The tragedy of dogs and cats is that they will never live as long we want them to. No matter the circumstances, it will always be hard to say goodbye to a beloved friend and family member. If your pet is coming to the end of their life, we have put together a list of tips and information to help you prepare for the loss.
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Preparing Yourself Emotionally for Your Dog’s Death
While you can expect to feel grief, the truth is you can never feel fully prepared to face the loss of a beloved canine companion. You may not realize just how large a role your dog played in your life until they’re gone, and you’re left behind to carry on.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the different stages of grief. Grieving for a dog is very similar to grieving for any other loved one. Keep in mind that you may experience a variety of emotions during the various stages of mourning, even some anger, and denial. No matter how you grieve, it is important to take care of yourself and seek support if you need it.
This will be a very difficult time, but try to focus on the good times you had with your pet and remember how lucky you were to have found each other.
Talk To Your Children
If you have children, they will be affected by your dog’s death, too. It’s a good idea to sit down and talk with them in advance. Gently let them know that their pet is sick, and will soon go to their well-deserved rest. Be prepared for some questions, and try to provide them with as much detail as possible. Let them know that the dog won’t feel pain or be uncomfortable after they pass and that they will have a chance to say goodbye.
Spend Quality Time With Your Dog
If you know your dog is getting older or is terminally sick, make sure you set aside a decent amount of time to spend with her. Take advantage of the remaining time you have together and let your dog know just how much you love them. Don’t be afraid to spoil them a little (or a lot!). If your dog is still able to get around, take her to her favorite place to go on a walk, feed her her favorite meal, or just lay together on the couch and give her some belly scratches.
What Is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia means “Good Death.” Most of the time your veterinarian will place a catheter in your dog’s leg so they can deliver the medication which is an overdose of an anesthetic drug. As they give the drug, your dog will start to go to sleep as though they are going under for a medical procedure. As your vet continues to give the medication, it will bring about a painless and peaceful death.
While some pets will pass away quietly at home, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. In many situations, the pet’s quality of life will decline to the point where they are constantly suffering. If this time comes, you will have the responsibility of deciding whether or not to choose humane euthanasia.
Find Ways To Say Goodbye
After your pet has passed away, you will have several options on how to handle her remains. Many people elect cremation for their pet, and in a lot of situations, you can have your pet individually cremated so you can have their ashes returned to you.
Many people choose to bury their companion at home. Before deciding to go this route, make sure you check with your local laws. Unfortunately, some municipalities do not allow you to bury your dog at home.
Even if you are not able to keep your pet’s remains at your home, you can still create a space in your yard to honor and remember them by. Maybe there’s a sunny spot where your pet often napped or hung out and where you can go to reflect and remember. You can mark this spot with a pet grave marker whether your pet is buried there or not. The marker can simply be a tribute to your friend.
If you would prefer a more formal burial, look and see if there are any pet cemeteries that are close to you. Take some time to compare prices and tour the facilities. Although this is not a fun task, it will be easier to choose a cemetery when you’re not mourning.
Of course, if you want a clipping of hair, a paw print, or another memorial item, be sure to request it from the clinic staff. Some clinics may even make paw-print markers for all their clients.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
When is it time? How will I know? Is it too soon? Is it too late? Is she suffering? What else can I do? How will I go on without her? Your veterinarian will surely welcome any comments or questions you may have, to ensure that you are well-informed before moving forward with euthanasia.
As a society, we are comfortable preparing for the loss of human loved ones, so why not do the same for our pets? The one thing all pet owners have in common when they lose their companions is the desire to honor their friend’s memory with dignity. There are many options available, so be sure to choose the one that feels best for you.
Special thanks to:
Bonnie Conner DVM, a Clinical Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine & Critical Care at the University of Florida, specializes in small animal emergency and clinical care.
This course teaches first aid techniques to address the most common emergencies that can occur with small and large dogs as well as cats. This course will train you to notice abnormalities and detect early warning signs in pets. The course is developed and taught by Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Bobbi Conner.