Compassionate Guidance Through Pet End of Life Care
Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital's healthcare team is comprised of compassionate people who are also pet owners themselves. We have all experienced the heartache involved in losing a pet or in having to make difficult decisions, while keeping the pet's interests at heart.
The decision to euthanize a beloved pet is one of the most difficult choices faced by a pet owner. The decision to euthanize is a very personal one and different decisions are right for different families dependent upon the unique situation. No matter when the time comes for considering euthanasia, we want you to know we will do our very best to handle your pet in the most humane way and with the care and respect we would show our own pet.
Indeed, deciding to euthanize a pet is an agonizing process. You will likely experience a wide range of complicated emotions as the time comes. it is important that you are prepared for this event and deal with the feelings as they come. There is a great fear in not knowing what will occur on the day of the euthanization. Discuss this with your veterinarian and ask questions. Our veterinarians are very familiar with the experience and are able to talk with you about the process and the feelings that accompany it. Our team is here to assist you when a comfortable lifestyle for your pet is unlikely and euthanasia becomes the most compassionate alternative to relieve your pet's pain and discomfort.
Evaluating Your Pet's Quality of Life
One of the hardest things to do in caring for a pet is determining when it is more humane to put the pet to sleep rather than to continue treatments. Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital's team will never pressure you into making a decision, and we are always available to you to help guide you through evaluating your pet's comfort and condition.
Some questions we have found help pet owners in determining a pet's quality of life include:
Is the pet's pain responding to pain management?
Many therapies and medications have been developed that can prolong a pet's comfort and ability to remain active and happy. Our veterinarians will help you recognize the signs of a pet's discomfort, and will guide you through the wide range of options available to ease pain.
Is the pet able to participate in his or her favorite activities?
Pets who no longer show interest in favorite toys, playtime, family time, or activities may be experiencing decreased quality of life. Sometimes pet activities can be modified to accommodate the pet's age or condition. Our team can help you consider all options.
Is the pet's condition no longer responding to treatment?
Some pet conditions become resistant to treatment. Our veterinarians will advise you on alternative treatments or will alert you when quality of life is at stake.
Does the pet recognize and want to participate in the activities of family members?
When pets are suffering, they may seek places to hide or may find they do not have the energy or ability to participate in family activities.
Are urinating or defecating a problem for the pet?
Whether due to mobility issues or incontinence, a pet that is unable to handle bathroom issues can suffer from decreased quality of life.
Is the pet experiencing confusion or anxiety?
Some pet conditions leave a pet unable to process what is happening and they may become fearful or agitated. The health care team at Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital will help you recognize the signs of your pet's confusion.
Anytime you have questions about your pet's behavior or condition, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation.
The procedure involves an intravenous injection of a specially formulated barbiturate anesthetic given at a high concentration, or what is considered to be an overdose. The doctor will ensure that the breathing and pulse have halted. The euthanasia is quick and peaceful and will cause no distress to your pet.
Spend time with your pet in the weeks or days leading up to the euthanasia. This will be a very special time for both of you. You will undoubtedly feel very emotional and sad, but try to remain in control. Your pet will sense your feelings, and you want this time to be as enjoyable and comforting as possible for them.
Decide whether you would like to be present during the euthanasia. Some people wish to be with their pet and officially say goodbye during their final moments. Others feel that the experience would be too painful. Whether you choose to be with your pet or not, be reassured that you have given him/her a lifetime of love and care. Either decision you make is appropriate.
Arrange time to spend with your pet directly before the procedure. If you choose to be in the room, you can still have some private time with your pet before the procedure. It is sometimes helpful to say goodbye in this final setting.
Talk with your family about euthanasia. Everyone should be able to share their thoughts and feelings about the process and, ultimately, decide if they would like to be present or not. It can be a traumatic experience, so fully consider the outcomes prior to deciding.
Say goodbye to your pet. Take a few final moments to express your feelings. Do whatever you need to do to say goodbye.
You are not alone. There are many others experiencing similar grief.
Pet loss can be very challenging, and there are pet loss support groups available throughout the country.
If you have specific questions or concerns about euthanasia, or you would like more information regarding the diagnosis or treatment of your pet's disease, please contact our veterinarians.