme sorrow over the loss of a beloved pet, but also a sense of relief that their pet is no longer suffering and that they have done the loving and responsible thing by choosing to end suffering and pain on a timely basis.
After the loss of your pet, we are able to offer several cremation options for your pet’s body, or can place the body in an Angel Bag for burial at home.